Dress codes are something people don’t talk about enough. From white-tie to cocktail attire, the gray area regarding what’s acceptable to wear to these formal events is sizable. Today, we are here to talk all things cocktail-party attire. Believe it or not, there are rules for dressing for this occasion.
Ahead we’re bringing you the dos and don’ts of cocktail attire. Some of these tips might be obvious, but others might surprise you. And in addition to our cocktail attire commandments, we’re showing you where to shop the pieces that will ensure you’re always dressed appropriately. Keep scrolling to discover how to look your chicest at your next cocktail soirée.
STYLE DU MONDE
Don’t: Wear Anything Too Revealing
Do: Keep Hemlines and Necklines Appropriate
A great rule of thumb here is to not wear something you wouldn’t want yourto see you in. In case you needed a reminder, a cocktail party is different than a girls’ night out.
Available in sizes UK4 to UK14.
Available in sizes X-4X.
Don’t: Wear Jeans
Do: Wear Sleek Trousers
Even if you aim to dress up a pair of denim (yes, it’s possible), risking being underdressed is never worth it. However, you don’t have to wear a dress to be dressy. Polished trousers are just as effective.
Available in sizes 2 to 10.
Available in sizes UK 6 to UK 14.
Don’t: Carry an Oversize Bag
Do: Use a Clutch
Nothing looks sloppier than a slouchy tote bag slumped over your shoulder—especially alongside a nice dress. A clutch or a mini bag always reads as elegant and refined.
Don’t: Show Up in Wrinkled Garments
Do: Use a Steamer
Despite the color or material of your clothing, wrinkles are always noticeable and unprofessional. Using a steamer is one of the best (and quickest) ways to get rid of wrinkles.
Don’t: Wear Too Many Statement Accessories
Do: Choose One Standout Accessory
Even Coco Chanel recommended taking off one accessory before you leave the house (and when she speaks, we listen). Your best bet is wearing one standout accessory that you really love.
Don’t: Wear a Floor-Length Gown
Do: Wear a Mini or Midi Dress
There is such a thing as going too formal. The time to wear a floor-sweeping gown is not at a cocktail party. Opt for anything between a mini- and midi-length dress or skirt.
Available in sizes XS to L.
Available in sizes 10 to 20.
Don’t: Wear Sneakers
Do: Wear Heels
Whether it be stilettos, kitten heels, or block heels, a little extra lift is necessary when it comes to a formal event. If notable enough, a pair of flats might work, but sneakers are a no-go.
Available in sizes IT 35 to IT 42.
Don’t: Let Underpinnings Show
Do: Wear the Correct Undergarments
Going the extra mile to make sure that your bra straps or shapewear aren’t visible is almost as important as not wearing sneakers. Once again, letting a detail like that slip results in an unprofessional appearance.
Available in sizes 32B to 32C.
Don’t: Keep Hair Ties on Your Wrist
Do: Wear a bracelet
This one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many women keep rubber bands on their wrists—even at elegant events. Before stepping out the house, swap your hair tie for a sleek bracelet.
So the next time you find yourself questioning what exactly “cocktail attire” means, be sure to refer back to the tips and tricks above.