Invite in hand, you’re scouring your mind for ideas on what to wear to a cocktail party. Can you wear a mini dress, or is that a fashion faux pas? Should you opt for something colourful or stick to neutral tones? There’s a lot to navigate when it comes to a cocktail dress code. Below, we look at the top four cocktail party silhouettes that will have you RSVP ready, no matter your style.
What to Wear to A Cocktail Party: On-trend and Up to Date
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What Is Cocktail Attire?
Cocktail attire, which may also be referred to as semi-formal attire, is the dress code you’ll often come across for weddings, evening functions, and parties. When you’re deciding what to wear to a cocktail party, it’s important to remember a few things.
Firstly, length matters. So, what length should cocktail dresses be? They’re generally mid-length, meaning they should not fall above the knee or below the ankle. Floor-length gowns are usually reserved for black-tie or formal dress codes. While it’s long been suggested that mini dresses are best left for more casual events, they can also be worn as cocktail dresses in some settings — we will touch on this later in the article.
Secondly, keep necklines in mind. For cocktail events, you’ll want to avoid anything with a plunging neckline or too many cut-outs. It can be helpful to ask yourself: would I comfortably wear this in front of my boss or my grandparents? If the answer is no, then steer in a different direction.
Below, we take a closer look at four cocktail party silhouettes and share the styling tips that will have you feeling as great as you look.
The Midi Dress
The fool-proof cocktail party silhouette is the midi dress. The degree of freedom you have in terms of design will depend on the event you’re heading to.
If you’re off to a wedding or birthday party with a cocktail dress code, you could look to a midi dress with trending features such as cut-outs and side-split hems. Bright colours are best suited for weddings that start during the day, birthday parties in the evening or are dependent on the season in which the event takes place.
If your cocktail party is work-related, it’s best to stick to a more structured silhouette. A chic off-shoulder design will work well, as will styles that are slightly more fitted in the body. Opt for styles in neutral hues for a polished and sophisticated look.
For special cocktail events such as functions or fundraisers, you could look to a style with a statement feature such as an oversized bow or draped skirt. These unexpected features can help to keep your outfit feeling fun and fresh while remaining respectful of the dress code.
Pasduchas Composure Midi Dress
The Pasduchas Composure Midi Dress exudes sophistication and elegance. This dress features a draped neckline which is very comfortable and makes the dress a super modest piece. The dress gives an extremely flattering silhouette and will leave you feeling super confident! If you're needing a simple yet elegant cocktail dress, this one is for you. Suitable for all ages, you cannot go wrong with this classic style.
This style is available in a midi in colours. navy, wine and charcoal.
Aje Caliente Tiered Cut Out Dress
The Aje Caliente Tiered Cut Out Dress is an asymmetric midi dress in a beautiful daisy yellow colour. Linen dresses are perfect for more casual events as they are not as formal yet still make you look put-together. The daisy yellow is perfect for the summer season and this dress exudes elegance and sophistication. This stunning dress makes the perfect cocktail dress as it is on trend.
Rebecca Vallance Montez Midi Dress
The Rebecca Vallance Montez Midi Dress is an elegant one shoulder style made from a structured crepe material. This dress has a flattering slim silhouette and features a dramatic statement bow on the shoulder. This gorgeous dress is suited to all ages and is extremely comfortable which is all you want for a day spent outdoors. Experiment with your style with this stunning statement pink that is perfect for the summer.
House Of CB Lulu Drape Midi Corset Dress
The House of CB Lulu Drape Midi Corset Dress is a beautiful one shoulder corset dress in a delicate sage tone. This dress is perfect for outdoor spring weddings as the gorgeous pastel colour beautifully compliments the environment around you. Corset dresses are also super trendy at the moment so why not jump on the trend while you have the chance! The midi length makes this dress suitable for cocktail events.
Aje Serendipity Reflection Midi Dress
The Aje Serendipity Reflection Midi Dress is a mid-length dress with a corset inspired waist, made from a glossy linen material. Made mostly from linen, it is extremely comfortable and in colours blush, champagne and navy. This style is perfect for those who want more coverage in a cocktail dress. This elegant dress can be dressed down with sandals for a more semi-formal look to your next garden party as a wedding guest, or with small heels to a cocktail party event.
Nookie Nouveau Midi Dress
The Nookie Nouveau Midi Dress is a stunning midi dress. This dress features a square neckline with pearl detailing along the bust and straps. A super comfortable and easy to wear style that is made from a form fitting scuba crepe material. A classic and modern look that is perfect for any event, especially a cocktail party. Add a little wow to your next event with this gorgeous midi dress.
Alemais Dana Midi Dress
The Alemais Dana Midi Dress in marigold is a classic midi dress that is crafted from a luxurious fabric with a sublte shine. This gorgeous dress features a tailored bodice and adjustable back tie. The voluminous skirt adds a timeless elegance. We think this style is perfect for cocktail events and will have you feeling comfortable for a long day at the races. Elevate your look with this stunning piece.
Rebecca Vallance Bon Ami Puff Sleeve Midi Dress
The Rebecca Vallance Bon Ami Puff Sleeve Midi Dress is a gorgeous mid-length cocktail dress in a dark navy blue. Made from a luxurious textured crepe, this dress is designed with an elegant puff sleeve and a flattering fitted bodice. The feminine silhouette is further enhanced with a flattering pencil midi skirt. Featuring a signature bow on the shoulder, this dress screams class and sophistication.
If cocktail dresses aren’t your thing, or if you’re after a different take on formal styling, a blazer and pants combo is a great alternative. Not only are suits chic and sophisticated, they also provide a comfort factor that is — let’s face it — missing with cocktail dresses.
We love double-breasted blazers paired with either wide-leg pants or cropped trousers. Fitted suits generally deliver a more polished look, but you could also dress up an oversized suit with strappy heels, a low bun, and dangling earrings.
As for colour palettes, a vibrant colour should be styled back with black or nude heels and delicate jewellery. If you’re opting for a suit in a neutral tone, you can play around with colourful accessories. Think white suit paired with a tangerine coloured clutch and matching heels.
Rebecca Vallance Clara Pants suit
The Rebecca Vallance Clara Pants Suit is a striking blazer and pants suit, made for the cooler months. Featuring dreamy star buttons and shoulder pads, this suit will make a statement at your next cocktail event. This elegant suit will have you feeling sophisticated and confident which is all you want in an outfit.
The Mini Dress
As we mentioned earlier, mini dresses have traditionally been thought of as a no-go at cocktail events. However, we respectfully disagree - in some cases. If you’re heading to a work event, business function, or evening wedding, it’s best to stick to the ‘below the knee but above the ankle’ rule. However, if you’re off to a birthday party or daytime wedding, a mini dress can work perfectly.
We suggest looking at styles that hit anywhere from the mid-thigh to just above the knee. Styles that cut away at the upper thigh are best left for a girl’s night out. If you’re opting for a mini dress, avoid form-fitting designs. Instead, opt for floaty or ruffled hems for a more cocktail-appropriate look. For an on-trend finish, we love exaggerated puff sleeves and high necklines.
Mini dresses in dynamic prints and bright colours are best styled with understated makeup and accessories.
Aje Myriad Cut Out Mini Dress
If you want to opt for a mini dress this is the perfect option for you. The Aje Myriad Cut Out Mini Dress is the perfect summer dress to wear for a cocktail, or formal daytime event. The puff sleeves, intricate ruching detail and voluminous skirt make this unique style a statement piece. Step out of your comfort zone with this gorgeous dress at your next event.
Nookie Fantasy Long Sleeve Mini Dress
The Nookie Fantasy Long Sleeve Mini Dress is a perfect option for if you want to wear something fun and flirty to a cocktail party. The shimmering striped sequin, v-neckline and drape feature across the mid-section will have you feeling glamorous. This mini dress provides ultimate comfort as it is easy to walk in, stretchy and definitely bra-friendly!
Rebecca Vallance Catania Mini Dress
The Rebecca Vallance Catania Mini Dress is made from a linen blend and features a floral print, puff sleeves, side pockets and an open back. This mini dress is perfect for the summer season as it is easy to wear and makes the perfect outdoor cocktail dress. Feel fun and flirty with this gorgeous mini dress that will flatter you in all the right ways.
Zimmermann Zinnia Bow Cut Out Short Dress
The Zimmermann Zinnia Bow Cut Out Short Dress is the perfect outdoor party dress for the warmer seasons. In a gorgeous yellow floral print, this style is perfect for those who want to experiment with patterns and designs without going too bold. This dress can easily be paired with a pair of flats or sandals to make this a semi-formal look, suited for the garden party dress code. This dress would be perfect for cocktail parties.
For a contemporary look, slip into a jumpsuit. Jumpsuits usually offer full coverage, making most styles appropriate for a cocktail event. Jumpsuits provide a level of comfort, so you’ll be dancing the night away with ease.
A sleek sequinned style is ideal for birthday parties, weddings, and functions with friends, while a printed boilersuit is best suited to work or late-afternoon events. A jumpsuit will pair effortlessly with mules and a clutch. To elevate the look further, opt for a neat ponytail or slicked-back hairstyle and add a bold lip colour.
Nookie Utopia Jumpsuit
The Nookie Utopia Jumpsuit is a gorgeous jumpsuit for your summer events. In a gorgeous mango orange, this jumpsuit features a halter neck design, made from a luxurious satin fabric. The plunging neckline, wide leg fit and striking waist tie, gives a flattering silhouette. This gorgeous formal jumpsuit is perfect for a summer cocktail event. A super comfortable and easy to wear style that has you looking put together with minimal effort involved.
Nookie Vamp Velvet Jumpsuit
The Nookie Vamp Velvet Jumpsuit is a flattering style that will never go out of fashion. This wide leg jumpsuit features a waist tie and plunging neckline. This jumpsuit flatters in all the right ways as the velvet hugs the body. A comfortable style that is suitable for cocktail events when paired with heels and accessories to dress up the look.
Nookie Romance Jumpsuit
The Nookie Romance Jumpsuit is a statement jumpsuit in a gorgeous neon pink. This jumpsuit is crafted from a form-fitted scuba crepe material to create a sleek silhouette. It features a structured underwire along the cups and a striking point at the centre bust. We love the versatility of this jumpsuit as it can be worn to a birthday or dressed up to wear to a cocktail event. Experiment with your style by adding a pop of colour to your look with this stunning jumpsuit.
Finding Your Fit
Whether you’re heading to a wedding or work function, it’s important that you feel good in your outfit. The tricky thing about cocktail dresses? They can carry a hefty price tag, and, let’s be honest, are more often than not worn once before being shoved to the back of the wardrobe. Why not save your dollars and maximise wardrobe space by hiring an outfit? If you choose to hire instead of buy, you’re also shopping in a way that’s better for the environment. So, the benefits are threefold. Need more convincing? Our article on the top 5 reasons to hire instead of buy can help.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start shopping. You can explore our beautiful cocktail items available for hire here, or discover our full range of dresses and formalwear here.