a Cocktail Party

Co-authored by wikiHow Staff |23 References

Parties scheduled during the

day allow for a more relaxed, casual

look. If the event is at night,

you may want a more upscale

garment and include more ornate


o For men, a white dress shirt

under a solid-colored blazer

gives off a more daytime feel.[6]

o Wearing too much formal

black outside during the day

can often give off a solemn vibe.

Wear a knee-length

cocktail dress. Opt for one

that is flattering to you. Since

there is an overwhelming number

of styles, a good rule of

thumb is to choose simple, elegant

styles over revealing ones.


Wear a suit. The best

outfit will showcase

your personality and

confidence, and

sometimes dresses

don’t do that. Opt for

a slimmer suit with a

womenswear jacket,

which will hit at your

waist instead of below

it. For a less fitted

style, choose a relaxed,

slouchy style instead of


o Alternatively, wear tailored

pants with a detailed top, but

avoid fabrics like jersey and

denim, which can be too casual.

Choose shoes for style and

comfort. Unless the shoes are

used to highlight or accent

something, choose heels or

boots that don’t distract from

your outfit.[14]

o If you don’t wear heels,

try ballet flats, but don’t wear


o If your outfit is black, choose

colorful shoes for a pop of


Choose a minimal handbag.

You should only bring the

essentials to a cocktail party.

Large purses packed full can

both feel and look weighty.[16]

Go easy on yourself and lighten

your load.


Pick one standout


Avoid over-accessorizing since

it can be too distracting for

people you’re talking to. Choose

something that complements

your clothing choices and your

personality.[17] It could start a


o Cocktail rings have colorful

precious jewels (either real or

reproductions) that make a bold

statement. However, the size of

the stone can look gaudy when

combined with a necklace,

earrings, and a bracelet.[18]

In this Article:Following the General Cocktail EtiquetteChoosing an

Outfit (for Women)Choosing an Outfit (for Men)Community Q&A23


If you have ever received an invitation to a cocktail party, you may

know how tough the preparation process can be, especially when

you're trying to decipher what "cocktail attire" actually consists of.

By learning how to narrow down the list of possibilities, you can

save all of your energy for socializing and snacking.

Method 1

Following the General Cocktail


Read the invite. Consider

the details around the event itself,

like where it’s located and

who is hosting it. You can suss

out proper attire by judging how

upscale the event is, or by how

well you know the host.[1]

Dress for the season. Pastel

colors and floral prints, which

fit in with the spring, don’t have

as much of a place in the fall.

Likewise, consider the practicality

of certain items from season

to season. Open-toes shoes in

the summer will have an entirely

different feeling, both in comfort

and style, in the winter.[3]

o The little black dress (LBD)

is usually a safe bet for cocktail

parties due to its timeless look

and conservative aesthetic.[8]

Save the minidress for

less formal parties. Before

choosing a minidress, consider

the event you are attending.

Have you been acquainted

with everyone? If not, you might

opt for something longer.[9]

o If you do choose a mini, pay

attention that the hemline is not

too short by standing straight

up with your arms at your side.

If your fingers pass the hemline,

you should reconsider if it’s appropriate.[10]

The meaning of "cocktail party"

can change from city to city, so

do some research if you’re traveling.[2]

You may find that your

prep is easier than you thought.

Contact the host for details

or recommendations.

If you know who the host is, you

may already know their aesthetic

and can gear yours to what

you know they would appreciate.

If you still aren't sure, reach

out to the host for clarification.

o Keep in mind how adding

layers might change what your

original outfit says about you. If

you add layers, add it for style

and functionality.

o If you’re traveling for an

event during the wet season,

bring along extra shoes.

o For example, opt for booties

over open-toe stilettos in the


Dress for the time of day.

Choose a midi dress as

a longer option. Be careful

with this dress because its hem,

which sits between the ankle

and knee, can appear unflattering

on some people. To break

the long lines up, add dressier

accessories, like a large necklace.


o Dresses that drop below

the ankles become gowns and

should be saved for very formal

events, like white tie parties.[12]


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