Cocktail Attire for Wedding Guests
How to decipher a ‘cocktail’ dress code, and our top picks to master the look
You’ve received that exciting little piece of mail (a.k.a. a wedding invitation), checked and double checked the date, and sent your RSVP. Now all there is to do is start counting down the days to the big event—and plan your outfit.
Many wedding invites specify a ‘cocktail’ dress code. But what is considered cocktail attire for a wedding? What should you actually wear? Sure, you know what ‘black tie’ is—a gown and heels for women, a tux and freshly shined shoes for men—but when it comes to cocktail, the rules are far from clear.
That said, wedding cocktail attire is easy if you know a few tips and tricks.
What is Cocktail Attire for a Wedding Guest?
Wedding cocktail attire is a blend of formal and casual attire. Unlike a formal wedding, you don’t need to wear a long dress but can instead opt for a midi or tea-length dress. Most importantly, your dress should strike the right balance between elegance and comfort.
Our Favorite Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
Here, we’ve selected three styles from our collection and explained what makes them suitably stylish cocktail attire.
Shop our beaded cocktail dresses here!
BEADED COCKTAIL DRESS IN DUSTY EMERALD
This beaded style could be considered the very definition of classic cocktail attire. It’s a good length that’s neither too short nor too long and (overly) formal; dressy enough to signify respect for the occasion, thanks to the short sleeves and pretty emerald beadwork; and a gorgeous, non-bridal hue (that’s right: steer clear of ivory, cream and version of white unless you know the bride is definitely wearing something else). Finish with strappy sandals, a clutch for all your essentials and a bouncy blow-dry and you’re bound to be one of the best dressed wedding guests.
Shop our one shoulder jumpsuits here!
FLUTTER ONE SHOULDER JUMPSUIT IN BLACK
It used to be the case that wearing black to a wedding was a no-no. These days, however, black is not only a very stylish, very versatile option—especially if you’ve got a season full of wedding invitations and can’t afford to buy a new outfit for every single one of them—it’s also perfect cocktail attire for a wedding. This jumpsuit, which also comes in red, is an elegant, modern choice: the flutter sleeve and exposed shoulder are sophisticated and striking, while the wide-leg pants keep the silhouette formal. Pair with heels and red lipstick for added polish.
Shop our jacquard dresses here!
OFF THE SHOULDER JACQUARD DRESS IN NAVY SILVER
When searching for suitable cocktail attire for a wedding, be sure to consider the material of the dress or piece you’re contemplating wearing. Cotton or jersey, for instance, are less formal than silk, chiffon or satin, so you’ll want to ensure the cut or shape of a dress made from these fabrics makes up for that. Jacquard, on the other hand, has a naturally dressy, festive feel thanks to the complex process of weaving an intricate pattern directly into the fabric. Case in point: this fit-and-flare dress, which is made from a rich, printed navy jacquard with a metallic silver sheen and is finished with off-the-shoulder sleeves. A style like this requires little in terms of accessories: just simple heels and fresh makeup and you’re good to go.