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Cocktail Party Dress Code. What to Wear to a Cocktail Party?

by Alchemiq Team
what to wear to a cocktail party

It goes without saying that attending a cocktail party is often one of those events that you’re looking forward to. What may not be that exciting is figuring out what to put on. Luckily, choosing what to wear to a cocktail party doesn’t have to be stressful or problematic

Go on reading to be walked through the process of picking the perfect outfit, whether you are a woman or man, attending social or work-related events. With the following tips and suggestions, you will be well-prepared to both make a stylish entrance and feel yourself for the entire cocktail party.

What to Wear to a Cocktail Party – the Basics

Deciding what to wear to a cocktail party isn’t a walk in the park if you’re not accustomed to these semi-formal events. Don’t worry, though because below you will find the breakdown of the cocktail party etiquette essentials, so you can feel confident at your next gathering.

What Do Men Wear to a Cocktail Party?

When thinking about what men should wear to a cocktail party, the goal is to strike the perfect balance between formal and relaxed. Consider the below tips to find the look you will be the most comfortable in: 

  • Suits: A well-fitted suit is a reliable choice. Go for classic colors such as navy, charcoal, or black. These shades are versatile and are unlikely to ever go out of fashion. 
  • Dress shirts: Choose a crisp, well-ironed dress shirt. White is a timeless option, but light blue or pastel colors can also work well. 
  • Ties: While not always necessary, a slim tie can add a nice touch to your outlook. If you decide to go without a tie, check if your shirt collar is sharp and neat. 
  • Shoes: Polished dress shoes, such as oxfords or loafers, should be just ideal. Naturally, before you leave the house check if they are clean and in good condition. 
  • Accessories: It’s advised to keep it simple. A classy watch or subtle cufflinks should do. Don’t go overboard with the accessories since this can ruin your overall look. 

What Do Women Wear to a Cocktail Party?

Choosing what to wear to a cocktail party as a female can be fun, but it can also come with its own set of doubts and uncertainties. Below you will find some basics to help you look your best at the next cocktail party you’re planning to attend

  • Cocktail dresses: A classic cocktail dress is always a winner – like always. If you want to look professional, go for knee-length or midi dresses in elegant fabrics like silk or chiffon. Plus, solid colors or subtle patterns work best. 
  • Jumpsuits: If dresses aren’t really your style, a chic jumpsuit can be the alternative piece of garment you may consider putting on. Look for one with a tailored fit to maintain a nice-looking appearance. 
  • Heels: A pair of elegant heels can make your outfit look way better. Try something stylish yet comfortable, as you’ll likely be on your feet for a couple of hours. 
  • Accessories: Statement jewelry can add a touch of glamour to your whole appearance. Think along the lines of a stylish clutch, bold earrings, or a necklace. Just be sure not to overdo it because you may end up looking a bit too much.
  • Makeup and hair: Keep your makeup smart and your hair well-styled. Both should complement your outfit without overpowering it.

General Tips on What to Wear to a Work Cocktail Party

There are some additional aspects of what to wear to a cocktail party that can apply to both men and women equally. 

TIP #1: Try to understand the nature of the venue

In most cases, the location of the party will influence the clothes you should wear. For example, an outdoor garden party might call for lighter fabrics and comfortable footwear, while an indoor event in a fancy venue might allow for a more formal outfit. 

TIP #2: Check the invitation

Sometimes the invitation specifies the dress code. Following the information included in the card will help you steer clear of some clothes-related flubs. 

TIP #3: Comfort, comfort, comfort

Make sure whatever you wear is comfortable enough for you to enjoy the evening. The very last thing you want is to spend the entire night adjusting your outfit or worrying that some part of your body doesn’t look exactly the way you wish it did.

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