Cocktail Attire for Women – Stunning Dresses to Wear!

We are going to break down every detail of what cocktail attire for women is, when it is appropriate to wear it, and what you can do to look your best and accentuate the features that you want everyone to notice. Many ladies struggle to decide what clothing looks best on them, and what should be worn at this difficult-to-define special occasion. Don’t worry as it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think!

Cocktail parties are one of those events at which the way women dress cuts a fine line between formal and sexy. “Dressy-casual” or “loosely-formal” are both terms that fall under this umbrella category. It is a fluid thing; it is not pinned down to one firm definition, and women everywhere have been creating their own definition of cocktail attire  to fit in with their individual body types and styles. The style a woman chooses can be as unique and self-defining as the woman herself.

The first thing that comes to mind is that long sleeve little black dress. It is most definitely not the only option, but it is without a doubt the symbol of a cocktail party. In 1926 Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the French fashion icon, debuted a little black dress in the magazine Vogue. This timeless outfit was predicted by Vogue’s editors to “become sort of a uniform for all women of taste.” It is still a wardrobe classic to this day, and can be a great fall back for a woman if she is not sure about what to wear to a cocktail party. Once a woman shows her personality by correctly accessorizing a little black dress, she can turn a classic fashion staple into a beautiful dress customized exactly to her look.

What is Cocktail Attire for Women?

The little black dress is not a woman’s only option when it comes to formal cocktail attire. In fact, a woman can turn most of her wardrobe into a stunning cocktail outfit. A short, strapless dress with frill can be just as appropriate as a pencil skirt paired with a beautiful, silky blouse. Unlike some events, it doesn’t need to be narrowed down into two options. While most guys will wear slacks with a button down, a woman can make her attire show a fierce, independent personality while highlighting her body’s most stunning features.

Cocktail Dresses for Women

Semi-formal cocktail attire is a perfect excuse to bust out that dress that might be a little too short or a little too fancy for a casual bite to eat at a diner or a espresso at your local cafe. A good rule of thumb when choosing an outfit is to go for an elegant look that doesn’t push the formal envelope too far. Fabrics like chiffon and satin are perfect. Pairing things like a chiffon high low mini dress with strappy silver shoes will give you a glamorous look that won’t feel out of place at a semi-formal event.

When Is Cocktail Attire Appropriate?

Fortunately for the women who love busting out their cocktail dress, the cocktail party is not the only event that it is acceptable. Fashion today is more versatile than ever, and unless an event is strictly formal you can wear that little black dress to plenty of functions. Fundraisers and award ceremonies can be a great place to break out that short dress unless a “formal only” note is attached to your invitation.

Going out for a friendly gathering at the club? A day wedding is also a great event because they tend to be a little less formal. As each event is different, you should keep in mind what you are going to when preparing your outfit. A business dinner or a company party is great, but keep it more on the professional side. Let’s take a look at a few examples of great, all-around cocktail dresses.

Hot from Hollywood V-Neck Empire Waist Long Dress

Cocktail attire for Women

Hot from Hollywood has come out with this beautiful V-neck, sleeveless empire waist long dress. The V-neck on this dress sports padded cups, which is a perfect feature for those women who want to bring attention to their bust. This long dress is just screaming to be paired with your favorite necklace. It’s available in a choice of 4 attractive colors, and small, medium and large sizes.

It has an empire waist that is defined by a pleated satin-looking fabric that ties around your back to help the fit. This cocktail dress also comes with a rhinestone broche that you can remove if it clashes with any of your other accessories. One of the most noticeable features is the sheer draping layers at the bottom that give the wearer a classy and elegant look. People who’ve bought it are delighted with their purchase.

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Cocktail Chiffon Beaded Sleeveless High Low Dress

Cocktail Sleeveless High Low Dress

Another selection from the makers of the last dress—Hot from Hollywood—which is a prime example of what defines women’s cocktail attire. This formal chiffon beaded sleeveless high low dress is perfect for that cocktail party or event that you want to dress just a little more on the formal side. This dress features dazzling beading that helps define the empire waist. This cocktail dress comes with a beautiful, high low layered skirt that gives women that sought-after flowing effect.

The straight neckline is padded and the wide, sleeveless sleeves allow you to show off your arms. The dress also features a pullover closure and self-tie back bow with a rhinestone bead embellishment. This dress does have a sheer lining, so you will want to wear a slip. They offer this cocktail high low dress in a variety of colors. We suggest picking the fuchsia or teal version to look beautiful at any outdoor cocktail event or pick up the ruby red style for a gorgeous look inside. Finish your outfit by matching this dress with peep-toe platforms or a classy pair of ankle strap platforms.

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Cocktail Strapless Empire Waist Mini Dress

Empire Waist Mini Dress

Our last example is a lovely high low cocktail chiffon strapless empire waist mini dress. This gorgeous, strapless dress has a high empire waist textured with chiffon overlay and is great when you are going for that extra-sexy look at a cocktail party. The textured body and mild sweetheart neckline lets you show off your shoulders while still keeping a hint of formality.

The supremely sweet high empire waist is defined by a rhinestone applique and a chiffon self-tie at your back. This dress goes great with your silver, strappy shoes and is perfectly accessorized by your favorite silver bracelet. Colors for the dress include midnight dream black, coral, aqua blue, and jade. Finding a high low cocktail dress as cute as this for under $40 is close to impossible, so we recommend adding it to your cart at its current price.

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Outdoor Cocktail Events

Not every event that requires cocktail attire for women will be in a perfectly climate-controlled room. Sometimes you will find yourself planning your outfit knowing that your skin will be seeing the light of day. So what do you wear outside? Wearing a nice summery dress on a warm day is a perfect match for an outdoor event. Make sure you bring a wrap with you because no woman can control the temperature, but she can make sure she is ready for a chilly breeze. Sure, taking your date’s jacket is sweet and romantic, but you look better without a man’s jacket draped over your shoulders.

Another important factor to take into consideration when dressing for an outdoor party is your shoes. While high heels are a perfect pair to a cocktail dress, they don’t do very well on the outdoor terrain. Having your heel sink down into the soft grass will take some of the attention away from your amazing outfit. If you know what the venue is like ahead of time, make a decision about whether it’s worth it or not to give your wrists and ankles a spritz of bug spray.

Emphasize Your Best Features

Every woman is different and has different attributes that she feels best about. When picking out a beautiful cocktail dress, focus on which one of your features you want to highlight and draw attention to. To draw attention to your face, match large earrings or unusual makeup colors with a classic, solid color dress. Necklaces and halter necks will help a woman bring attention to her neck, while scoop neck dresses or V-necks will accentuate her bust.

A belt or sash can help show your waist, and form-fitting dresses are a great option to show off your curvy hips. Stand out heels paired with high low hems make your legs center stage. Whatever you choose, make sure you put your best foot forward. You know what features are the most flattering for you, so make sure you dress to draw attention to them.

Dress Appropriately for You

The best possible advice we can give you is to dress for yourself. What attire looks appropriate is completely dependent on the woman and the event. No one knows a woman’s body or what will look good on that body more than the woman herself. We hope our tips help, but it is ultimately up to you to be as beautiful as you can be. Let’s go over a few miscellaneous tips and brush up on a few of the tips we already touched on.

When shopping for your dress or picking one out for your wardrobe, ask yourself the following questions to help get a feel for how you are going to accessorize. What jewelry would it look good with? Does it go with gold, silver, or both? What shoes do you have that would match this dress? Do you have a handbag that would look good with this outfit? What kind of shoe would go with this cocktail dress and do these shoes fit the occasion and the terrain (if outside)?

When choosing formal attire for women, the length of your dress is an important factor for you to look at. The length of your dress can do a variety of things from accentuating your height to keeping you in line with an appropriate look for the event. Women on the petite side can wear shorter dresses to give the illusion of height. If you are a shorter woman, avoid dresses that measure down to your calf, because this will make you look even shorter than you are. On the opposite side of the spectrum, very tall women should not wear a dress that is too short. If the cocktail party is for a business party or event—or you just want to keep your attire on the formal side—wear a tea length dress. A tea length dress is a few inches above the ankle, as opposed to a few inches above the knee as some cocktail dresses are styled.

No matter what the event, party, or who you go with, wear cocktail attire for women with pride. The old adage “wear it and do not let it wear you” is specifically true for the cocktail dress. Feel free to go a little out of the line, but keep to your fashion sense and make sure you are matching colors or prints that match your skin tone or hair color. Matching the dress to you, instead of you to the dress, is the best way for people to think about how beautiful you look over how beautiful the dress that you’re wearing is. Cocktail dresses should be (or become) a staple in your wardrobe. Choose the dress that best fits the occasion and best fits you. The dress is there to show off your best features, not hide the ones you like the least. Put that dress on, grab a few classy and appropriate accessories, and let that dress help your personality and fashion sense shine at the next party, fundraiser, or girls night out.