The Style Series: How To Dress For A Cocktail Party

The Style Series: How To Dress For A Cocktail Party

Getting an invite to a cocktail party is great, but what do you wear? The term cocktail party refers to a social gathering in which cocktails (drinks) are served. It can also be known as a cocktail reception or mixer. Showing up in style is just as important as mingling with the guests. Below you’ll find a guide to help you know how to dress for a cocktail party because looking sharp is all that matters.

Dress for the season

As with any event you attend, you need to be seasonably dressed. Choose your attire based on the season and weather. A cocktail party thrown in July allows men to wear seersucker, especially if the event takes place outdoors. For women, a summer cocktail party gives you the liberty to wear floral prints and creams. You can even get away with wearing a romper or playsuit.

Know your host

When you receive an invite to a cocktail party, it’s important to know exactly who your host is. If the host of the party is more conservative, then you’ll know what type of hem and neckline you can wear. For the boys, the more conservative the host, the more pieces you’ll need to wear. For instance, if the host is a more casual type of person, ties may not need to be worn. However, if the person is more of a buttoned-up type then ties are a must.

Understand the occasion

Cocktail parties can be thrown for any occasion, which will dictate what you can wear. Is it a wedding? Is it a work function? Is it an engagement? A birthday? If it’s a wedding that means no white. If it’s a work function that means respectable neck and hemlines and crisp, ironed shirts. A birthday or engagement gives you a little more leeway for colour and prints. Also, no jeans. Ever. You cannot wear jeans to a cocktail party no matter what the occasion is. That doesn’t mean that women cannot wear trousers or skinny pants but jeans are never a good idea.

Suit yourself

When in doubt, suit up. Every man should have at least one good suit in his closet. If it’s summer, you can wear lighter colours like shades, light or baby blue or even pastels. For a summer cocktail party, skip the tie and choose an ascot instead to complete your look. In the winter, try a grey or navy suit instead of traditional black.

Go clutch or go home

Bulky totes and large crossbody bags are a no-no at cocktail parties. You want to carry a small clutch with a wrist strap or one that you can tuck easily under your arm. For the gentlemen, bring with you only the essentials (keys, wallet, phone, cards) so your pockets don’t look too bulky.


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