These dresses are perfect for the upcoming holiday party season. Sparkly, flirty, sexy and fun!

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Cocktail attire is a dress code that baffles men and women. What on earth does it even mean?

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If you received an invitation with a cocktail attire dress code and you’re totally confused, I’m here to help you out.

These dresses work for any type of cocktail event, whether a wedding, office outing, engagement party or class reunion. See, I’m already giving you some ideas of where cocktail dress codes are appropriate.

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

What is Cocktail Attire for Women?

Cocktail attire is a shade below a formal event. That’s really it. It’s not as fussy as formal but it’s miles away from casual. And no, it’s not semi-formal either. I’d say it’s just slightly above. Semi-formal kinda screams “dress up your jeans” and this ain’t that.

A cocktail attire dress code is about looking sophisticated and put-together without being as formal as black tie or as casual as everyday wear. It allows for some personal style expression within the established guidelines. When in doubt, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed for a cocktail event.

At a cocktail event, you’ll want to keep your neckline and hemline decent. It can be a place where you may run into your boss or your future boss or prospective client so you’ll want to keep the sleaze at bay.

So, What is Appropriate for Cocktail Attire?

Cocktail attire is a semi-formal dress code typically worn to events such as weddings, parties, or upscale gatherings. It strikes a balance between formal and casual attire, allowing you to look stylish and polished without being overly formal. Here’s a breakdown of what cocktail attire entails:

For Men:

  • Suit: Wear a well-fitted, dark-colored suit. Charcoal, navy, and black are safe choices.
  • Shirt: Opt for a crisp, long-sleeved dress shirt in a solid color or subtle pattern.
  • Tie: A tie is generally expected. Choose a silk tie in a complementary color.
  • Shoes: Leather dress shoes in black or brown, polished and in good condition.
  • Accessories: A belt that matches your shoes and perhaps a pocket square can add a touch of style.

For Women:

  • Dress: Choose a knee-length or slightly above-the-knee dress. The fabric and style can vary but should lean towards a more elegant look.
  • Color: Darker or muted colors like black, navy, deep red, or jewel tones are suitable. Avoid overly flashy or bright colors.
  • Heels: Heeled shoes, pumps, or stylish sandals work well. Avoid overly casual footwear.
  • Accessories: Elegant jewelry, a clutch bag, and a well-coordinated shawl or wrap if the event is outdoors.

Additional Tips:

  • Grooming: Ensure you’re well-groomed with clean hair and appropriate makeup.
  • Avoid Casual Items: Stay away from jeans, sneakers, and overly casual clothing.
  • Fit Matters: Fit is crucial for both men and women. Tailoring your outfit can make a significant difference.
  • Weather Considerations: Take into account the event’s location and weather when selecting your attire.

Outfit Ideas for Cocktail Attire Dress Code

red lace cocktail dress

This red lace dress is the perfect cocktail attire for women. It’s lacy and demure with a high neckline and low hemline. It shows off your figure without being too revealing or over the top. Classic earrings and a simple pump complete the look.

chiffon dress

This chiffon plus size dress with statement neckline is also a good cocktail dress for an evening out. The neckline keeps the eye at conversation level and the hemline is flirty with varying lengths. The chiffon adds a playful see-through flair.

Little Black Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Of course, the little black dress will make an appearance every season. This slinky number is just perfect, soft and feminine. You’ll be the belle of the ball on your mister’s arm. Get it here.

Floral and Flirty

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Bright florals are perfect for the holidays! This fun number is flirty and soft and works well for my fellow big girls. Link here.

Flirty Day Time Party Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Have a few tea-time events to visit? This dress is perfect for your daytime holiday events. Link here. It’s also the perfect wedding guest dress.

Chiffon Dress Perfection

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

If you loved the above dress but aren’t really a floral type of gal, this powder blue dress is the perfect option. I love how light and airy it is.

Burgundy Ruffles

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

More ruffles! I just can’t help it, they’re too pretty. This is an updated ruffle dress with asymmetrical lines. I love it. Get one here.

Vintage Flapper Style Dress

flapper cocktail dress

Ok, let’s move away from ruffles and get into sequins. The holidays are nothing without a little sparkle baby and this vintage-inspired flapper dress is the perfect scene stealer for your themed parties this year. Link to buy.

Sequin Party Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

For something simpler but still shiny, this dress is the perfect piece. Here you go.

Flirty Animal-Print Cocktail Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

If you’re an animal-print lover like I am then this dress will help you to bring out your jungle instincts. Rawr!

Colourful Sequin Party Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

The more shine, the merrier. It’s Christmas party season after all. The perfect excuse to be as blingy as your heart desires. Clicky here.

NYE Style Sequin Party Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Now we’re shining! I feel like this dress would be perfect for New Year’s Eve. You know where to click.

A Christmas Gown

long dress

Let’s get into a few more gowns. I love the draping of this one and feel like the style is very classic. Will take you through a few seasons. It’s a great price point too. Here’s the link.

Date Night Party Dress

15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Don’t hurt him now! This dress is the perfect date night dress for a cocktail party with your boo thang. It will surely land you a boo if you’re out looking. Get it here. Pair this dress with nude Christmas nails for added flair.


15 Party Dresses for a Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Speaking of hurt. Oh laaaawd. You don’t need convincing. You just need the link.

Some images from Depositphotos

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  1. Girl all these dresses are SO swoon worthy!! I need a few this season and have a couple that I’m loving! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lovely dresses, blue has always been my favourite colour so it`s not hard thiunking of what I should get.Having said that, the green dress looks lovely too.