The Official Dos and Don'ts of Cocktail Attire for Women

Dos and Donts of Cocktail Attire for Women


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Dress codes are something people don't talk about enough. From white-tie to cocktail attire, the gray area regarding what's acceptable to wear to these formal events is sizable. Today, we are here to talk about all things cocktail party attire. Believe it or not, there are "rules" for dressing for this occasion.

Ahead, we're bringing you the dos and don'ts of cocktail attire. Some of these tips might be obvious, but others might surprise you. In addition to our cocktail attire commandments, we're showing you where to shop the pieces that will ensure you're always dressed appropriately. Keep scrolling to discover how to look your chicest at your next cocktail soirée.

Don't: Wear Anything Too Revealing

Do: Keep Hemlines and Necklines Appropriate

A great rule of thumb here is to not wear something you wouldn't want your boss to see you in. In case you needed a reminder, a cocktail party is different than a girls' night out.

Don't: Wear Jeans 

Do: Wear Sleek Trousers

Even if you aim to dress up a pair of denim (yes, it's possible), risking being underdressed is never worth it. However, you don't have to wear a dress to be dressy. Polished trousers are just as effective.

Don't: Carry an Oversize Bag

Do: Use a Clutch

So what bags are best for cocktail attire? Alongside a nice dress, a clutch or a mini bag always reads as elegant and refined.

Don't: Show Up in Wrinkled Garments

Do: Use a Steamer

Regardless of the color or material of your clothing, wrinkles are always noticeable and unprofessional. Using a steamer is one of the best (and quickest) ways to get rid of wrinkles.

Don't: Wear Too Many Statement Accessories

Do: Choose One Standout Accessory

Even Coco Chanel recommended taking off one accessory before you leave the house. Your best bet is wearing one standout accessory that you really love.

Don't: Wear a Floor-Length Gown

Do: Wear a Mini or Midi Dress

There is such a thing as going too formal. The time to wear a floor-sweeping gown is not at a cocktail party. Opt for anything between a mini- and midi-length dress or skirt.

Don't: Wear Sneakers

Do: Wear Heels

Whether it be stilettos, kitten heels, or block heels, a little extra lift is helpful when it comes to a formal event. If notable enough, a pair of flats might work, but sneakers are a no-go.

Don't: Let Underpinnings Show

Do: Wear the Correct Undergarments

Going the extra mile to make sure that your bra straps or shapewear aren't visible is almost as important as not wearing sneakers.

Once you've picked out your outfit, be sure you have the right undergarments on hand. An off-the-shoulder dress, for instance, will mean wearing the right strapless bra that will get you through the night. If you're wearing a form-fitting dress or skirt, consider investing in no-show underwear or seamless shapewear.

Don't: Keep Hair Ties on Your Wrist

Do: Wear a Bracelet

This one should be obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people keep rubber bands on their wrists—even at nice events. Before stepping out of the house, swap your hair tie for a sleek bracelet.