What to Wear to A Cocktail Party

Cocktail parties are extravagant and elegant. There is an air of sophistication about the guests and everyone seems to be having important and thoughtful conversations, at least that’s what comes to mind when thinking about a cocktail party.

If you’ve never been to one before, it can be intimidating and choosing the right outfit can feel overwhelming. It is true, what you wear to a cocktail party matters. It is imperative to leave a good impression on people at these events, and your appearance is the first impression you make.

Below is a guide that breaks down acceptable outfits, accessories, and shoes for a cocktail party


If you are a woman, it is highly recommended that you wear a fitted dress or skirt. There is a distinct difference between fitted and skin-tight. Your dress or skirt should hug your body nicely without squeezing in every inch of your skin. In terms of length, don’t go too far above the knee or you risk looking less put together. The top could be short sleeved or a thicker tank top, but not long-sleeved or spaghetti straps. For colors, you should resist the urge to make a loud statement in bright reds or pinks. You should lean more towards dark blue or black to match the evening atmosphere. There also shouldn’t be any showy colors or flashy patterns. The goal is to attain a sleek and sophisticated silhouette.


Since your outfit is meant to be simple, accessories are important at cocktail parties. This, however, does not mean that you should pile on every piece of jewelry you own. Quite the opposite, actually. You should wear your nicest pieces in a minimal fashion: one necklace, one ring, and maybe a watch.

If you want to accessorize a little more, consider cocktail hats to give you a sophisticated statement piece. Also, don’t forget that cocktail parties take place in the evening, so you should bring a nice jacket or casual blazer for warmth. For carrying your things, take a small clutch or wallet and not an entire purse. Make sure it is also a neutral color, nothing neon or floral. Your accessories need to seem effortlessly sophisticated to compliment your outfit.


For shoes, heels are an expectation not a suggestion. It wouldn’t look right to wear a nice and fitted dress with tennis shoes or flats. Even though wedges are heeled, they are also inappropriate for cocktail parties. As for the heel height, don’t go too high or too low. Kitten heels aren’t high enough for cocktail parties, but six-inch stilettos are too much. It is also unacceptable to wear open-toed heels in such a sophisticated environment. The best option is a pair of four to five-inch pumps in a neutral color like navy, black, or nude. In the best-case scenario, your shoe color will match your dress color.

For cocktail parties, you want to make sure your outfit and entire look is as sophisticated as the party, itself. Since cocktail parties are important networking events, it is imperative that you dress to impress.