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Cocktail Attire: Looking Beyond the Little Black Dress

When an event invitation has the words ‘cocktail attire,’ the thought of putting an outfit together according to the unspoken rules of dress codes can be stressful. With a variety of events from charity luncheons to networking business events fast approaching this time of the year – it’s important to know what to reach for – so you can put your best foot forward.

For Women

Hemlines, high-heels, tiny-clutch bags and fashion jewellery can make cocktail attire that little bit trickier. While there are always emerging trends in fashion – pairing some old classics with current trends will always make you look fashionable and put-together.

The little black dress is an item every woman shouldn’t be without. A classic, staple that will just about save the day (every time you can’t find something to wear). While this little number is good to fall back on – it’s worth exploring prints and seasonal colours to keep your outfit looking fresh. Sometimes it’s a good idea to think outside the box when it comes to “classics.”

Coming in clutch

Apart from being a cocktail attire faux pas, oversized bags tend to detract from an outfit. So, clutches make the perfect accessory for those more formal events. We can’t get enough of the trendy Bottega Veneta Pouch bag which offers plenty of room for your essentials.

Go Midi

While a floor-length gown can work in certain circumstances, a midi dress is usually the way to go when dressing for a cocktail function. For business events, midi dresses are a safe bet as they give a sophisticated and professional appearance. Don’t be afraid to opt for a bit of colour or wear white even in the cooler months. We love this ivory Rachel Gilbert Finn dress. This uniquely hand-embellished sleeveless dress with a feathered hemline is the perfect number to pair with a teddy coat and a sleek heel for any cocktail occassion.

Heels not flats

While the thought of standing in high heels for hours on end isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time – a pair of low heeled, block sandals can help maintain a level of sophistication without causing discomfort. We love the look of these Gucci sandals and Dior sling-backs. If Yves Saint Laurent shoes are more your style you can check out some of our favourite styles here.

Keep it simple, but fun

Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.

Gabrielle Chanel

The world’s most elegant woman, Coco Chanel, was said to have advised the following when dressing with accessories and we feel the same when it comes to dressing for a cocktail event. A statement piece such as this unique Bvlgari necklace is perfect to wear on its own as a statement – and it doesn’t need any other accessories.

For Men

While men tend to stick to their tried and tested suits as well as more neutral colours over patterns and bold colours, sophistication is all in the details. A poorly fitting suit or a creased shirt can take a sharp and sophisticated outfit to an end of the office day type of look, which is not what you want. Here’s how to stay suave.

Suit up but don’t go matching

A suit is more often than not your safest bet. Generally speaking – it’s best to opt for darker colours for nighttime events and lighter colours for daytime events, with more formal events calling for a two-piece suit. But do be aware of the more ‘smart-casual form of cocktail events that offer more fashion flexibility. In these cases, try ditching the tie and matching jacket and wearing a fitted blazer, like this navy blue Gucci one.

The shoes you wear will make or break your look

Keep your footwear professional. While a stylish pair of sneakers will work for some events, a pair of loafers or oxfords are definitely more suitable when dressing for cocktail attire events. Be sure to tie your outfit together with a pair of classic loafers like these Prada ones. And don’t forget to polish them.

Keep it structured

Remember, it’s all in the details, so fit and form is key. Be sure to wear shirts, pants and blazers that fit your body and are crease-free. When it comes to structuring, a good quality shirt is a must. We recommend getting your items dry cleaned, or invest in a handy steam cleaner so your shirts can stay crisp.

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