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What Is Cocktail Attire For A Wedding

When To Dress In Cocktail Attire

Cocktail Attire for Men – Wedding, Party & Event Dress Code Guide

Cocktail attire shows that you put in the effort to look nice for an event, but falls short of looking overdressed, so it works well for many occasions. Good times to wear cocktail attire include:

  • Dinner dates
  • Casual networking events
  • Weddings

Cocktail attire is typically best for evening eventsits more appropriate for a dinner date than a brunch date, for example. It can also work well at work-related social activities, like the office holiday party, unless your workplace is very formal. However, make sure to save this attire for social work events, not events where actual work is happening .

Cocktail attire is also a failsafe choice for most weddings and parties when you dont know what other people will be wearing. Its not too formal, but still looks dressed up.

History Of The Cocktail Dress Code

The Prohibition might have run from 1920 to 1933 in the USA, but someone apparently forgot to tell all the wealthy people. More to the point, alcohol was flowing liberally among the well-heeled folks of America and other first world countries back in the 1920s and 30s, so much so that they even began enjoying a boozy beverage or two before dinner.

Since all social activities required an element of formality for men back in the day, male cocktail party attire was introduced. The proper mens cocktail dress code has been around ever since.

Wedding Guest Cocktail Attire

Its FRIDAY! In continuation of last weeks Friendly Friday post, Im enlisting the help of another dear friend to break down what to wear to winter weddings where cocktail attire is the uniform du jour. Who better than the queen of glamour herself, my powerhouse friend, Rachel Zoe, to bring forth inspiration in spades.

Founder, CEO, Editor-In-Chief and Designer Extraordinaire | @rachelzoe

The Fall and Winter holiday seasons are the most glamorous time of the year and therefore the best time to style yourself and dress up! My most recent collection was inspired by 70s glam rock and my love of rich jewel tones , sequins and assorted metallics. I used luxurious textures and colors that exude effortless holiday glamour. All of these dresses are perfect for a winter wedding or any occasionthe length allows you to show off a sexy pair of pumps or platforms. Throw a fringe or faux fur on your shoulders and amazing jewelry and you are instantly ready for the holidays.

Before we all start hoarding Rachels gorgeous fall cocktail dresses in droves , lets first cover the ins and outs of what cocktail attire means, how it differs from black tie optional and any other restrictions when it comes to dressing for winter weddings that call for cocktail attire



Also Check: What To Put In Wedding Gift Bags

What Is Cocktail Attire

Cocktail attire is a balance between formal and casual and elegant and comfortable. To an event with this dress code, such as a wedding, men typically wear a suit and tie while women wear a cocktail dress.

Cocktail attire is meant to bridge the gap between day and night, explains bridal consultant LauraLee Baird. It is still an occasion to dress up, but a full-length gown is not necessary. This merges the silhouette of a garden party dress with the fabric and embellishments of a formal gown. Think somewhere between a sophisticated formal occasion and office or party wear, adds Alena Kate Pettitt, author of English Etiquette: The Motivation Behind the Manners.

Still, with so much ambiguity, cocktail attire could mean different things depending on the venue, the time of day, and the season. Read on to learn more about deciphering this common wedding dress code.

Dress Code Definition: What Does Cocktail Attire Mean

Cocktail Attire Wedding

A party invitation with a cocktail attire dress code for men usually means that you should wear a suit with a shirt, dress shoes and a tie or bow tie. In some instances, just a blazer and a pair of dark-coloured jeans will be acceptable if the dress code is more casual.

You dont necessarily need a dedicated cocktail suit. Your usual business suits will do as long as they are well-fitted and in good condition. You can invest in a dedicated cocktail suit if you expect to attend a lot cocktail party, however. In that case, you should look for a suit that has more structure and that is made with heavier fabric to emphasise the evening party element and separate it from a day business suit.

Initially, the cocktail attire emerged in the 1920s in the upscale community. Sometimes also called the after 5 attire, men would change their clothes from their daily work suit to a pre-dinner dress to wear while having a drink with canapés .

Today, the cocktail look and purpose has changed of course. However, the essence of the style remains the same: youre looking for something to wear that is less formal than your business professional look but classy and formal to attend a party.

Luckily, cocktail attire is convenient for men as you can usually pull it off by using garments and accessories that you already have for other dress codes.

Recommended Reading: Why Is Wedding Photography So Expensive

So What Does Cocktail Attire For A Wedding Even Mean

The definition of wedding cocktail attire is essentially a nice balance between the most formal and the most casual .

Cocktail Attire for Men:Afternoon suits, typically with ties. Acceptable colors are grays, neutrals, and black for dress shoes. Most fashionistas suggest avoiding any bright color or bold suit/shirt patterns, and not to be too overly matched. Pocket squares are ok, but may be a bit too flashy or formal for the late 20s/early 30s crowd.

Cocktail Attire for Women:Women have a few more options. Tea-length formal dresses or skirts are a great option, though some women may feel comfortable wearing pant suits. If you go for a suit or a skirt, a jacket is suggested. Again, avoid ultra bold patterns and if youre going to a traditional wedding, veer away from white. Though you can get by with hints of white/cream.

A Brief History Of Cocktail Attire

A cocktail party in the 1930s | LIFE Magazine

As youre now aware, cocktail attire today is all about dandiness, a smattering of eccentricity and personality. But, in years gone by, things werent quite so informal.

In the early twentieth century, the upper classes would quite often indulge in a spot of alcohol-fuelled, mid-afternoon socialising. This was a chance to dress up in ones finery and show off.

Its debated as to whether the concept of the cocktail party arose in England or the United States what we are sure of is that it happened during the mid-1920s. One school of thought is that the idea originated with a woman from Missouri, a known socialite who invited 50 guests to her house for cocktails. From then on, cocktail parties became an institution in the States and quickly spread around the western world.

The dress code has been around ever since. To an extent, its followed trends in tailoring flares and huge collars in the 70s, for example but has become much more relaxed over time. A tuxedo, for instance, would have been perfectly appropriate cocktail wear in the 1920s. Over 100 years later, however, it would likely come across as a little over the top.

That being said, some pundits are predicting a decade of decadence post-pandemic. After spending so much of the early 2020s away from bars in head-to-toe jersey, maybe the roaring 20s are set for a re-run. Well drink to that.

Recommended Reading: Farm And Fleet Registry

Guide To Cocktail Attire For Wedding Guests

Cocktail Attire for Wedding GuestsHow to decipher a cocktail dress code, and our top picks to master the look

Youve received that exciting little piece of mail , checked and double checked the date, and sent your RSVP. Now all there is to do is start counting down the days to the big eventand plan your outfit. Many wedding invites specify a cocktail dress code. But what is considered cocktail attire for a wedding? What should you actually wear? Sure, you know what black tie isa gown and heels for women, a tux and freshly shined shoes for menbut when it comes to cocktail, the rules are far from clear. That said, wedding cocktail attire is easy if you know a few tips and tricks.

If The Invitation Asks For Cocktail Attire Men Should Wear:

Wedding Guest Etiquette for Cocktail Attire : Wedding Attire Etiquette
  • A dark to mid-gray suit
  • A button-down dress shirt in white or another muted color
  • A simple pocket square
  • Black dress shoes with a leather sole, such as oxfords
  • Over the calf socks that either match your trousers or pick up something in your outfit such as a color in your tie or bow tie
  • Of course, make sure you are clean shaven and you have a recent haircut
  • cocktail attire outfit variation 1 bleu suit, buff neckwear, white shirt, pale yellow pocket sqaure, shadow stripe socks and wholecuts in oxblood

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    Why The Proper Wedding Attire For Guests At A Wedding

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    It is not too difficult to choose the right wedding clothes to wear when you go to the wedding. Most of us make an effort to look our best when it comes to dating, and attending a wedding is no different. As some people may say, you just look better than you do when you go to someone’s wedding.

    Tracks Available on Invitation

    The question that comes to mind when deciding which wedding to wear is exactly that: What should you wear to a wedding? The answer to your question lies in the invitation to the wedding itself. If the wedding invitation you have in your hand is engraved and engraved and speaks in a very formal language, it simply indicates that the wedding is a formal ceremony. However, if the invitation is handled carelessly and in writing, it means that the wedding is a private affair.

    Another clue that will help you decide what wedding dress to decorate when you come out of the wedding venue. Church weddings that can be accepted in a high-end restaurant are always expensive to wear. If it is a wedding at the beach or a local wedding, it is perfectly acceptable to wear something that has been postponed.

    Day or Evening?

    Perhaps the most important clue that you need to consider in deciding what wedding dresses to wear is wedding time. It means a big difference if the wedding is to be held day or night.

    Improper Wedding Dresses

    * Denimim is not a big deal, even in casual weddings.

    How Much Does A Cocktail Outfit Cost

    You may not be sure how much to spend on your wedding outfit. While theres no set rule on how much to spend, you should still expect to spend a little bit on a nice outfit.

    If youre shopping retail, try to go to a higher-end store than something flimsy and fast-fashion. Look for lush, quality materials, and strong stitching.

    It can be harder to make such judgments online, so be sure to use a reputable website, ideally one that youve bought from before, so you have an idea of their sizing.

    If you want to thrift, spend a while hunting the racks for the perfect item you never know what youll find in the vintage realm, and if its high quality, it might not be as cheap as you expect.

    Read Also: Addressing Wedding Invitations To Family

    Do: Elevate Your Look With The Right Shoe

    Since wedding cocktail attire itself isnt the most formal type of dress, its important that you dont dress down your shoesa.k.a. leave the flip-flops for the beach and the sneakers for your errands. We hear you and agree when you say, But high-heels are uncomfortable! says McCann. But, we assure you, compromise can be found with a low kitten or block heel.

    When To Wear Cocktail Attire

    Cocktail Attire Wedding

    If you were invited to an event or celebration, then there may be a dress code included on the invitation. Obviously, if the invitation states cocktail attire, then you should abide by the invitation.

    However, there are many occasions that implicitly call for cocktail attire even if its not explicitly stated on the invitation or in the event details. Indeed, its a dress code often you could potential regard as the business casual of black tie.

    As a general rule of thumb, its always better to be a little overdressed for an occasion than it is to be underdressed. To paraphrase the late, great, Glenn OBrien, You can always tell people you have somewhere to go afterwards.

    We discuss some of the most common occasions that call for cocktail attire including weddings, anniversaries, formal sporting events and other occasions.

    Also Check: Wedding Expense Spreadsheet

    What Kind Of Wedding Will Call For Cocktail Attire

    There are a lot of different kinds of dress codes that a wedding may specify. A cocktail attire wedding will be slightly more casual than a formal attired wedding, which is the fanciest and most extravagant option there is.

    However, cocktail is still more formal than semi-formal, which often indicates a daytime wedding or something outdoors.

    A cocktail dress coded wedding will likely be in the mid-afternoon going into night and will probably be inside. It also may be slightly larger than a semi-formal wedding. All in all, a couple requiring cocktail dress wants their guests to look classy.

    Wedding Guest Attire Guidelines For Any Type Of Wedding

    Before 4 PM

    In general, daytime weddings are more casual, and so lighter fabrics, festive colors, and less-formal attire is the rule.

    For women, a nice daytime dress, skirt, and top, or jumpsuit are good choices.

    For men, a well-tailored suit in a mid-to-dark neutral color like gray, blue, or charcoal is appropriate.

    After 4 PM

    In the case of evening weddings, more formal styles, longer dresses, and gowns special occasion fabrics are appropriate for women

    Men should wear darker suits in navy, black, gray.

    Although sometimes a white dinner jacket or suit in a fun color can work too! We go into deep detail in our wedding attire style boards

    Above all, the wearer should also always chose something that fits with one’s own personal style as well as the requested dress code.

    Don’t Miss: Short Notice Wedding Planning Checklist

    A Visual Guide: Wedding Dress Codes Decoded

    Links to details product sources for the individual collages created by Dress for the Wedding Beach Chic: Outfit for an Outdoor Summer Wedding | Daytime: Pretty Yellow Printed Dress | Cocktail: Sequin Cocktail Dress for a Wedding Guest | Black Tie: What to Wear to a Fall Black Tie Wedding | | Formal: High Low Ball Gown | Destination: Blue Strapless Dress for a Wedding Guest | Afternoon: Coral Lace Dress | Rustic: Cold Shoulder Floral Maxi Dress

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