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Cocktail Attire for Women 2022 — Dos and Don’ts to Remember

Let’s cut to the chase: Dress codes are hard. After all, there are so many of them! From black-tie and white-tie to smart casual, it’s kinda impossible to remember what each means. But thankfully for us all, some are more common than others—giving us a chance to feel like we understand at least one or two types of dress codes. (It’s not a lot, but it’s something!) One definitely worth remembering, though? Cocktail attire.

Whether you’re headed to a wedding (which has its own set of rules, ICYMI) or have plans to attend a swanky party, the cocktail dress code comes up pretty dang often. Essentially, it means you should dress in relatively formal clothing—but not too formal. It’s kind of an in-between place, if you will. Think: mini and midi dresses that are chic and polished, suiting that’s a bit more tailored, and footwear that feels elevated (literally, if you’re wearing heels). It’s the perfect combination of elegant and comfortable.

To give you a better idea of ​​what these entails, keep scrolling for the dos and don’ts of cocktail attire for women, along with ways to shop ‘fits that are totally appropriate for this particular dress code. You can thank us later.

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Skip the floor-length ballgown.

Instead, save it for a black-tie event and opt for a dress that has a mini or midi length. This allows you to be a little bit more casual without skimping on style. Just be wary of hemlines before you head out! Sometimes, when you add a sky-high pair of heels, a dress can become even shorter. For your own comfort (and the sake of the dress code), peek in the mirror to double-check the length.


Jeans are a no-go.

Chic trousers, on the other hand, make for a great ‘fit. You can pair them with a simple, sleek blouse, a flirty top, or a classic button-down and blazer (if you want to go full suiting). Keep in mind that a tailored trouser is likely going to look more polished than something trendier. So while you dog choose a pair of wide-leg trousers, make sure they’re on the formal side.


Avoid sweats and athleisure.

We get it—you wanna be comfy. But there are plenty of non-sweatpants ways to ensure you’re feeling great while also adhering to a cocktail attire dress code. Meet your new BFF: the jumpsuit. A dressier jumpsuit gives you the comfort you want (hi, pants) without making you look too casual.


Sneakers? Let’s not.

Of course, a great pair of sneakers is a beautiful thing. When the dress code is cocktail attire, though, it’s best to swap them out for something a little more formal. A go-to is a classic pair of heels or a dressy flat (for those who want extra comfort). Whether you keep it simple or opt for something trendy and statement-making, your footwear should complement whatever you’re wearing—and make your ‘fit look even more fab.


Leave the graphic tees at home.

Casual tops are likely not gonna fly at a cocktail party. Sure, a T-shirt tucked into trousers might look formal enough for the office, but this particular dress code is a bit stricter on that front. Instead of a tee, try a cool one-shoulder blouse or a flowy button-down paired with trousers or a cute skirt.


Don’t overdo it.

By all means, go bold with bright colors and fun cut-outs—just skip elements like sparkles and other over-the-top details. Cocktail attire is, in a word, chic. So toned-down vibes are going to be your best bet. Swap the sequins for a silky fabric and wild embellishments for bold accessories. You’ll still look gorge. Trust.

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