TUSSAH Lina Cocktail Dress
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Receiving an event invitation in the mail is exciting, but many of us can be completely confused when the dress code is "cocktail". It can be even worse when you're confronted by a cocktail derivative like "cocktail-casual" or "cocktail-formal". Deciphering exactly what is expected of you can be downright puzzling.
So, what does a "cocktail" dress code actually mean? Well, it depends. It depends on the event. It can depend on the country you're in and on the cultural background of the host. The venue can play a part. So can the weather. Here are some pointers to help you nail your outfit for your next cocktail occasion.
First, it's essential to consider that cocktail dress codes can vary depending on the country and city. In some locations, dressing up for occasions is part of the culture. Consider fashion destinations like Paris, London, Milan and New York where the definition of cocktail attire can be more formal. But other places with a more relaxed vibe may have a less-formal approach to cocktail dressing.
The climate will also play a role too. Some warmer climates embrace a relaxed, holiday vibe and as a result, dress codes may not require a heavy suit or long gown. More casual, light and breathable clothing could be totally appropriate.
The venue can be another influencing element. If your event is at an exclusive and rather posh location, you might want to dress up a little more. But if your event is in a location function hall, it might not be necessary to pull out your diamonds.
But probably the biggest factor affecting how you should approach a "cocktail" dress code is the host. Cocktail means different things to different people, and this applies to people that come from a different culture to yours. So, keep your host in mind when choosing an outfit.
Source: Instagram user Anna Heinrich
For women, cocktail generally means a semi-formal dress with a hemline at the knee or mid-calf. However, both longer and shorter dresses can be welcome depending on the style.
When choosing a cut, consider that cocktail events can be formal. So it might be a good idea to stay away from very low necklines and mini-dress hemlines. Feel free to experiment with colours, styles and fabric choices to make you stand out from the crowd. Who says you have to wear a dress? There are plenty of options available that allow you to make a statement. Wearing a pantsuit or jumpsuit is on-trend and has recently been accepted into the standards of cocktail attire for women.
Source: Instagram user Anna Heinrich
Source: Instagram user David Jones Store
Source: Instagram user Sammy Robinson
Source: Instagram user Myer
Source: Instagram user Manning Cartell
Source: Instagram user The Iconic AU
The general rule for men is to avoid denim at all times. Cocktail for men generally means a casual suit, or a shirt and dress pants.
While a tie is optional, a cocktail event is the time to experiment with accessories. Coloured pocket squares, textured ties or a flashy belt can add flair, personality and style to your outfit.
Source: Instagram user Dalt Graham
Source: Instagram user John Legend
Source: Instagram user Simon Hancock
If you are still feeling unsure of your cocktail outfit, it might be a good idea to ask the host or hostess for some clarification. Your event's host will probably have some specific ideas of what "cocktail" means – especially if they've taken the time to specify that the event is in fact a cocktail event.
Just ask for their opinion – whether it be through text message, phone call or in person. You can show them an image of what you plan to wear, or if you prefer, just ask their general opinion on what they expect their guests to wear. This could prevent any awkwardness from happening during the event and it ensures that everyone enjoys their evening.
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