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A Guide to Cocktail Attire: The Dos & Don'ts

02.21.24Yvette Anderson

A Guide to Cocktail Attire: The Dos & Don'ts

A Guide to Cocktail Attire: The Dos & Don'ts

Posted by Claudia Larbie on


With temperatures rising and silly season right around the corner, it’s no shock that the infamous seasonal questions arise yet again. What is cocktail attire & how do I do it correctly?

This is the question that stumps us all, year after year. And honestly, I wish we could say that there's a general rule of thumb but with how quick the fashion cycle moves, it’s no shock this question needs a little tender loving & care.

Lucky we’re here & so excited to feed you information to help figure out the right way to do cocktail dressing. A way that addresses all the big factors in fashion. Comfort, style & of course versatility. 

What is Cocktail Attire?

Meeting somewhere between formal and casual, cocktail attire can easily be referred to as the fun middle sister. She’s essentially the middle ground, the glue to all that is great. 

Cocktail attire is essentially slightly formal dressing but made fun and flirty. With cocktail style dressing, you’re given a little more room to move around than usual. You can take it down the route of turning it up a notch, break the rules but obviously not too much. We still want to look extremely put together.

It’s celebratory formal wear with leniency! Think, something you would wear to a corporate Christmas party. You want to look cute but ensure the girls are far tucked away cause your boss is going to be nearby. 

What To Wear For a Cocktail Attire Dress Code?

Depending on the type of occasion and time of the occasion, it’s crucial to pick something elegant & comfortable. Midi dresses are great, no matter the type of celebration. They work just as well for a wedding or a cocktail party on a boat.

If you’re not a dress type of girl, don’t fret! Turn your head to the most stylish & timeless combo of all time. An evening top & a trusty pair of trousers, this pairing is so great because you can often find it in an outrageous  amount of colours, fabrics and silhouettes. For a summer day party, a cute pair of bright coloured linen trousers work great with a party top whilst a midi dress adorned in florals work perfectly. 

In a nutshell, cocktail attire can sometimes be pretty straightforward, especially if you’ve done your research and honed into the most important dos & don’ts. Enough chit, chatter - let’s get straight into it so you can be the best dressed at your next event. 

Don’t: Wear Revealing Necklines & Hemlines 

Do: Wear Appropriate Clothing

When we say appropriate, we’re talking something you could wear around your boss. The case often is, if you’re invited somewhere with cocktail attire as the dress code, the stakes are a little high. Perhaps, it’s someone’s 30th & their whole extended family is going to be there or it’s an engagement party where forever memories are going to be made. 

Appropriate necklines here could be cowl necks, square necklines, boat necklines & more! Our wedding guest dress collection has definitely got you covered when it comes to choosing something appropriate! Browse our cocktail & party dresses to find your perfect dress. 

 Don’t: Wear Any Denim

Do: Swap Any Denim Options for Tailored Trousers 

I know, it may be easier to turn your head to one of the best combos of all time - jeans & a nice top but unfortunately, we’re going to have to stop you there. Denim is definitely not in the glossary book of cocktail attire. 

Whilst denim is a forever classic & stylish choice it’s for sure not appropriate for a cocktail event! If you’re wanting to reach for your favourite pair of denim - swap them out for some tailored trousers. If you’re looking at that denim skirt that carried you through all those fun nights with your besties - swap it out for a fine midi or pleated skirt. 

 Don’t: Overdo the Jewellery (Now’s Not the Time to Stack) 

 Do: Keep Jewellery Minimal 

With accessorising in this department, less is always more. A mantra we live & swear by. You wouldn’t want to be stacking up the jewellery when it’s time to head out to your bff's 30th birthday dinner. Like we mentioned before, chances are, there’s going to be plenty of photo ops and the last thing you want happening is you looking back at photos and thinking; why did I wear that chunky love heart necklace. 

You’re better off sticking to what you know & love. If you love statement jewellery, one stand out piece should do the trick. If you’re a dainty queen - don’t fret! Chances are your cute little necklace & bracelet are most likely going to speak for itself. 

Don’t: Wear That Ball Gown 

Do: Wear that Midi Dress You’ve Been Eyeing

Please save that stunning ball gown for your next white-tie event because this is definitely not the time. Not only will you stick out like a sore thumb, but you may steal the attention from the focal point of the cocktail party. 

However, midi dresses are perfect for almost any cocktail occasion. They fall halfway between the knee & the ankle and often come in a copious amount of styles, cuts, fabrics and silhouettes. If you find yourself stuck, you can never go wrong with a cowl neck satin number! Another dress that’ll always do the trick are bias cut styles, just chefs kiss!

Don’t: Put On Those Sneakers or Slides 

Do: Turn To a Pair Of Heels 

It may seem like the easiest (and most comfortable) option to just slide on your favourite sandals but trust us, you’re going to want to make sure you’re wearing heels. The second you step into that venue - you’re going to feel extremely underdressed in comparison to other attendees and your colleagues. 

Lucky for you, there’s plenty of heel options for you to choose from. A strappy heel will always get the job done whilst a block heel ensures stability throughout. A stiletto adds an element of sophistication whilst an open-toed mule is fun, flirty & forever cute. 

So long as comfort is at the forefront of your mind - you should be good! 

What Are the Popular Styles for Cocktail Dresses in Australia?

In Australia, cocktail dress fashion is all about versatility and style. Midi dresses offer timeless elegance, while mini dresses bring flirty fun to any party. Embrace the allure of maxi dresses for those special occasions (but remember no balls gowns). Our collection caters to these popular styles, ensuring you're always on-trend and ready to make a statement, no matter the occasion.

What Bag Should I Take to My Cocktail Event?

When choosing a bag for your cocktail event, opt for a clutch. This small, strapless accessory adds a feminine and flattering touch to your outfit. It's the perfect choice for night events, allowing you to carry your essentials stylishly. If you'd rather some balance, a small bag with straps might just do the trick - I think a blanket rule here would be no oversized bags whatever you do. 

So whether you were just looking to make more effort & learn about cocktail attire or have got an important cocktail party in your calendar - Shop our stunning collection of party & cocktail dresses online now!