Master your outfit *and* the dress code.
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Before you know it, wedding season will be in full swing, and you've probably got a few save-the-dates hanging on your fridge. If any of those upcoming events require cocktail attire, a cute dress is an excellent outfit choice. Think of wedding guest cocktail dresses as somewhere in between formal and semi-formal; you don't need to rent out a glamorous evening gown, but it's probably best to leave the mini skirt in your closet. Instead, aim for something in the middle, like a midi-length dress or a hemline that hits just around the knee.
With this particular dress code, you have some flexibility when it comes to colors and patterns (but steer clear of white). You should also know that accessories are encouraged; fine jewelry, hairpieces, dressy shoes and elegant clutches are all great ways to enhance your cocktail outfit. And, as always, consider the season and climate while you're shopping for your look.
Below, we've gathered our favorite cocktail dresses for wedding guests, organized by season (you're welcome). We've even included some designer rentals that you can wear and return on the cheap. Now that you know what a cocktail dress looks like, it's time to shop!
In this article:
- Spring Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
- Summer Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
- Fall Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
- Winter Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
Spring Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
Spring is a wonderful season for weddings and wedding attire. We've pulled a variety of spring cocktail dress styles—from one-shoulder designs to dreamy floral prints. Remember: To prepare for a surprise spring shower, it wouldn't hurt to pack a jacket or shawl and an extra pair of shoes, just in case.
Reformation Twilight Dress in Verde
Springtime was basically made for florals, so you'll fit right in with this lovely green dress. It has a fitted bodice, smocked back and tasteful leg slit. Plus, the breezy tie straps make it an ideal choice for warmer weather.
ELOQUII Striped Sequin Slip Dress in Green and Neutral Stripe
Get ready to sparkle in this plus-size cocktail dress—we love the green, blue, black and purple stripes. With formal sequins and a skirt below the knee, you'll feel appropriately dressed. If the weather's chilly, make sure to pack a matching jacket or shawl.
Self-Portrait Square-Neck Guipure Lace Midi Dress in Burgundy
A lace cocktail dress in a dark color is a lovely option for weddings. This burgundy midi dress has a romantic square neckline, short puff sleeves and a formal gathered skirt. You'll definitely rewear this elegant outfit.
Alex Evenings Plus-Size Sequin Jacket and Midi Dress in Steel Blue
Because spring weather can be unpredictable, consider cocktail dresses with jackets. What about this sequin jacket and midi dress by Alex Evenings? The soft blue color is so seasonal, and the two pieces are perfectly coordinated. Accessorize with an embellished hairpiece and a small clutch.
Kiyonna Whimsy Wrap Dress in Plum Passion
Now here's a classic wrap dress that'll get a lot of use. We're obsessed with the flouncy ruffles that cascade down the skirt. The adjustable design allows you to customize your fit for ultimate comfort. And how pretty is that deep plum color?
Reformation Cyprus Dress in Jolene
This black floral cocktail dress is the definition of charming. The elbow-length sleeves are just perfect for spring, and we're really into the full skirt. Pair it with a cute headband, delicate gold jewelry and neutral heels for a semi-formal cocktail look.
Summer Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
It's important to consider the wedding location and venue when choosing your summer cocktail dress. For example, if you're looking for a cocktail dress for a beach wedding, a lightweight fabric or something sleeveless might make sense. Keep scrolling to find the best formal and semi-formal cocktail dresses for every summer wedding style.
ASTR The Label Santorini One-Shoulder Midi Dress in Retro Floral
To start our summer picks, here's a stunning one-shoulder midi dress that came to impress. This dress has so many trendy elements: a puff sleeve, retro floral print and unique handkerchief hem. You'll feel summery and appropriately dressed in this standout pick.
Nasty Gal Plus-Size Cowl-Neck Satin Midi Slip Dress in Black
Simple yet elegant, you'll stun in this black wedding guest cocktail dress. The plus-size satin slip has adjustable spaghetti straps, a draped cowl neckline and a chic side slit. To complement the minimalist silhouette, pair it with dangly earrings and colorful pumps.
Jonathan Simkhai Speckle Print Asymmetric Ruffle Dress
You'll feel oh-so-fancy in this strapless pink cocktail dress. With a romantic sweetheart neckline, ruffle accents and a red-speckled design, it's a statement-making dress that'll earn plenty of compliments.
Adrianna Papell Plus-Size Hand-Beaded Midi Dress With Flutter Sleeves in Twilight
Be prepared to twinkle all night in this shimmery navy midi dress. The intricate botanical beadwork and elegantly flared skirt make this outfit perfect for an indoor summer cocktail event. (Don't forget to add even more sparkle with your accessories!)
Mac Duggal Ruched Off-the-Shoulder Midi Dress in Emerald Green
This dressy green cocktail dress definitely deserves attention. We absolutely love the one-shoulder neckline, ruched bodice and sleek slit. On top of all that, the rich emerald color is such an elegant shade for a formal cocktail event. Add bold earrings and black or nude stilettos to heighten the look.
$298 | Verishop
Leota Curve Perfect Wrap Dress in Orchid Meadow
This floral frock is a summer cocktail dress you'll seriously want to consider. The jersey fabric is soft, breathable and resists wrinkles, so you'll feel comfortable and ready to celebrate. Whether you're sipping bubbly on the beach or enjoying the air-conditioned indoors, you'll be grateful you chose this piece.
Fall Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
Fall is the perfect time to embrace warm colors and rich, earthy tones. Plus, you have lots of fun fabric options—hello, buttery soft velvet. Check out our favorite fall wedding cocktail dresses that are both stylish and cozy.
BHLDN Louisa Dress in Cinnamon
Sugar and spice, this cinnamon color is oh-so-nice. This silky cocktail dress has a classic wrap skirt that falls so beautifully. Short cap sleeves and a bow-tied belt add even more timeless elegance. Don't forget your gold hoops!
Adrianna Papell Long-Sleeve Hand-Beaded Sheath Dress in Black
This black cocktail dress is so chic, we can't even handle it. It has the coolest tux-inspired collar, not to mention stunning beadwork. Plus, you'll stay nice and warm in the long sleeves!
Reformation Melba Dress in Mademoiselle
There are so many beautiful autumn cocktail dresses to choose from. This eco-friendly floral midi has a sophisticated V-neck, subtly puffed sleeves and an adjustable tie waist. Fine jewelry, strappy heels and a small clutch would complement the outfit nicely.
City Chic Halter Twist Dress in Clove
It's the season of pumpkin spice, so we had to throw in this clove-colored cocktail dress. The halter neckline and draped front design make for a really fun fall silhouette. It would look so good paired with a cute coat and pumps.
Cider Elegant Velvet Midi Dress in Olive Green
This velvet wedding guest dress is one of our favorites for the fall. We're loving everything about this pretty midi: the super-soft fabric, the ruched bodice and the luscious olive green color. Make sure to bring a light jacket to face the autumn chill!
Kiyonna Plus Wildflower Embroidered Dress in Onyx
We just can't say no to a beautifully embroidered floral cocktail dress. This enchanting style has a sheer overlay, velvet accents and short flutter sleeves. You'll gladly dance the night away in this wildflower-inspired piece.
Winter Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses
Winter wedding cocktail dresses are some of the most beautiful. Enter: long sleeves, luxurious fabrics and deep, alluring hues (think: navy, black and burgundy). Here are our favorite fancy cocktail dresses curated exclusively for the wintertime. Don't forget to add a cozy faux-fur wrap or coat.
Kiyonna Mon Cheri Lace Cocktail Dress in Rose Gold
Modern meets glamour with this floral lace cocktail dress. The dress has a rose-gold metallic shimmer that will stand out gorgeously in the winter season. And did you catch those lovely scalloped details on the neckline and bottom hem? Sign us up!
$178 | Nordstrom
ELOQUII Sheer Midi Dress With Slip in Black
You'll look super chic in this black midi cocktail dress. The sheer dress has puff sleeves, an attached slip and allover polka dots for a fashion-forward winter wedding guest outfit. Bonus: The short sleeves will keep you cool while you're dancing!
Ivy City Co. Sweetheart Dress in Midnight
This dressy velvet cocktail dress is perfect for your next winter wedding. The sweetheart neckline, three-quarter sleeves and A-line skirt look beautiful in the embossed floral print. For accessories, try silver jewelry and neutral-colored heels.
Boohoo Plus Off-the-Shoulder Wrap Midi Dress in Berry
Here's another short-sleeve cocktail dress that's still winter-appropriate. The deep berry color is undeniably seasonal. And, the elegant off-the-shoulder neckline would look great accessorized with some statement jewelry.
Adrianna Papell Petaluma Sequin Dress in Navy
If you're searching for a winter cocktail dress that's on the shorter side, try this modest knee-length dress. The navy fabric is embellished with tiny crystals, sequins and beading, so you'll literally sparkle all night long. The elbow-length sleeves offer the perfect amount of coverage while still being dressy enough for cocktail attire. Simply add a coat and you'll be all set!
Saylor Cecilie Velvet Dress
Sophisticated and simple, this glittery velvet cocktail dress is a foolproof choice for your winter event. It has a square neckline and chic side slit that are so trendy for 2022. Most importantly, you can rent it for just $30 for four days (what a steal!).
Cocktail Wedding Attire for Women
While you might want to leave the mini skirt at home, it's perfectly appropriate to wear a midi cocktail dress or something that hits just above the knee. To modernize the dress code, consider wearing a sleek jumpsuit, a chic suit or a trendy skirt-and-top combo.
Cocktail attire is a delicate balance between formal and casual, as well as elegant and comfortable. For ladies, that typically equates to a midi or mini-length dress and heels. What Is an Appropriate Dress Length? Knee-length is great, though it can vary.What can I wear to a wedding besides a dress? ›
- Evening Jumpsuits. I personally love jumpsuits; they look so cool, and they're especially suitable for winter weddings. ...
- Suits for female wedding guests. Other options include pantsuits, which can be a great look for hijabi women. ...
- Wedding guest pants outfit ideas.
What dress styles can you wear to a casual wedding? Think midi-length sundresses, breezy maxi dresses, or even high-quality jumpsuits. High/low dresses are also great for a casual wedding if worn with an elevated sandal or a shorter heel.What is trending in weddings 2022? ›
Wedding Dresses With Puffy Sleeves and/or Corset Bodices
Blame in on Bridgerton, but wedding dresses with puff sleeves and corset bodices are BIG for 2022. The show may have kicked off the trends, but dress designers and brides took are taking it to a whole new level by adding in a little '80s flare.
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.Should a cocktail dress be long or short? ›
Is a cocktail dress long or short? A cocktail dress is always short and usually above the knee. They're designed for parties and special occasions that are semi-formal.What dress code is cocktail dresses? ›
What Is Cocktail Attire? Simply put, cocktail attire is nothing but formal clothing but far more celebratory. It is casual than your office wear and tad bit formal than your regular casual attire. More often than not, if you are expected to show up in cocktail attire, the invitation will say so.What color dress do you not wear to a wedding? ›
Traditionally, the only off-limits color for wedding guests has been white, for obvious reasons—no one wants to take attention away from the bride. But times are a-changin'. Now, many people simply don't see wearing white as a big deal. Some brides and grooms are totally cool with it.What colors are not OK to wear to a wedding? ›
You may choose to wear any color except black or white. The guest's goal should be to blend in with the surroundings and let the bride shine. As her guest, you should avoid attire that could be considered informal or in bad taste. Pastels, jewel tones and earth tones are excellent choices, as are most primary colors.
Blue Navy Color
It's also safe to say that navy blue is the best color to wear in black tie events like a wedding.
For a formal or semi-formal wedding, grandmothers may choose a formal gown, a longer style dress, or an elegant suit-like style. For a casual wedding, a dress is still appropriate, as is a pantsuit, or skirt and blouse or dress and jacket combination!What shouldn't a guest wear to a wedding? ›
It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire; jeans, T-Shirts, shorts, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest. Show respect for the bride and groom by dressing formally.What is the wedding color for 2022? ›
Blush, grey, mauve, beige and even a pastel blue are just some of the many hues when aiming for this palette. If your heart is begging for more color, try taking a brighter shade and looking at the softer, or subdued version such as a dusty rose for a touch of pink or light sage from the green family.How much should I spend on a 2022 wedding? ›
2022 wedding price tag
All told, the Wedding Report's average cost for a 2022 wedding sits at around $27,000, which is about on par with 2021 costs.
Steer Clear of Anything Too Casual
But these have no place at a wedding. Even if a wedding is casual and relaxed, still dress with respect. No flip, flops, shorts, or jeans should be on your list of options to wear.
If you're saying "I do" on October 22, 2022, you've officially landed the number-one most popular wedding date of the year. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, around 90,000 U.S. couples will marry on this date in 2022.What is the house style for 2022? ›
What are the home decorating trends for 2022? Several recurrent trends are appearing for interiors in 2022. Some of the most popular elements include curves and arches, the return of herringbone flooring, and bringing nature indoors through color and plants.What is ladies cocktail wear? ›
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).What color is cocktail attire? ›
The Cocktail Attire dress code is a semi-formal-to-formal dress code that is typically worn on evening occasions that can include professional events, retirement parties, cocktail parties, and weddings. It is typified by a dark suit, muted shirts, sedate accessories, and dark shoes.
So where to start? Understanding the difference between cocktail and formal dress, that's where. Traditionally formal or black-tie events require the wearing of a long gown; for a cocktail event, shorter frocks or pant or jumpsuit outfits are the go.What dress length is most flattering? ›
The most universally flattering hem length for women is knee length because it allows for the classic one-third/two-third proportion, which offers 1/3rd bare leg to 2/3rds coverage from neck to foot. It visually breaks the body in thirds and shows the most flattering part of the leg.What does cocktail dress code look like? ›
Different kinds of cocktail events
As a general guide, 'cocktail' means no jeans and no sneakers. You want dress chinos or suit pants, a button-up shirt or suit shirt, and probably a blazer or suit jacket. Ties are optional, but recommended, and your footwear should look sharp and polished.
Cocktail. A small step above semi-formal, though not as formal as black-tie optional or black-tie, cocktail attire is a popular dress code choice. It's a balance between elegant and comfortable and typically more formal than a day wedding but more casual than a night celebration.Can I wear a cocktail dress to a wedding? ›
Cocktail dresses are versatile and can fit in most occasions, even formal black-tie parties, as long as it is fashionable and ticks all the boxes of the black-tie dress code. You can wear a cocktail dress to award ceremonies, fundraisers, and weddings and look just as chic.Can I wear a long dress to a cocktail party? ›
Long dresses are an excellent option for cocktail party attire. If properly styled, a maxi dress can be a stylish cocktail dress. Cocktail dresses first appeared in Vogue's first issue in 1927. Semi-formal cocktail dresses can be worn for a late afternoon or early evening social gathering, event, or occasion.What is the difference between a cocktail dress and an evening dress? ›
#1: Choice of Fabric
Gowns are mainly made of organza, taffeta, satin, or similar other types of fabric. However, evening gowns are made of heavier fabrics like silk or velvet. On the contrary, cocktail dresses are made of lighter fabrics like cotton, chiffon, and lace. Light fabrics suit big and voluptuous women.
- 1 Red and Purple. ...
- 2 Pink and Bronze. ...
- 3 Orange and Blue. ...
- 4 Silver and Yellow. ...
- 5 Orange and Green. ...
- 6 Blue and Pink. ...
- 7 Yellow and Pink. ...
- 8 Blue and Gold.
For a more formal wedding, it is typically expected that female guests wear a long dress. But instead of breaking out the gown you wore to prom, try wearing a more appropriate evening gown. If the wedding is during the day, a pretty maxi dress should do the trick.Is it OK to wear a long dress to a wedding? ›
Absolutely! Wearing a maxi dress to a wedding is a great choice year-round. Be comfortable and fashionable when you spare the gown and wear a maxi-length dress to a wedding. Also known as a tea-length or a full-length dress, a maxi dress is long with a hemline that typically rests at or just below your ankles.
Wedding dress colour superstitions
Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in grey, you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you'll wish yourself dead.
The tradition of brides wearing white didn't start until Queen Victoria, but an old nursery rhyme says red, yellow, green, pink, grey and black will bring negativity to the marriage. Specifically, red will make you "wish you were dead."What color should a woman not wear to a wedding? ›
Avoid wearing anything that could be mistaken for a wedding dress, including white, off-white, beige, cream, or white lace. The most often colour avoided at weddings is still white. A bride needs to stand out from the crowd, especially because 80% of brides wear white on their wedding day.Is it better to wear hair up or down for wedding? ›
"If you are wearing a strapless dress, either hair down or half up, half down will look pretty and feminine while still showing off the neckline," advises Mar. Loose waves and a soft, flowing style is key. If your dress has a higher neckline, our pro says to consider an updo.What type of hair is most attractive? ›
A general observation across experiments was that straight hair was perceived as younger, healthier, and more attractive than wavy hair and darker shades (medium copper and brown) were perceived more positively than blonde hair.How do you thin your hair for a wedding? ›
A twisted-down hairstyle is an excellent option for brides with thin hair. It gives the volume that an updo would, but at the nape of your neck. Instead of a simple bun, have create a twisted effect with your hair and then have it loop at the bottom, giving an illusion of a low chignon.How can a woman over 60 look classy? ›
- Big patterns, bold colors. ...
- Breathable Fabrics Reign Supreme. ...
- Embrace the unexpected. ...
- Balance timeless with trends. ...
- Mix textures and metals. ...
- Eye-catching accessories. ...
- Denim that fits like a dream. ...
- Updated basics.
- Fancy up your flats. Just because a shoe is flat, doesn't mean it can't be dressy. ...
- Try new collar shapes. Blazers and structured jackets will never go out of style. ...
- Make an understatement. ...
- Carry the newest trends. ...
- Embrace the eclectic. ...
- Waist-defining Pieces. ...
- Mid-rise bootcut jeans. ...
- White pants.
This is yet another example of why color selection is so important when it comes to fashion for older women. It's better to stick with dark colors, such as black, dark blue, or bordeaux, for your basic items of clothing. You can always accessorize them with other colors. Just be extra careful with reds and pastels.Can you wear a floral dress to a wedding? ›
Can I wear a floral pattern to a wedding? Yes! A floral print outfit is an appropriate and stylish choice for all seasons and types of weddings.
As a general rule, stay away from both maxi and mini dresses and opt for something in between. You don't have to wear a cocktail dress to a cocktail party, though—jumpsuits, pantsuits, blazers, and blouses in fine materials are all great alternatives.Is it disrespectful to wear black to a wedding? ›
Generally, wearing black to a wedding is appropriate. "Guests can absolutely wear black to a wedding," says Shawne Jacobs, President and Creative Director of Anne Barge. "In the past, black was a color typically worn for mourning.What does cocktail attire mean for a woman? ›
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).What is acceptable for cocktail attire? ›
For women, cocktail attire is typically a cocktail dress: a knee-length dress designed for just such an occasion. For men, cocktail attire generally entails a suit that is less formal than a tuxedo.Is cocktail attire for a wedding formal? ›
Wedding cocktail attire is a blend of formal and casual attire. Unlike a formal wedding, you don't need to wear a long dress but can instead opt for a midi or tea-length dress. Most importantly, your dress should strike the right balance between elegance and comfort.What are the colors for wedding for 2022? ›
Blush, grey, mauve, beige and even a pastel blue are just some of the many hues when aiming for this palette. If your heart is begging for more color, try taking a brighter shade and looking at the softer, or subdued version such as a dusty rose for a touch of pink or light sage from the green family.What is cocktail attire for an older woman? ›
A cocktail dress is probably what you need. Cocktail dresses are dresses that are dressy yet not too extravagant. They are also sometimes called tea dresses or party dresses. Typically, a cocktail dress will be knee-length or mid-calf.What is a cocktail dress look like? ›
For women, cocktail attire typically calls for a dress that finishes at or above the knees and high heels. Although cocktail looks should always appear sophisticated, they can also be fun and embrace exciting colors, embellishments, cuts, and unique accessories.What is the difference between cocktail dress and party dress? ›
Cocktail dresses are made in different designs – from A-line to bodycon and asymmetric. These are the most popular designs, so women like to wear them to cocktail parties. Evening dresses are usually long, with A-line, sheath, trumpet, mermaid, and princess cut.What's the difference between cocktail and formal dress? ›
So where to start? Understanding the difference between cocktail and formal dress, that's where. Traditionally formal or black-tie events require the wearing of a long gown; for a cocktail event, shorter frocks or pant or jumpsuit outfits are the go.
When the Attire is Semi-Formal or Cocktail Attire. If you're wondering, "Can you wear black to a wedding that has a semi-formal or cocktail attire dress code?" the answer is yes. Especially if the ceremony starts after 5PM, darker colors are encouraged; while lighter colors are appropriate if the ceremony starts later.