What To Wear To A Wedding: Cocktail Attire

Knowing what to wear to a wedding can be challenging, especially for those who don’t know the bride and groom well, but many invitations will include clues to proper attirein this case, cocktail attire.  Cocktail attire conjures up different styles for many people, but here are a few hints from fashion experts on what to wear for a cocktail-style wedding.



  1. A cocktail dress just around knee-length is always best.  Make sure its a well-fitted garment, nothing that sags or hangs off the body.  Sagging or loose-fitting dresses often have a more casual tone unfitting of cocktail attire.  The color of the dress varies with the season; jewel-tones in the fall and winter, soft pastels for spring, and bright, but classic tones for summer.  Of course, the “little black dress” is always in fashion, but never, ever wear white to wedding! (Unless, of course, you’re the bride). 
  2. Separates are another choice for women for cocktail attire.  Pencil skirts and a silk blouse are a popular pairing.  Again, the skirt should be right around knee-length and the blouse should follow the color rules for cocktail dresses. 
  3. Pants – some women are just more comfortable in them. Although pants are not the suggested attire for women, it is possible to make them work for the event. In order to dress in pants appropriate for cocktail attire, make sure they’re fitted, with a straight-leg style, as well as an elegant material.  Heels are a must to make pants cocktail-appropriate.  A silk blouse with embellishments like a jeweled neckline add a refined touch.  
  4. Accessorize with understated jewelry and a small clutch.  This isn’t the red carpet, therefore, Neil Lane diamonds are not necessary and anything that risks outshining the bride is strictly forbidden.


  1. Fashion experts agree that cocktail attire for a wedding means one thing for men: dark suits.  Whether its a three-piece suit with a vest or a black suit and bow-tie, a suit is the only proper attire.  
  2. A tie is a must. A bow-tie or neck-tie is fine, but keep it simple, chic, and polished.  Silk or satin ties are popular in a solid color  – something in the bride’s wedding colors is a nice touch, but don’t overdo it or it’s possible to end up looking like the bridal party.
  3.  Accessorize with cufflinks, a nice watch, or even a bold shoe.  Wing-tip shoes are making a comeback and weddings are a great place to show them off – just make sure they match the suit! 
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