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 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.What is proper cocktail attire 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).Can you wear a maxi dress to a cocktail wedding? ›
Finally, while cocktail dresses are generally a midi length or higher, you can still wear a maxi, but in this case, it's best to opt for a more casual fabric. What Is a Cocktail Dress? Cocktail attire is a delicate balance between formal and casual, as well as elegant and comfortable.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.
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 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.What colors should you not wear to a wedding? ›
- Off white or ivory.
- All Black.
- All Red.
- Overly sparkly or heavily metallic.
- Bridesmaid dress colour.
- Mother of the bride or groom dress colour.
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 makes a good cocktail dress? ›
Formal Cocktail Attire
Black and other neutral hues are great choices. Choose a dress that is made from high-quality materials and that isn't too short. Pair your dress with some sleek and sophisticated accessories to complete your look.
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 is the difference between a dress and a cocktail 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.What should you not wear to a cocktail event? ›
For cocktail events, you'll want to avoid anything with a plunging neckline or too many cut-outs. It can be helpful to ask yourself: would I comfortably wear this in front of my boss or my grandparents?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 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
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. Instead, ladies find a casual dress, and men wear a nice pair of this with a relaxed shirt.
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.Is a cocktail dress knee length? ›
Elegant, sleek & suitable for semi-formal to formal occasions - Put simply, a cocktail dress is typically a knee-length party dress to wear at a cocktail party.
Cocktail pants for women – Sleek wide leg pants
If you're not a dress girl and the event dress code reads 'cocktail' never fear – there are acceptable cocktail pants you can wear to such occasions. Ditch the skinny jeans and opt instead for chic wide-leg pant.
There is such a thing as going too formal. The time to wear a floor-sweeping gown is not at a cocktail party. Opt for anything between a mini- and midi-length dress or skirt.What's something you should never wear as a wedding guest? ›
Avoid sequined dresses and any clothing that will draw attention away from the bride. A wedding isn't the proper time to make a bold fashion statement. Ditch your everyday jeans and tee. Even if the wedding initiation says “casual”, wearing sneakers, t-shirts, shorts, and jeans are never appropriate for a wedding.What should a 70 year old woman wear to 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 colour is unlucky at a wedding? ›
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.
- Big patterns, bold colors. By the time you've reached your 60s, your outlook is refreshing—you've learned not to take yourself or life too seriously. ...
- Breathable Fabrics Reign Supreme. ...
- Embrace the unexpected. ...
- Balance timeless with trends. ...
- Mix textures and metals.
Too many soft, delicate colors. Our skin tone fades as we get older, so wearing softer shades can be more flattering. But be aware that wearing too many pastels will make you look older. If you want to wear light colors from head to toe, opt for pale neutrals like nude, ivory, light gray, or beige.Can you wear a midi dress to a cocktail party? ›
If you want to wear a longer dress, choose an elegant midi dress. Formal midi dresses offer the perfect length and look for a formal cocktail event. Women can indeed wear the right trousers to a cocktail attire event.Can you wear a cocktail dress to a formal wedding? ›
Black Tie Optional (Formal)
According to Corry, men can wear a dark suit instead of a tuxedo and a conservative tie instead of a bow tie. For women, "a chic cocktail dress is perfect," says Corry. Dressy separates are okay, too.
Cocktail attire typically calls for dress shoes, such as oxfords, loafers, or pumps. If you're wearing a dress or skirt, you'll want to avoid shoes with too much of a casual look, such as sneakers or sandals. A good pair of shoes can make or break a situation almost anywhere.
Sometimes also called the after 5 attire, men would change their clothes from their daily work suit to a pre-dinner dress to wear while having a drink with canapés (or many drinks on some occasions). The after 5 drink tradition continued long after the 1920s, and the men's cocktail attire with it.What do you wear to a cocktail party in the winter? ›
What is Winter Cocktail Attire? Winter cocktail attire consists of dressing in subdued tones, wearing long sleeves and layers, and accessorizing with shawls.What classes should a cocktail dress be? ›
It's a term we hear often, but what actually is a cocktail dress? The modern definition has come to mean a shorter, above-the-knee style that's sophisticated yet 'party ready'. This could mean anything from a simple silk shift to an embellished skater dress – the choice is yours.Is cocktail dress 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 should a woman wear to a summer wedding 2022? ›
What should guests wear to a summer wedding? Dresses in floral prints and bright colors are always a stylish and fun choice for warm-weather weddings. For summer weddings with a formal dress code, guests should consider wearing mid-length to floor-length gowns in light and breathable fabrics.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 length dress is a cocktail dress? ›
Cocktail dresses typically hit around the knee and come in a variety of colors, the most classic of which is the little black dress. As a general rule, stay away from both maxi and mini dresses and opt for something in between.What dresses are in style for spring 2022? ›
Some of the biggest spring trends for 2022 include tiered skirts, ruffled sleeves, and tiny floral prints, and no matter your style, you're sure to find a dress that's perfect for your body and budget.What dress style is in for summer 2022? ›
The biggest — and the most can't-miss — summer 2022 fashion trends like mini skirts and platform shoes, as well as mood-boosting styles like fringe, will ensure you're ready for a dopamine dressing takeover.