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The cocktail attire. How to dress for weddings and special events

cocktail attire

I love fashion and stylish clothes and have many outfits for every day and every occasion. In the past everything was easier, because people had only two dress codes for events: White Tie for formal occasions and Black Tie for less formal.

What is cocktail attire?

This dress code appeared in the 20s and 30s when it became popular among rich people to enjoy drinks and canapés before dinner. At that period of time men had to be dressed suitably for events like this.

By the level of Formality, Cocktail Attire is semi-formal and placed right in the middle between the most informal style - Casual and the most formal - White Tie. Nowadays the “between day and evening” dress code is used for cocktail events and also is the best choice for weddings, parties and special events. Cocktail Attire dress code is the most popular and comfortable because most of the men already have garments in the closet to make up such a look. This dress code is versatile and every gentleman should have at least one outfit ready in the wardrobe for future events.

Elements of the cocktail attire outfit:

  • A dark, navy or muted grey suit. Almost every shirt and accessory will look good with them
  • A dress shirt matching the colour of your suit or blazer. A white, light pink or light blue shirt is a versatile option
  • Silk, linen or seersucker necktie or bow tie in plain colour or elegant pattern.
  • Black or dark-brown leather dress shoes, for example, Oxfords
  • Calf-length socks which compliment the colour of your trousers, shirt or tie. If you are brave enough you can go for patterned or coloured socks to express your personality
  • A leather or suede belt
  • A pocket square made from silk and neutral in colour
  • Impeccable grooming: clean-shaven with a fresh haircut

main in black suit

Cocktail attire Don’ts:

  • Don't be too formal: no tuxedo or white tie
  • Don’t put on a black suit - it is appropriate only for funerals or office
  • Don’t wear casual clothes. T-shirt, chinos, jeans and polo shirts are absolutely inappropriate
  • Don’t forget to wear a tie or a bow tie. You may remove it after some time, but don’t arrive to the event without it
  • Don't wear any casual shoes such as loafers or shoes without laces
  • Don’t forget to wear socks. Going sockless might be very popular nowadays, but not good for a special occasion
  • Don’t wear flashy colours and bright accessories if a particular person is supposed to be the focus of the evening
  • Don’t be scared to ask hosts a question if you are not sure whether a chosen outfit will be appropriate for an event. This is much better than feeling awkward and confused at the party.

Best cocktail attire at a wedding

The tips for cocktail attire above will work well for most weddings. Such dress code makes you look elegant and stylish without being too bright, the main focus on this day should be on the bride and groom. You can’t break the rules of the cocktail attire unless the theme of the wedding is a “beach party” or anything that is not common. Whether it is an informal or an artist wedding, you should always customize your look and match the style.

For a wedding, I would wear a morning suit: grey trousers, a grey waistcoat, a black jacket and a coloured tie.

Best cocktail attire for a party

It is very easy for women to choose a dress for such an event because they have cocktail dresses, but for men choosing an outfit might become a challenge. First, men should understand which kind of an event they are going to and then decide what to wear.

 If there is a dress code for an event, then follow it. If not, then remember that cocktail parties are considered relaxed events and a navy or charcoal suit might be too much. A grey suit or a suit of light colour is a good choice. You don’t have to be “conservative”, so you can even go for flashy accessories such as pocket squares, cuff links, boutonnières, tie bars. However, you shouldn’t use more than two accents, otherwise, you will look awkward.

For a party, I would wear a 3-pieces blue suit or a linen suit during summer for a very relaxed daytime event.

well dress

So, if now you get an invitation that says that you are required to follow the cocktail attire dress code, you know what to wear to look the part. Dress properly for a wedding without being too bright. Don’t wear your business suits for a cocktail party and let yourself add some colours to your look. I hope I gave you a decent cocktail attire dress code guide, so you can use it for the next party and enjoy the event to the fullest.

Alessandro Rocco Pietrocola is an entrepreneur and investor based in London and operating mainly in Europe, Asia and Oceania with main focus on UK, Baltic Countries, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East and New Zealand as area of interest! At the moment is the CEO of Astorts Group. He is an UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) Approved Person and is has great experience as director of regulated companies. He uses to dedicate part of his life to inspire others and help them achieve the most out of their life. Since he was 20, he had successfully founded and managed several companies operating in the field of management consulting, wealth management and fintech. He loves travelling, he is a cigars lover, an amateur golfer and a dapper man.

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