If you’ve been following my ongoing 30 Dresses in 30 Days series, you know it’s safe to say that I have a black belt in dress shopping. Now that the series is in its fifth season, my dress shopping skills are finely-honed, thanks in large part to my shortlist of go-to dress designers like Jovani that never fail to surprise and delight. Of course, this season was no exception as evidenced by the black lace beauty I’m wearing for today’s occasion—a cocktail attire wedding.
How To Dress for Cocktail Attire Weddings
Today I’m breaking down everything you need to know about cocktail wedding attire. But before getting into the rules of the road, I should note that if you’re prepping for any upcoming special occasion—cocktail attire or not!—definitely take a virtual walk through Jovani’s insane collection which is sold at Neiman Marcus, Harrod’s and countless specialty boutiques worldwide. Their assortment is so incredible, ranging from perfect cocktail dresses (like the one I’m wearing today!) to stunning gowns perfect for a rehearsal dinner or black-tie event. I’ve also even spotted several that would make absolutely amazing Mother of the Bride dresses—something I know is not so easy find!
Without further ado, a simple style guide to what cocktail attire means, what colors are appropriate and what the difference is between cocktail attire and black-tie optional…
WHAT DOES COCKTAIL ATTIRE MEAN?
Cocktail attire means any formal dress that’s tea-length and above. So just remember that this is a family affair. So you don’t want to go too short or too revealing. If the ceremony is in a church and you’ve opted for a strapless or spaghetti strap number (anything with a good amount of skin showing), I’d suggest wearing a wrap, stole or jacket for that portion of the evening.
WHAT COLORS ARE APPROPRIATE?
Aside from avoiding anything white or ivory, the world is your oyster! When wearing a black dress, I like to make sure that the somber tone is balanced by some other celebratory element, like the lace and beading in today’s Jovani dress.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCKTAIL ATTIRE AND BLACK TIE OPTIONAL?
For the most part, you can approach cocktail attire and black tie optional in the same way. The only exception is if you want to wear a formal floor-length evening gown, then you should really only wear one if the invitation says Black Tie Optional and your date is wearing a tuxedo. If it’s black tie optional and your date opts for a suit, go for a cocktail dress that’s tea length or shorter. But if you don’t have a date, try to touch base with other wedding guests and get a sense for whether most men in attendance (or at least the guys at your table) are wearing tuxedos. When in doubt, however, opt for a cocktail dress.
Thanks to Jovani for partnering on this post!