If your wedding invitation reads “cocktail attire,” you might be confused as to what’s considered cocktail attire for a wedding. While one of the most popular dress codes for weddings today, it’s also one of the most confusing — leaving many guests unsure of what to wear.
Traditionally, cocktail attire is somewhere between formal and relaxed, which can make it a bit tough when you’re trying to choose the right outfit. The term itself is vague, and doesn’t provide clear guidance on what to and not to wear, landing somewhere between formal, semi-formal, or casual. This confusion often leads to guests feeling uncertain about what to wear, resulting in a worry of either overdressing or underdressing for the event. But don’t worry, Menguin’s here to make it clear.
A cocktail attire dress code is typically less formal than black tie or white tie but still suggests a certain level of formality, requiring men to wear suits and ties that aren’t too formal but still elegant and comfortable. The perfect outfit for a cocktail attire wedding strikes a balance between casual and formal, as well as stylish and practical. It generally means a dark suit, dress shirt, and tie for men, and a cocktail dress or dressy separates for women.
A nice suit is a must for a cocktail attire wedding. It’s usually best to opt for darker colors like cobalt blue and steel gray. Darker colors are more appropriate for evening events and can create a nice contrast with your shirt and tie.
Generally, a tuxedo is considered too formal for a cocktail attire wedding, unless the invite specifies “black tie optional.” Above all, though, avoid wearing a white suit to a wedding.
Fit makes all the difference when it comes to any wedding outfit. Take advantage of Menguin’s free home try-on to make sure your suit hits you in all the right spots and is tailored to your body. A well-fitted suit can make you look sharp and put-together, while an ill-fitted suit can make you look sloppy and unprofessional.
A dress shirt is an essential part of any cocktail attire outfit. We recommend choosing a light-colored dress shirt that complements your suit. White shirts are always classic and versatile, but you can also experiment with colors like blue honeycomb, pink tickweave, or purple microcheck. Menguin’s shirts are made to keep you comfortable, and come in 100% breathable cotton to keep you looking and feeling cool.
A tie is a crucial accessory for a cocktail attire wedding. Pick a tie that complements the color of your suit and dress shirt, and that adds some personality and flair to your outfit. You can go for solid colors, stripes, or paisley patterns as well as long ties or bow ties — just make sure it doesn’t clash with your suit or shirt.
With all the different options available it can be difficult to know which pieces are gonna work together. Menguin lets you build your perfect look to mix-and-match our suits, ties, shirts, and accessories — or, you can make it easy by checking out our team’s professional recommendations to pick a combo you can be confident in.
Shoes are an essential part of any outfit, and they can make or break your whole look. Avoid sneakers, sandals, or boots as they are too casual for cocktail attire. Instead, keep it classy with black dress shoes or brown leather dress shoes, depending on what fits your look best.
Accessories can add a touch of personality to your outfit, but try not to go overboard. Accessorize your look with a pocket square, cufflinks, lapel pins, or suspenders. These items can enhance your style and add a touch of elegance without overpowering your outfit.
Socks may seem like an insignificant aspect of your look, but they’re an essential part of any outfit. Be sure to pick socks that match your shoes or suit color and cover your ankles when sitting down or crossing your legs. And it may be a good idea to avoid socks that are too bright, patterned, or novelty as they can clash with your overall look.
Since cocktail attire is a dress code that falls between casual and formal, for women this generally means a knee-length or midi dress or a dressy jumpsuit. While you can wear a long dress to a cocktail attire wedding, it's best to stick to a dress that falls at or just below the knee. If you do opt for a long dress, make sure it's not too formal — you don't want to upstage the bride!
A dressy jumpsuit is a great option for women attending a cocktail attire wedding, especially if you're not a fan of dresses. Just make sure it's an elegant fabric paired with heels or nice flats.
Here are some frequently asked questions about what to wear to a cocktail attire wedding:
Q: Can I wear black to a cocktail attire wedding?
A: Yes, you can definitely wear black to a cocktail attire wedding. In fact, black is a classic and elegant choice for this dress code. Just make sure to add some color or sparkle with your accessories to avoid looking too somber.
Q: What kind of shoes should I wear to a cocktail attire wedding?
A: For women, a pair of heels or dressy flats is appropriate for a cocktail attire wedding. Avoid wearing anything too casual, like sneakers or flip-flops. For men, dress shoes are a must.
Q: Can I wear a tuxedo to a cocktail attire wedding?
A: While a tuxedo is more formal than the typical cocktail attire dress code, you could wear a dark suit and tie instead. However, if you're attending a very upscale cocktail attire wedding, or if the invite mentions “black tie optional,” a tuxedo might be appropriate.
Q: Are there any colors I should avoid wearing to a cocktail attire wedding?
A: It's best to avoid wearing white or anything too bright or neon to a cocktail attire wedding. You don't want to draw attention away from the couple on their big day.
Attending a cocktail attire wedding gives you an opportunity to dress to impress and show off your unique style. Whether you choose a classic black suit or a bold and eccentric outfit, just have fun with it and be confident in your choice. And remember that Menguin has your back when it comes to picking out the perfect suit, and we make the suit rental process as easy as possible.
We hope this article about what to wear to a cocktail attire wedding has helped you choose the perfect outfit for the occasion. Remember, the most important thing is to feel comfortable and confident in what you're wearing, so you can enjoy the wedding and celebrate the happy couple!
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