Last week we discussed how to dress for a black-tie affair (hyperlink) so that you don’t end up sticking out like a sore thumb. This week, we’re tackling another tricky scenario, the cocktail party. These days it seems like every event is being called a cocktail and calling for cocktail attire. Well, what exactly does this mean? Cocktail attire may be required from events like wedding functions, corporate events, media events and other kinds of high-profile soirees. The thing to keep in mind when doing cocktail is that you want to look sharp, but a notch or two below black-tie. This means you don’t need to start dusting off your tuxedo tailcoats but perhaps reaching in your closet for that made-to-measure suit of yours that you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
One key rule to remember is to stick to more conventional colours. Feel free to jazz your outfit up with a funky tie or quirky cufflinks, but don’t use this as an excuse to wear that powder blue suit jacket you’ve been dying to take out for a spin. One colour that you might instinctively turn to is black but try to stay away from your black suits as you don’t want to blend in with the wait staff. Cocktail attire is sombre and serious while still being elegant and sophisticated. This is your time to shine as an adult and look great while doing it.
When it comes to your shirt of choice, feel free to be as conservative or eclectic as you like when it comes to colour but don’t pick a bold print or pattern. Though cocktail attire is less formal than a black-tie event, it is still a formal event. A white shirt is a good go-to option but if you want to play around with a baby pink, blue or even lemon coloured shirt you could use this as your chance. If you’re really dead set on something with a pattern, choose stripes, checks or light floral designs rather than a large motif so that you don’t take away from the rest of your outfit. Accessory wise you have a lot of freedom. Go wild with bright pocket squares, colourful ties, lapel pins and printed socks. Since your outfit is otherwise pretty straight forward, why not spice things up with a fun pair of monkstrap or patent leather shoes to really get the party going?
At the end of the day, remember that this is a formal event where people will be dressed up in their best suits. As much as you want your personality to shine through, find subtle ways to do this and save your purple velvet suit for Halloween.