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A Woman’s Guide to Dressing for Your First Cocktail Party

From Bachelorette to birthday parties, there are countless ways for us to party. But of all the different parties out there, few are as big an excuse to show off our style as the cocktail party.

But the images of elegant party outfits online can make dressing for this kind of shindig a little intimidating. To help put your mind at ease, we’ve assembled a woman’s guide to dressing for your first cocktail party.

The Cocktail Dress

A cocktail party is a semi-formal event, so a dress is the traditional choice for an outfit. When we say semi-formal, that means something between the sundress you’d wear to the farmer’s market and the gown you’d wear to the Met Gala.

When you’re looking for a cocktail dress, you’re looking for something that is about knee length, flattering, but tastefully cut. For many, this looks like the classic “little black dress,” but don’t be afraid to go for something in a bold color!

Pro Tip: The Cocktail Jumpsuit

Elegance does not have to mean giving up the comfort of pants. An elegant jumpsuit is just as classy as a dress and works well at a cocktail party.

The Shoes

Naturally, for a party this formal, you will want to avoid sandals or sneakers. Most people choose something with a heel, like pumps or boots. Shoes can either be a neutral color as an understated way to add to a colorful outfit or be a bold accent to a more neutral-colored outfit.

The Accessories

Technically, there is no law saying you must accessorize at a semi-formal event. But accessories are a great way to add some extra flair to your outfit. Here are some options available to you.

The Jewelry

When it comes to formal event jewelry, you must balance bold and sophisticated. A statement piece is perfectly fine but consider choosing one statement piece instead of making everything big or ultra-glamorous.

For example, if you’re doing big earrings, consider doing a more delicate necklace. Or you can choose between a big bracelet and several earrings.

The Handbag

Having everything with you is convenient, but a bulky purse or backpack will definitely take away from the elegance of your outfit. Look for a small crossbody or a small handbag you can hold with you. If possible, look for something metal or neutral-colored so it will match every outfit.

The Hat

Most people have heard of a cocktail dress, but few are aware of the existence of the cocktail hat. Cocktail hats are small, brimless hats that’re usually decorated extravagantly with beads or feathers. They have an elegant, vintage feel for those wanting to make a statement.

But not everyone is interested in this level of statement-making. If not, you can always go for a different formal-occasion hat. Our collection of Dobbs fedoras, for instance, will make you the belle of any cocktail ball.