StyleBible Preview

Here's What to Wear When the Dress Code Calls for a "Cocktail Attire"

Here's What to Wear When the Dress Code Calls for a "Cocktail Attire"
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/jessicawang, sarahlahbati
Confused? Check out these dos and don'ts!

We admit: Dress codes can be quite confusing. For starters, there are different types to remember. Cocktail, black tie, white tie, creative black tie, casual, business, business casual—frankly, the list goes on. What's more, you have so much to consider for each dress code that it actually feels more restricting as opposed to what it should actually be—a guide.


And because we know just how perplexing and ambiguous these things can be, we came up with a series in hopes to make dress codes simple and uncomplicated. For this week, let's dissect one of the most common dress codes: cocktail attire.

Cocktail attire is a tricky dress code to master. For one, what does "cocktail" really pertain to? Is it the length? The fabric used? Does it mean we're only allowed to wear a short dress? Below, we answer all these questions and more! Keep scrolling to see our suggested shopping list, too.

What Is Cocktail Dressing?

A cocktail dress code asks the invitee to wear something that's sophisticated but not too formal. The term asks for you to come in a dress that's knee-length and is slightly dressier than your usual attire. Think of your LBDs and embellished frocks.

watch now

Cocktail vs. Semi-Formal

Yes, these two are actually different from each other! While the two would usually suggest for you to wear darker colors, the cocktail dress code allows more room for you to flaunt your personality. You can wear color and embellishments when the invitation asks you to wear a cocktail attire. Meanwhile, semi-formal calls for a more subdued tone. Long gowns are not required for cocktail, while it's acceptable albeit optional for a semi-formal attire. 

When and Where Can You Wear a Cocktail Attire?

Cocktail attire is the standard dress code for most parties and evening functions, unless there's a prescribed theme or code. Just pay attention to the type of fete you're going to and work your way from there.

What Do I Wear for a Cocktail Dress Code?

Here are some dos and don'ts when it comes to the cocktail dress code. Scroll down for more dressing tips when the invitation calls for a cocktail attire, along with a mini shopping guide to get you started.


1. DO wear modest necklines and hemlines.

More often than not, you'll be socializing with a lot of people so better not wear something you wouldn't have your boss see you in. Plunging necklines and too short (or too long) of a hemline are also a no-no. Remember that cocktail dressing is different from your night-out attire.




Sequinned dress, P7595; Lace dress with bow, P6595,  ZARA, One Bonifacio Mall

2. DON'T wear jeans.

Sleek trousers or jumpsuits are more preferred over jeans since the latter looks too laidback. However, you can always check in with the host if they wouldn't mind. Consider the theme and venue of the party, too, before you decide on wearing denim jeans.




Wide trousers, P2690, H&M, Robinsons Magnolia

3. DO wear heels.

Cocktail parties are much dressier than your usual house parties so a little posture-correcting heels won't hurt. Skip the casual sneaks and go for footwear that can give you a little height boost.


PHOTO BY Charles & Keith


Satin Embellished Buckle Mary Jane Heels, P4150, CHARLES & KEITH, TriNoma


4. DON'T be afraid to accessorize.

If you're not sure whether your bedazzled frock is a safe choice to wear to the event, it doesn't mean you have to show up looking plain. You can always level up your ensemble with some bijoux. Start with a statement accessory if you're not too keen in layering shiny baubles.




Crystal square earrings, P995, MANGO, Glorietta 2

5. DO explore the alternatives.

While frocks are the expected outfit for cocktail events, you also have other options! A cool jumpsuit is just as good as your LBDs. You can even take your suit co-ords for a spin, too. Just remember to accessorize, tote an elegant clutch, and switch to fun stilts to bring out its party vibe.


PHOTO BY Bershka


Cargo jumpsuit with mirrored sequins, P3295, BERSHKA, SM Megamall

6. DO try mixing texture, color, and prints.

So long as the chosen pieces match the occasion, you should be fine! Think of bloom-laden dresses worn in a summertime soiree, dotted frocks to brunches, or feathered hemlines for an after-work dinner party. But if you can't gauge the general feel of the celebration, your safe bet is to wear luxe fabrics like velvet, silk, and satin. These are dressy materials that you can easily pair with a midi skirt or flared trousers.


PHOTO BY Stradivarius


Faux leather pleated skirt, P2295, STRADIVARIUS, SM Aura

Related Stories from

Hey, Preview readers! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, and Twitter to stay up to speed on all things trendy and creative. We’ll curate the most stylish feed for you!

More Videos You Can Watch