Cocktail dresses are a style of dress that is in between the daytime and formal evening attire. They are commonly worn at semi-formal events and parties such as weddings, elegant dinners and holiday dances. They are available in a wide variety of colors, lengths, styles and neck and sleeve shapes. They may also be embellished with rhinestones, sequins and other decorations. This type of dress exposes more skin than a sheath or wrap dress but is not as revealing as an evening gown. Cocktail dresses first appeared in the 1920s and became extra popular after the war. Early dresses included intricate skirt supports that would break if the wearer sat down. This made the dress unwearable for women who wanted to sit down during the event. It was at this time that Galitzine, Norman Norell and a host of Parisian couturiers began producing more liberated cocktail dresses that allowed women to move freely at the events they were attending.
When choosing a cocktail dress it is important to remember that the dress should be neither too long nor too short. The best length is somewhere in between the arm’s length when stretched down and the hemline of a maxi dress or gown that skims the floor. It is also important to choose a flattering style that compliments your body shape. If you are pear shaped you will want to select a dress that slims your shoulders and chest. A sheath or empire waist dress will be best for you. If you have a petite frame then a fitted or cinched in dress will be ideal for you.
The type of fabric you choose for your cocktail dress is also important. While cotton sundresses can be lovely in the right setting, they are not appropriate for a cocktail party. Look for fabrics that are soft and flowing, but a little bit more formal like silk, satin or velvet. Embellishments like lace and rhinestones are also lovely in cocktail dresses but should be kept to a minimum so as not to overwhelm the dress.
If you are unsure what to wear to an event, try using the invitation as your guide. The invitation may say “cocktail attire” or it may simply state a dress code, such as cocktail attire or semi-formal. If the event is a family affair then it will likely be more casual than if it is a party for a younger crowd.
No matter what type of cocktail dress you choose to wear, it is essential that it be clean and pressed. Even a beautiful dress can look unattractive and sloppy when it is wrinkled. So take the time to iron your dress before you go out and don’t forget your accessories. A few well-chosen pieces of jewelry and a nice bag will make you feel polished and ready for any occasion. Good luck in your shopping! And don’t forget to smile! You’ll find that wearing a nice cocktail dress can be a lot of fun.