The Best Cocktail Dresses for any Evening


Spring 2024

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It can be very hard to pick the best cocktail dress. Partially because what you choose to wear widely depends on the season, as well as the occasion that you’ll be attending. Also, cocktail dress styles have continually evolved throughout the years. What was once a working woman’s dress for formal work parties, has now expanded to include all kinds of different styles of dresses. So, how do you know which one to choose? 

Generally speaking, you want to pick something that you consider to be timeless and classy, more formal than a daytime dress, but less formal than black-tie, that you can wear to many different types of occasions, and that you can dress up or dress down depending on the event. Now, that’s a lot of criteria, and what this looks like will be different to everyone. Your style, budget, and the number of cocktail events that you plan on attending will all factor into your dress choice. 

If you’re the type of person who has no problem buying several different dresses so you can switch things up, then you’ve got a lot more options here. However, if you’re looking for one or two dresses that’ll last you at least a few years and will be your go-to, or only, cocktail dress, things get a bit more challenging. Whatever the case may be however, here are a few pointers to help steer you in the right direction towards your perfect dress.


Typically, cocktail dress hems should not touch the floor, as a floor-length dress is considered to be an evening gown, not a cocktail dress. On the flipside, mini dresses are not usually considered to be cocktail dresses either, although some exceptions can be made. 

Generally speaking, your hemline should reach anywhere from your knee to your mid shin, with the exact length being up to you. These dresses are usually somewhat fitted all over, rarely having a large or flowing skirt. Additionally, if you’re looking for a dress that’s versatile, you’ll want to pick something with a flattering yet reasonably conservative neckline. 

Style, Colour and Pattern 

Cocktail dresses, especially those following modern fashion trends tend to be a little bit more experimental in their design, and there really is no such thing as a “traditional” look. You can pick a dress with cut-outs, a leg slit, feathers, sequins, large bows, metallic accents, and so much more. Keep in mind that fabric plays a huge role, with it being recommended that you stay away from cotton or linen or anything that looks inexpensive, regardless of what you actually paid for it.

You can choose between a column dress, a bodycon dress, an A-line dress, dresses with long or puffy sleeves, or any other kind of dress that fits the theme of the occasion, with a little black dress or slip/sheath dress tending to be the most popular looks that transcend style cycles.

Generally, for events in the spring and summer, you want to choose dresses using a lighter fabric with brighter colours. This is also when you can experiment with patterns. In the winter, stick to heavier, warmer fabrics, jewel tones, and monochromatic looks. 


Arguably, your accessories are more important than the dress itself. If you pick a dress that is flattering, monochromatic, does not have any patterns, and is suitable for multiple occasions, then it’s your jewellery and accessories that will determine the formality of your outfit. 

This way, you can decide if you want to wear statement earrings, especially if your hair is in an up-do, or smaller, more understated earrings. The same goes for the rest of your jewellery, determining the type of necklace you want to wear, or if you want to wear rings or bracelets. This will also help with makeup choices, as your makeup can also drastically change the formality of an outfit.

A neutral dress can also be enhanced with a jacket, cardigan, shawl or scarf, and a fancy clutch or cute purse can complete the ensemble, along with your shoes that can be a nude heel, strappy black heels, or flats, and bedazzled to your liking. 

Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer

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