4 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Cocktail Dress

Choosing a Cocktail DressCocktail dresses are one of my absolute favorite types of dress. Like the styles themselves, the occasions in which one might find yourself donning a cocktail dress can vary in many ways. When we think of cocktail parties, we usually think of Friday night martinis and little sequined dresses. However, Sunday brunches, holiday parties and numerous other events can also require a great dress that meets all the requirements of a cocktail soiree.

1. Know Your Setting

Deciding the right type of dress for any event takes some thought. Luckily, cocktail dresses are a necessity for many women’s wardrobes, so no matter what particular event you’re shopping for, you’re likely to get good use out of your dress. Take the time of day and the season into consideration when shopping for your dress. It’s unlikely that you’d wear the same nighttime mini dress you once wore on a sexy date to a midday get-together with your girlfriends. A little common sense goes a long way in determining the qualifying factors for an appropriate cocktail dress.

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Thinking ahead in terms of season will help you find the right fabrics, lengths and styles to consider. Having a good sense of seasonal colors can also help in choosing a dress that stands out as attractive and fitting in whatever setting you may be in.

Although there are several initial steps to take in choosing a good cocktail dress for your event, once those initial hurdles have been jumped, playing with all the possibilities of cocktail dresses becomes a truly fun experience!

2. From Historic To Contemporary

When creating the kind of look for a cocktail party or other type of social event that’s less formal than black tie, it’s helpful to start with an idea of historical fashion perfection. Most of us women like to feel sexy to a certain extent at any social gathering, but our over-sexed society can sometimes blur the line of appropriateness when it comes to creating a stand-out look. A general rule of thumb is beauty over sex-appeal. Keeping the idea of looking beautiful as the backdrop for your cocktail look can help you mold and shape a look that will turn heads for all the right reasons.

Audrey Hepburn is still one of my favorite style icons. She is a classic figure of poise, sophistication and beauty, and her style was a cocktail girl’s dream. I imagine her closet to have been full of couture cocktail dresses and the most fabulous accessories to complement them. As times have changed and fashion has further spun it’s evolving and intricate web, those classic elements of style that were captured in earlier days of grace don’t have to be lost, and they certainly can help us create new and unique styles of cocktail fashion.

3. Accessories Are A Girl’s Best Friend

So we’ve thought about our event…the time of year and what the occasion is all about. We know our setting; have looked into the weather and what kind of venue we’ll be visiting. We’ve also considered a classic guide of style to help shape our look to be beautiful and avoid any missteps in our quest to look our best. But how do we embody beauty without risking becoming a bore? We’re young (even if just at heart) and want to feel unique and progressive. The little black dress and string of pearls are timeless, but surely there’s more we can do for our cocktail look, right? Absolutely.

Accessories are a great way to add pizazz to a look. Even a simple black dress becomes something much more when paired with a pair of edgy earrings and spiked heels. Accessorizing can help add our own personal flair to a dress that might be beautiful on its own, but not necessarily tell the story of who we are.

The best thing about accessories is the general “break the rules” attitude that can be expressed through them. Choosing the right cocktail dress can show guests that you have a firm understanding of fashion and formal events. It can also show that you know what works for your body and value beauty above sex-appeal (which is classy). But presenting a playful attitude with your accessories can tell people that, although you know the rules for creating a show-stopping cocktail look, you also know how to bend and even break them in the name of fashion.

Just like with anything else, too much can be a bad thing when accessorizing. It’s best to choose an accessory that either acts as the staple of your outfit when paired with a more subdued dress, or a few accessories that quietly complement and complete your look without doing too much, if your cocktail dress is the statement piece.

4. Get It All Without Spending It All

As much as I love fashion and making a statement through my outfits, I love saving money even more. One of the best feelings I can get comes from building an amazing and well thought out look at an amazing price. Cocktail events create a special need for individuality, because everyone in attendance will likely be dressed well. Limiting your options to the cocktail dresses you find while window shopping and browsing through retailers will also almost certainly cost you a lot more than the alternatives. Plus, it’s boring.

I’ve become a huge fan of online shopping. The internet has created a huge venue that’s teeming with unique designs from all around the world. I save time by avoiding sales associates (no offense!), and my closet isn’t limited to what I find at retailers.

Another huge advantage to online shopping, particularly when it comes to shopping for formal and semi-formal events, is being able to cut corners by renting instead of buying.

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If you haven’t been turned on to the idea of renting designer duds and expensive looks, take a few minutes to peruse the internet and enlighten yourself. Cheap cocktail dresses can look just like they’re priced…cheap. Accessories that are inexpensive are usually inexpensive for a reason. One of my biggest pet-peeves is buying a beautiful pair of earrings, wearing them twice and having them fall apart for whatever reason. Now I’m no Angelina Jolie, and those thousand dollar shoes are out of my price range. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t get my hands on a pair to flash around town!

Online shopping can do much more than provide you with a platform to rent a gorgeous cocktail dress. Many online rental boutiques have a wide selection of edgy, contemporary and (duh) expensive jewelry, clutches, hand bags, shoes and more. You can find some of the most beautiful dresses for any occasion, not just your standard evening cocktail dresses, and rent them for about 10% of the price that you’d pay to buy them.

So arm yourself with the knowledge you’ve gained throughout this article and start browsing. Shop online for your next big look, and check into renting cocktail dresses online. You’ll be stunned by the beauty and style you’ll find. You’ll also be surprised at how affordable cocktail dresses can be without a hefty price tag. Most importantly, you’ll leave everyone else guessing at how you managed to pull off such an amazing look.

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