When it comes to evening social events, cocktail attire is often the go-to dress code. Equal parts elegant and effortless, this fashionable style blends formality with personality. So, while you can’t get away with just throwing on your usual black tux, you can get creative. Still not sure what exactly to wear? From picking the perfect suit to enhancing it with the ideal accessories, we’ll show you how dapper gents do it. Here is your ultimate guide to cocktail attire for men.
What is Cocktail Attire For Men?
Cocktail attire is an unusual dress code with many different interpretations. While many see it as a reason to dress formally, it’s far less dressy to others. Similarly to smart casual, you can style it in many different ways, depending on the occasion and time of year. In most cases, it’s best to have fun with it. There are a few occasions where cocktail attire is best suited, such as work events, cocktail parties, wedding receptions, dates, and celebratory events. Before you whip out your favorite cocktail outfit, double-check the invitation’s dress code.
Men’s Cocktail Attire Key Items
Men’s Cocktail Attire Suiting
A wonderfully tailored suit that’s easily adaptable or semi-formal blazers and trousers will complement cocktail looks. Darker suits are the traditional choice for cocktail attire, so keep things classic with dusky navies, subdued cobalt, and muted greys. Stick to tailored suits that are fitted but not too tight. Keep blazers figure-hugging, fresh, modern, and alter pants to skim the top of the footwear. Paying tribute to transitional day-to-night looks, keep cocktail attire adaptable with basic suits. Build the look with pocket squares and inventive accessories, ensuring they enhance the classicism of your fitted silhouettes.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Blazers
Blazers are a safe option for a cocktail party, and there are many ways to style them appropriately. For an office party, stick to a blazer in a dark color, such as charcoal, navy, or black. Of course, if the occasion calls for it, you can dip your toes into brighter colors, such as cobalt or cream. This works well in warmer conditions or outdoor events. If you want to step outside the box, you can opt for a patterned or textured fabric blazer for a fun twist on the classic outfit.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Shirts
When it comes to cocktail attire, the main goal is to look neat and tidy. This means donning a button-down Oxford shirt that is pressed and presentable. The most common color you’ll see for this dress code is white, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s boring. You can jazz it up with a pointed and structured collar and work it with a wide variety of colorful accessories like a tie or a fun blazer. Of course, you don’t always have to wear a light-colored shirt. You can always try a T-shirt, but this option has strict rules – you must wear a dress jacket such as a blazer to make it less casual and more formal.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Pants
You can lean into safe territory with your pants choice for cocktail attire. Usually, it would be best if you tried a pair of well-fitted trousers – dark colors like charcoal, black, and navy are the best bet, as they match almost anything. Avoid wearing jeans or casual trousers as they will be too laid back for the event you’re attending.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Shoes
As with all menswear, great shoes ultimately ground cocktail looks and should not be overlooked or underestimated. A traditional round-toe leather Oxford is timeless and, generally, the shoe of choice for cocktail attire looks. Go for this style in authentic leather and switch things up with different textures like brogue punch holes. Loafers can also be considered if the event is less formal but keep them relatively classic with brown, navy, and black colors.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Ties
For quasi-formal occasions, no tie with a few buttons undone is a relaxed, favorable look that transitions excellently from day to night. This approach is undeniably popular, given it lends effortlessness to cocktail looks. That being said, a slim tie can add dimension to cocktail attire. Try incorporating textured ties, like crocheted or silky versions but with more modern shaping. Do not fear a dash of color with brighter hues of blues, reds, and greens for a youthfulness that is not distasteful or gaudy.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Pocket Squares
For a classic look that never ages, pocket squares will add depth to cocktail attire, maintaining a gentleman-like sensibility. Consider it an excellent opportunity for personal touches to cocktail looks, so be creative and find interesting colors and prints. Great for that finishing touch to a well-tailored look, a pocket square will ensure a polished and sleek refinement to any look, reaffirming personal style.
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Men’s Cocktail Attire Belts
When deciding on an appropriate belt for a cocktail attire look, stick to the classics. Invest in more expensive pieces that are not overly convoluted and will last for years and countless times. Go for basic shapes in good-quality materials for a look that registers classic, and incorporate belts into unexpected materials for a more contemporary look. Leather and suede are a safe choice and won’t date, meaning they can be worn for years.
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Fragrance & Cologne
A great cologne and cologne are not forgotten as pivotal components to noticeable cocktail looks. Cocktail attire needs a great-smelling accompaniment, and a clean yet memorable scent will add depth to your quasi-formal looks. Keep things simple with minimalist scents that will provide a fresh edge to looks or accompany looks with stronger, potent scents for a grounding element to more basic or traditionalist cocktail attire.
Men’s Cocktail Attire Occasions
Formal Cocktail Attire For Men
The most dressed-up edition of this cocktail attire dress code is formal attire. This means you will steer clear of casual pieces such as T-shirts and roll necks and instead lean into more dignified pieces such as a button-down shirt and a suit. Stick to dark shades like black, charcoal, and navy – however, you can try out other hues like green and burgundy if you want to mix it up a bit. Stick to clean and tidy accessories, such as a tie and dress shoes.
Casual Cocktail Attire Men
While it may seem counterintuitive to dress in a casual cocktail way, there are great ways you can make it work for your event. Unlike formal occasions, you can try out more laidback pieces such as a textured blazer, T-shirts, and turtlenecks here. However, just because an event is more casual doesn’t mean you can whip out the denim and sneakers. Always ensure you look clean and tidy and avoid clothes you would wear to the pub.
Summer Cocktail Attire For Men
When the sun is out, cocktail attire may seem like a difficult task to complete. However, you can swap out the basics for a more heat-friendly feel without looking underdressed. Start with the basics – a button-down shirt in a light color with a blazer and trousers. Instead of dark shades, opt for lighter options such as cream, blue or gray. You can also try out different fabrics like linens, which still give off a dressed-up feel without you overheating. Steer clear from wearing casual elements, such as jeans, sneakers, or shorts – remember, it’s about looking presentable and put-together.
Winter Cocktail Attire Men
Dressing for cooler months may be easier for some, but it’s still an art form that needs a bit of guidance. Start with a clean button-down or a turtleneck – while white is the most popular shade, you can try out darker hues like black and charcoal for a winter-approved twist. Then, try a heavier blazer style such as wool or tweed – again, dark shades are the most common trend, including green, navy, and black. Instead of Oxford and traditional dress shoes, swap them out for a pair of Chelsea boots to keep your ankles warm. Finish the look with a scarf or a neat tie; you’ll be set for any event.
Wedding Cocktail Attire Men
Weddings are their category when it comes to cocktail attire. In most cases, you will have the dress code listed in the event invitation, so always check it out before you begin sorting out your clothing choices. For most occasions, you should stick to clean and tidy pieces worth showing off. This includes a suit and tie or a dark blazer and trousers with a button-down and dress shoes. Avoid wearing a T-shirt or roll-neck for these events, as they may appear too casual.
Beach Cocktail Attire For Men
When you hit the sand, you don’t want to feel overdressed. However, beach cocktail attire still has relatively strict guidelines that you should follow. Stay close to the original pieces, including a white button-down and a suit. However, instead of dark shades, opt for lighter hues like cream and stone – this can keep you cool but remain dressy enough for smart occasions. In these cases, you don’t need to wear a tie but avoid wearing other accessories so you don’t look out of place. After you’ve arrived at the event, feel free to take off your blazer and roll up your sleeves. Make sure you tuck your shirt into your pants and avoid wearing sandals.
Dos And Don’t Of Cocktail Attire
Do: Stick to clean and tidy pieces, such as a white button-down and dark suit.
Do: Have fun with textures and colors if the event calls for it.
Do: Ensure your clothes are well-fitted and tailored to your body.
Do: Double-check the dress code before you commit to an outfit.
Don’t: Wear sneakers or jeans – leave that for the pub!
Don’t: Out-dress the guest of honor – stick to classic pieces, so you don’t overdo it
Don’t: Wear a printed T-shirt for more casual events. If you want to keep it laidback, stick to block styles in either black, white, or gray.
Don’t: Wear a tuxedo strictly limited to black tie events.
Top Tips For Dressing Cocktail Attire
- Always check the invitation and destination before you begin – a work event can have a very different dress code than a beach wedding.
- Make sure the suit or blazer you are wearing is slim fit and tailored to your body.
- Stick to neutral colors, but don’t be afraid to play around with modern hues like charcoal and gray for an updated version of the classic dark suit.
- For casual events, try out shirt alternatives such as T-shirts and roll necks with a well-tailored blazer.
- You can’t go wrong with a tie. This will bring all of the key elements together and can instantly enhance the formality of an outfit.
- Rely on the basics – you don’t need to wear a tuxedo to look put together. Instead, opt for a well-fitting suit with clean key pieces for a timeless feel.
Cocktail Attire for Men FAQs
What is cocktail attire for men?
Cocktail attire is a semi-formal style of dress for both men and women. Conceived in the ‘20s and ‘30s, this dress code has since become a regular stipulation for many evening social functions. Today, dressing for cocktail attire requires a blend of formality and modernity. So, while a suit is a general requirement, choosing one that is contemporary and fashionable is the trick to pulling off this code in style. As such, an event featuring this attire is the perfect chance to dress up and look sleek while embracing your unique style.
Do I need to wear a tuxedo jacket with cocktail attire?
A tuxedo is too formal for a cocktail event. Wear a tailored suit or blazer with a pair of fitted or tailored trousers instead.
What color suit should I wear to a cocktail event?
Select a tailored suit featuring a dark hue, such as navy, subdued cobalt, or the muted grey.
What shirt should I wear to a cocktail event?
Opt for a fitted shirt in a classic color for a smart style or a bold print for a fashion-forward appearance.
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