Q:

Fashion 101: What is cocktail attire for men?

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Quick Answer

Some men are often confused upon receiving an envelope with an invitation for a cocktail party. Deciding what to wear for a cocktail party may not be as easy as some people think.

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Full Answer

Cocktail is semi-formal wear that can be worn on both professional settings as well as formal parties. The beauty of cocktail attire is that it leaves room for creativity and personal interpretation despite the fact that it is a somewhat formal dress code.

Cocktail Attire Do’s & Don’ts
There are certain guidelines to follow when looking for the perfect cocktail attire. Choose something that is tailor-made and add personal touches to the attire. However, be cautious when adding the touches. Consider asking the host for appropriate attire ideas if you are not sure about what constitutes the best attire. However, try not to outshine the host.

Tailoring
Choose an appropriate suit for a cocktail party. Although black is a common suit color for a cocktail party, navy or gray are also fashionable. Explore different colors if the dress code is not strict. Patterns should be kept to a minimal. Mix and match jacket and trousers at your leisure.

Shirt
The shirt should match the suit or blazer. One of the mistakes that some people make when choosing the shirt has to do with the collar. Avoid loose and limp shirt collar types. In addition, make sure that your shirt is made from cotton. To prepare your shirt for a cocktail party, make sure that it is well ironed especially around the collars and cuffs. French cuffs do not go well with daytime events. Instead, save them for elegant evening gatherings where someone wants to impress.

Ties and Pocket Squares
Although a tie can complete a formal look, one can do away with it at cocktail parties that do not place heavy emphasis on formal wear. This is the wearer’s opportunity to get a little more creative. A bold tie would match well with a simple shirt and suit. On the other hand, a simple tie would match with a patterned suit or shirt. Pocket squares should be silk and neutral in color.

Dress Shoes
Go for the Oxford shoe. Black and dark brown are great color options for the streamlined shoe. Otherwise, choose monk strap shoes because they are fittingly formal and are considered great options for cocktail parties. Loafers should be considered only if the event is on the less formal side. Spend on a new pair if it is a special event.

Accessories
Suede belts add a nice touch to cocktail attires while logo belt buckles are steadily making a comeback. Imprinted, ostrich leather belts are also suitable choices. Do not go for anything cowboy. Avoiding the belt is totally acceptable, especially if the wearer is wearing a waistcoat that conceals the pants band. Lastly, finish the look off with calf-length socks. Stick to socks that match the trousers.

Cocktail parties offer great opportunities to network with professionals and make friends and acquaintances. They are also fun and exciting. Dressing up is one of the essential elements of a cocktail party.

Learn more about Dress Codes