Cocktail dresses might have once been saved for a corporate function or night involving cosmopolitan, but they’re no longer just reserved for a cocktail party. You can wear ’80s silhouettes and colourful sequins to weddings, work parties and (very soon) all the Christmas events in your diary. The return of the cocktail dress is down to some of the newest designers on the block: Magda Butrym, Attico and Rixo, just to name a few. Modern and structured styles simply make the wearer feel amazing, which is exactly what you want from a dress.
If an invite does come your way for an actual cocktail party, you’ll want to know what this dress code means. A cocktail party is a formal event, and therefore you must be suitably dressed in nothing too revealing. Traditionally, this dress sits just below the knee but not quite to the floor. With that said, there has been a substantial rise in the mini–cocktail dress thanks to labels like Isabel Marant and Magda Butrym. So if it has sleeve details and or a high neck, you’re likely to get away with it sitting above your knee. The term “cocktail” usually gives the go-ahead to go all out with prints, textures, fabrics and embellishment. As long as the cut is suitable, go all-out in your design. Think sequins, feathers, buttons… We want it all.
There has never been a better time to shop for a cocktail dress, so shop our edit of the best below.
This green-satin Alessandra number will ensure you are the star of the show. We’re all about a leg slit when it comes to cocktail dressing.
This simple silk wrap dress is one of the most flatting cocktail dresses we’ve found. It’s so chic and comfortable that you’ll want to wear it again and again.
Isabel Marant is giving us serious party vibes with this one-shoulder metallic number.
Super simple and affordable, but really effortless. Add gold jewellery to dress this one up.
Dodo Bar Or is renowned for its pretty embroidered summer dresses, but this winter cocktail dress is a serious game changer.
A patchwork of silk scarves, this Gucci dress is really something special.
This velvet A-line dress is a textured dream.
Statement shoulders are our favourite of all the autumn trends, and cocktail dresses are the perfect opportunity to play with XXL shoulders.
Super simple yet super sexy, this pastel Jacquemus dress leaves an open game when it comes to accessorising.
Super sophisticated, you’ll feel extra important in this stunning cocktail dress.
Everything about this dress—especially the print—is absolutely stunning.
If you’re looking for a designer cocktail dress without the price tag (but with all the fabulousness), this is it.
This dress is pleat perfection. Oh, and the colour is mesmerising.
We just wish we’d seen this printed, side-slit dress sooner.
This Topshop dress ticks all the boxes.
Party on the wild side with this killer tiger print.
As such a sucker for anything polka dot or fringed, this is basically a dream come true.
This wrap dress is giving us all our favourite autumnal colours.
A sequinned dream dress. Just wait until you see the back.
Is it December already?