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How to Dress for a Cocktail Party

Posted on July 18 2018

How to dress for a cocktail party as a male.

While alcoholic beverages have been distilled for all of known human history, the cocktail party is a relatively recent social phenomenon. While its exact beginnings are unknown, it’s generally agreed that cocktail parties were first organized in the early 20th century by the idle rich. They were an opportunity to show off one’s finer things. As such, dressing for cocktail parties meant formal attire, and full-on tuxedos were not out of place.

21st Century Ways to Dress for a Cocktail Party

In the hundred years or so since cocktail parties first appeared on social calendars, dressing for them has become less formal. You still might be invited to corporate or charitable black-tie affairs. But cocktail parties among friends and associates are a chance to dress well while sporting some eccentricities and personality.

The Basics of Dressing for a Cocktail Party

Just like any successful outfit, great cocktail attire starts with a few key components.

1. The Blazer

While a less formal suit can work, cocktail attire is your chance to get creative and mix’n’match. And that starts with a great blazer. You can have a little fun with elements like contrasting stitching, textures and patterns. And this is a great opportunity to add an extra dash of flair with the perfect pocket square.

2. The Pants

While chinos aren’t entirely out of the question, this is your chance to dress in ways that you don’t otherwise. So dress pants are usually the best choice. And if you choose to make a statement with your blazer, your pants shouldn’t compete. That means clean, smart styling and minimum detailing.

3. The Shirt

Your choice of shirt can hinge on the blazer you choose. You have a wide range to choose from here. A more formal cocktail party can mean a formal dress shirt and tie. In less formal situations, a roll-neck shirt or styled t-shirt is acceptable.

4. The Shoes

Be careful not to let the whole outfit down by succumbing to the training-shoes-on-a-suit trend. Even expensive sneakers are not OK. Instead, go with more formal leather slip-ons or monk strap shoes.

5. The Accessories

In addition to the aforementioned pocket squares, the formality of the entire outfit will dictate the accessories you choose. Full dress shirts call for cufflinks, but, again, you can get creative here too; it is a party after all.

Ties or other neckwear, like a cravat, will also set the outfit apart from the usual dinner party attire.

If you want to look sharp at every party you go to, drop in to Ed’s Fine Imports today to check out our full line of menswear.