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The Ultimate Guide to Cocktail Attire

We all think we know what “cocktail attire” means — it’s what you wear to a wedding that’s not black-tie, right? There are no strict rules about what makes something cocktail-appropriate, but you do want to keep a few things in mind when planning your outfit. Scroll on for our guide to cocktail attire, from dresses and jumpsuits to shoes and bags.

Tip One: Find a Dress in an Elegant Fabric.

Most people automatically default to a dress when they see the words “cocktail attire” on an invitation. Length doesn’t matter: a mini can be just as appropriate as something that skims the floor. The trick is to choose fabrics that look refined, like silk, chiffon, crepe, or velvet. Embellishments like swishy fringe, lace and sequins are great for amping things up. Avoid cotton sundresses unless you can zhuzh them up with really fancy accessories like sparkly earrings or shiny new shoes.

A Sunny Option

John Zack Plus Off Shoulder Ruffle Midi Dress

Take advantage of the warm weather and go for a seasonal yellow shade. Extra points if you pair it with equally colorful shoes.
Available sizes 14-24.

$27 AT ASOS

For Flower Lovers

Farrow Julia Floral High-Low Dress

Not ready to dive into prairie-core but still love the idea of something with a feminine, homespun appeal? Try this ruffly number and dress it up with metallic sandals.
Available sizes small–large.

$39 AT NEED SUPPLY CO.

A Sophisticated Fall Option

Jacquard-weave Dress

The deep V-neck and wrap silhouette make this ideal for the inevitable September heatwave.
Available sizes 0–14.

$60 AT H&M

The Sexy One

By the Way Preston Mesh Mock Neck Dress

If you want to show off, this is the dress for you. Take a cue from the way it’s styled in the image above and elongate your legs with barely there sandals.
Available sizes xxsmall–xlarge.

$66 AT REVOLVE

The Year-Round Option

Ruffle Front Dress

A flouncy red number can work equally well for the summer wedding season or the holiday party circuit.
Available sizes 14–28.

$50 AT ELOQUII
with code: NEEDNOW

The Cold-Weather Option

Td True Decadence Short Velvet Dress

Shimmery silver velvet is a bit too heavy for summer, but it’ll feel appropriately festive by the time September rolls around. Save this for all of your end-of-year parties.
Available sizes xsmall–large.

$85 AT YOOX

The Cocktail Caftan

Scalloped Mock Neck Maxi Dress

Yes, you can wear a caftan to a fancy party! Just choose a brightly colored style and add sparkly flats.
Available sizes 0–6.

$89 AT & OTHER STORIES

A Flowy Summertime Option

Asymmetrical Flowy Midi Dress

Tan summer skin deserves a dress to show it off, like this golden yellow number. Wear it to a cocktail party with drop earrings and heels, then recycle it for day with slide sandals.
Available sizes 0–10.

$89 AT & OTHER STORIES

The Easy, Pretty Wrap Dress

Cooper St Marilyn Satin Faux Wrap Dress

faux wrap dress means you won’t have any wardrobe malfunctions while still remaining on-trend.
Available sizes 14w–24w.

$170 AT NORDSTROM

If You Want Something Unusual

ASOS DESIGN Curve embroidered midi dress with tie dye fringe

Swingy fringe coupled with a bold floral pattern is a nice way to stand out in a sea of jewel-toned cocktail dresses.
Available sizes 12–18.

$119 AT ASOS

If You Want Something Sweet

ASOS CURVE Long Sleeve Lace Midi Prom Dress

While it’s not quite melodramatic purple, this long-sleeved lace dress is a close cousin of the trendy color. Take a cue from the way it’s styled and play up the iciness with silver sandals.
Available sizes 12–24.

$95 AT ASOS

Because You Only Wear Black

City Chic Amour Cold Shoulder Lace Sheath Dress

Just because you only wear black doesn’t mean your dress has to be boring. Try this lacy number with a sweetheart neckline and off-the-shoulder sleeves for a romantic look.
Available sizes xsmall–xxlarge.

$139 AT NORDSTROM

A Colorful Dress for the Holidays

CINQ À SEPT Ruffled floral-print silk-satin dress

The velvet trim and moody shade feels heavy for August, but come November, it will stand out in a sea of black.
Available sizes 0–10.

$262 AT THE OUTNET

For the Star of the Party

X by NBD DESDEMONDA EMBELLISHED MIDI DRESS

This dress has everything: a sexy V-neck back, a high slit, color, and sparkle. Make sure to tone down the accessories to keep all the focus on your shimmering dress.
Available sizes xxsmall–large.

$298 AT REVOLVE

Tip Two: You Can Also Wear a Jumpsuit

You don’t have to wear a dress to a cocktail party when pants are equally appropriate, especially in the form of a jumpsuit. Again, the same rules apply: No cotton or anything that skews too athleisure. Look for styles that accentuate the waist, and don’t be afraid of pattern or bold colors.

When You Want to Stand Out

ASOS DESIGN Curve jumpsuit with super wide leg

Want something dramatic? The super-wide legs coupled with the bright orange shade make this perfect for a big entrance.
Available sizes 12–24.

$67 AT ASOS

The Instagram-Ready One

Photo: 18-04-30 lauralove AM1 B2 raypfeiffer W
BB Dakota R.S.V.P. by BB Dakota Saba Jumpsuit

Swing left, swing right, and boom — you have the perfect Boomerang.
Available sizes 0–10.

$81 AT SHOPBOP

Because Black Is Always Chic

Kimono Sleeve Jumpsuit

All you need are sparkly earrings and a great pair of heels.
Available sizes 14–28.

$63 AT ELOQUII
with code: NEEDNOW

A Stylish Alternative to Black

Eliza J Ruffle Detail Crepe Jumpsuit

Deep navy is just as sophisticated and would look especially nice with gold accessories.
Available sizes 14w–22w.

$168 AT NORDSTROM

The Trendy Jumpsuit

One Shoulder Jumpsuit with Fringe Detail

How do you translate the fancy robe trend into something you can wear to a cocktail party? Make it a one-shoulder jumpsuit with a fringe trim.
Available sizes 14–28.

$85 AT ELOQUII
with code: NEEDNOW

The Most Versatile Option

Amanda Uprichard Cherri Jumpsuit

If you’re looking for something flattering, chic, and versatile enough to wear multiple times, get this one.
Available sizes xsmall–large.

Everything You Need To Know About Midi Dresses

Midi dresses style guide
Styling guide for midi dresses
We don’t tend to think about midi dresses in the historical context of hemlines. Of course we don’t. We think about “what shoes would go with this?” But the historical context bit is actually kind of fascinating. Because the length of a dress often coincides with the economic climate of the time. For instance, shorter hemlines were all the rage during the  roaring 1920’s, fell down with the Great Depression and rose again in the 1950s and even further again with the emergence of the mini skirt I the 60s. It’s what’s known as the hemline index and generally speaking means that hemlines rise and fall in accordance with the stock market. In this article, we’re going to home in on the midi dress.

What is a midi dress?

A midi dress is any dress that falls below the knee and above the ankle, the “mid-calf” hence where it gets it’s name. The difference between a midi dress and a maxi dress is that a maxi dress falls below this point, either at the ankle or the floor.

Timeline of the midi dress

 

History of the midi
Timeline of the midi dress

Types of Midi Dresses

OK, you’re sold on the length, and you know it’s a midi dress you want. But that’s only the start. There are so many types of midi dress to choose from. If you have food-based plans and want something that’s bloat-friendly, a midi wrap dress is an excellent place to start. The Yondal  in a natural leopard print is a firm favourite, and looks great whether paired with trainers in summer or ankle boots in autumn.On the other end of the spectrum, you have bodycon midi dresses. They might not be as roomy as a wrap dress, but are ideal when you’re after more of a sleek, streamlined aesthetic. This bardot midi is a major hit for weddings throughout the year and has been worn by women between 18 to 80! Sometimes, sleeves are a non-negotiable. And for such occasions, we have an edit exclusives dedicated to long sleeve midi dresses. One of our favourites is this graphic print wrap midi from Foreva Young. The wrap design means it’s an easy option, but the jazzy print ensures it’s far from boring. Lace has this cool way of making you look and feel instantly elegant, even if you just had cold pizza for breakfast. Our edit of lace midi dresses is a very handy shortcut if you’re looking for that Kate Middleton level of royal sophistication. The Gemma dress in light blue was made for upstaging brides at every wedding it attends.

Types of midi dress
Types of midi dress

 

Midi dresses for Tall and Petite women

Petite dresses can be hard to find, but the good news is that you don’t *need* to find a midi dress that’s been specifically designed for those who are 5’4 and under. The same goes with finding a midi dress that doesn’t transform into mini dress when you’re over 5’9. A midi dress will typically fall just above your ankle when you’re Petite, but you can use a belt to push the length up a little. Conversely, a midi dress will typically fall just below the knee if you’re in the tall category. But unlike maxis which you’ll likely need taken up if you’re short, or minis that don’t even cover your bum if you’re tall – a midi dress won’t require a seamstress (or you know, your mum).

 

 

A Guide to Styling Midi Dresses

midi dresses for weddings

Summer midi dresses are perfect for weddings because they’re that Golilocks length that’s just right for formal occasions, not ball-gown level fancy but far from casual too. We’re currently enamoured with the Keisha midi dress from Pretty Lavish because it works for weddings all year round. In fact, throw a black roll neck underneath, add boots and you have a cool daytime outfit for winter too.

Midi dress for wedding
Midi dress for weddings

Black midi dresses are ideal for work. They’re an appropriate length if you’ve got a more corporate dress code and they’ll hide 10am coffee spills on a Monday morning – sold. Our top pick is this knitted number from Sosandar. Bonus points for a work-friendly dress that looks great at the pub for happy hour, too.

Black midi dresses
black midi dresses

Midi dresses for beach holidays

Floral midi dresses, like this standout from Charlie Holiday, are great for holidays because while they’re summery enough for Santorini, you’ll still get plenty of wear out of them when you come back to reality (i.e. British weather).

Floral midi dress
Floral Midi dress for holiday

Midi day dresses

A midi is the perfect throw-on-and-go for weekend brunches and impromptu picnics in the park (when the weather permits). This red midi dress from Angeleye is the perfect example and can be dressed up or down depending on what the occasion calls for.

How to Actually Wear a Sheer Dress: A Shopping Guide

sheer dress

PHOTO:

GETTY IMAGES

If you weren’t already aware, we’re very much here for the transparent trend. Whether cut from organza, tulle, or lace, the “naked” dress is a solidified celebrity favorite, with everyone from Ashley Graham to the Victoria’s Secret Angels repping the see-through style with killer confidence. But we won’t lie, the sheer trend is a tough one to nail down, in part because the idea of wearing something completely see-through is pretty daunting. Which is why we’re building out our ultimate guide so you’ll know exactly how to wear a sheer dress IRL.

They’re not all made equally, though, and shopping for the right style all depends on what you plan to wear under your sheer dress. So let us break it down for you—from the casual duster dresses you’ll throw on over jeans and a tee to the bold gowns worthy of a formal occasion. There are three levels on our “naked” dress barometer, and if you’re armed with the following options, you too can go forth fearlessly and nail the sheer trend.

Level 1: The Casual “Just Throw It Over Jeans” Dress

This is your entry point into the “naked” dress trend. It’s casual and easy to throw on over a simple T-shirt and jeans to make an average outfit combo look anything but. Opt for a sheer dress with a looser fit or go up a size so it doesn’t fit too snug over your other layers.

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