The Best Cocktail Dresses

The season of cocktail parties is upon us, and while the little black dress has proven itself tried and true, we’ve been granted an autumn of choices that offer more than a bridesmaid’s dress knock-off. So with variety in mind, here’s how to determine which type of cocktail dress works for you, and how you can walk into every party with confidence and style.

What: Full skirt/fitted top
We’re all well aware of the ˜50s and ˜60s fashion resurgence, but while there’s been a push to embrace the form fitting styles that create an hourglass figure, a full skirt with a fitted top are perfect for those wanting a modern take on the cocktail options explored by our grandmothers. Perfect for those not necessarily interested in showing off their hips, the A-line skirt can be more forgiving, while for those hoping to create the illusion of having an hourglass figure, the fitted top helps keeps waists defined.
full skirt fitted top dress

Try: A traditional cut with a bold colour and rich texture like the Alexander McQueen dress worn by Miranda Cosgrove at Elle‘s Women in Music event this April.

What: Form fitting/unconventional
We’ve been trained to think of cocktail dresses as the wardrobe staple to wear season after season, but thanks to designers like Alberta Ferretti, the definition of the cocktail dress has been redefined through high necklines, luscious fabrics and designs inspired by Japanese fashion. Ideal for tall, thin body types, the attention to detail through prints and fabrics helps cement the cocktail dress as a work of art over just something to wear while sipping house red.
dress 2 

Try: A ˜fairytale’-inspired cut like Emilio Pucci’s Fall 2011 cocktail dress collection. Combining a corset bodice with a modest length and high neckline, the style walks the fine line between sexy and subtle.

What: Textured/classic
Despite the season’s affinity for (and simultaneous disconnect) with ˜the traditional’, there’s still much to be said for the classic cocktail dress style: strapless, above the knee and cinched at the waist. And thanks to both 1960’s influences and a touch of ˜80s throwback, it’s possible to opt for a design that’s less of a safe bet and more of a work of art “ provided you balance embellishments out with a less is more mindset in terms of accessories.
textured dress

Try: A style like the high-neck, mid-20th century throwback featured in Vera Wang’s pre-Fall 2011 collection. Thanks to the combination of extra fabric and the defined waist, it’s wearable on almost every body type, and is kept interesting and balanced through the add-on accessory at the shoulder.


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Tags: cocktail attire, cocktail dresses, cocktail wear, holiday parties, party dresses, Vera Wang

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