Home Style  Sophisticated Style For The Modern Man : Our 2022 Guide To Men's Cocktail Suits

By   Sophia Ava  YEET MAGAZINE | Updated 0439 GMT (1239 HKT) January 23, 2022

Cocktail Dress for Men: See Exactly What to Wear (2020 Update)

Contents

Let me guess. You just got a party invite that says men should wear their cocktail dress for the occasion. Congratulations!

But what is a men's cocktail outfit in 2021-2022, you might ask? Excellent question sir.

In this episode of our modern man's dress codes series, we take a look at the ever-glamorous cocktail style.

You will usually be required to wear cocktail attire when attending a wedding or a party . It can range from a very formal affair to something much more casual and informal. What the dress code means and what you should wear will vary depending on the location and the occasion.

In this guide, you'll see exactly what to wear and how to style your cocktail party outfit with advice from our experts. We have illustrated this guide with lots of photos and images to make it as simple and unambiguous as possible.

Hurry up! This invitation to the party awaits you.

Explore the style of cocktail dress

Let's get one thing out of the way first: dressing for a party doesn't have to be expensive . While you can spend a lot of money on high-end cocktail attire with a luxe jacket if you want to, you don't necessarily have to.

You will see in this guide that with just a few well-chosen items, you can look great no matter what the occasion.

We have divided this guide into several sections. You can move on to the part that is most important to you.

  1. What is the Cocktail Suit Style?
  2. What should men wear to a cocktail?
  3. A suit or jacket ready to party
  4. White button-down shirt
  5. Add subtlety with your ties
  6. Choose your cocktail shoes carefully
  7. Enhanced your business look with the right accessories
  8. 4 men's cocktail suit style rules to guarantee success
  9. 5 brands of cocktail outfits that men must know in 2021-2022
  10. Cocktail suit Code: Frequently Asked Questions
  11. Additional resources and reading recommendations on cocktail suit

The modern cocktail look

Welcome to our 2021-2022 cocktail dress guide for the modern man. This article is one of a series of styles covering the 5 essential dress codes for men :

  1. Casual style
  2. Chic casual style
  3. Business casual style
  4. Professional business style
  5. Cocktail suit style

What is the Cocktail Dress Style?

Put simply, men's cocktail attire is a dress code requiring you to dress for an occasion. However, this is not a very well defined dress code. As a result, you have a bit of freedom as to how you want to execute the style. But you also have more room for mistakes.

Usually, if you are asked to wear your cocktail  suit, it means you have to put on a jacket and look neat and chic for a special occasion. The location and time of the event will dictate the exact way you dress.

If you are attending a wedding, your cocktail dress should be elegant and simple. You want to show that you made an effort for the occasion and that you respect your hosts. But you don't want to distract from the groom.

If you've been invited to a fancy party or sporting event, the location and type of party will help you decide what to wear. A business networking event will call for formal cocktail attire. On the other hand, a New Years party will likely mean a much more groovy rendition.

As a general rule, you should always consider the occasion, location and time of day when choosing your cocktail outfit. If you are not sure what the host is expecting, you should ask them or ask other guests to avoid any missteps.

That said, our style experts have 3 simple rules to help you along the way:

  1. Are jeans good to wear for a cocktail party outfit?
    You can wear jeans on some occasions, but in general you should avoid them. If in doubt, do not wear them.
  2. Are sneakers good to wear for a cocktail party outfit?
    As above and probably under the same circumstances. Sneakers are suitable for a casual party, but should not be worn at a wedding or serious occasion.
  3. Do I have to wear a suit?
    Not necessarily, but it's probably the safest option for staying chic. If it's a wedding, don't wear a black suit. If it's a night out, black is fine.

Dress code definition: what does cocktail dress mean?

An invitation to a party with a cocktail suit code for men usually means that you should wear a suit with a shirt, dress shoes and a tie or bow tie. In some cases, just a blazer and a pair of dark colored jeans will be acceptable if the dress code is more casual.

You don't necessarily need a dedicated cocktail  suit. Your usual business suits will do as long as they are properly fitted and in good condition. However, you can invest in a dedicated cocktail costume if you plan to attend a lot of cocktails. In this case, you should look for a suit that has more structure and is made of a thicker fabric to emphasize the evening element and separate it from a day business suit.

Initially, cocktail dress appeared in the 1920s in the upscale community. Sometimes also called outfit after 5, men would change their clothes from their daily work attire to a pre-dinner dress to wear while having a drink with canapes ( or lots of drinks on some occasions ).

Today, the look and purpose of the cocktail has of course changed. However, the essence of the style remains the same: you are looking for something to wear that is less formal than your professional look but chic and formal to attend a party.

Fortunately, cocktail dress is practical for men because you can usually wear it using clothes and accessories that you already have for other dress codes.

How should men dress for a cocktail?

The secret to a successful men's cocktail wardrobe is in the details. The quality of the cut and the fabric of your costumes. The cut of your shirt. The finish and details of your shoes. And how well you are able to put it all together in an engaging and compelling way .

Your cocktail look begins with a jacket, shirt, tie and a pair of dress shoes. It is that simple .

How should men dress for a cocktail? Your cocktail look begins with a jacket, shirt, tie and a pair of dress shoes. It is that simple .
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Once you've taken care of the basics, you can start working with accessories to complete your look: a belt, dress watch, clutch, and cufflinks.

Let's look at each item of clothing one by one. Our style experts have handpicked specific recommendations to help you achieve the look.

1. A suit or jacket ready to party

You can wear one of your usual office suits for a cocktail party. Go for dark colors such as navy blue and charcoal to be on the safe side if you are unsure. As a general rule of thumb, remember that the more patterns and colors you wear, the less formal you will look.

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA Costume regular fit Cloth Ermenegildo Zegna

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA

Midnight blue slim-fit wool twill suit buy now

Tom Ford Elegant Black Suit

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O'Connor navy blue fitted wool suit jacketbuy now

LANVIN Costume regular fit Cloth Ermenegildo Zegna

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Paliette embellished black slim-fit jacquard blazer  buy now

2. The white button-down shirt

A classic white shirt is next on your list. Make sure your shirt looks great when it's fully buttoned. You want the collar to have substance and structure to perfectly frame your tie if you're wearing one.

HUGO BOSS 2. The white button-down shirt

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VAN HEUSEN Pointed Collar Poplin Dress Shirt buy now

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3. Add subtlety with your ties

A tie is your chance to express your emotions and your personality through your cocktail attire. It's also a great way to differentiate your evening dress from your office outfit. A party is a perfect occasion to go for more daring tie styles.

Expert tip: your tie knot should always conceal your shirt collar behind it. Tighten it until it does.

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4. Choose your dress shoes carefully

The last essential element of your cocktail outfit is a pair of dress shoes. The most worn business shoes are called Oxfords (or sometimes also Balmoral in the United States).

Named after the University of Oxford, Oxford shoes are the quintessential street shoe. Opt for black or dark brown dress shoes to complete your look.

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TOM FORD Elkan Full-Fit Patent Leather Oxford Shoes buy now

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5. Elevate the look of your business with the right accessories

Once the basics of your formal attire are in place, you can start adding accessories to further express your personality and style.

Here are some accessory suggestions that you can keep for years to enhance your business casual look.

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JAEGER-LECOULTRE - Reverso Classic Medium Thin Hand-Wound 24.4mm Stainless Steel and Ostrich Watch, Ref. No. Q2548441

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4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

When you are ready to put together your chic party wardrobe, there are four simple rules you should always keep in mind . These style rules will help you execute your cocktail look with class and elegance every time.

Rule 1: Know where you are going

Your dress code will be very different depending on the occasion. If in doubt, ask the host or people who have been there for advice.

There are three crucial things to know before choosing your cocktail outfit:

  1. The place of the party
  2. The reason for the occasion
  3. The time of day it will take place

Once you have the information, you can choose your cocktail look with confidence.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

Rule 2: If you are invited to a wedding

Weddings are the most common occasions for men to wear cocktail attire. You want to show respect to the bride and groom by dressing up. But you don't want to get the couple's unwanted attention.

For the majority of weddings, look for something elegant and neutral.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

That said, if the wedding invitation calls for something specific, respect their wishes and adjust your outfit. This could be the case for a beach wedding , for example, where the couple might request light colored linen suits.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

Rule 3: If you are invited to a formal cocktail party

If you have been invited to a formal business evening party, stay conservative with your look and go for a dark colored suit with a white shirt and black leather dress shoes. Take a tie with you, but be prepared to take it off and unbutton your shirt collar if that suits the event.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

You can use accessories to differentiate your cocktail outfit from your usual professional look. Opt for a light colored pocket square to contrast with your suit and wear stylish cufflinks on your shirt cuffs.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

Rule 4: If you're invited to a casual cocktail party

Occasional business parties are a whole different matter. Your suit will be too formal so opt for a blazer or sports jacket with dark colored jeans instead. This is especially true in the summer, when you'll want to adjust your clothes for the heat.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

Depending on your industry, you can also swap out your dress shoes for a pair of leather sneakers to further relax your style.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

Rule 5: Regardless of the type of cocktail, never do the following

As you know by now, the cocktail dress code for men will mean different things for different occasions. That said, five essential rules should never be bent, unless explicitly stated otherwise by the party host:

  1. DO NOT wear a black suit. Black suits are reserved for funerals or in the office.
  2. DO NOT wear a tuxedo, you will just look silly. Tuxedos are reserved for more formal occasions.
  3. DO NOT wear clothes that are too casual. Chinos, polo shirts or t-shirts won't do even when paired with a blazer.
  4. DO NOT wear casual shoes. The only exception is dress sneakers if you know for sure the party will be casual.
  5. Don't go to the party without a tie or bow tie. You can take it off at some point in the night, but you shouldn't arrive without wearing one.
4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

7 pro style tips and basics to perfect your cocktail look

We reached out to a panel of expert stylists and fashion advisors to ask for their recommendations on the dress code for cocktail dress. Here are their tips to help you look great when dressing for a special occasion:

  1. Start with your goals. This will form the backbone of your style. Do you want to project an air of confidence? Do you want to show that you care about an occasion and dress accordingly? Or do you prefer comfort?
  2. Dress accordingly and consistently. Pick an outfit that will help you achieve your goals. When dressing for a party, men should also consider their usual attire and maintain a certain consistency with their usual look.
  3. A few timeless items are worth investing more in. Some items in your wardrobe won't last more than one season. You shouldn't spend too much on these. But others will stay with you for years to come. This is particularly the case with your costume and your watch. Decide which coins you want to keep and invest in quality rather than quantity.
  4. Cover your bases. When starting to build your wardrobe, start with neutral colors like black, white, navy blue, beige, gray, and brown for your outfit first. These are all easy to mix and match and will never go out of style.
  5. Elevate and personalize your look with one or two items. Once the basics of your style are in place, you can add personality to your outfit by playing with luxurious fabrics like silk or cashmere and bolder colors. These should be reserved for your accessories such as your belt, watch strap, socks, etc.
  6. Consider the occasion and the weather before choosing your cocktail outfit. Whatever your style, you should always pay close attention to your surroundings and your social context. Understand what is expected and then design your outfit based on your goals.
  7. Always look for the right fit. There is nothing sadder than seeing a man pull out the right style with the wrong fit. It will completely ruin your efforts if your clothes are too tight and uncomfortable or too loose and unkempt. If you spend time defining your style, make sure the execution is right.
4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

5 brands of cocktail outfits that men must know in 2021-2022

When shopping for new clothes, you should always decide what you want first and then look for the best items to complete your look. We do not recommend that you choose a brand first and then browse aimlessly through its collections.

That said, there are a few select brands that our style writers tend to favor over the rest. These are the brands that offer top quality at the right price and never seem to disappoint us .

It is essential that you know which brands you can trust when shopping online so that you don't waste time and money. Also, check out our list of the 15 most popular luxury brands of the year for more inspiration.

Here is our pick of the 5 best brands of casual clothing for men.

  1. Tom ford
  2. Ermenegildo Zegna
  3. Brioni
  4. Hugo boss
  5. Lanvin

1. Tom Ford

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

We love Tom Ford's clothes. The fashion designer dresses some of the most stylish men on the planet, from James Bond to Harvey Specter. You can't go wrong dressing up with Tom Ford.

SEE THE COLLECTION

2. Ermenegildo Zegna

High quality materials and superb stitching. Ermenegildo Zegna's brand name may be hard to pronounce, but you'll look effortlessly stylish in their men's clothing.

High quality materials and superb stitching. Ermenegildo Zegna's brand name may be hard to pronounce, but you'll look effortlessly stylish in their men's clothing.

SEE THE COLLECTION

3. Brioni

The essence of Italian luxury tailoring for men. Brioni is pricey, but well worth it if you want the best of the best. 

The essence of Italian luxury tailoring for men. Brioni is pricey, but well worth it if you want the best of the best.

SEE THE COLLECTION

4. Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss is synonymous with refined fashion clothing and modern luxury. With clean cuts and premium fabrics, they're a must have for adding a level of sophistication to your look.

Hugo Boss is synonymous with refined fashion clothing and modern luxury. With clean cuts and premium fabrics, they're a must have for adding a level of sophistication to your look.

SEE THE COLLECTION

5. Lanvin

If you want to add a touch of sparkle to your outfit, trust Lanvin. France's oldest fashion house offers impeccable quality and a strong, detail-oriented aesthetic for a modern luxury look.

If you want to add a touch of sparkle to your outfit, trust Lanvin. France's oldest fashion house offers impeccable quality and a strong, detail-oriented aesthetic for a modern luxury look.

SEE THE COLLECTION

Cocktail Dress Code: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cocktail outfit for men?

In its simplest form, a cocktail dress means that you should wear a suit in dark colors, ideally navy or charcoal, with a white shirt, a pair of black leather dress shoes, and a tie. You can only walk away from this template if the invite explicitly calls for it.Are jeans suitable for a cocktail party outfit?

No, most of the time. However, if the party is explicitly casual or you know the host is fine with jeans, then go for navy or black jeans with a blazer.What is cocktail dress for a wedding?

In general, a wedding cocktail dress code means a navy or charcoal suit, with a white shirt, a pair of black leather dress shoes, and a tie or bow tie. You can only walk away from this template if the invite explicitly calls for it. This could be the case if you are attending a destination wedding or a beach wedding.What is a cocktail dress?

Cocktail attire is usually the same as described above. Try to find out before the party whether it is a casual evening or a formal occasion to decide what to wear.Does cocktail dress require a tie?

Yes, or a bow tie if you're feeling more daring. You can remove your tie as the night progresses, but you should arrive at the party with your tie on.Do you need a jacket for a cocktail outfit?

Most definitely yes. This is the only unambiguous rule for cocktail dress: you need a jacket.

4 men's cocktail dress style rules to guarantee success

Additional resources and reading recommendations on cocktail dress

We have used several authoritative sources to help us craft this guide to men's cocktail outfits. We recommend reading them if you want to learn more about dress codes in general, they are also great resources if you want to understand a particular aspect of menswear or if you want to stay on top of the latest trends:

  • The Journal, by Mr Porter, is a great source of inspiration for performing your style in class.
Wikipedia has an interesting feature article on the history of modern men's cocktail attire. It is important to understand why you are supposed to wear a particular type of clothing.
  • London College of Fashion and Parsons New School for Design both have great courses if you want to learn more about fashion design.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum can also help you explore the history of men's dress codes. It ranks number one on our list of the best museums in London.