It’s officially party season—people are excited to mingle and the invite requires men’s cocktail attire. Stumped at the request? Cocktail attire is one of the most requested dress codes, and for good reason. It’s a failsafe way to ensure you are not overdressed or dressed too casually. The best part? There are no hard rules as to what constitutes cocktail attire for men. With so much ambiguity, it’s no wonder it can be tough to choose the right outfit. We’re taking the guesswork out of what to wear to a cocktail party so you can focus on being your charming self. Get ready, here’s an all-encompassing guide on men’s cocktail attire.
So, What is Cocktail Attire for Men?
How about a history lesson in cocktail attire for men and our favorite hour—happy hour? In the 1920s, going out to dinner was a grand affair that required your most dashing suit. The Constitution’s 18th amendment banned the sale and manufacture of alcohol during this time which was known as Prohibition. Prior to dinner, friends would come together at a home or speakeasy to secretly have a round of covert drinks. Thus, cocktail hour was born.
Now that you’ve got the history down, let’s tackle cocktail attire staples for men to stow away in your closet. Men’s cocktail attire is the sweet spot between business and formal wear––leveled up from workwear but not quite black tie. It has a festive feel that’s ideal for parties, weddings, work events or dressing up for a dinner soiree. Button-down shirts, two-piece suits, blazers, chinos and furnishings will have you covered when your invite requires cocktail attire. Keep these staples in neutral tones like navy blue, gray or khaki for longevity. These enduring colors never go out of style and pair with trending colors and prints to keep your look feeling fresh.
Men’s Wedding Cocktail Attire: Get Suited Up
Heading to a wedding that calls for men’s cocktail attire? Wearing a suit to a wedding is a timeless option. You’ll convey a look that is intentional and polished without upstaging the wedded couple. Plus, you’ll look dapper and feel confident––it’s a win-win. While black is a classic choice, it may feel too formal for men’s cocktail wedding attire. Instead, a gray suit is an exceptional option that feels modern, sharp and elevated. Add a subtly printed button-down and tie and pull on a pair of Oxford shoes. Hey, there––you are definitely dressed to impress.
Looking for men’s cocktail wedding attire that reflects your fashion-forward personality? Think outside of the box with a suit in a marine blue or olive green for an understated spin to your men’s cocktail attire. Go the extra style mile in a tonal color palette. The best part? No need for a new suit option when the seasons change. These reimagined neutrals will take you through winter, spring, summer and fall.
Expert Stylist Tip: One of the most important factors to nailing men’s cocktail attire is how your clothes should fit. Your dress-up wear should offer a sleek, slim fit that is equally comfortable and stylish. Instead of baggy or oversized cocktail attire, opt for separates that feature stretch in the fabrication. This ensures that shirts and blazers flex through the chest, back and shoulders. Pants with stretch accommodate sitting, standing and flexing your dance moves.
Casual Cocktail Attire for Men
The COVID-era has changed how we define dressing up. After a year of loungewear taking center stage, casual cocktail attire for men is certainly acceptable depending on your event. We’re talking T-shirts, short-sleeve button-downs and even shorts. So, where would you wear this casual cocktail attire? Graduation party, guy’s night out or happy hour with coworkers, to name a few. These events call for something that’s a step-up from casual, but you’ll want to leave your tie at home.
Raise your glass and make a toast in a crisp, cotton T-shirt. Wearing this type of shirt as casual cocktail attire for men requires a bit of balance. Avoid any and all graphics and stick to a solid color to stay sharp. Additionally, seek out a tee that is thick and structured. Since T-shirts are uber-casual, wear them with a suave top layer. Complement the laid-back aesthetic with a knit blazer and add a pair of chinos. Does your event call for the perfect pair of jeans? Go with a dark-wash pair with no distressing for notable men’s cocktail attire. You look awesome—cheers!
Expert Stylist Tip: Styling shorts as cocktail attire requires a very casual environment and a relaxed dress code. Go with this option for events on the beach to match the sunny scene. Select a pair of chino shorts with a nice polo shirt or short-sleeve button-down. Now you know what to wear to a summer wedding while beachside. We have even more tips for men’s cocktail attire while the temperatures are on the rise.
Summer Cocktail Attire For Men: Now You’re Heating Up
Does the thought of wearing summer cocktail attire for men already have you sweltering? It’s no sweat––really. For summer cocktail invites, seek out separates in breathable or moisture-wicking fabrics. Linen, seersucker and hybrid fabrications will be your best bet when the sun’s blazing. Pack on sweet summer colors and cool seasonal prints for a cocktail party pairing that’s made in the shade. Here’s what to keep an eye out for your choice of men’s cocktail attire in the warmer months.
Easy to wash and wear, breathable performance fabrics are an ideal choice for summer cocktail attire for men. Hybrid fabrics wick away moisture and breathe well. Bonus points—most have added stretch and UV protection for comfort and sun safety. Seek out polos and button-up shirts made with this material to prevent sweat stains from lingering after a trip around the dance floor.
Try a lightweight linen blazer over a blended button-down to add textural elements to your cocktail attire. Lenzing’s TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fabrics are eco- and hot climate-friendly. Seek out hemp-fabric blends for a durable and moisture-wicking alternative to cotton. Like linen, seersucker adds an alternate textured option to your outfit. The weave creates an all-over puckered appearance to mask wrinkling and allow for maximum air flow. Seersucker looks perfectly polished in a vertical stripe pattern. Add a solid button-down and a pair of loafers to top off your cocktail attire for men.
Expert Stylist Tip: Looking for men’s cocktail attire constructed with sustainable or natural fabrics? Look no further than linen. Linen is strong due to its intricate weave pattern and is made from the fibers of flax plants. Untreated and undyed linen is fully biodegradable. How’s that for looking and feeling good in your summer cocktail attire?
Strike Up a Conversation In Summer Prints and Colors
Men’s spring 2021 fashion trends brought us crowd-pleasing prints that are making a splash in the summer months. Micro florals and geo dots are must haves for your men’s summer cocktail attire. Wondering how to add prints and patterns to your next summer party outfit? Mini-tropical prints will have you daydreaming about a beach vacation. If your aesthetic is ageless, reach for a trusty madras plaid in summer colors to liven up your look.
Let these summer prints be the focal point of your men’s cocktail attire outfit by pairing them back to reliable neutrals. Light gray or tan combine harmoniously with bold prints. Alternatively, wear a micro-dot print with summer hues like washed coral or muted turquoise. Pink is popping up everywhere in summer men’s fashion trends. Everyone will see that you are the life of the (cocktail) party. Complete your look with brogues and a fedora for a hint of sophistication.
Cool Men’s Cocktail Attire for Fall and Winter
A cold crispness in the air and shorter days let you know that fall and winter are here. It’s time to switch up your men’s cocktail attire for something with warmth. Tuck away summertime fabrics and trade them in for heavier twill, flannel, cashmere, wool and cotton. Is there a blanket of fresh fallen snow on the ground? You can cozy up by adding an overcoat atop your blazer to stay looking fresh and feeling warm. Add rustic Chukkas, and you are set for any and all festivities during the holiday season.
The same goes for those bright and bold colors––swap them out for deep, moody tones that convey the change in seasons. Instead of light gray, go darker with charcoal and trade tan for olive green. Dark blue-green and warm browns are standing out in 2021 men’s fall fashion trends. Add these colors into your men’s cocktail attire—be rest assured that you’ll be on top of your style game at your next gathering.
Stay Warm in a Sweater
Blazers and two-piece suits establish themselves as men’s cocktail attire staples, but don’t rule out sweaters. For a casual happy hour in the fall and winter, cover up with a sweater over a long-sleeve button-down shirt and chinos. Make a lasting impression by choosing a merino wool or cashmere sweater. Not only do these picks pack a textural punch, the luxe fabrics carry a dash of debonair. Wondering how to layer a sweater over your button-down to avoid lumps and bumps? Our number one rule: fit is it. Wear a regular-fit sweater over a slim-fit button-down for a sleek result.
Cardigans are making a comeback with men’s bohemian style on the rise. Opt for a refined take by choosing slimmer-cut button-up sweaters. Go for that throwback and wholesome Mr. Rogers vibe or stay sleek by channeling David Beckham. Many famous men over the years have worn iconic men’s cardigan looks. There is no reason not to take the plunge into wearing this enduring design. For fall casual men’s cocktail attire, team up a beige cardigan with a graphite grey twill Oxford shirt and olive cuffed chinos with Chelsea boots.
Mix Up Your Prints
Sure, a matching suit set is an infallible men’s cocktail attire option, but showcase your personality in a mix and match combo. Plaid pants are pure perfection when worn with a solid button-down and blazer. Alternatively, try your hands at mixing subdued prints. Pin-dot ties look effortless with a check grid or gingham-plaid shirt. Keep the color palette similar if it’s your first foray into styling multiple prints.
Cocktail Attire For Men: Finishing Your Look With Furnishings
You’ve got your outfit laid out so how do you take it to the next level? Furnishings make you look like a master at men’s cocktail attire before you head out the door. Traditionally, pants with belt loops must be worn with a belt. While we’ve strayed from this tradition, the rule is still alive and well when you are attending a semi-formal affair. Coordinating your belt and shoes helps make your outfit feel gentlemanly. Are your shoes two-toned? Choose a belt that pairs with whichever color covers the majority of your footwear.
Show off your legendary men’s cocktail attire style with a pocket square. This timeless accessory should complement your look and not be an exact match to your tie. If your tie has a main color and accent color, pick a square that matches the accent. Adding a pop of print guarantees that your pocket square stands out. Alternatively, choose a pocket square from the same color story. For example, if you are wearing a navy blue tie opt for a pocket square in a different blue hue. Go with a standard fold or add some sartorial style with an intricate fold pattern. Now, you are really crushing your cocktail attire.
Ready to party in men’s cocktail attire? Partner with your styling expert to refresh your closet with new dapper duds.