Summer Cocktail Attire: Decoding the Dress Code

Summer and soirees go hand in hand. When your invitation arrives and the dress code says summer cocktail attire required, no need to fret. We’ve got you covered whether you are headed to a luscious garden cocktail hour, your favorite rooftop lounge and every other venue in between.

Here are a few perfect summer cocktail attire ensembles that will have you dressed to impress and feeling your very best.

So What Exactly is Summer Cocktail Attire?

Summer cocktail attire falls within the sweet spot between business casual and semi-formal wear. Your favorite dresses, jumpsuits and two-piece options are a sure bet for any event that requires summer cocktail wear. A breezy maxi dress is a casual alternative to a long, formal gown. This chic and functional option is less cumbersome and more adaptable for a variety of cocktail hour occasions. Give your trusty jeans the night off as they are a bit too casual for cocktail attire. When choosing two pieces, go for a polished pair of pants or a favorite skirt with a statement top in this season’s trending details, like balloon sleeves and fringe detailing.

There are numerous ways you can refresh your classic cocktail attire that will have you sipping sparkling drinks in style. Update your summer cocktail dresses by indulging in bright, bold summer prints and colors. This summer’s color palette is inspired by the tropics featuring intense hues like sunny yellows, brilliant blues, leafy greens, corals and reds that pack a punch. Striking prints also invigorate dresses, skirts and jumpsuits this season. Try pretty palm prints, oversized florals or soft paisleys to give off cool summer vibes. Alternatively, classic gingham and sun-washed stripes are for those who prefer a more subdued print option.

Stay Classic in Summer Cocktail Dresses

Dresses are synonymous with summer cocktail attire and this season’s dresses are dazzling, dreamy and drenched in color. We are especially loving on-trend midi dresses to change up your look. The perfect length for a midi dress is somewhere halfway between your knee and your ankle. Avoid your midi dress stopping at mid-calf to highlight the slimmest part of your lower leg. Aim for right before mid-calf or after for the most flattering fit. A midi dress that cinches at the waist accentuates your waistline and elongates your frame. 

When the temps rise, opt for a short and sweet dress. Fit and flare and a-line dresses are universally flattering and complement any frame. Keep your hemline above the knee for the most leg-lengthening look. A pair of flirty heels and a beaded clutch add that extra glam. Short shift and sheath dresses are perfect for those humid summer evenings when you dream of a looser fit. 

Hit the dance floor in a two piece summer cocktail attire option. A midi skirt that features flirty tiered ruffles will sway along as you show off your fancy footwork. Add a fitted tank with intricate crochet to balance out your skirt and don’t forget a pair of wedges so you’ll be able to dance the night away in comfort. 

Stylist Tip: Take your summer cocktail dress from day to night with the help of a few basics. For cocktail hour, deck out your dress by adding a few statement accessories and a clutch to tuck away your night-out necessities. During the day, slip on some sunny sandals, a floppy hat to keep you covered from the sun and reach for a textured tote bag.  

Jump into the Trend of Summer Cocktail Jumpsuits 

Wearing a jumpsuit as summer cocktail attire is a cool and modern alternative to a dress, especially if you live in your favorite blue jeans and tee combo. A jumpsuit is just as comfortable as wearing pants and a top, but even more effortless, as it creates an instant outfit. Wear jumpsuits made of more structured or weighted fabrics such as linen, cotton or silk for a polished aesthetic. If you prefer a little bit of stretch, seek out jumpsuits composed of a heavier knit fabric that offer a more refined feel for cocktail hour. 

Inseam is key when wearing a jumpsuit for cocktail parties. You’ll want your hemlines to barely graze the floor for the most leg-lengthening effect. For an off-the-rack perfect fit, try a wide leg, cropped jumpsuit. The cropped length is on trend for the summer and will help keep you cool when the mercury rises. Don’t know which shoes to wear with your jumpsuit of choice? Add a pair of strappy heeled sandals and you’ll be ready to head out the door in style.

Stylist Tip: Keep a layering piece on hand when cocktail hour extends into the evening. A structured blazer will keep you covered while looking stylish. A black blazer never goes out of style. You can also try your hand at a colored or printed blazer this summer. Wanting to take your jumpsuit from night to day? Layer with a denim jacket if it’s an especially breezy day.

Summer Cocktail Attire for All Occasions

Summer cocktail attire will keep your jumpsuits, pants, skirts and dresses in constant rotation. Whether you are hanging at a downtown club or socializing seaside for a cocktail soiree, these essentials will have you covered regardless of the occasion. Here are a few of our favored ways to style these chic cocktail hour staples. 

Happy Hour Summer Cocktail Ensembles

Remember when we had spur-of-the-moment happy hour invites? You can go from workwear to summer cocktail attire with ease in a blazer and pants pairing. When restaurants reopen, you can loosen up after a long day at work by ditching your blazer and untucking your blouse. Try a loose front tuck with your blouse into your pants for an effortless look. Our secret tip? Keep a lacy camisole tucked into your work tote for those impromptu style moments. A quick change after work will take you straight from desk to drinks. 

Beach-Ready Summer Cocktail Looks

Sand and sangria go hand in hand. Sip cocktails on the beach in a tiered dress. The playful ruffles will float with the ocean breeze for an ethereal look. Avoid sinking into the sand by opting for a pair of flat sandals, and don’t forget a lightweight chore jacket or textured cardigan to keep you warm when the ocean breeze meets the shoreline. 

Summer Cocktail Inspiration for a Garden Party

A swanky summer garden cocktail hour calls for spring trend prints, like vivid palm prints and sunkissed ditsy floral dresses to complement the flora of your surroundings. Slip on a pair of sandals with a printed block heel or a pair of mules. Skipping the stiletto heels ensures that you don’t embed the heel in the grass. If you’re more into neutrals, style a cropped wide-leg pant with a timeless collared blouse and accessorize with chain-link stacked necklaces that are all the rage right now. An A-line dress in a chiffon fabric will steal the show with its effortless vibe.  

Summer Cocktail Wedding Styles

For a summer cocktail wedding, shake things up with a chic, black romper. Colorful drop earrings are trending for the summer season and are sure to make a statement. Be bold—the bigger and more colorful, the better—when accessorizing with one of these options to update your look. If you crave even more color, add a pair of eye-catching shoes or a bright beaded clutch, and you’ll be ready to mingle the night away. Don’t forget a coordinating mask to keep you safe and protected for a wedding with an endless guest list. Think of it as another accessory.

Who’s ready to party? Take your style quiz, order a Fix and ask your stylist to add the perfect summer cocktail attire pieces to your wardrobe. Let the styles come to you. Try five items at home, buy what you love and send back the rest. Shipping is always free.  

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