How to dress for a cocktail reception

Written by michald
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How to dress for a cocktail reception
For women, cocktail attire means a cocktail-length dress (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A cocktail reception is a party where the host provides hors d'oeuvres instead of a sit-down dinner, and guests mingle and drink. Cocktail wedding receptions are popular for less formal weddings and are less expensive than traditional receptions. Businesses also hold cocktail receptions for corporate events. Additionally, cocktail receptions may be part of a book launch, an art gallery opening or museum event. While cocktail receptions are not as formal as black tie or green tie in terms of dress, they are not casual dress events.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Put on cocktail attire. For women, cocktail attire means a cocktail-length dress. This is a mid-length dress that can be anywhere from a few inches above the ankles to above the knees. Dresses for cocktail receptions should be "elegant and chic," according to the Wedding Channel. For men, cocktail attire translates to a suit. Tuxedos are not appropriate, but a fashionable suit is preferred to a traditional business suit.

  2. 2

    Accessorise for a cocktail reception. Women should wear jewellery that flatters their dress. Do not go overboard with accessories; choose one or two items that work well. A good purse that women can carry while they hold a drink is essential. Men should wear a tie that suits a celebration. Consider purchasing a tie especially for the occasion.

  3. 3

    Wear the right shoes. Dress shoes are the only appropriate shoes for either gender. Women may wear dress flats or heels. Because you will spend a great deal of time at the cocktail party on your feet, you should consider comfort when selecting your shoes. Men should coordinate their dress shoes with their suits. For example, black suit and brown shoes do not coordinate.

  4. 4

    Style yourself appropriately. Cocktail receptions are events where everyone should look polished. Men and women should style their hair with care. If you normally have a messy or relaxed look for your hair, this is the occasion for you to spend a little extra time. Likewise, women can go for a more colourful, festive look for their makeup when attending a cocktail reception.

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