Jacob Osborn
Guide to Men's Cocktail Attire & Dress Code | Man of Many
Male cocktail attire needn’t be over-complicated. For starters, don’t get too hung up on the ‘cocktail’ part, whereas cocktail attire has little to do with happy hour drinks after work. Instead, cocktail attire for men is what you wear to weddings, formal sporting events, and adult celebrations.
What is Cocktail Attire for Men?
Summer cocktail attire shouldn’t differ dramatically – in most cases – from winter cocktail attire at occasions or events such as a wedding. Destination weddings on a beach, with a specified less formal dress code, would be an obvious exception.
Winter Vs Summer Cocktail Attire
The Prohibition might have run from 1920 to 1933 in the USA, but someone apparently forgot to tell all the wealthy people. More to the point, alcohol was flowing liberally among the well-heeled folks of America and other first world countries back in the 1920s and 30s, so much so that they even began enjoying a boozy beverage or two before dinner.
History of the Cocktail Dress Code
If you’re about to throw on that cocktail suit, but still unclear as to whether you’re following proper protocol, here are some trusty “do’s” and “don’ts” to help guide you:
Do’s and Don’ts of Cocktail Dress for Men
To avoid any confusion, we’re focusing on traditional cocktail attire for men when dispensing the following pointers (though if you have any questions about the smart casual dress code, be sure to check out our guide). Here are some essential clothing tips and suggestions for the men’s cocktail dress code:
5 Men’s Cocktail Dress Code Tips & Suggestions
The first rule of men’s cocktail attire: wearing a suit is not optional. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it should be a tailored suit that shows off some personal style. Now bear in mind there’s no need to go overboard by grabbing that tux out of the garment bag since black tie is, after all, its own respective men’s dress code. Instead, opt for a nice suit or blazer ensemble.
1. A Cocktail Suit is a Must
First and foremost, you want to wear a shirt that matches your suit. For that reason, you should stick with neutral colours. We’d recommend either a quality white shirt or a dress shirt in colours like navy blue or grey. And if you’re going with a pattern (stripes, checks, etc), make it a low-profile pattern that doesn’t clash with the rest or your outfit, or jump out on its own. To avoid limp shirt collars, opt for materials like cotton with fabric weaves.
2. Shirt Selection is Important
With so much going on in fashion these days, it feels a tad antiquated to say that ties are mandatory when it comes to cocktail attire. Nevertheless, we’re going to assert that a tie is indeed mandatory, because who are you (or we) to reinvent the wheel? The only exception would be if you were to wear a turtleneck as an alternative to the standard shirt and tie combo. As for the bow tie, there might a few bold men out there who make one part of their cocktail attire regimen, but we suggest saving it for a black-tie event.
3. Always Wear a Tie
Get yourself a pair of formal dress shoes, keep them clean and shiny, and make sure they match with the rest of your outfit. As for the socks, they should always come up over the calf so as to cover your leg skin even when you’re sitting down (unless opting for loafers). Patterns on the socks are acceptable, permitted they still blend elegantly with your jacket and trousers. Now you’re looking sharp from head to toe.
4. Shoes and Socks Matter
The cocktail dress code leaves room for accessories, but be sure not to go overboard. As far as the essentials are concerned, a trusty pocket square or boutonniere flower delivers a perfect touch of subtle style. Pair that with either a dress watch, a tie bar, some nice cufflinks and you’re good to go.
5. Finish Your Look With Accessories
To help inspire you to dress your very best, here are 10 stylish examples of men’s cocktail dress worn right.
10 Men’s Cocktail Cocktail Dress Code Images & Inspiration
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