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Cocktail Attire or simply Cocktail regularly appears on invitations. It is without a doubt one of the most common dress codes, or rather clothing requests, together with Tenue-de-Ville.
Cocktail is a semi-formal dress code that prescribes the outfit for both men and women. Although this dress code can be worn all year round, the colors and fabrics differ per season as well as the formality. This dress code is often combined with 'Black Tie' or ' Tenue-de-Ville' regulations for men. Depending on the formality of the event, the lady wears a cocktail for the more informal version with the 'Black Tie' and a long evening dress for formal and chic occasions. For the cocktail dress code, a cocktail dress is always chosen. The gentleman is wearing a tuxedo or at least a suit and tie.

Regulations gentlemen

At Black Tie the ladies wear cocktail dresses or evening dresses. The gentlemen always wear a black or midnight blue tuxedo. Unlike the ladies, the gentlemen have little choice. Which can actually work to your advantage.

Depending on the formality and time of the event, you will wear a suit or tuxedo.


You only wear a tuxedo in the evening. The official rules dictate after 8:00 PM. This may be black or dark blue and must have silk elements such as the lapels and, for example, the sleeve buttons. Below you are wearing a tuxedo shirt. This has a so-called blind strip that either shows no buttons or offers space for special buttons. A raised collar, the so-called 'parricide', is an advantage, but not a must. Naturally, you combine this with double cuffs containing the only 'jewelry' you will be showing that evening: cufflinks.

You wear patent leather shoes and dark socks. Of course, the whole thing is completed with a silk bow tie and matching pocket square. It is important to keep in mind that you are not wearing a watch when wearing a tuxedo. Conviviality knows no time. 

Take in the evening

In the evening - when it is not formal enough for a tuxedo, or before 8 p.m. - you wear a dark-colored suit. This can be blue, very dark gray or black. Of course with a white shirt and tie. It is up to you to decide what color tie you combine with this, as well as whether you go for an inconspicuous or contrasting pocket square.

Dark shoes are a must, as well as socks in the same color tone.

During the day

When you are confronted with a cocktail dress code during the day, things become a bit more complicated. Depending on the formality, you will wear a Tenue-de-Ville outfit or an inconspicuous suit. Naturally selected on basis and fabrics according to the latest trends of the season. Don't hesitate to reach for linen or cotton when the temperature allows it.

You can choose to show your watch when wearing a suit. That doesn't mean it's less fun, or that time is more important. It is an opportunity to proudly display your most precious piece of jewelry.

Regulations ladies

When a cocktail dress is chosen, the challenge begins. In the current era there are all kinds of shapes and sizes, not to mention the colors that can be chosen. If you don't want to make a mistake, there are some strict laws regarding the cocktail dress:

- The dress consists of one piece.
- The dress reaches to or below the knee.

The secret to dressing well for an occasion is to add polish, add a flourish and add something that lets everyone else know just how dedicated you are having a ball.


In the past, the cocktail dress - before it was actually called that - was worn down to the ankles. When it ended 5 centimeters above the ankle, it was called a 'Tea Length' dress. When it touched the ankle the dress length was referred to as 'Ballerina Length'. We now know the latter as the (long) evening dress.

It was Christian Dior - and not Coco Chanel, as you might think - who designed the mother of all cocktail dresses at the end of 1940 and gave the evocative name to this garment. The design is based on the classic (long) evening dress, characterized by the décolleté and bare shoulders, with the length of an afternoon dress. Which immediately brings us to the initial purpose of this dress. This was intended as an 'in-between dress' in the early evening, between the afternoon dress and evening dress.

Contemporary Cocktail attire

Nowadays we wear the cocktail dress as our main item of clothing during informal Black Tie occasions or when we are asked to follow the cocktail attire regulations. It has become perhaps the most prominent 'chic' outfit we encounter nowadays, as the long evening dress is less popular.
The cocktail dress, as the name implies, may radiate festivity and depending on how you decide to combine it and what your goals are for the evening, the outfit can be modest, hip, stylish or sexy. Just as important: with the necessary styling you can convey whether you are a guest or hostess.


Black is by far the most favorite color. Logical, because black is always chic, but also very safe. Depending on the type of occasion and the season, you can safely choose striking colors such as red, purple, yellow, green and blue. Please note that these colors also match the shades of your complexion.


With this dress code it is important that you literally turn it into a jewel of an outfit. It is important to brighten up your clothes with the necessary accessories. You can think of a matching clutch, matched to your jewelry, dress or shoes. The jewels themselves, these may be seen, are to a certain extent exuberant. You should always wear heels. For a formal occasion these are in line with the color of the dress. For semi-formal occasions, you can choose contrasting footwear.

Gloves are not necessary nor are you required to wear a hat. However, if you do opt for a headgear, you will only wear it during the day and choose it based on the color of your jacket.

Hair and makeup

If you want to look your best, a visit to the hairdresser and make-up artist prior to the party is essential. You can let the make-up speak a little more than on an average day and the hair is often worn up.

During the day

If you wear a cocktail dress during the day, for example to a wedding or baptism, you are expected to wear a jacket. This can be of the same or matching fabric and color. You are free to give your own interpretation to this. Please note that you do not wear black during these occasions, and it is advisable to avoid ivory and white.

The reason to always dress subtly according to a dress code is that the clothing is mainly intended as a gesture towards your host/hostess. It is a good principle of elegance and class not to stand out more than your host/hostess. If you do not find a dress code on the invitation or are unsure about the nature of the event, please consult your host/hostess to avoid any surprises. You can of course visit one of our Oger stores and ask one of our advisors for advice.

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