Cocktail Attire: The Best Way for Men to Dress for the Occasion


All right, lets chat about what is appropriate to wear when you get an invite that says, “Cocktail Attire”. First off, the occasions where cocktail dress is most certainly required usually included: weddings, anniversaries, some sporting events, christenings, cocktail parties, and formal birthday gatherings.

If you’re going to any of these types of events you should just assume that a T-shirt and jeans combination would be strongly frowned upon. You would also feel like a major tool, and trust me, no lady would approach the dude at the cocktail party who is wearing jeans and a T-shirt. So, be sure you get it right and dress for the occasion.

Below is the breakdown and rules you should follow, I strongly suggest you bookmark this page for later reference.


Photo via I Love Men in Suits

Photo via I Love Men in Suits

Tailoring is number one when it comes to cocktail attire, and it is of utmost importance for capturing that pulled together look. Usually dark tones and grays are the best choice, and you can even opt for texture, but keep it simple. A gray wool-cashmere blend is always a nice option and definitely a safe bet. Be sure you stick with lean cuts that are tailored to your body, as they should contour your natural shape. Always get your pants hemmed and never wear pants that are too short, or too long. Trust me, those are to cardinal sin in suiting. Oh, and never button the bottom button of your suit jacket.

Related: A Man’s Guide to Clothing Alterations


Photo via Men's Fash

Photo via Men’s Fash

Get yourself a crisp cotton dress shirt, because this is one of the most essential parts of the cocktail hour look. You must make sure the shirt is clean, ironed, and well-pressed; this makes all the difference. Solid colors are the most common; you don’t want to go with anything too distracting or loud. However, if you do choose a patterned shirt make sure it is either a light pinstripe or mellow check. Also, if you are going with a printed shirt then your suit must be solid; there are no exceptions here.


Always remember that women believe the shoes of a man tell a lot about him. What story do you want your shoes to tell? With that said, leather oxfords in either dark camel or black are pretty standard for cocktail hour. You will just want to pair with the suit you’re wearing. Tell a great story with Raf Simons Chain-Trimmed Leather Derby Shoes by MR PORTER shown above, and also sold in our store.

Other dress shoes that work for cocktail hour are: tassel loafers, short dress boots, oxfords with buckle detailing, or monk straps will give your look that nattier feel. Lastly, when it comes to shoes be sure they are polished and as clean looking as possible. You do not want to show up at cocktail hour with scuffed oxfords in need of a desperate polish, that would most definitely be uncouth.


  • Undies

Ok boys listen up. When it comes to fit, you are going to have to wear the proper under garments with your trousers. And while many men have thrown out their tighty whities, it is always a good idea to keep a pair or two around. The last thing you want is your boxers getting bunched up in your slim fit trousers. Boxer briefs you might say? Yea, no. Go with tighty whities because they will not show any lines, I mean the last thing you want is your panty lines showing through.

  • Belts

Here is the rule with belts – if you’re wearing trousers, wear a belt. Also, make sure it matches your shoes, please.

  • Cufflinks

This is where you can have fun, so long as they match your outfit. Get a pair of fun cuffs. There are so many styles available that you can really have fun with it and add a bit of funk to your outfit.

  • Ties

While it is now acceptable at less formal cocktail events to go tieless, others it is not. For example, if you’re going to a formal wedding you’re going to want to put a tie on. Traditional wedding call for tradition attire, you don’t want to be that guy. Keep in mind that your choice of a tie is much like your choice in cuffs. Here is where you can push some boundaries, notice I said some. Just make sure it matches and shows off your personality. If you’re the more manly, woodsy type go for a flannel-patterned necktie.

Related: Men’s Style Inspiration, The Hunter Gatherer Trend

See? Not that hard is it guys? Now that you’ve got the guide to dress to impress, go out there and party hard!

Read more:

Ready to Party: How to Dress Up If You’re A Guy

How To Style Your Hair This Party Season

Get The Look: Dress Like A Hell-Raising, Party-Smashing, Wolf Of Wall Street

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