When should you be wearing a cocktail or evening dress? It all depends on the formality of the event. It’s generally acknowledged that “cocktail hour” is from 5-7pm, and evening gowns are worn after that. But if you really want to know how long your dress should be, just ask the festival organizer.
For example, premieres at Cannes often start before 5pm, but scroll on Instagram and you’ll see actresses in jaw-droppingly beautiful gowns and actors in handsome tuxedoes. Here, it’s the formalities of the red carpet that are determining the dress code. But don’t worry, you can totally get away with a cocktail dress at a theater or exhibit opening. It really all depends on whether the event is black or white tie. Black and white tie are the highest level of formality. Cocktail dresses are acceptable for events that are a little more informal, like drinks out with the girls, date night, or parties, like a colleague’s work anniversary.
Evening dress is always long, but it’s the event that dictates how much skin your favorite star is going to show. Everyone knows that it’s not appropriate to wear something that reveals skin down to the navel! Always make sure to dress in a way that flatters your body shape, and is respectful to your age and class – don’t dress like a teenager if you’re in your thirties! Start by picturing what type of event you are going to. A costume party with a Venetian theme is one thing, but a charitable reception with heads of state is quite another. You should also dress with consideration for the space of the event – don’t wear a dress with a long train if there are going to be a lot of people in a small room. A solution that works for any situation is one-color dresses. Geometric, floral, and tropical prints are suitable for seacoast celebrations.