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6 Tips for Choosing Business Cocktail Attire Outfits

<p>Getty Images</p>

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Cocktail attire is universally regarded as the most perplexing dress code in existence. It’s not a casual way of dressing, but it’s not overly formal, either. It’s a grey area that stylist Rahimah Yoba previously told InStyle is “a mixture of comfort and ease with a splash of sparkle and non-gender-specific silhouettes.” Business cocktail attire, however, is a bit more defined. It’s cocktail attire for business settings—think office parties or networking events—so if you know what’s appropriate for these types of environments, you’re halfway to figuring out an outfit.

While what you wear to a cocktail wedding or dinner can be decoded based on the formality of the event, the venue, and any other attire requirements, fashion stylist and expert Naina Singla says more often than not, business cocktail attire is a more conservative way of dressing for work-adjacent events. ”The primary color scheme for this type of ensemble is neutrals in the form of classic suits and separates, and more tailored looks are appropriate, though you can add elements of interest like unique accessories and pops of color,” Singla says.

When narrowing down your outfit options, stylist Corina Gaffey says that similar to how you would study the details on a wedding invitation to get a better idea of the soiree’s dress code, it’s a good idea to note what the event is and who you'll be mingling with. “It might be your boss or colleagues, so you'll want to wear something you're proud to wear and represents your organization well,” Gaffey tells InStyle. Gaffey’s rule of thumb is to dress for work but with a dressy spin. Necklines and hemlines should be on the modest side, she continues, but you don’t need to be too buttoned-up. “It is a party, after all!”

If you need some visual inspiration, we tapped Gaffey and other stylists to share their best tips for how to dress in business cocktail attire for your next event.

Lean Into Its Business Side

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When in doubt, Gaffey recommends going “more pared-back but polished” with sleek, sophisticated pieces in solid colors that can be elevated with accessories over statement fabrics and patterns. “A statement earring, chunky cuff, or party-ready clutch will add a fun feel to office-appropriate pieces.”

Go for Something Silk

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Stylist Ellie Witt reminds us that while business cocktail attire alludes to maintaining somewhat of a professional air (aka showing less skin), cocktail attire is traditionally a little sexier, so silky or lux fabrics are still fair game. A silk maxi skirt paired with a crisp white shirt and statement jewelry or a feminine dress with an oversized blazer over the shoulders “strikes a great balance,” Witt says, citing brands like Stella McCartney, Alaia, Christopher Esber, and Magda Butrym as shopping recs.

Try an Elevated Knit Dress

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Fashion stylist and expert, Naina Singla tells InStyle her choice for a business cocktail event would be “a long-sleeve cashmere knit dress in a dark shade of grey or deep black, paired with tall black stiletto boots.” The rich blend of materials, fabric, and leather, she says, creates a look that is chic, sophisticated, and appropriate for the occasion.

Opt for Pants

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

If you don’t feel comfortable in dresses or skirts, Gaffey says tailored, high-waisted trousers or a jumpsuit would adhere to business cocktail dress codes. Plus, they’re what Gaffey calls “day-to-night saviors” because “they can be swiftly switched for an evening event with a quick addition of accessories if you're coming straight from the office.”

Mix Up Your Materials

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Oftentimes people will confuse “business” with “stuffy,” but you can have fun and be stylish at a business cocktail event. A professional strategy to achieve this is to mix and match your materials. “Wear a monochrome look complete with black wool trousers, a silk blouse, and a cashmere cardigan with a pair of suede kitten heels,” Singla recommends. “By mixing materials, the look feels versatile and modern.”

Break Out Your Little Black Dress

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

You can't go wrong with an LBD, but Gaffey tells InStyle you want to “choose an interesting silhouette or texture while still keeping it appropriate.” Or, if black feels too formal, Gaffey goes on to suggest widening the color net with rich berry, burgundy, forest green, or jewel tones.

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Read the original article on InStyle.