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What does "Cocktail Attire" mean?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I have been invited to a wedding reception in mid-May and the dress is described as "cocktail attire."

What the hell does that mean?

Other specs:
Wedding: Family-only; a week prior to reception
Location: Loft space in Manhattan
Guests: 100-150 (guess)
Time: 7PM (Saturday)
Food: hors d’oeuvres stations

So what should I wear?
post #2 of 42
It means you don't have to wear a suit and tie... out here in Arizona it also means you don't have to wear a tie, but I'm not sure how that translates in Manhattan.

Personally, I would say, mid-May in the city: beautiful spread collar shirt in a spring color (pink, light blue, yellow), chocolate brown pants, light tan sportcoat and a fun pocket square... I'm just making this up as I go along but hopefully you get the idea...
post #3 of 42
^ did you mean something like this? Naturlauts outfit btw
post #4 of 42
Jacket and tie, but not a "business" suit. The sort of thing you'd wear on a night out that is dressy but not black tie.

Depending on the crowd, I'd think a very nice sport jacket (cashmere?) or a navy suit would fill the bill.
post #5 of 42
I don't think you should hesitate to wear a suit if you can make it look obviously different from an outfit you'd wear to work. If you happen to have a black suit, now's the time. Personally I would only wear a tie if it was sufficiently loud and otherwise I'd wear a cool shirt. Given that it's in a loft in Manhattan, a certain amount of city fashion is called for. There's a fuzzy area you're aiming for between too-country, too-sober-for-wedding-reception, and too-winter-for-May. I'm a little concerned about the tan sportscoats hitting the country side, and a black suit would need the right accessories not to hit the others...
post #6 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the advice.

I just can't see going tie-less to this - even if it would be acceptable.

Do think a blazer (not a navy jacket) and solid trousers - with a colorful shirt, tie and pocket square would work fits the bill as "cocktail attire."

I only ask because I need an excuse to buy a new blazer.
post #7 of 42
Not the most imaginative solution, but it hits all the right buttons. Were I without any inside information whatever (attendees, climate, etc.) that's likely what I'd do.
post #8 of 42
It's after 6pm, so a dark suit, tie (with some pizzaz), great shirt. It shouldn't be a business suit. If you have a black suit, this is a perfect time, but all of this has been said.

However, definitely wear a suit.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by life_interrupts

However, definitely wear a suit.

People will wear all sorts of bizarria but I would ignore it all and wear a lounge suit. And yes, this is the time to wear a black one as have already been mentioned. If you got a good lounge suit now is the time to flaunt it.
post #10 of 42
Wear a lamp shade on your head.

I think the phrase is more useful for women, for whom it means cocktail dress. Expect guys in everything from untucked shirts (with french cuffs!) to suit and tie, I would think. Be the latter.
post #11 of 42
I'm not sure business suits should not be worn, or that the suit must be dark, even thought the invitation says the Cocktail function starts at 7 p.m.

More likely, since it is not even an informal dinner, it should be alright for you to turn up in whatever kind of lounge suit you may be wearing during that afternoon. Perhaps, since it is a Saturday, even blazer and slacks should do.

BTW, a business suit qualifies as a lounge suit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by life_interrupts
It's after 6pm, so a dark suit, tie (with some pizzaz), great shirt. It shouldn't be a business suit. If you have a black suit, this is a perfect time, but all of this has been said.

However, definitely wear a suit.
post #12 of 42
To resurrect an old thread: Invited to a wedding in Houston, TX a couple weeks from now - as you might imagine from this thread's title, it's "cocktail attire." Going straight from the church [Catholic] round 6p to the cocktail-type reception afterwards. Again, it is Houston at the tail-end of summer. Suggestions? My only 'summer-weight' suit is a khaki-colored BB number, though I have a nice mix of weather appropriate odd jackets and trousers. Would either be too informal? Or do I just sack up and take a black, charcoal or navy number? Much thanks
post #13 of 42
I would go with a dark suit, not a khaki! Cocktail attire means that.
post #14 of 42
Can't go past a Little Black Dress.
post #15 of 42
saturday night cocktail dress is always a tricky one. you're right to assess the venue and the types of people likely to be there. a weekday night would steer you more directly to a suit and tie, but on saturday you have to be careful not to look like you're wearing a work outfit. you want it to look fun, but also that you actually have some nice clothes.

a 60s lounge-lizard type look could work for this - formal elements (jacket and tie), but combined in a cool sort of way. or even a suit without a collared shirt if you can pull it off. you don't want to look too square or uptight, so should avoid a full suit and tie myself unless you can make it look non-work.

this is what i wore for a saturday night engagement party, incidentially also in an urban loft (her father owned the building...). excuse the cheesy pose. i've also worn this suit with a dark t-shirt in stead of shirt/tie. here i had unbuttoned the shirt collar (no comments please)

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