I received an invitation from a friend. I open the seal of the invitation letter. I was glad to know my friend was getting married. He was going to marry his high school crush. It was exciting to see this. As I read the invitation letter it says, cocktail attire for men.

Cocktail attire for men? What does that mean? A tuxedo a suit or casual wear. Now, this friend was my close friend and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by dressing like a clown.

I landed up doing some research and managed to pull the outfit for that event with suave and class.

Left me wondering, how many people like me must be not aware of cocktail attire for men.

I then decided to cover this topic on my blog so that this one post can save you time instead of searching for cocktail attire for men.

With these steps and strategies, you will be able to pull off any cocktail attire for men easily without stressing on what to wear.

Although there are no strict rules to follow per se its vital to know them to effectively bend the rules of cocktail attire for men with ease.


Cocktail attire for men

This term or concept of the cocktail party emerged in the 20s and 30s by the upper section of society. The term cocktail attire was known for breaking the formal attire and grabbing drinks with friends or stepping into this attire for evening office functions.

During those days’ office wear was formal and business casuals was not yet introduced. In order to break out the formal wear and look stylish while maintaining the formal look is where this term “cocktail attire for men “was defined. 

In those days black tie was cocktail attire or party wear attire. Similarly, a white tie event meant a more formal attire type of event. Cocktail attire can be considered as semi-formal wear.

There’s a myth that dressing for cocktail attire is expensive. Well, that is not true. Although, you can spend a lot of money on designer wear nevertheless that does not have to be necessary though.

The three important things to consider before you choose your cocktail attire

  • Type of Event
  • Location 
  • Time
Cocktail attire for men

Cocktail attire for men largely depends on these factors because if the party is in the evening you can go for dark or subtle shades. If it is going to be during day time you can go for light and bright tones.

Similarly, the type of event is paramount as well. If the event is a wedding than the type of clothes to be worn would be way different from a late evening office function.

A wedding cocktail attire can be semi-formal whereas a business function cocktail attire can be on the lines of formal wear.

And finally, location matters as well because if the wedding is near the beach you can opt for fabric such as linen, whereas an event at a wedding hall would need thicker fabric to avoid the chills of the air conditioner.

However, if you are still unsure about these three factors you can always speak to the host for clarification. 

The host would be able to provide clarity about the event as they would be enthusiastic since they are hosting the event.

Most hosts are mindful about this and would always be available to help. 

They would not want any attendees to make a fool out of themselves as this would spoil the event.

Now that you know what to consider before putting your outfit together, it’s vital to know what to avoid for cocktail attire to avoid looking like an amateur.

What to avoid for cocktail attires

Cocktail attire for men

I know it’s easy to just wear a black suit or black tuxedo and go all black. Nevertheless, this could be the biggest mistake. Avoid wearing a tuxedo as it looks too formal. Black suit with a black tie can be worn for funerals. Save it for that day.

Don’t wear sneakers unless you know what you’re doing. If it’s a casual event you may be able to pull it off. Still, preferable to avoid them.

Stay away from black ties. Use plain or stripe ties. While doing so, try to match the tie colour with your pocket square.

While dressing for this cocktail event, don’t upstage the host or the groom. Let the spotlight be on the host. It is his birthday or ceremony to celebrate.  By following this it simply shows respect to the host. Leave the flashy bling clothes home.

Before you attend the event, it is advisable to go clean-shaven. If you have a beard, make sure it is managed properly. Preferably ensure you’ve had a recent haircut as well.

Let’s look at each of them individually


Cocktail attire for men

Although its advisable not wear a tuxedo, you can wear blazers. In blazers, you can opt for classics such as a navy blue suit or grey suit. Burgundy suits can be worn for parties. 

Make sure the fit of the blazer is not too tight and similarly not to lose. 

You can experiment here with the clothes you have. The good part about cocktail attire for men is that most of the outfits you already have.

A simple way to do it is, just take the formal wear a notch down if you are still confused.

A rule of thumb to lower the formal look is to remember the more the colours the less the formal the outfit will look.

While selecting the blazer it is advisable to wear the same colour trousers. In some cases, you can also wear a jacket. While wearing the jacket ensure that the fit of the jacket is right.

Wearing baggy jackets can make the outfit look casual spoiling the overall look. During the day you can opt for bright jackets. If the event is in the evening you can wear darker tones with a sharper look.

If you have the budget to spend you should look for suits or blazers from brands like Tom Ford, Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna.

I recommend Tom Ford since their fashion designer outfits are quite popular for how good they look. From Harvey Specter, James Bond and Don Draper they have some of the most stylish formal and semi-formal clothing.


A white shirt is a safe option. However, if you want to step out of the box and try other colours, you can try light blue or light pink. These colours compliment the navy blue suit well.

It is advisable to avoid a white shirt if you are attending a wedding since in most cases the bridegroom will be wearing that colour.

If it is a business cocktail party button-up white shirt just works fine.

It is essential to button down your shirt and keep it tucked inside. Keeping the shirt un-tucked looks messy and spoils the look of the outfit.

While dressing for a cocktail attire elements of formal wear should not be forgotten. You can wear a shirt with french cuffs by adding cuff links which will improve the overall look. 

While wearing your shirt make sure the collar is well-placed and buttoned. Dress shirts have collar buttons which keep the collar sturdy.

In case you plan on wearing striped shirts ensure you are wearing a plain tie. Strip shirts exhibit subtle elegance and fashion knowledge.

However, while doing this make sure the shirt complements the suit. If you are confused about this check the colour wheel.

If the cocktail event is a daytime event near the beach, opt for linen fabrics as these will help in reducing the heat and perspiration especially for summers.


Cocktail attire for men

It is essential to wear a similar colour trouser to the blazer you will be wearing. While wearing the trousers ensure that the fit of the trousers is right.

The trousers should not be too long nor too short.

Avoid wearing baggy trousers. Apart from that, your trousers are not jeans. Try keeping them empty. Keeping many things in your trousers will make the trousers look tight. 

Thus, it will be difficult to move around. The length of the trousers should depend upon the height of the person. 

For short men a shorter break makes them appear taller. While proportional break can make taller men look proportional.

Avoid wearing jeans chinos khakis unless the event is a laid back casual event. Before you wear your clothes, ensure that they are ironed and clean.

Avoid wearing trousers you wear for office wear unless they are clean and ironed. 


While oxford shoes remain the go-to options for formal wear, these shoes can be worn for cocktail attires as well. Apart from if you want to stand out from the rest, brogues should do the job.

If you wish to keep it classy and subtle double monk strap shoes should be your option.

Double monk strap shoes are stylish while still maintaining the formal look of it.

The fact that they don’t have laces can save the efforts of bending down to tie your laces from time to time.

If you plan to wear a navy blue suit, the preferable colour would be tan brown or coffee brown shoes. Alternatively, black colour shoes would be fine as well.

Apart from that, you can also wear loafers if the event is casual. Although for formal events it is advisable to avoid them.

If the cocktail party is a more laid back event you can opt for suede shoes as well.

A-Pro tip: Try wearing a belt which matches the colour of your shoe. This will enhance the look of the outfit overall.


Now that you have got the foundation right, you should add your personal touch to the cocktail attire by accessorizing. For accessorizing,  you can consider a watch, pocket square, rings bracelets and chains.

While it may be exciting to try accessories the concept with this is, the less the better.

Keep it to a minimum as accessories are key elements that garner attention or separate you from the others.

The recipe for successful cocktail attire for men is in the details. Experiment with accessories, look for accessories that you find comfortable and are classy as well.

Overdoing this can make the outfit look too bling.

While selecting a watch, make sure it complements the blazer as well. You can opt for a minimalistic watch as these watches come with a simple elegant look.

Simply use 2-3 accessories you are comfortable with at most to avoid overdoing it.

Final Thoughts

These were some ideas on cocktail attire for men. To sum it up cocktail attire for men is a party for function wear which falls between casual and formal wear.

The guide to get the cocktail attire right is to not look too formal and similarly not too casual as well. Once you find the right balance between the two you have now mastered the skill to dress gracefully for a cocktail party.

As this cocktail attires do not have a strict dress code, you are free to experiment with different styles and looks.

If it’s your first time then it is advisable to start with what works or the basics that cannot go wrong.

However, with practice, you can add your own personal touch to customising the outfit according to the clothing you are comfortable with.

Following the rules of the cocktail attire mentioned, communicates respect to the host. Apart from that it also subtly communicates savvy dressing skills that can set you apart from the rest.

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of this event, you are set to dress and magnetise charisma.

If I have missed out on something or you would like to add something to this, let me know in the comment sections.

Apart from that if you have certain fashion problems or queries let me know in the comments. I will try answering it or may cover a post on it.

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