Cocktail Attire Men: Expert Tips for Cocktail Attire for Men

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There comes a time in life when it’s necessary to wear cocktail attire. Men often find the networking possibilities provided by cocktail parties can lead to valuable business connections, but in order to establish yourself as a credible professional your fashion style must play the proper supporting role. Consider these tips to intelligently select the best cocktail attire. 

Read The Invitation Carefully

Your invitation will provide the biggest clue of all, invitations usually state if the function is dress casual, business casual or formal. In the rare case in which no dress code description is highlighted assume that invitations by mail are formal and require cocktail attire. Men can safely dress casual when the invitation is received by phone or email. Discuss the attire with your date as you will be expected to complement each other’s styles; otherwise you will look as though you are going to two separate events.

Dress Appropriately For The Time Of Year

It is generally expected that in the autumn and winter months you will opt for darker and heavier fabrics as opposed to lighter fabrics and colors which are reserved for spring and summer months. 

Time Of The Cocktail Party 

As previously stated make sure to follow the dress code included in the invitation. In the event that you are still in doubt as to the dress code, definitely sport the formal cocktail attire. Men may choose to wear neatly pressed slacks with a white buttoned shirt and a quality sport coat in the event that the gathering is held in the afternoon. There is a general rule of thumb that cocktail parties after 6pm require formal cocktail attire. Men have reserved the business casual for early events, with the exception of weddings. Shoes will also play an important factor in terms of dress code, shoes with laces are best worn with the casual look and shoes that are worn for cocktail attire are lace free.

Dress Code Definitions for Cocktail Attire Men

California Casual –
This term is indicative of a laid back approach to clothing.  California casual events are common on the west coast, but have gained some popularity in other parts of the country. Jeans, pullovers, sandals, and t-shirts are acceptable according to the California casual look. It has become widely accepted that the California casual look is more appropriate for IT firms, and technology, software design and computer engineers. 

Cocktail Attire – 
Cocktail attire requires a suit and tie, or coat and tie. 

Creative Black Tie –
This definition allows for the flashy and trendier touches of tuxedo styles. Creative black tie allows men to incorporate boldly patterned cumberbunds or vests.

Dress Casual –
This definition rules out jeans and indicates a conservative yet dressier look when compared to business casual attire. In a dress casual situation slacks and buttoned shirts are acceptable as compared to khakis and pullovers which are worn in business casual settings.

Business Casual – 
Business casual allows for khakis, slacks, button down collars, and a sport coat. Wearing a tie to a business casual event is not necessary.

Formal Attire –
This is the same as a black tie definition with a touch of flexibility.  Formal attire is the same as black tie but allows for a tuxedo to be worn without a tie.

Black Tie – 
Definitely wear a tuxedo. Do not think that a dark colored suit is acceptable. Make sure that you wear a classic tuxedo, there is no room for creative variations.

Black Tie Invited – 
This means that a tuxedo is preferable but you will not be refused if you wear a black suit and tie. Do not wear anything that is less formal than this.

Black Tie Optional – 
This definition indicates that you are welcome to wear a tuxedo but not required so long as you wear a dark (black or navy) suit and tie.


For help and expert guidance in selecting cocktail attire men have been shopping at Este’s Men’s Clothing located at 1633 Northwest Glisan Street, Portland, OR 97209 since 1952. For any questions call (503) 227-0275 or visit Write us and let us know your questions about cocktail attire for men. Our expert fashion consultants will help you customize the best look for your event. 

Cocktail Attire Men: Expert Tips for Cocktail Attire for Men


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