What is a cocktail dress?

Well, firstly, it’s one of the most versatile, stylish dresses you can have in your closet. But, it’s more than that. Cocktail dresses can take you from semi-formal to more formal occasions.

Put simply, it’s a knee-length dress you can wear for everything from dinner to parties. To help you in your quest for the perfect dress, you’ll find below some of the best cocktail dresses in stores right now.

Did you know, cocktail dresses can trace their origins from after World War I when more women started to enter the workplace, and cocktail parties were organized as a way for people to mingle.

But, whether you have a work party, a dinner with your other half or a wedding to attend, a cocktail dress could hold the answer.

Cocktail dresses as a dress code

If you’re invited to an event where the dress code says “cocktail attire” you can’t go wrong with a dress with finishes either just above, or on the knees, worn with heels.

Just because a cocktail dress tends to be a certain length, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose one which suits your individual style and body type. You can opt for a dress with sleeves, a sleeveless gown, one-shouldered or strapless.

The most important thing when choosing a cocktail dress is – do you feel good in it?

The best cocktail dresses in stores now

1. With a twist

Gal meets Glam is a good brand option if you look more of a 1950s aesthetic. I love both the color and the asymmetric twist detailing on the front of this Noelle twist satin gown.

Classic cocktail dresses in navy | 40plusstyle.com

2. The little green dress

Off shoulder cocktail dress for parties and events | 40plusstyle.com

The little black dress is definitely a stylish woman’s best friend. But, I love all of the lovely jewel colors that are in stores now for fall and winter events, like this off-the-shoulder emerald number from Vince Camuto.

3. Empire cocktail dress

Empire silk cocktail dress | 40plusstyle.com

Another jewel-colored option; this time in sapphire. This figure flattering option could be a great choice for pear-shapes as the broader shoulders will balance out a wider bottom half.

4. Floral dress

Floral cocktail dresses for women over 40 | 40plusstyle.com

Who says florals have to be reserved for spring and summer? By choosing darker hues, you can definitely take flowers through to fall and winter. This fit and flare could look lovely if you’re an hourglass as it will emphasize your curves and your small waist.

5. Boden dress

Bold red cocktail dress - The best cocktail dresses in stores now | 40plusstyle.com

I think this Boden dress may be my favorite. I’m a sucker for dresses with pockets. It looks very much like lots of the styles currently worn by Victoria Beckham.

6. Off the shoulder velvet cocktail dress

Classic black cocktail dress for a timeless look | 40plusstyle.com

Velvet is one of those fabrics that really comes into its own during the cooler months, adding a luxe look to any outfit. You could add a touch of velvet on your cocktail dress, or maybe try a velvet blazer or pair of velvet boots.

7. One shoulder dress

Stylish cocktail dresses for women over 40 | 40plusstyle.com

Asymmetric detailing is always on-trend. If you aren’t keen on showing off certain parts of your body, such as your tummy, then maybe you could opt to show off a bit of shoulder instead.

8. Subtly sexy dress

Sheer sleeved cocktail dresses for women over 40 | 40plusstyle.com

While there are some dresses with sheer paneling which I would be wary of wearing, a dress like this manages to be both demure and sexy at the same time. Plus, there’s a bit of arm coverage if you aren’t too happy with your upper arms.

9. Abstract print dress

Abstract print cocktail dress for women | 40plusstyle.com

A print pattern on your cocktail dress can ensure you stand out in what is likely to be a sea of black. An option like this could be very flattering because of the way it drapes the body, creating a waistline.

10. Back detail dress

Chic intricate back cocktail dress | 40plusstyle.com

Another good option if you don’t want to show off any cleavage, or decolletage could be to reveal some back instead. This dress has a low-cut back with straps running down, which will ensure all eyes are on you even if you’re leaving the room.

11. Embroidered cap sleeve dress

Embroidered cocktail dress for formal events | 40plusstyle.com

An embroidered dress could be a very versatile piece in your closet. You could wear out to a special dinner, while it’s also formal enough if you are lucky enough to be thinking about what to wear to a winter wedding.

12. Midi flounce dress

Midi flounce cocktail dress for a classic look | 40plusstyle.com

This fit and flare dress is a lovely plus size option to show off curves. Another dress with subtly sexy sheer paneling, which definitely still stays on the right side of classy!

Do you already have a lot of cocktail dresses in your closet? What events will you be wearing yours to this fall and winter?

Author bio: Liz Hands is a fashion journalist and stylist who has styled fashion shoots for newspapers, magazines and high-end clients including 5* hotels and BMW. She’s now happiest either blogging about style, or donning her favorite Barbour jacket and Brogini boots.




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The best cocktail dresses in stores now | 40plusstyle.com

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