Cocktail Attire : 1920s to till

We will be discussing the history of the dress code that is cocktail attire, its traditional specifications and some alternative suggestions for meeting the dress code and still looking stylish. We will cover another dress code that many men may find to be a bit confusing in nature, that being a Corporate Cocktail Bar attire.

The source of this confusion is chiefly that when most of us hear cocktail attire, we likely think of an informal gathering perhaps after work or something at Corporate Cocktail bars like a happy hour. And while the sort of outfit one might wear in that situation is technically encompassed by modern definition of Cocktail attire dress code, that is not merely what’s meant in its more traditional configurations.

Let’s have a look at the history of the cocktail attire dress code. It first came into its own in the 1920s and 30s when the social elite was flaunting the prohibition laws of the time took to enjoying pre-dinner drinks in the early evening hours. More formal than standard wear but at the same time, too early in the evening and a bit too casual for black tie or white tie, cocktail attire basically emerged out of the need for a dress code that would bridge the gap between these two levels of formality.

Almost a hundred years later, what’s meant by cocktail attire today then? While it is still a relatively formal and somewhat strict dress code, there is a little bit more room for creativity and expression in today’s interpretation of cocktail attire. It can apply to traditional cocktail parties, off course, but also to other events like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and so on.

What’s most important here then is that you know for certain what the occasion calls for. If you are just meeting up informally with a few friends for a drink, then you could look at this as being a more casual variant on cocktail attire. If you’ll be attending a wedding or another event of similar pedigree, however, you will want to stick to the more traditional interpretation of cocktail attire.

What should a man wear to a cocktail party? The short answer here is as follows: A medium to a dark suit, a conservative dress shirt and a tie, black or similarly dark dress shoes, dark, muted over the calf socks, and subtle accessories. There are now some cocktail attire events with slightly less traditional adherence to these rules, however, you could incorporate slightly more bold elements into your ensemble though this will depend on a few factors.

In conclusion, the cocktail attire dress code was born from a desire to host events that were more formal than typical business wear but not quite as formal as black tie.

Sahil Arora

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