Cocktail Attire for Men: Special Events & Weddings

We’re diving into the deets of cocktail attire for men, a sort-of specific and common dress code for weddings and special events.

Mens cocktail attire dress code guide

Invited to a cocktail attire wedding or celebration? The dress code’s name alone doesn’t drop many clues about what you’ll need to wear. That’s probably why you’re here: for a cocktail attire definition, and examples of cocktail attire men should wear for a variety of events.

Whether you need help putting together an outfit for a party, or want to know what appropriate men’s cocktail attire for wedding guests looks like, you’re in the right place. We’ll show you how to put together a cocktail attire look that’s right for any event.

For more information on dress codes, check out our full guide here.

Table of Contents

Defining Cocktail Attire
Wedding Cocktail Attire for Men
Cocktail Attire for Special Events
Fashion-Forward Men’s Cocktail Attire


Cocktail Attire Definition

Cocktail attire is all about individuality. While some dress codes focus on specific garments (black ties for black tie), cocktail attire for men is a little more nuanced—a mindset more than anything (and that mindset is “I must celebrate”). While it takes a little more effort than the other dress codes, choosing cocktail attire doesn’t have to be like choosing a college major.

A light blue shirt is perfect for men's cocktail attire.

If you’re familiar with some of the other dress codes, cocktail attire sits between business attire and black tie optional—somewhat formal, but not stuffy. Actually, men can have more fun with cocktail attire than with those “color by numbers” dress codes like black tie, because you get to show a little more of your own style.

Men’s cocktail attire can be as simple as a dark (or dark-ish) suit, an interesting shirt or tie, a pocket square, and dress shoes. For some events, it’s cool to show a little more flair with a bold suit that stands out.

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Wedding Cocktail Attire for Men

Let’s say you get an invite to a wedding requesting cocktail attire. Unless you definitely know this couple wants to see some high-fashion realness, your outfit—in this case—should be on the conservative side. That means a dark suit, a patterned necktie (or bow tie if that’s your thing), pocket square and dress shirt with some dress shoes.

SUIT
Charcoal or navy suits fit the traditional approach to cocktail attire. These low-key classics make it unlikely you’ll step on any toes as a guest (don’t steal the wedding party’s thunder), and almost any shirt or accessory looks great with these staples.

Men's cocktail attire suits

SHIRT
A solid light pink or light blue shirt works well if you’re a guest, because the wedding party will often be outfitted in a white dress shirt. If you’re the one planning a wedding, don’t be afraid to add a little color to the groom or groomsmen suits with a colorful shirt.

Pink and blue dress shirts for cocktail attire for men

NECKWEAR
When you nail the basics, your tie is the star of the show—everything else is just supporting your grounded outfit. Pattern and texture can turn a few heads when combined with an otherwise simple outfit. Think a knit tie in a muted color, a patterned bow tie or a bold black and white necktie.

cocktail attire neckwear

POCKET SQUARE
Back to the basics. Add some color to your look with a solid color pocket square (this one gives you multiple options depending on how it’s folded), or keep it classic with black and white.

SHOES
Can’t go wrong with a simple leather lace-up in a rich brown or basic black. Socks are optional if you’re suiting up in the summer or on a hot fall day, but if you want to play it safe, sock up.

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Cocktail Attire for Special Events

If you’re invited to a special event with a cocktail attire dress code, you’ll need to decide whether you think the party will have a fashionable vibe or a traditional tone. If you land on “traditional,” follow most of the guidelines we laid out for wedding cocktail attire above, but with a few adjustments. For one, there’s no worry of upstaging anyone on their wedding day, so don’t limit yourself to “conservative” options (e.g. plain white pocket square, dark suit).

SUIT
This grey suit isn’t flashy, but it lets your accessories shine, so it’s an extremely versatile suit. If you liked the look of the navy suit above but want a somewhat brighter, more colorful base to your outfit, try this rich blue suit.

SHIRT
You’ve got options. If a colorful or detailed patterned tie sounds like your jam, a white dress shirt will serve you well. Otherwise try a solid color shirt like this light blue number—it will complement just about any tie or pocket square.

NECKWEAR
Unique textures and patterns (knit silk, linen, and seersucker, for example) will cover your neck the right way if you need men’s cocktail attire for a special event. You can even make some moves on the color wheel.

POCKET SQUARE
Either of the suits we recommend would look great with a pop of yellow or orange, and likewise with this on-trend banana leaf pocket square.

SHOES
Step up your black or brown shoes by adding a little visual interest and texture, like these wood sole or suede examples. Don’t be afraid to pair black shoes with a blue suit, either.

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Fashion-Forward Men’s Cocktail Attire

If this invite feels like more of an excuse to get together and look awesome, you’ll need extra oomph, chutzpah, etc. That could mean a vibrant suit color, a tie that plays well with that bold suit, or an interesting pair of shoes—a loafer, perhaps? In this case, you’ll arrive in the cocktail attire men will try to emulate at their next party.

SUIT
To be fair, this attention-grabbing rose shawl suit isn’t for everyone. It’s bold, but if the event you’re attending is fashionable this suit makes an appropriately bold statement. If subtle moves are more your speed, try this emerald suit with a shawl collar.

SHIRT
When your suit is doing the talking, let it be heard—keep your shirt simple. For a seamless look, try this hidden button, fly-front shirt. (Bonus: you won’t need cufflinks, as this shirt comes with silk knots.)

NECKWEAR
Same story—you don’t want your tie to compete with your suit, so either ease up on the tie color or skip the tie altogether (see the “air tie” option in the center below).

POCKET SQUARE
A low-key choice is often the right choice. A simple printed pocket square, or one that creates a monochromatic look (green square with a green suit) is an easy win.

SHOES
Celebrations mean dancing, which is why we recommend two of the most dance-able shoes out there: loafers. Both offer a luxe texture, so if you’re having trouble choosing, think seasonal: velvet loafers in colder months, patent and grosgrain for warm weather.

Renting means more options for mens cocktail attire

A Better Way to Celebrate

If you’re like most guys, you have that one suit you’ve worn to every wedding or party you’ve been invited to over the past five years. Half the fun of the cocktail attire dress code is showing up feeling your best—getting dressed up kind of the point.

You want to stand out, but how often do you think you’d wear a rose suit? Sure, you could drop a paycheck on an outfit you’ll wear a few times, or you could—hear me out—rent it. Sound a little batshit? It’s true, renting hasn’t always delivered, but there’s finally a better, more fashionable way to rent a suit (and yes, we deliver). Owning it more your style? We do that, too.

If you can handle the attention, compliments, and dance floor invites, get started by finding your sizes now.


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