If I told you the truth, which is that nobody really knows what "cocktail attire" means and we just kind of muddle through it without wearing yoga pants, you might hit me. Because I want to be helpful and avoid physical violence, here's a more satisfactory answer, broken down by definition, a mini quiz, and some light shopping.
In the simplest terms, cocktail attire is what you would wear to a nice party that hasn't quite reached the level of formality or stuffiness of black tie. The standard outfit is a shorter or midi-length dress, but separates are fine, as are trousers (non-denim). The general vibe is dressed-up but still fun, so you could do sparkles or a massive butt ruffle. You need examples? Here we go.
Answer: Yes. The LBD is the velouté of cocktail attire, so if you really cannot read the situation/crowd, this is always a safe bet—even with the matching leggings.
You bet. With a sparkly skirt—but especially as part of a monochrome look (high chic)—knits can fall squarely under the cocktail attire umbrella. Great news if you fear the cold.
Ralph Lauren Collection, $1,734
Mais oui. Bit of a stumper, this one, but a few factors make this work: the aforementioned sweater, the blazer, the vinyl finish of the culottes (not a typical fabric of your life), and the single statement earring.
Shop similar: Solace London, $325
& Other Stories, $25
Ear ornaments have and will be the preferred holiday accessory, but these make a statement that's more "I'm angry but festive!"
So much cooler than a normal pump. Plus they've got a built-in party game, if the host asks you to take your shoes off before entering.
Why don't you layer a lurex turtleneck underneath, maybe even in a mixed metal, gasp?
You only need, like, cab fare and an Altoid, anyway.
Buy them, wiggle your toes in them...
Charles & Keith, $39
Then stick them into these hairy dudes.
Susan Alexandra, $235
Makes you think of weaving beaded fish keychains for your friends and not having to pay taxes, doesn't it?
Styling tip: Position the bow so it makes ears.
Might as well get the pants too.
And set off the whole, leftovers-themed shebang with a contrasting texture, like this pouf of an evening bag.
And whether you go with a slinky club dress or a suit that's like Reynolds Wrap, cover it all up with a big, blanket-like trench.