How to dress for a cocktail party depends on many factors to include who is hosting the party, what is the event for, season and climate. To be perfect every time, be sure you ask questions about the party, especially if you are to accompany someone and have no ties of your own to the guest list. There's nothing worse than being under dressed or overdone, especially when the issue was so easily avoided. Ask.
The first issue of business is to determine who is hosting the party and why. If it's your boyfriend's boss and the event is for charity, be sure to dress in an appropriate manner as not to offend the host. Classic styled cocktail dresses are hemmed just above the knee, and you will probably not want to go any higher than that. Backless dresses can be tasteful or tacky, so be sure to get a second opinion before you march out the door.
Weather conditions play a vital role in what we can wear to a cocktail party. If the party is to be held with outdoor ramblings at the pool, be sure to take a fashionable wrap to cover your shoulders in colder climates. There are few coats or sweaters that are compatible with a cocktail dress, so you may have to decide between looks and warmth, and it's usually the former that wins out.
When selecting a cocktail dress, basic black makes a bold statement and is seasonal all year round. You may dress up your little black dress with jewelry, pins and wraps, giving you a versatile look on a shoestring budget. Shopping for a basic black cocktail dress is easy with plenty of choices to meet every taste and budget. The prices for a quality dress start about $100 and generally taper off about $500.
For the gal who wants to turn heads, try a tutu style cocktail dress made from layered tulle fabric similar to a ballerina costume. This Red Carpet favorite comes in every color with accent decor and looks best in the micro mini length. To look your best in the shortest style cocktail dresses, try stiletto heels at the lowest level you can tolerate.
For a more conservative approach to a cocktail party, there are many designer garments sold with a matching jacket, and come in all cocktail dress lengths. This type of dress is preferred for cruise ships, fundraising events and deemed appropriate attire for any age.