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Cocktail dresses were once a trend reserved for the elite and rich of the world, but they’re now a staple in most wardrobes. A cocktail dress is truly versatile because it can be worn to an after-work party, a wedding, a school reunion, and a birthday celebration, and still be appropriate!

The kind of dress you choose can say a lot about you, so here are this year's top cocktail dress trends as well as the steps to help you choose your perfect dress.

3 Cocktail Dress Trends for 2024

Since the phrase “cocktail dress” can be left up to interpretation, let’s look at the top trends for 2024 to get some ideas to start with! 


Fringe accents are fabulous for adding a bit of movement to your cocktail dress making them great for places you expect to dance! The most popular placement for fringe is around the skirt, but they can still appear on sleeves and even around your midriff. 

Whether you want just a hint of fringe, or you’re after more dramatic fringe layers, like Taylor Swift, this trend will have you dancing all night! 


The asymmetrical one-shoulder trend is a great option to keep in mind if drawing attention to your arms, collarbones, and shoulders makes you feel confident. One-shoulder cocktail dresses can be sleeveless, or they can have a long sleeve for a more dramatic look. 

Accessories are very important to keep in mind for this trend, as pendants and large bags can clash or make the dress look unbalanced. 

Two-Piece Sets

An often-overlooked cocktail dress option is actually a two-piece set! Two-piece sets typically consist of a cropped top and a high-waisted skirt which will almost certainly show a playful sliver of midriff. Since cocktail dresses tend to be less formal than a gown, a two-piece set is just as versatile as a traditional dress. 

These sets can come in just as much neckline and silhouette variation as regular cocktail dresses, but being two pieces make them stand out from the crowd! Plus, the playful silhouette can be a unique way to dress in a cute style while still being a bit unexpected. 

How to Find Your Perfect Cocktail Dress

Now that you’ve got a good idea of what trends you might want to incorporate (or leave on the rack), follow these steps to finding that perfect dress! 

Step 1: Choose Your Budget

Have a rough budget in mind, and don’t look at anything too cheap or too expensive, as this will just lead to wasted time. Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to buy new shoes and accessories to pair with your dress, so have a budget in mind for those, too.

Step 2: Think About What Makes You Feel Confident

Cocktail dresses are an extremely versatile category and can come in just about any silhouette and length. Whether you’re getting your dress for a specific event, or you just want a go-to dress for when you get an invitation, the most important thing to think about is what makes you feel good. 

If there are certain necklines or silhouettes that make you feel confident, start there. Likewise, if there are dress cuts that you know you don’t like, make a list for filtering purposes. Keep the length of your dream dress in mind as well. While cocktail dresses are typically above the knee, if a shorter dress makes you nervous, it’s a good idea to look specifically for a dress with a comfortable hemline. 

Step 3: Consider Material 

The material for your cocktail dress should be comfortable and also season-appropriate. Think about the events that you’ll be typically wearing your dress to and try your best to plan accordingly. For example, do you typically get hot when you dance at parties? If so, it’s probably best to stay away from velvet and other heavy fabrics. 

Step 4: Consider Color and Pattern 

If you know you have just a few colors you want to consider, you’re already ahead of this step. If you’re open when it comes to the color of your dress, it’s a good idea to make a list of the shades and patterns to avoid while browsing. Then, you can filter your search results and not waste time considering dresses you know you won’t like.

Step 5: Start Shortlisting

Now you’ve got a good idea of what you’re looking for (or not looking for), start browsing cocktail dresses and make a wish list or shortlist of the ones you’re interested in. Try to keep this to a minimum if you can, as you may find you get too overwhelmed with choice! From there, you’ll be able to weigh your options and choose your perfect dress!

Step 6: Select Your Accessories Carefully

Once you’ve selected your cocktail dress, think about how you’re going to accessorize–namely, your undergarments, jewelry, shoes, and bag!

The last thing you want is to find that all your undergarments cause a visible line 5 minutes before you have to leave, so try your dress on when it arrives with the undergarments you’ll wear on the day. This will help you feel the most confident and give you time to buy dress-appropriate undergarments, especially if you have an open back or decide you want to wear shapewear with your dress. 

Your shoes are the next most important piece of the perfect cocktail dress outfit, so pick what looks best and is at least relatively easy to move around in. Once you’ve finalized your accessories, your look will be ready from head to toe! 

How to Find Your Perfect Cocktail Dress

With these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll be certain to find the right cocktail dress for any occasion. (And for bonus tips, check out our party dress guide to help you decide what kind of cocktail dress is best for any event!) But don’t forget, at the end of the day, what matters most is how you feel in your cocktail dress. So pick what makes you feel confident, gorgeous, and like the best version of yourself!