Cocktail dress

Cocktail dress
Black cocktail dress
Typical cocktail dress, storefront, South Hampton

A cocktail dress or cocktail gown is a woman's dress worn at cocktail parties, and semi-formal, or "black tie" occasions.

The length of cocktail dresses varies depending on fashion and local custom. The length ranges from just above the knee to touching the ankle. When it is about 5 cm (2 inches) above the ankle it is called tea length and when it is almost touching the ankle it is called ballerina length, although ballerina length dresses usually fall into the evening gown category.

At semi-formal occasions, less elaborate, shorter-length cocktail dresses may be worn. Prior to the mid 20th century this type of dress was known as 'late afternoon'. When gentlemen are in business suits, ladies also wear dress suits or "good" afternoon skirt and dresses.

By the 1980s the criteria by which a garment was considered a cocktail dress was not its length, but its level of sumptuousness.[citation needed]

In the mid-20th century, some couturiers[who?] began describing full-skirted cocktail gowns as "dancing costumes". These are suitable for formal dances but not for balls, or other white tie affairs, where ball gowns are worn.

Christian Dior was the first to use the term "cocktail dress" to refer to early evening wear, in the late 1940s.[1]

See also


  1. ^ da Cruz, Elyssa (2000). "Dressing for the Cocktail Hour". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • cocktail dress — cocktail dresses N COUNT A cocktail dress is a dress that is suitable for formal social occasions. At his side stood his wife Olivia, dark haired and exquisite, in a white cocktail dress …   English dictionary

  • cocktail dress — cocktail .dress n a formal dress for wearing to parties or other evening social events …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cocktail dress — cocktail ,dress noun count a short dress that is appropriate for a formal party …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • cocktail dress — noun a dress suitable for formal occasions • Syn: ↑sheath • Hypernyms: ↑dress, ↑frock * * * noun, pl ⋯ dresses [count] : a usually short dress that is suitable for formal occasions * * * ˈcocktail dress [cocktail dress …   Useful english dictionary

  • cocktail dress — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms cocktail dress : singular cocktail dress plural cocktail dresses a short dress that is suitable for a formal party …   English dictionary

  • cocktail dress — noun A type of womens evening dress suitable for semi formal occasions or cocktail parties …   Wiktionary

  • cocktail dress — /ˈkɒkteɪl drɛs/ (say koktayl dres) noun a formal dress suitable to wear to a cocktail party, usually short and often black …   Australian-English dictionary

  • cocktail dress — noun (C) a formal dress for wearing to parties or other evening social events …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • cocktail dress — female attire suitable for a semi formal event or gathering …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Dress code — redirects here. For the 2000 film released on video as The Dress Code, see Bruno (2000 film). Male Western dress code …   Wikipedia

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