Differences Between Formal Dresses and Cocktail Dresses

by Cassandra Merkling
(last updated August 12, 2016)

So there are a lot of similarities between the formal dress and the cocktail dress...the fitted bodice, the fact that neither of them is made of pure cotton (though there may be some exceptions to that on the cocktail dress' side of the equation), can both be worn to black tie, creative black tie, or black tie optional gatherings, etc. There are, however, some key differences and cocktail dresses and formal dresses do vary in a few ways.

Cocktail dresses are worn at cocktail parties (of course) and semi-formal occasions, while formal dresses are worn at formal occasions. The length of a cocktail dress can be either down to the knee or all the way to somewhere around the ankles, with the particular length of about two inches above the ankles being called "tea length." Formal dresses tend to be down to the ankles or lower, though they can be tea length or shorter with the right design. Cocktail dresses tend to be made in lots of subdued colors (hence the "little black dress" phenomenon in fashion, for example, since black can be so subdued it's nearly dead), while the formal dresses tend to be in more commanding colors, such as jewel tones or bright colors.

Formal dresses are also made of thicker materials than cocktail dresses. Cocktail dresses have usually been made of very light silk or wool, for example, whereas formal dresses have heavy components, such as taffeta and velvet.

Not to mention that formals can still be worn at different times than cocktail dresses. For example, a semi-formal gathering would require a cocktail dress or a tailored dressy suit and not a formal dress at all. However, you would not want to wear anything less than a formal dress to a white tie event.

Author Bio

Cassandra Merkling

MORE FROM CASSANDRA

Hot Tub Cleaning

Does your hot tub have scum? Make it disappear with some forethought and a little effort. Hot tub cleaning isn't actually ...

Discover More

Cleaning Drywall Dust from Carpet

If you've ever attempted it before, you know that drywall dust is hard enough to get off a bare floor, let alone a carpet. ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Mold and Mildew

Eeeeew, mold! Not only is it gross, but it can be dangerous. Since no one really ever wants to have mold and mildew growing ...

Discover More
More Beauty Tips

Choosing the Right Formal Dresses

There are many formal dress styles out there, but some dresses will flatter your body shape better than others. Pick a dress ...

Discover More

Flattering Formal Dresses for the Plus Size Woman

Big is beautiful and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Every woman, whether petite or plus size, can find fabulous ...

Discover More

Finding Flattering Formal Wear

Finding flattering formal wear begins with identifying your body type. Certain cuts and styles are more flattering to certain ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured beauty tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 + 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured beauty tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)