Written by Václav Havel, CNN
The bright colors, hand-cut textiles and roomy silhouettes of cocktail dresses can keep revelers looking sleek and elegant as they pop open a gin and tonic.
Even those not exactly interested in cocktails are finding that cocktail dresses are a stylish way to dress up for the holidays. “Just like other festive garments like holiday sweaters and jackets, cocktail dresses are extremely versatile,” says stylist Linda Boff. “Dress it up or dress it down, and it can easily be worn to a cocktail party or fun summer fete.”
You can’t go wrong with wearing your cocktail dress into the evening on a hot, holiday night.
Style experts have shared their picks for one of the hottest trends of the season. Here are the must-haves to have in your inventory.
Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle (Catherine Brooks/Pool/Getty Images)
Whether you opt for lace, lace overlay or sequins, consider these colors and materials for cocktail dresses. Mix and match black lace and ivory; lace and pearl; burgundy and royal blue, says Arakata owner Eva Amor.
These are the key fabrics, plus a few standout embellishments to jazz them up.
For jewelry, a statement brooch is a must. “It’s what adds a lot of flair to the dress, especially if the brooch is in one color,” says Amor.
Stuart Weitzman designers Claudio Del Vecchio and Diego Marroquin (Catherine Brooks/Pool/Getty Images)
No one is more on top of ready-to-wear shoes than Stuart Weitzman, and their satin “high heel platform booties” with thick straps will go with just about any look this season.
Weitzman’s other form-fitting, ankle-grazing pumps and boots will also be perfect for summer evenings.
If you choose to wear ballgown silhouettes, consider stilettos in bright oranges and cobalt blues and bright red and purples. For the evening, layer high heels over a layered skirt, a lightly cut jacket or a fitted jersey dress.
If it’s ruffles you’re after, try these custom-made latex cocktail dresses. “Everyone is obsessed with ’80s-inspired sweaters right now, and some of the ruffles should do just as well as that,” says Boff. “They’re flattering, have fun details like feathers and can just add a pop of color.”
Havi American lingerie founder Emily Smith knows her way around a cocktail dress, mixing embellishments and vibrant colors that will incorporate the warm, summer season into her look.
Check out what pieces should be in your wardrobe, according to Smith. “If you want to have a sexy, sophisticated look, then you must be in a body-con dress with a plunging neckline. If you want to have a more laid-back look, then a ruffled, off-the-shoulder dress with strong shoulders will work.”