By Tom Ryan

Whether attending a cocktail party or walking to the altar, dressing in lounge suit fashion is a comfortable alternative to bow ties, cummerbunds and bustiers. It's a style that can be executed by both men and women.

Couple embracing outdoors
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couple dressed in lounge suit and cocktail dress

Cocktail Dress

Stylists Dressing a Young, Female Fashion Model
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woman getting dressed in cocktail dress

A cocktail dress is a short gown, though "short" is a relative term—it can fall either just above the knee or just above the ankle. It is considered informal, but can also be dressed up with accessories.


side profile of a mature woman wearing a hat
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woman in hat

Hats are a welcome addition to a cocktail outfit, particularly at an outdoor event or a wedding. You can also dress it up with a short, black cape or wrap.

Lounge Suits

Tailor and customer with suit jacket
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man getting fitted for lounge suit

A lounge suit is the male equivalent of a cocktail dress, albeit slightly more acceptable in more formal situations. A dark suit with black shoes and socks, a white shirt and a matching tie complete the outfit—cuff links dress it up further.

Classic and Simple

Woman fixing mans tie
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woman taking off bow tie

Simplicity of design is the key to a lounge suit. Avoid accessories that make a bold statement, like bow ties or novelty watches.

Dress Code

Sometimes invitations to events such as weddings indicate that the dress code is "informal." Check with the host to determine if this means lounge suit and cocktail dresses, or "smart casual," which is another type of dress entirely.