I love the versatility of cocktail dresses. You can wear a cocktail dress anywhere, unless it’s a white tie event (which calls for a long gown) or a very casual event.
Cocktail dresses are appropriate for all other events, including black tie (keep it conservative for this type of event), black tie optional, semi-formal, informal and business formal events (choose a tailored dress).
Since the same cocktail dress can be worn to so many types of events, it often makes sense to buy one or two classic cocktail dresses, and dress them up or down with your choice of hairstyle, shoes and accessories.
This black cocktail dress, for example, can be dressed up with an updo, a pair of silver closed-toe heels and a silver clutch for a formal event. Wear it with your hair down and with strappy sandals for more casual occasions.
Another favorite cocktail dress is this black halter cocktail dress. The halter top flatters all women regardless of their shape or size, and the lace is very feminine. This dress is obviously very elegant, but you can still dress it down with funkier, less conservative heels and with a simple hairdo.