Evening Gown Vs Cocktail Dress – Compare for Best

what is the difference between evening gown and cocktail dress

If you have received a wedding invite specifying the dress code, then you are bound to feel lost about the difference between an evening and cocktail dress. It is not uncommon for people with an eye for fashion to be unaware of the basic points of difference between these two styles of dresses. However, fret not as today we have listed the distinctions between them right from scratch so that you can make the perfect style statement.

Difference between Evening Gown and Cocktail Dress

Points of Difference Evening gown Cocktail dress
Definition An evening dress is an elegant, formal, and sophisticated dress meant for evening occasions. Previously, they were known as court dresses and originated in the 15th century. This is why ladies wearing these dresses wore a train to their kirtle. A cocktail dress is ideal for semi-formal events like late-night parties and afternoon get-togethers. These dresses were first seen in the 1927 Vogue issue and described as short dresses meant for formal occasions. Usually, cocktail dresses are short, bold, and feminine and can be accessorized by adding sparkly clutches or jewelry.
Tone of formality Despite being glamorous, the evening gowns are formal requiring high heels, full-on makeup, and shiny jewelry. You can flaunt these gorgeous dresses to your friend’s wedding day and other formal ceremonies like balls, fundraising functions, etc. demanding a conservative dress code. Cocktail dresses carry a semi-formal tone as cocktail parties aren’t places where people are looking over the line and the general aura is relaxed with appetizers and drinks being served. These dresses aren’t too fancy.
Skirt Length The formal evening gowns might either be long or have a hemline grazing below the knee. You can take the example of a full-length velvet dress for winter months. The hemline of cocktail dresses varies from short to midi lengths to exude a fun vibe. They are less formal than an evening gown but more elaborate than an ordinary dress. As a rule of thumb, most cocktail dresses have a moderate-length skirt ranging from mid-thigh to knee height. Women can select cocktail dresses according to their body shape. The long dresses are best suited for ladies with nice long legs whereas the knee-length ones look flattering on ladies of all shapes and sizes.
Color Evening dresses look best when you get them in dark shades like navy, grey, white, black, or jewel tones. Sober hues preferably in a monotone devoid of any bold patterns are preferable in getting an evening dress. You can get cocktail dresses in an array of colors and patterns ranging from animal print satin to sequined pink lace. Since cocktail parties don’t have any hard and fast rules related to dressing, you can’t be wrong with any color.
Sensuality factor An evening gown brings a modest element to your dressing style. Cocktail dresses exude a certain level of sexiness and offer ample flexibility when it comes to selecting the style, cut, color and pattern. You can wear them in any manner you please for flaunting your assets to perfection.
Fabric Evening gowns are more elegant than cocktail dresses. They are usually made of heavier fabrics like silk, satin, or velvet. Cocktail dresses are made of lighter fabrics like tulle, chiffon, cotton, and lace which suit voluptuous and big women.
Design You can get an evening gown in different silhouettes like sheath, princess-cut, A-line, trumpet, mermaid, and others. The designs of these gowns are better suited for formal events. Cocktail designs feature different designs ranging from bodycon to A-line and asymmetric.
Sleeve The main focus of evening gowns is decency and modesty. You can get them in different sleeve types like off-the-shoulder, short sleeves, and sleeveless, all of which paint an elegant picture making them appropriate for elegant occasions. You can get the long-sleeved ones for winter and fall celebrations. Cocktail wear has a trendier and more flexible pattern. The main aim here is to accentuate the voluptuousness and curves of the wearer with their intricate designs. You can get cocktail dresses with off-the-shoulder sleeves, cold sleeves, and long and short sleeves.
Neckline When it comes to necklines, formal occasions require a more traditional neckline. You can choose amongst classy options like V-neck, scoop, square, and round cuts for a sophisticated look. Cocktail dresses, on the other hand, feature all sorts of necklines ranging from off-the-shoulder to plunging V-necks for a sexy and glamorous look.
Accessories You can accessorize the evening gowns in different ways to render a more formal look and feel. Wraps in similar shades as the dress can be added alongside gloves and hats. Cocktail dresses don’t have many accessory requirements. However, you can jazz up your look with some jewelry and a clutch bag.


It is imperative to note here that both cocktail and formal parties are special occasions and the atmosphere inside these party halls usually ranges from formal to informal. Ladies face the eternal dilemma that something might be too elegant for a cocktail party. On the other hand, evening parties aren’t the best places for flaunting your casual or semi-formal wear. However, by the end of our today’s discussion, all your doubts regarding the differences are bound to be resolved.

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Rose Frank

Rose Frank is a young enthusiastic girl who loves everything about fashion. She believes in expressing her passion in a language that everyone can connect with. She is part of the LooksGud team, which loves to reach out to maximum people and inspire them to express themselves through fashion.