Ask Belle: Creative Cocktail Attire
Mar 25, 2010
Hey! I’m going to Artini in 1.5 weeks. Attire is “creative cocktail” what does that mean? Help!
Confused by Invitation Jargon
When inviting guests to an event, it’s a good idea to give them guidance on what to wear. Invitations often feature phrases like business casual, cocktail, black tie and white tie. Recently, my generation, unhappy with the social conventions of yesteryear, decided to expand the traditional dress codes to include things like “creative cocktail,” “city casual,” “resort cocktail” and “relaxed formal.”
That last one always gets me. The first time that I saw it on an invite, I laughed until I was blue.
To better understand creative cocktail, let’s use a Capitol Hill analogy. Sometimes you can follow the spirit but not the letter of the law. Meaning that you don’t do exactly what it says to do but any changes you make still retain the essence of the law’s intention.
Creative cocktail is the same way. You will keep with the spirit of cocktail attire (semi-formal, dresses and jackets) but not limit yourself to the traditional staid black dresses and boring pumps. Instead, you will add a belt to your sequin cocktail dress or carry a crazy purse or wear bright red lipstick with a dramatic hairdo. You’re basic attire is cocktail but what color palette you use, what accessories you add and how you put it all together is creative.
My guess is that because Artini is at the Corcoran, they used “creative cocktail” to prevent guests from showing up in the tres-boring Hill attire that we wear to rubber chicken dinners. Need a visual reference? Check Artini’s website for photos from last year’s event or go to Brightest Young Things and investigate the photos of Hirshorn After Dark.
If I were you, this is the outfit that I would wear:
Nothing says “traditional cocktail,” like a chiffon dress. But this dress has pleated tiers and a lighter color than your traditional black LBD.
Since tiered dresses are notorious figure-killers, I decided to add a cognac belt to relax the cocktail dress and give me an actual waistline. Make sure to choose a wider belt with a tiered dress because a skinny belt is just going to get swallowed up in the layers.
Is this outfit Earth shatteringly creative? Not so much. But I’m a girl who prefers muted colors and monochromatic tones, so I tried to create a slightly more casual cocktail look for myself. But your creative cocktail attire can be just as creative as you are. Love bright colors? Live it up. A fan sequins? Sparkle like the sun. Love the dramatic silk rompers of the 1970s? Why not?
The point is to be creative but not be casual. So little black dresses with pearls and pumps need not apply.