What To Wear Over A Cocktail Dress To Stay Warm & Stylish

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It’s officially the start of the cold seasons once again! If you’re going to a wedding or special event this fall or winter, it pays to stay warm – check out what to wear over a cocktail dress.

Attending wedding parties and formal events means that you have to look your absolute best. If you’re attending an event that has a semi-formal dress code, it means it’s time to shop for cocktail dresses. However, it would be wise to keep an eye out for something to cover yourself up later in the evening, especially if the weather is a bit chilly.

Finding the right thing to wear over a cocktail dress is all about playing with silhouettes and texture. You want something that will keep the attention on your dress, but still elevate your overall look.

If you’re wondering what these pieces could be, you’ll find 10 of the most stylish options below.

What To Wear Over A Cocktail Dress

1. Long Coats

It’s time to bring out the Kate Middleton in you and shop for a coat to match your dress of choice. This type of coat will most certainly work with just about anything, so you can use it for office wear or even daywear. Consider getting a dress coat if your style aesthetic is classically feminine.

A long coat is a classic garment that every woman should own, and it comes in so many different styles, making it easy for you to find the perfect one to match your personal style. There’s everything from trench coats to military-style coats to waterfall coats to trendy oversized coats – just have your pick!

For the best result, choose a dress that is the same in length or shorter than your coat like the one we’ve shown you above. Doing so will give you that polished and graceful look.

2. Blazers

A blazer goes with anything and everything, and cocktail dresses are no different. A structured blazer can give your cocktail outfit more structure and make it look more formal, but a looser, laid-back blazer will work equally well, if that’s more your style.

For extra style points, try wearing the blazer over your shoulders instead of having your arms inside like you would regularly. It may feel slightly odd, but creates a stunning, elegant look like the one we’ve featured above.

3. Vests

Perhaps you’ve been invited to attend a garden wedding and you need something to wear in the evening when it gets a little chilly. If so, you can opt for a relaxed vest coat instead of a full coat or blazer. It would be an appropriate thing to wear on semi-formal occasions, especially if the theme is more casual and laid-back.

If you’re clueless about how to dress up a long vest, your best bet is to pair it with a long sleeve dress which will nicely complement the vest. However, you can also choose a sleeveless dress with a high neckline which also pairs well with this type of clothing.

The most common types of vests are wool and cashmere, but silk is also quite popular All of these options are very elegant and pair well with a pretty cocktail dress. However, make sure that you don’t wear flannel vests unless they’re part of some kind of costume or theme party – these are simply too casual.

4. Boleros

White bolero
Get this bolero on BHLDN

If you’re set on wearing a strapless dress but the weather is cold, it would be a great idea to pair your cocktail dress with a bolero similar to the photo above. It’s also ideal to wear this type of cover-up for fall weddings to keep you warm throughout the event.

There are lots of inexpensive boleros on the market (your best bet would be department stores), so this is an affordable option that will add some interest without sacrificing glamour.

As a general rule, it would be best to wear a tight-fitting dress under these types of jackets since they tend to be bulky. It’s a way to even out the entire look. So, choose dresses that are either body hugging or something that falls and drapes like satin.

5. Capes / long scarves

White cape dress
Get this tulle cape on Net-A-Porter

A lot of people truly enjoy attending black tie events and special events in general, because it gives them an excuse to dress up. If your goal is to dress to impress, why not wear a cape on top of your cocktail dress to create a regal look?

This long, flowing garment is typically worn over the shoulders and goes down over your back. Capes have been popular for years on the red carpet, and they can be an elegant way to keep warm in cooler weather. You can also wear a cape with a jumpsuit if you want something more casual and easy-going for a night out on the town.

Wearing a cape looks more dressy as opposed to wearing a blazer so it might be better to wear a more subtle dress.

Alternatively, if capes are too formal looking for your liking, switch them up with a large scarf instead. Opt for a high-quality cashmere scarf for extra warmth!

6. Shrugs

What to wear over a cocktail dress: feather shrugs
Get this special occasion shrug on BHLDN

If you want to truly be the star of the show at a formal dinner reception, then go get yourself a faux fur shrug. It’s simply a glamorous, eye-catching, and red-carpet-worthy statement piece.

Plus, shrugs will make any cocktail dress look more dressy, which means you don’t have to go all out with jewelry or accessories – perfect for holiday parties.

Shrugs are made from different materials and come in various silhouettes and designs. If it’s not too cold then get a piece that’s made from thin material like cotton, silk, chiffon or recycled polyester.

There are also ones made from thicker materials such as wool or even faux fur (this one is our favorite!). So, depending on hot or cold the weather will be like, the choice is yours.

7. Cropped Cardigans

If you’re looking for a garment that is low-key, definitely consider a cropped cardigan. This is a great choice if you want to dress down your dress just a little bit.

You can use cropped cardigans as an extra layer for warmth on a cool day, most especially if you’re going to a dressy garden party at sunset. Cardigans are also a great way of adding color to an outfit, especially if you’re wearing a monochrome look. They also provide texture that can make an outfit stand out even more!

We recommend wearing a cropped cardigan that will complement your dress color. A good example of this is the outfit we featured above – you can see that burnt orange pairs really well with a chocolate brown cardigan.

8. Shawls

What to wear over a cocktail dress: velvet emerald green shawls
Get this shawl on Etsy

Shawls are an excellent choice for those who want to add a bit of color to their cocktail dress. The shawl can be thrown over your shoulders and pinned in place, or you can use it as a scarf around your neck.

A shawl is also perfect for covering up a cocktail dress especially if you’re going to a conservative venue where shoulders should be covered.

9. Toppers

What to wear over a cocktail dress:  white pearly toppers
Get this topper on BHLDN

A topper is a delicate piece usually made of mesh that is worn over the shoulders. Toppers are usually made to complement the garment underneath and can be worn to add more details to an outfit.

For example, the topper featured above is made with mesh and has pearl details on it, and it really elevates the simple dress that the model is wearing. They can also be very casual or formal in style, depending on what you wear them with.

10. Kimonos

What to wear over a cocktail dress: Beige satin kimono
Get these on Etsy: Kimono | Dress

Kimonos are a great way to dress up any cocktail dress. They’re easy to wear and can be worn in lots of different ways, so they’re perfect if you want a basic outfit, but don’t want it to look boring.

Plus, kimonos are perfect for layering – they can be worn over pants or skirts, as well as party dresses! If you have a short-sleeved bodycon dress, try wearing it with a satin kimono. You’ll look polished yet still edgy thanks to the contrast between the two styles!

Additional Style Tips

Before choosing what to wear over a cocktail dress, there are a couple of things you need to consider first before making that online purchase. Think about the kind of event that you’re attending, the time of day, where it will happen, and what’s the weather like.

1. Consider the type of party. Before buying your evening dress, you have to find out if you’re attending a formal affair, semi-formal event, business casual or casual event.

This will give you an idea of whether you should look into formal dresses, something with long sleeves, or perhaps something more simple. You don’t want to arrive at the party looking overdressed or underdressed.

2. Consider the time of the day. Another important thing that you need to consider is the time of the day the event is going to be happening.

Will it be a sunrise wedding reception (yes, there’s such a thing!) or a sunset wedding with a cocktail party to follow? If it’s happening in the morning or daytime, choose clothes that are lighter in color and pick darker hues when it comes to cocktail parties.

3. Consider the location of the event. If you’re attending a party that will take place on the beach or a garden, you need to wear appropriate shoes. Great options include neutral-colored wedge sandals and glamorous flats. But if it’s happening indoors, then you can get away with a pair of heels.

4. Consider the climate. You always have an idea of what the weather be like depending on specific months depending on where you live.

So if you know that April and May will be sunny and warm, you can skip the coat and choose a shrug or a topper. If you’re attending a party in the fall, then choose something thicker and warmer, like a bolero or a cropped, chunky cardigan.

And there you have it! We hope you found our style guide on what to wear over a cocktail dress or an evening gown useful. If you’re still looking for more fashion tips and inspiration, check the posts down below.

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