Best holiday cocktail dresses for weddings and parties in 2021



Shopping for cocktail dresses may be one of my favorite pastimes. Paired with a fire lipstick, a solid clutch and beautiful accessories, finding a new dress is a good serotonin boost.

But, that perfect dress may be difficult to find. Sure, there are plenty of department stores and Instagram-discovered boutiques you can venture off to, but sometimes, you can never beat that tried-and-true dress in your closet.

Think again.

Amid doing some shopping of my own for upcoming weddings, baptisms, graduation parties and vacations (hey Puerto Rico, I’m coming for you), I cherry-picked some of the best brands and designers to pull cocktail dresses from.

Not to mention, competing in pageants for quite a bit has taught me that nothing makes you feel your best than confidence — and a dynamite dress always helps, whether it’s for a gala, a backyard wedding or a date night.

Below, find all the top brands and hidden gems to browse the best cocktail dress for your preference and budget. From mini to midi (and everything in between), we covered all the bases so all you have to do is rock it the day of your occasion and take some bomb photos.

Click here to jump to our favorite brands and designers for cocktail dresses:

The best for fairly priced cocktail dresses in an array of colors and cute prints

Lulus cocktail dress

Lulus has some of the most versatile styles for any occasion. Notably, the She’s Extra Pearl Strap Bodycon Mini Dress ($64) has a flattering fit that makes a beautiful wedding guest dress, dainty pearl straps that will turn heads and is all-around elegant.

Not to mention, Lulus houses our favorite holiday collection.

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The best for on-trend cocktail dresses that are chic and minimal

Petal & Pup cocktail dress

Petal & Pup has the dreamiest Instagram-featured styles that’ll sway you to add all of them to your cart. Specifically, the brand has the best petite cocktail dresses, though its size range caters to all body types.

For dresses that are modest for family occasions yet subtly sexy, the Cyprus Dress ($69.95) and the Doriah Dress ($69.95) have a beautiful feel and equally gorgeous fit.

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The best for designer cocktail dresses that are one-of-a-kind

Revolve cocktail dress

As soon as you hit the Revolve website, you know you’re in for a designer showcase of dress options. From Michael Costello to Superdown, you know whichever dress you choose is going to be the next unique cocktail dress in your wardrobe.

We’re obsessed with Michael Costello’s Jake Gown ($198) that has an as-seen-on-Miss America vibe and will elevate your look for your next wedding or special event.

Though most of Revolve’s pieces are pricier than other retailers, it’s a splurge that’ll stay in your closet for years to come (and more future RSVPs, too).

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The best for a wide range of designers that won’t break the bank

Nordstrom cocktail dress

Ah, Nordstrom. The reliable department store we always come back to, especially for occasion dresses. Though Nordstrom offers designer options, they aren’t as expensive as other retailers and are noticeably more timeless for all types of wear.

Not to mention, Nordstrom offers designers like Mac Duggal, Adrianna Papell, Eliza J and more.

For a go-to option, we love Dress the Population’s Nicole Sweetheart Neck Cocktail Dress ($165) that comes in 10 photo-ready colors and has a classy bodice.

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The best bodycon cocktail dresses, with cute flowy options as well

Hello Molly cocktail dress

Enter the Gen Z-populated online shop for all things dresses. Whether it’s for your college formal, backyard wedding or date night, Hello Molly offers an endless supply of options that are so cute, you’ll want to dedicate an entire day to browsing its styles.

For a gorgeous sky blue color with the most adorable sleeves we’ve ever seen, the Luxury Love Dress ($67) is add-to-cart-worthy. And, for even more styles, we created an edit for some of the best Hello Molly dresses we can’t stop swooning over.

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The best fashion-forward cocktail dresses that are 🔥

Nookie cocktail dress

Oh, if you’re on the hunt for the best cocktail dress, you should not sleep on Nookie. Its styles are too luxe to handle and will absolutely garner compliments at your next function.

The Navy Melody Mini ($259) is one of our favorites, with gorgeous, shapely ruching and elegant sleeves. Plus, it comes in black, green and white — available for pre-order to ship between December 15 to 30.

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The best fancy cocktail dresses with a little somethin’ something

Sherri Hill cocktail dress

OK, we’re not going to lie — Sherri Hill cocktail dresses are a splurge. But, if you have a fancier occasion (perhaps a sibling’s wedding or a banquet party), Sherri Hill has the most stunning styles that you’ll be glad you picked up.

Its Lace Pattern Fitted Cocktail Dress ($480) is jaw-dropping, as it comes in a well-detailed mint and nude bodycon. Among other styles, Sherri Hill isn’t just for the prom (although two of my S.H. prom dresses fit like a glove).

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No, Windsor doesn’t just have dresses for the prom. The storefront has incredible cocktail dresses with ruched designs, classic bodycons and even floor-length gowns that look like they cost the big bucks, but they’re relatively affordable.

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