6 Shoes to Wear With a Cocktail Dress
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  • Writer's pictureBrenda

6 Shoes to Wear With a Cocktail Dress

Updated: 1 day ago

The holiday season is fast approaching and that means it’s time to start preparing for all the holiday parties. Cocktail dresses are one of the most popular clothing items right now as they’re an easy option to style for all the fancy parties you’re planning on attending.

Before we jump right into today’s post on styling a cocktail dress, I think it’s best we start off by defining what exactly is a cocktail dress.


What is a cocktail dress?

Cocktail dresses are semi-formal dresses that typically have a dress hemline which falls above the knees. They could be sleeveless or come with full sleeves and are typically worn at special occasions and parties. Usually if a dress reaches the calf, it is no longer considered a cocktail dress but rather a midi dress.

If an event has a cocktail attire dress code, for women, this usually means chic and polished dresses that hit around the knee, combined with dressy shoes, which are typically high heels. A ball gown is not cocktail attire for example, and neither is a sun dress.

Get the look HERE

Nowadays, cocktail dresses are no longer reserved for just a cocktail event but can also be worn to birthday dinners, parties and date nights. In today’s blog post, I would be covering some of the best footwear to pair with a cocktail dress. And so if you’re looking for the best shoes to complete your cocktails outfits, you want to keep reading.

Unlike high low dresses which could be worn either casually or for formal occasions, cocktail dresses tend to be reserved strictly for more formal events, most of the shoes mentioned would have some form of a heel as heels are considered a dressier type of shoe.

This does not mean that you have to be uncomfortable, however. I would be including a selection of heels with great reviews and also heels that are known to be easier on the foot, such as platform heels.

First things first, you need to have the right cocktail dress for your body type. Your entire look boils down to your dress, which is the centre of attention while the shoes would elevate your overall look. Here are some great options of cocktail dresses I have found.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no cost to you.

Where can I find the best cocktail dress?

i) Lulus

As an unashamed fan-girl of Lulus, I had to put them at the top of this list. Their cocktail dresses have some of the best reviews out there and they carry some gorgeous dresses in different colors. It’s really hard to pin-point my favorite but this one shoulder black cocktail dress has me in a choke hold. I love the sequin detail which adds even more glam to the look. All you need are a pair of sparkly earrings, strappy heels and a statement clutch to match.

ii) Nordstrom

Nordstrom also brings us a wide variety of dresses that would have all eyes on you at your next few cocktail parties. If you’re not one to shy away from the spotlight, I encourage to get this beautiful white cocktail dress featuring a geometric print. I love the combination of the log sleeves along with the low back. It makes for a perfect balance of classy and sexy. I could see it being paired with white shoes.

iii) Shein

For affordable and trendy cocktail dresses, Shein is your go-to. I was immediately drawn to this ruched bodycon dress in green because of the sweetheart neckline along with the ruch detailing, which is a great way to hide belly fat if that is a problem area for you. Complete this look with a pair of heels in a complimentary color such as gold or burgundy for the perfect cocktail attire.

Get the look HERE

iv) Amazon has really been coming through with the flattering dresses and I have been impressed by their selection of semi formal dresses. This off shoulder dress comes in a range of dark and bright colors and has amassed tons of great reviews. It could be worn for both a black tie event as well as a fancy dinner date, the choice is yours.

I’m sure one of these websites is going to carry a cocktail dress to your liking and I invite you to check them out when you’re on the hunt for your next cocktail dress. Just make sure to read the reviews first to determine if you should size up or down.

Now that we’ve covered where to get your cocktail dresses, let’s discuss which cocktail shoes work best with them.

1) Strappy heels

A pair of strappy heels is probably my favorite style of heels to pair with a cocktail dress. By exposing more skin below, you help to make your legs look longer and also keep the focus on your dress. There are so many styles of strappy heels that you’re bound to find a pair to your liking which you could wear with any style of cocktail dress. If you’re dressing up for the holidays, try opting for a pair of heels in bright festive colors.

Get the look HERE

A pair of red shoes would look great with a red or gold dress. I have an entire post dedicated to the right shoes to wear with a red dress and so you may want to check it out if you’re going for a red cocktail dress.

2) Clear heels

As someone who is a huge fan of clear heels (with the post to prove it HERE), I find myself choosing them to pair with my party dresses more and more because I don’t have to worry about color coordinating. Clear heels are the best shoes to go with when you’re really unsure of which color of shoes to choose. Opt for a low heel if you’re not comfortable strutting around in stilettos.

Clear heels also go with all skin tones and that’s great because it gives you one less thing to worry about as you’re styling your cocktail dress. Clear heels are also a great option to go with if your cocktail dress is very busy and you want to balance things out. You can choose from mules to pumps to stiletto clear heels, depending on your preference.

Get the look HERE

3) Flat shoes

Now I won’t lie, I was hesitant to add flats to my list of best shoes to wear with a cocktail dress. This is because I see cocktail dresses as these elegant, semi-formal dresses whereas I see flats as shoes that are mostly paired with a casual look. I had to remind myself that not everyone can or likes to wear heels and I need to be as inclusive as I can.

Moreover, ballet flats can indeed be worn to formal occasions, and this has been done multiple times in the past. In my opinion, the trick to rocking a pair of flats with a cocktail dress is firstly to ensure your cocktail dress fits you nicely and secondly, choosing the right pair of flats.

Get the look HERE

Your flats have to be sleek and chic so that your footwear does not mess up the rest of your outfit. Invest in a pair of either patent leather flats or flats with some bling that would maintain the formal nature of your outfit. Now would also be a good time to pull out that statement piece necklace if your flats or flat sandals are a little on the neutral side.

4) Lace up heels

Lace up heels add an extra touch of sexiness to a cocktail look. They bring more attention to the legs so first you want to make sure you are comfortable showing them off. As lace up heels can be a little distracting, it is best to pair them with less busy dresses and/ or dresses in a solid color.

A solid greed, blue or red dress would look great with a pair of gold lace up heels or even a pair of white shoes. Remember that your choice of shoe color should compliment your cocktail dress.

Get the look HERE

5) Ankle boots

Ankle boots tend not to be included on lists of footwear for formal and semi-formal events but I believe they can be added to the list, depending on the style of ankle boot you choose. During the winter and colder months, you don’t want to be carrying two pairs of heels with you to all your holiday parties. If it’s pretty cold and there is some snow on the ground, a pair of heeled ankle boots could be a great choice of footwear.

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They would not only be practical and keep you warmer but they could look chic while respecting the cocktail dress code. Consider choosing a pair of ankle boots if your cocktail dress has long sleeves or the event you are headed to has a business casual dress code.

6) Mules

Mules are a great option to go with if you’re trying to be more comfortable on your feet. They’re so easy to slide on and off and so you could let your feet rest by quietly taking them off while sitting at your table. You could also choose a pair of mules with kitten heels if you want to add an extra layer of comfort to your look. Mules look great with either fluffy cocktail dresses or ones that are pencil shaped.

Get the look HERE

I hope this post has helped you get your cocktail look down so that the next time you’re invited to a cocktail event, you don’t panic. Remember that your choice of shoe color largely depends on the color of your cocktail dress.

Dresses in bold colors can be paired with shoes in neutral colors if you’re not looking to do the most. However, opt for shoes in a bold color if standing out is in your nature.

This list is meant to serve as a guide and I hope you play around with different dresses and shoes to figure out which combination works best with your personal style.

If you enjoyed this post, you should check out my post on how to wear a striped dress for some more fashion inspiration.

Do check out my post: The 9 best shoe colors to wear with a hot pink dress if you are planning on wearing a pink outfit.

Headed to a gala or charity event? Check out my post on the 10 dresses to wear to a gala.

I have a whole video showing you the different shoes I pair with a black cocktail dress below:

If an eggplant dress is your dress of choice, check out my post: 11 Colors of Shoes to Wear with an Eggplant Dress for some major outfit inspiration.

Until the next post,



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