Be the belle of the bar with our edit of nine of the best new season cocktail dresses

Words Joy Montgomery

The cocktail dress is an essential part of the modern woman’s fashion armoury. Seductive, glamorous and flattering, it fills a hole in our wardrobe that nothing else will satisfy.

Arriving post WW1, the cocktail dress came with shifting social change that saw women becoming more independent. The growing popularity for cocktail parties triggered a demand for dresses that were smarter than an afternoon frock but less grand than a ball gown. Made in decadent silks, velvets and jerseys, the dresses were flirtily worn to the knee. Chanel’s iconic LBD became a desired item for countless women in the 1930s and spoke of the progressive and fashionable Cafe Society elite.

Although we don’t use cocktails dresses for such an explicit purpose now, they still encapsulate all the femininity of their forebears. Unlike women in the 1920s, we’re lucky enough to have a wealth of affordable ready-to-wear and high street offerings to choose from. You no longer have to splurge on designer labels to get innovative design.

Fast forward to 2017 and slip dresses are very much still in-vogue. We love & Other Stories’ lace dress with its statement lace edging. While Uterque’s emerald green number offers Bond girl elegance – perfect with sculptural earrings. Off-the-shoulder is another look to love for this season. Rebecca Vallance’s ruffled mini will be your go-to for beach cocktails, while Warehouse’s fuschia dress packs a colourful punch for warm summer nights.

Scroll down to discover nine of our favourite cocktail dresses for summer


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