Turn Up the Heat This Season in a Steamy Summer Cocktail Dress


We’re finally approaching that time of year when we get wear pretty summer cocktail dresses, folks. (!!!) Gliding through starry nights and spending time with good company while stunning in dreamy ‘fits = the perfect scenario, right? So of course you already know we’re about to present you with the most alluring options for le season. You’re welcome!

But before we get into all of the must-have frocks of summer, let’s first break down the anatomy of a cocktail dress. (It’ll be quick. Promise.) A cocktail dress, not to be mistaken with a sun dress or a going-out summer dress, is a mix between casual and formal. It’s a dress you wear in the late afternoon or evening to a gathering—whether that’s a group of friends or a work party. These events typically involve drinks (think: fancy-ish happy hours) and have a fun-yet-sophisticated ambience.

While cocktail dresses work year-round, in the summer, you’ll probably see some flirty colors, a few frills, and anything between midi and mini in length. Summer cocktail attire is perhaps a bit less formal than other iterations of this dress code—so if you want a full rundown on cocktail dress etiquette, then I recommend you click here for all the deets. It never hurts to be extra-prepared!

Our top picks for summer cocktail dresses in 2022:

This Coral Midi Dress

La Femme Apéro Dress in Coral Floral

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This Frilly Midi Dress

Sir the Label Franc Frill Midi Dress

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This Red Hot Mini

Mie Mini Mahe Dress

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This Yellow Eyelet Dress

House of Harlow 1960 x REVOLVE Rosaline Dress

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This Floral Stunner

Twisted Wunder Plus Smock Mini Organza Dress

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We’re certain your upcoming summer plans already involve days spent in swimsuits and picnic outfits—but when the sun begins to go down (and bless us with that golden hour light), you’re going to want to grab one of the following 20 best summer cocktail dresses.

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This Coral Midi Dress

La Femme Apéro Dress in Coral Floral

  • Made with recycled fabrics

This coral beauty is the perfect summer evening dress to enjoy some refreshments in. It’s a bit formal, but has a few spicy details that are sure to leave jaws on the floor.

This Frilly Midi Dress

Sir the Label Franc Frill Midi Dress

These frills are what dreams are made of. Enjoy an enchanting evening under the stars in this flowy dress that’s designed to catch a cool summer breeze.

This Red Hot Mini

Mie Mini Mahe Dress

There’s no better material than linen when it comes to the summer. This mini dress is simply jaw-dropping, and you’re sure to get sooo many compliments.

This Yellow Eyelet Dress

House of Harlow 1960 x REVOLVE Rosaline Dress

This yellow stunner is a bit dressier—so if you’re attending an upscale event this summer it’ll be totally appropriate. Not to mention, the eyelet detailing is truly epic.

THE REVIEWS: Good quality and amazing color!” raves one buyer. “Really great for summer events. I recommend it—exactly what I expected!”

This Floral Stunner

Twisted Wunder Plus Smock Mini Organza Dress

Enjoy sipping a few cosmos (our fave drink, obvi) and twirl the night away in this floral beauty. Bring the look to life with a bit of statement jewelry.

The Green Head-turner

Mango Asymmetrical Satin Dress

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re really loving bright colors this year. Go dancing, sip martini’s at a rooftop bar, fall in love… Everything is possible in this green look.

This Baby Pink Dress

Embi Studios Utopia Babygirl Pink Dress

This cocktail dress is going straight to the hell yes pile. Accessorize with some silver jewelry & strap heels, and get ready to own the night.

This Neutral Mini

Gala Dress Mini in Pastis

Keep it short and classic in this mini dress. Cocktail dresses can come in all shapes, sizes, and colors—so if you prefer a neutral tone, then this is for you!

This Neon Stunner

Satin Wrap Dress

  • Some had issues with sizing

No, you don’t understand, I’m OBSESSED. And enchanted. And mesmerized. This neon yellow dress is inviting all kinds of fun into the night.

THE REVIEWS: “I have an hourglass figure mixed with an apple figure, and I loved the way it hugged both my belly and curves,” says one reviewer. “It fit tight but in a sexy way—and it was the first slip dress I’ve ever liked.”

This Metallic Dress

Zara Satin Effect Cut-Out Dress

Meet the dress that’s got everyone fumbling for their wallets right now (especially in pink). This metallic satin dress is the talk of the town, folks. Make sure to get your hands on it before it sells out!

This Angelic Dress

Cynthia Rowley Tank Bonded Dress

Opt for this angelic dress that’s perfect for summer days and warm nights. She’s just casual enough for you to wear on a nice day out in town as well.

This Soft Mint Dress

ovation dress

  • Ruffles make it less timeless

If I had to design a Bridgerton dress to fit this modern age, then I would create this exact dress. A sweet, gentle look (that still packs a punch) for a night in the summer breeze.

This Animal Print Bb

11 Honore Iris Mesh Ruched Bodycon Dress

  • Sheer, breathable sleeves
  • Might be too casual for some events

Show up to show out, people! Summer nights can still have a chilly breeze to them, so make sure you have a snug look like this in your closet as well.

This Ruched Cream Dress

Camila Coelho Carlota Dress

Equipped with a strappy back, ruched detailing on the front, and a gorgeous tie detail, this creamy mini dress is simply iconic.

THE REVIEWS: This item keeps selling out, so I was able to do a custom order request!” says one customer. “I’m wearing this for my rehearsal dinner (which is more of a rooftop cocktail style) and it fits perfect!

This Polka Dot Look

Zara Printed Midi Dress

Fact: Polka dots will never go out of style. Therefore you’ll be able to get a lot of wear out of this summer cocktail dress.

This Mustard Option

The Line by K Elva Dress

So simple, yet so elegant. This gorgeous dress (which also comes in off-white, by the way) makes a statement in the best way. It’s sure to serve you well for years to come.

This Flirty Midi

Never Fully Dressed Green Animal Strappy Frida Dress

This cute frock comes in the prettiest shade of green adorned with a pink and red animal print. It’s such a fun option for cocktail parties that have a lil wiggle room for more maximalist styles.

This Fringe Dress

Eloquii Asymmetrical Fringe Slip Dress

Headed to the dance floor? This fringe slip dress will look so good while you twist and turn all evening. Plus, the gorge red color will ensure all eyes are on you.

This Main Character Moment

Sabo Kika Dress in Yellow Paraiso

The dresses from Sabo all look like they came straight out of a fairytale. And since we’re all main characters of our own stories, why not dress like it?

This Sophisticated Dress

ASOS Design Curve Wrap Tie Dress

Snag this sophisticated look the next time you’re in need of a cocktail dress. We love the elongated sleeves, the wrap detail, and this luxurious silver color.

THE REVIEWS: “Absolutely fell in love with this dress,” says one reviewer. “The color is very pretty for summertime.”

This Summery Look

Printed cut-out detail dress

This cocktail dress brings the summer vibes into full force. I absolutely love the floral design on this one!

So, what’s okay to wear to a summer cocktail party?

Figuring out what, exactly, to wear to a summer cocktail party shouldn’t be too difficult. There are a few rules you wanna make sure you follow, though. Let’s get into it, shall we?

Watch the length of your dresses and skirts.

Cocktail attire typically features shorter dresses and skirts—like midis and minis—but you still want to be aware of how tiny your ensemble is. Most events won’t enforce a specific length like a local high school might (IYKYK), but for your own comfort, take a peek at your ‘fit before heading out. If you feel like it might be too short for wherever you’re going, it probably is. (Pro tip: Make sure you can sit down in a chair comfortably!)

Skip the super casual looks.

Though summer cocktail attire isn’t particularly formal, it’s certainly not casual. This means leaving the jeans, shorts, sweats, and sneakers at home. If you’re not a big fan of summer cocktail dresses, you can always opt for a chic skirt or tailored suiting. Just make sure the fabrics are light and breathable for hot evenings.

Here’s how we chose these pretty dresses.

Cosmo’s team of digital fashion experts—which includes Fashion Features Director Rachel Torgerson, Fashion Editor Tarah-Lynn Saint-Elien, and Contributing Fashion Editor Maggie Griswold—have decades of combined experience in the industry. They spot relevant trends on the runway before they even hit your TikTok FYP or Insta Explore Page and conduct research across retailers of all kinds—testing many brands IRL—to bring you the best clothing and accessory picks for every season. Basically, we’ve curated the internet to bring you the chicest options like it’s our job (because it is, heh). Each of our shopping articles adheres to the 15 Percent Pledge and includes products for all sizes.

For these summer cocktail dresses, we focused on adhering to the cocktail attire dress code while also making sure you had plenty of stunning options in different fabrics, silhouettes, and colors.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

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