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The best cocktail dresses for weddings, parties and more

Shopping for cocktail dresses can be one of our favorite pastimes. Accompanied by a fiery lipstick, a designer clutch and beautiful accessories (not to mention: comfortable heels), finding a new dress is a good serotonin boost.

But this perfect dress can be hard to find. Sure, there are plenty of great stores and Instagram-discovered boutiques you can venture into, but sometimes you just can’t beat that tried-and-true dress in your closet.

Think again.

Amid our own shopping for weddings, christenings, graduation parties and upcoming holidays, we’ve selected some of the best brands and designers to pull off cocktail dresses – from petite to plus size.

Below, find all the big brands and hidden gems to browse for the best cocktail dress for your preferences and budget. From mini to lunch (and everything in between), we’ve covered all the bases, so all you have to do is rock it on your occasion day and take some bomb shots.

Click here to access our favorite cocktail dress brands and designers:

Best for a variety of options that will ship quickly (thanks, Prime!)


As well as being one of our top retailers for in-the-moment beauty and home snags, Amazon has an unbeatable (and affordable) selection of cocktail dresses, most of which will ship to your doorstep within two days ( we love you, Prime).

No matter how your style leans, you can take full advantage of what Amazon has to offer, from best-selling swing dresses — like BelongSci’s Shift Dress ($30) — to sexy side-slit styles — like the one-shoulder dress from UonBox ($53). For any occasion, it’s worth it.

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The best for reasonably priced cocktail dresses in a range of colors and cute prints

Lulus cocktail dress

Lulus offers some of the most versatile styles for any occasion. Notably, the How Much I Care Off-the-Shoulder Midi Dress ($62) has a flattering fit that makes a beautiful wedding guest dress, delicate beaded straps that will turn heads and look elegant.

Plus, we’re loving this incredibly flattering Trancoso two-piece maxi dress ($69) for all of our vacations this year.

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The top trendy cocktail dresses which are chic and minimalist

Petal & Pup cocktail dress

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

For modest yet subtly sexy dresses for family occasions, the Cyprus Dress ($69) and Doriah Dress ($69) have a great feel and an equally gorgeous fit.

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The best for unique designer cocktail dresses

Revolve cocktail dress

As soon as you enter Revolve’s website, you know you’re in a designer showcase of clothing options. From Michael Costello to Superdown, you know the dress you choose will be the next unique cocktail dress in your wardrobe.

We’re obsessed with Michael Costello’s Jake Dress ($198), which has a Miss America vibe and will elevate your look for your next wedding or special event.

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

Plus, if you’re looking for a new dress to relax in spring and summer, Majorelle’s best-selling Daze Away Dress ($168) and Maizie Midi Dress ($218) are personal favorites that flaunt your curves, s fit well and are super flattering.

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

Nordström cocktail dress

Ah, Nordstrom. The reliable department store we always come back to, especially for formal dresses. Although Nordstrom has designer options, they aren’t as expensive as other retailers and are definitely more timeless for all types of clothing.

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

For a must-have option, we love Dress the Population’s Nicole Sweetheart Neck Cocktail Dress ($89) which comes in 10 photo-ready colors and has a sleek bodice.

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The best bodycon cocktail dresses, with pretty flowy options too

Hello Molly
Hello Molly

Enter the Gen Z online store for all things dresses. Whether it’s your college night out, backyard wedding, or date night, Hello Molly has endless options so cute you’ll want to dedicate an entire day to browsing her styles.

For gorgeous pink with the cutest ruffles we’ve ever seen, the No Problems Midi Dress ($99) is worth adding to the cart. And, for even more styles, we’ve created an edit for some of the best Hello Molly dresses we can’t help but swoon over.

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The best avant-garde cocktail dresses 🔥

Nookie cocktail dress

Oh, if you are looking for the best cocktail dress, you should not sleep on Nookie. Her styles are too luxurious to handle and will draw compliments at your next party.

The Melody Mini ($259) is one of our favorites, with gorgeous, sleek, and stylish sleeves. Plus, it’s available in black, green, and white – available for pre-order to ship between December 15-30.

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The best fancy cocktail dresses with a little 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), Sherri Hill has the most stunning styles you’ll be glad you picked.

Her lace-patterned 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 prom (though two of my SH prom dresses fit like a glove).

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The best fancy cocktail dresses on a budget


No, Windsor doesn’t just have prom dresses. The storefront features amazing cocktail dresses with ruched patterns, classic bodycon, and even maxi dresses that look expensive, but are relatively affordable.

Adorably, we recommend the Casey Strapless Formal Midi Dress ($57) if you have an upcoming wedding (seriously, it’s this good) and the Kaylee Halter Satin Evening Dress ($70) if you’re on the hunt for new evening wear.

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The best variety of cocktail dresses which are also super affordable


What’s better all year round? Ceremonial dresses, of course! Besides its full range of unique dresses, SHEIN is stellar for its incredibly flattering and quality styles (trust us, we’ve tried them).

Specifically, we love the ADYCE One-Shoulder Fishtail Bodycon Dress ($41) that we can’t believe it’s not designer (and we’ve never come across a more dramatic baby blue). We also recommend the Floral Print Puff Sleeve Organza Dress ($28) as one of our favorites for plus sizes.

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Check out the New York Post Shopping section for more content.

New York Post

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