Which black cocktail dress is best?

While dress styles go in and out of fashion, black cocktail dresses are timeless. And you should always have at least one style in your closet. Black cocktail dresses are versatile and elegant, making them an easy go-to style for just about any semiformal event, from date nights to weddings. When you start searching for a black cocktail dress, you’ll find an impressive variety to choose from. From sleek and simple to embellished, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a detailed design, the Mac Duggal Floral Fit And Flare Midi Dress features sequins and three-dimensional appliqués. 

What to know before you buy a black cocktail dress

What cocktail dresses are

You can wear cocktail dresses to semiformal events, weddings, upscale dinners, parties and date nights. Although many styles are cut just above or below the knee, midi-length and high-low styles are also popular. Most cocktail dresses are made with luxurious materials, such as lace, satin or velvet; however, many modern styles use polyester or stretch materials.

How to style a black cocktail dress

Black cocktail dresses fit in nearly any semiformal occasion, which means the sky’s the limit when it comes to styling them.

  • Jewelry: Rhinestones, pearls, diamonds or statement jewelry complements simple black cocktail dresses very well. On the other hand, embellished dresses go well with subdued pieces, such as diamond studs or demure drop earrings.
  • Bags: Small, elegant clutches coordinate well with black cocktail dresses. Make sure they match your footwear and share the same finishes as your other accessories, as well. 
  • Footwear: Black cocktail dresses look lovely with pumps, ranging from kitten heels to stilettos
  • Shell layers: Depending on the weather, you may need to wear layers with your black cocktail dress. Some popular options include dress jackets, shawls, capes or lace cardigans. 

What to look for in a quality black cocktail dress

Popular black cocktail dress silhouettes

To find the right black cocktail dress, look for a flattering silhouette. Even though there are dozens of options, the most popular silhouettes are sheath, fit and flare, A-line and peplum. 

  • Sheath: Sheath dresses are fitted with straight skirts. The simple style accentuates the waistline and is flattering on most.
  • Fit-and-flare: These styles have a fitted bodice and full skirts, many of which have several layers of tulle or mesh. Because these tend to be heavier, they’re ideal for cool weather wear.
  • A-line: A-line dresses are similar to fit-and-flare styles in that the skirt flares out beyond the shoulders. However, the skirts aren’t as full and rarely have more than two layers.
  • Peplum: Peplum dresses have an extra layer of fabric that flares out at the waist over a tapered skirt. The vintage-inspired designs are often structured and have polyester or satin blends. 

Lining

Certain black cocktail dresses don’t have a lining, especially basic polyester styles. However, many cocktail dresses have structured designs that don’t require linings for additional shaping or support. Unlined dresses are also lightweight and comfortable, making them a top choice for warm-weather events. 

Other black cocktail dresses have polyester or satin linings, particularly those with thin, sheer or flowy materials. Lining improves a dress’ fit and structure, and it prevents the dress from twisting or riding up the body. A lining will also take the place of other garments worn beneath dresses, including slips or shapewear. 

Embellishments

Some black cocktail dresses have embellishments, like rhinestones, glitter, lace, fringes or sequins. These styles have a lot of pizzazz, and given the shiny details, you don’t need to wear bold jewelry or accessories with them. However, embellished cocktail dresses with fine details tend to snag, and they almost always require dry cleaning. 

How much you can expect to spend on black cocktail dresses

Simple black cocktail dresses cost between $40 and $60, but they’re rarely lined or have embellishments. Styles in the $75-$150 range, on the other hand, have fine construction and details. Designer black cocktail dresses, including sequined styles, run between $200 and $600.

Black cocktail dress FAQ

How do you clean a black cocktail dress?

A. Black cocktail dresses are usually dry clean only, but there are a few polyester styles that are machine washable. Between cleanings, however, you can spot clean the dress with gentle, bleach-free detergent. To remove odors, such as smoke or perfume, spray the dress with a fabric refresher.

What should I wear under a black cocktail dress?

A. Because many black cocktail dresses have a fitted style, you should wear seamless undergarments. If the dress is strapless or off the shoulder, wear a strapless or corset bra. Shapewear, hosiery and slips are optional. 

What’s the best black cocktail dress to buy?

Top black cocktail dress

Mac Duggal Floral Fit And Flare Midi Dress In Black

Mac Duggal Floral Fit And Flare Midi Dress In Black

What you need to know: The chic, vintage-inspired design has fine construction and will last for years. 

What you’ll love: Because it has long sleeves, you don’t need to wear a shell layer. The all-black dress has some dimension, too, with appliqués and tulle layers. It has a thick velvet waistband that creates a flattering figure-eight silhouette. 

What you should consider: As a heavier style, it’s better suited for cold-weather evening events. 

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

Top black cocktail dress for the money

SL Fashions Metallic-Trim Capelet Sheath Dress In Black/Silver

SL Fashions Metallic-Trim Capelet Sheath Dress In Black/Silver

What you need to know: If you want to cover your arms but aren’t a fan of sleeves, this style is your best option. 

What you’ll love: The simple black sheath has a contemporary look with a sheer asymmetrical cape. It’s a pullover style, so you don’t need to fuss with zippers or buttons. The dress has a flexible, comfortable polyester and stretchy lining. 

What you should consider: Taller people may find that the skirt is rather short, and the cape gets wrinkled easily.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

Worth checking out

Calvin Klein Off-The-Shoulder Sheath Dress In Black

Calvin Klein Off-The-Shoulder Sheath Dress In Black

What you need to know: If you want a versatile and timeless cocktail dress, this black dress lends itself to easy accessorizing.

What you’ll love: The three-quarter bell sleeves give it a memorable silhouette and a bit of movement. Its off-the-shoulder style coordinates well with most necklace lengths. You can emphasize the waist with dressy belts or sashes. 

What you should consider: Some people felt the quality of the material did not meet their expectations. 

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.