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The Best Black Cocktail Dresses

studioloco/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated October 2022

Having a signature little black dress that's both flattering and timeless is a must for most women. If you need one of these magically versatile and classic items of clothing, here are some black cocktail dresses we recommend.

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  Best Strapless Best Lacy Best Long-Sleeve Best Flowy Best Mini Dress
 
  meilun
Women's Strapless Bodycon Dress
MEROKEETY
Women's Lace Cocktail Dress
GUBERRY
Womens Velvet Ruched Cocktail Party Dress
Bbonlinedress
Women Short 1950s Retro Vintage Cocktail Dress
BELONGSCI
Women's Bell Sleeve Shift Dress
 
Our SummaryThis bodycon cocktail dress is flattering rather than restricting.This sophisticated dress has a beautiful lace overlay and an elegant cap sleeve.This velvet dress has a flattering ruched detail and wrap design that's sure to highlight your silhouette.A classic silhouette that flatters all body types while also serving as the perfect outfit for any dressy occasion.This flowy shift dress is made of a lightweight and breathable material that's great for vacations or casual days at the office.
Pros✓ Tummy flattening
✓ Comes in 12 colors
✓ Stretchy material
✓ Modern midi-length
✓ Fully lined
✓ Knee-length
✓ Soft high-quality fabric
✓ Machine washable
✓ Eight timeless colors
✓ Machine washable
✓ Tie closure
✓ Plunging neckline
✓ Classic swing dress
✓ V-neck and cap sleeves
✓ Flattering silhouette for all body types
✓ Variety of prints and colors
✓ Breathable and easy to wear
✓ Cute bell sleeves
✓ Zipper closure
Cons✗ Dress runs small
✗ Dry clean recommended
✗ Limited size range
✗ Pull-on closure could mess up your hair or makeup
✗ Limited size range
✗ Could be too low of a neckline for some
✗ Will need to buy a petticoat to get the full swing skirt effect✗ Limited size range and runs small
✗ Bell sleeves can get in the way
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The Best Black Cocktail Dresses

A smiling brunette young woman poses in a black dress.
studioloco/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Black Cocktail Dresses

A black dress with spaghetti straps is laid out with black heels next to it.
Serhii Yevdokymov/Shutterstock.com

Why buy a black cocktail dress?

Cocktail dresses are a middle ground when it comes to formal wear. They’re meant to be worn at semi-formal events. They’re not as fancy as dresses worn to black tie events but are still more lavish than a dress for everyday wear. Cocktail dresses are most often midi or knee-length as opposed to more formal floor-length dresses. Black cocktail dresses are extremely classic and almost universally flattering. You can accessorize a black dress in a myriad of ways, too. Whether you’re on the hunt for a cocktail dress to wear to a wedding or an intimate dinner party, there are almost innumerable elegant options from which to choose.

What should you look for in a black cocktail dress?

  • Maintenance: Keep an eye on whether your cocktail dress is machine washable. Some will be, but depending on the material they’re made of and any extra detailing, they may be hand wash or dry clean only. Be sure to check the washing instructions before you buy.
  • Design: Even though the length of most cocktail dresses is pretty consistent, there is still plenty of variation in the designs, especially in the sleeves and necklines. You can find off-the-shoulder, sleeveless, long-sleeved, v-necked, and round-necked cocktail dresses, and that’s just to start. You can also find cocktail sheath dresses, vintage-style dresses, lacy, ruffled, or sequined dresses, and more—the variety is almost endless!
  • Length: The little black dress might be a staple, but it comes with a lot of variety. In particular, you can play with the length. For more formal occasions, you can opt for a longer hemline. Meanwhile, a girl’s night out might call for a mini or knee-length skirt instead.

What can you expect to spend on a black cocktail dress?

A great cocktail dress doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of little black dresses on the market for $60 or less that are both elegant and easy on the wallet. If you want something especially luxurious or brand name, those can cost well over $100, but we’re focusing on some affordable yet high-quality options.

Our Picks for the Best Black Cocktail Dresses

Best Strapless

meilun Women's Strapless Bodycon Dress

This bodycon cocktail dress is flattering rather than restricting.

Pros: This strapless, slim-fitting bodycon dress is sexy and tummy flattening! It comes in 12 colors, is made of stretchy material that’s designed to mold to your body’s natural contours, and it hits just below the knee for a classic, feminine look.

Cons: This dress runs small and has a limited size range. It’s recommended to dry clean it, which is less convenient.

Bottom Line: This slim-fitting black dress is great for showing off your curves and is the perfect little number to pull out for a girl’s night out.

 

Best Lacy

MEROKEETY Women's Lace Elegant Cocktail Dress

This sophisticated dress has a beautiful lace overlay and an elegant cap sleeve.

Pros: This black dress is elegant, sophisticated, and timeless. It’s great for weddings, date nights, or other formal occasions. It comes in a variety of colors and has a convenient pull-on closure. It’s fully lined, knee-length, and made of soft and high-quality fabric. It’s also machine washable, but it’s recommended to wash the dress on a gentle cycle and to tumble it dry on low.

Cons: This dress has a limited size range and runs small, so it’s recommended to size up. Pulling it on could mess up your hair or makeup, so be careful.

Bottom Line: This elegant cap-sleeve dress is ideal for those fond of lace. It comes in 17 colors in case you want multiple versions of it. The hemline rests at the knee, and the figure-hugging design provides a lovely silhouette.

 

Best Long-Sleeve

GUBERRY Women's Wrap Velvet Ruched Cocktail Dress

This velvet dress has flattering ruched detail and a wrap design to highlight your silhouette.

Pros: This velvet wrap dress gives its wearers a flirty and feminine silhouette. It comes in eight timeless colors, is machine washable (gentle machine wash with cold water), and has a convenient tie closure for easy wear. It also features a deep v neckline and a sexy inverted v-line hem for those who love showing off their legs.

Cons: This dress has a limited size range. The neckline might be a little low for some.

Bottom Line: This flirty dress is made of stretchy, velvet material that’s soft and comfortable so that you’ll look just as great as you feel. It’s great for almost any holiday party or date night!

 

Best Flowy

Bbonlinedress Women Short 1950s Retro Vintage Cocktail Dress

A classic silhouette that flatters all body types while also serving as the perfect outfit for any dressy occasion.

Pros: Sometimes, a classic silhouette is best, and this pick from Bbonlinedress is a great example of that. Reminiscent of the 1950s, this fun fit and flare dress features cute cap sleeves, a v-neck with an overlap effect, and a full skirt—making it a flattering choice for any body type. Wear it as is, or dress it up with a stylish belt or brooch.

Cons: While the product page shows this as a full skirt, you’ll need to invest in a petticoat to get this effect.

Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with this timeless pick inspired by 1950s fashion. A full skirt, flirty v-neck, and cap sleeves combine for a gorgeous look that fits into any setting. But if you want that classic swing skirt effect, you’ll need to invest in a petticoat to wear under it.

 

Best Mini Dress

BELONGSCI Women's Dress

This flowy shift dress is made of a lightweight and breathable material that's great for vacations or casual days at the office.

Pros: You can’t go wrong with a classic shift dress, and this is the perfect example. With tiered ruffle bell sleeves and an above-the-knee hemline, you also get a gentle v-neck for a look that’s perfect for the office or a casual day around town. And with a wide range of dark prints, you don’t have to be limited to all black if you don’t want to.

Cons: Although cute, a common complaint from verified shoppers was that this ran a bit small. So, if you want the relaxed fit as shown in the product page images, you’ll want to go up a size.

Bottom Line: Casual and stylish can co-exist with this fun shift dress. With soft flowing sleeves and a cute v-neck, combined with an above-the-knee hem, you can’t go wrong. But size up if you want a more relaxed fit.

Final Thoughts

Our top picks for black cocktail dresses will make excellent additions to your wardrobe. They can be styled with stilettos, a bold red lip, a chic clutch, and statement jewelry for a glamorous ensemble, or they can be dressed down with a nude lip, a wide-brim hat, and sandals for a relaxed vacation look.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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