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The Best Black Cocktail Dresses

🕚 Updated December 2021

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 Off-the-Shoulder
Women's Strapless Bodycon Dress
Women's Lace Cocktail Dress
Womens Velvet Ruched Cocktail Party Dress
Women's Bell Sleeve Shift Dress
Sarin Mathews
Women's Off-the-Shoulder Cocktail 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.This flowy shift dress is made of a lightweight and breathable material that's great for vacations or casual days at the office.This fun and flirty dress has a feminine off-the-shoulder bodice and a modern high-low hem.
ProsStrapless, slim-fitting, tummy flattening, comes in 12 colors,  stretchy material, modern midi-length.Variety of colors, pull-on closure, fully lined, knee-length, made of soft high-quality fabric, machine washable.Eight timeless colors, machine washable, tie closure, plunging neckline.Variety of prints and colors, breathable and easy to wear, bell sleeves, zipper closure.Zipper closure, true-to-size fit, cotton blend material is soft and thick, comfortable, and stretchy, machine washable, 10 colors.
ConsDress runs small, dry clean recommended.Limited size range, runs small, pull-on closure could mess up your hair or makeup.Dress has a limited size range, could be too low of a neckline for some.Dress has a limited size range and runs small. The bell sleeves can get caught on or dip into things.Dress has a limited size range.
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The Best Black Cocktail Dresses

A smiling brunette young woman poses in a black dress.

Add a bold red lip, statement jewelry, and a killer pair of heels to your black dress, and you’re sure to have a show-stopping outfit for a cocktail party, special dinner, or wedding.

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 dresses 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, so a black dress is a staple piece for a woman’s wardrobe. 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!
  • Color: The little black dress is a true classic that should work with almost any setting, but there’s no need to limit yourself to this model if you don’t want to. There are brighter-colored, lighter-colored, multi-colored, and even patterned cocktail dresses out there if you want to mix things up a little bit.

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 bandage 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

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: Prefer a flowier option with a relaxed silhouette? This is the pick for you! This shift dress comes in a large variety of prints and colors, is breathable and easy to wear, and has cute bell sleeves. It also has a modest v-neck that highlights your collarbones, a convenient zipper closure, and high-quality chiffon that’s soft and breathable.

Cons: This dress has a limited size range, and it runs small, so it’s recommended to size up for a looser fit. The loose bell sleeves could dip into food if you reach over the table or get caught on things.

Bottom Line: This flowy shift dress is perfect for vacations, more casual parties, or even office wear if paired with tights. This dress is incredibly versatile and comfortable and can be dressed up or down easily!


Best Off-the-Shoulder

Sarin Mathews Women's Off The Shoulder Cocktail Dress

This fun and flirty dress has a feminine off-the-shoulder bodice and a modern high-low hem.

Pros: With a zipper closure and true-to-size fit, the cotton blend material is soft, thick, comfortable, and stretchy all in one. It has a high-low hem and a flattering off-the-shoulder bodice. While handwashing is recommended, this dress is machine washable for your convenience and can also be ironed on low heat if needed. It’s available in 10 deep, rich colors. Whether you wear it to a cocktail party, graduation, prom, a wedding, on a date, or to a dinner party, you’re sure to look great.

Cons: This dress has a limited size range.

Bottom Line: For those who want to stand out in the crowd at a party, this off-the-shoulder cocktail dress is just the ticket. It provides an elegant look that flatters various body types with an affordable price tag to boot.


Best Floor-Length

WOOSEA Women's High Neck Evening Cocktail Dress

This dress is glamorous and affordable with a sophisticated ruffled hem.

Pros: This glamorous showstopper has a chic halter neck that shows off your shoulders, a flattering wrap waist feature, and a ruffled hem that cascades down the leg. It comes in various timeless colors, features a convenient zipper closure, and is made of breathable and comfortable fabric.

Cons: This dress has a limited size range. It’s on the fancier side of cocktail dresses.

Bottom Line: This elegant gown is great for proms, homecomings, weddings, or other formal events. It’s a showstopper that’s sure to impress your peers!

Final Thoughts

A great cocktail dress is a must-have for most women’s wardrobes since they’re incredibly versatile and necessary for special occasions. They can be styled with stilettos, a bold 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. Our top picks for black cocktail dresses will make excellent additions to your wardrobe.

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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