Mondo Kaos’ store guide til Cocktailkjoler ✨

Mondo Kaos' big guide to Cocktail dresses ✨

After all, December is a festive time when the beautiful dresses really come into use. Particularly popular at this time is the cocktail dress . This year will be a different holiday with fewer parties and cozy gatherings, but that's why we think we could still bring a guide and the history of the cocktail dress . And although the Christmas lunches are becoming fewer and fewer, you can still look good in a beautiful cocktail dress, or maybe just because of that!

Vintage inspired cocktail dresses
Vintage cocktail dresses

What is a cocktail dress anyway?

Here at Mondo Kaos, we always have lots of dresses, and therefore of course we also have lots of vintage-inspired cocktail dresses . When you say cocktail dress, you picture a certain type of dress, but why do you do that and are there rules for when something is a cocktail dress and when it isn't? The term comes from a time when people changed from the clothes they wore during the day to the more formal 'evening wear'. So, at least in certain circles they did.

Cocktail dresses

You have to look to America where the word cocktail appears for the first time in 1803! But it would be 100 years before women had to see themselves as someone who drank cocktails in public. And it was with the end of the 1st World War and the wild 1920s that cocktails gained great popularity among the wealthy Americans. In fact, cocktails became so popular that they demanded their own clothing item. You typically drank cocktails from 6-8pm, and there it was too early for formal evening wear, so you needed a transitional dress from the informal daytime look to the blue hour, and therefore this pre-dinner custom got its own garment: the cocktail dress .

The cocktail dress's journey from the USA to the rest of the world

Formal evening wear had traditionally been full-length, and when precisely the 1920s made shorter dresses popular for the first time in almost 200 years, it was clear that the cocktail dress had to be shorter, and go from below the knee to about mid-calf.

Flapper girls and Speakeasy

The cocktail dress was inextricably linked with several daring items; the flapper girls, for example, who were a few very outgoing it-girls with a penchant for parties and scandals, the speakeasy culture that arose around the banned bars in the 20s where you could get home-brewed alcohol in the prohibition-era USA. It was from the United States, and in order to get around the alcohol ban, that the wealthy American elite brought the new cocktail custom with them into the world; e.g. to Paris, London, Cuba and the French Riviera.

In the period after the First World War, the French fashion houses were dependent on the rich Americans, and therefore liked to translate new trends into their couture and 'ready to wear'. The first named cocktail dress is mentioned in Vogue for the first time on 15 May 1927, but already in 1926 the ultimate cocktail dress and perhaps the biggest dress sensation in the last 100 years of fashion history is created.

LBD – 'the little black' cocktail dress

In 1926, two of the greatest French designers were women: Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel! Both absorb the new zeitgeist and create fantastic couture, but in 1926 Chanel succeeds in creating the ultimate cocktail dress - 'den lille black dress' or 'the little black dress'. The perfect cocktail dress at this time had long sleeves, a low neckline and was in silk or satin. It could also be styled with beautiful accessories and the famous little cloche, the hat of the 20s!

Stock market crash 1929 – 30's glamorous cocktail dresses

The 1920s ended with a disaster, the stock market crash in 1929. That was the end of the happy 20s in the first place.
With the 30s came great poverty, but strangely enough at the same time a great need for glamour. The movies of the 1930s were about glamour, and fashion was glamorous, the movie stars were worshiped like never before. It also meant that the cocktail hour was allowed to remain, but when it had become distasteful to show off one's wealth, the cocktail gatherings were moved into the living rooms of the rich.

The dresses became slightly longer and far more feminine than the square straight-up-and-down cut from the 1920s. The dresses had to exude glamor and soft femininity.

There wasn't much time for cocktails during the Second World War and no fabric for cocktail dresses at all, but after the end of the war there was something to celebrate again.

Jitterbug vintage style dress in 1930s style
1930s style dress - the little black one
Grable dress in 1930s style beautiful cocktail dress

The more unconventional cocktail dress inspired by the 1930s. From The House of Foxy; The Ava dress in black , the grab dress or the new Jitterbug and use beautiful classic accessories such as pearls, bracelets and gloves

The landmark year 1947 – Dior's New Look

This was the year Dior came up with his New Look. Full focus came on the hourglass figure, the female figure and her waist became the focal point of this fashion.
The cocktail dresses became shorter again and naturally followed the fashion of the time. This meant the well-known swing dresses and especially the extremely figure-hugging pencil dress.

Cocktail hour - The American Way of Life

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, cocktail parties and cocktail hours became almost institutionalized, and an industry grew up around cocktails - think the home bar with all its equipment. Cocktails had become a symbol of 'the American way of life'.

1950s little black dress, the little black V-back
1950s Dior New Look
Marilyn Monroe Little Black Dress

When to wear a cocktail dress?

So what should we do with a cocktail dress today?
Just today, the cocktail dress is super current. We use the cocktail dress today exactly as it was done in the 1920s. A dress that can easily be upgraded from day to early evening. A chic dress that can easily be styled up and down. The dress is even often the same length as it was then: just below, or to the knees. In contrast to the cocktail dresses of the 1920s, our dresses must be body-hugging in the style of those from the 50s and 60s, and we can also drop or keep the long sleeves exactly as we wish.

Beautiful art deco inspired cocktail dress from Stop Staring in red
Elegant black swing dress 1950s cocktail hour
Green cocktail dress in pencil cut

Our most popular cocktail dresses

Our most recognizable cocktail dresses are the beautiful tight-fitting pencil dresses such as those from Zoe Vine , Unique Vintage and Stop Staring ! The dresses are reminiscent of the cut from the 1950s and the early 1960s , in that it hugs the body, but thanks to the wonderful stretch material, it is wonderful to wear all day and at the same time holds its shape, and can therefore easily be your day dress with a cardigan over at the office.

The dresses are available in several beautiful colours, red, green, purple, navy but of course also the classic little black. You can choose from many cocktail dresses that all focus on different details: choose a cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline to focus on the bust, or one with a matching belt for extra focus on the waist.

vintage style pencil dress with drape
The little black one with transparent top detail
Beautiful asymmetrical free shoulder dress, the little black one

Do you want a vintage-style long-sleeved cocktail dress?

We are approaching a colder time, and yes, a long-sleeved cocktail dress is also perfectly fine. We have long-sleeved and cocktail dresses with elbow-length sleeves, for those of you who prefer it.

The flattering pencil dress in vintage style
The beautiful V-back dress with 3/4 sleeves
Purple velor pencil dress, vintage style cocktail dress

Vintage style cocktail dresses with glitter

A typical cocktail dress should have fabric that is a little more festive, and nothing says party and fun like glitter. Choose a cocktail dress in vintage style with glitter or in a glossy finish when you really want to shine. A cocktail dress with glitter is also typically ideal for Christmas lunches or larger parties. Because the fabric is so festive, you can choose any shape, anything from a swing dress to a pencil dress is fine.

Mini dress in black glitter perfect cocktail dress
60s style Cocktail dress with glitter in red
cocktail dress in black with glitter

Cocktail dress or party dress?

So what is the difference? Today, there may not be that much of a difference, and the difference in when you wear which type of dress is a very individual matter. But in general you can say that many of our beautiful vintage-inspired pencil dresses in matte colors can easily be worn during the day, and then styled with festive accessories for a cocktail dress, while a more eye-catching glitter case might not really be a case for the office, but on the contrary a beautiful dress for both cocktails and a big party.

In the end, however, only you know what and how you should use your cocktail dress, and we can always help you with input and guidance so that you find just the right cocktail dress for your specific needs.

The warmest Christmas greetings,

Team Mondo Kaos ❤

Read more:

Mondo Ladies Christmas 2020

Mondo Ladies Christmas 2020

Vintage Christmas gift inspiration

Christmas gift inspiration

The story of the pinup girl

The Story of the Pinup Girl

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