Cocktail dresses

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The history of the cocktail dress

The cocktail dress was first mentioned in Vogue in 1927, but the concept only became more common in the 40s and 50s with the advent of cocktail hours and cocktail parties.
Companies began to organize cocktail parties where their employees could mingle with customers in a semi-formal setting, but cocktail hours were also organized privately. While these gatherings weren't limited to a specific social group, there were clear "rules" around how these gatherings were conducted.
The etiquette could vary year-to-year and between social groups, but the etiquette around the cocktail dress was the same - it had to be "short and stylish", meaning it had to go to just above or just below the knee, be "semi-formal" and thus simpler than an evening dress, which was usually longer and had lots of construction and embellishment details.
Depending on the "class" of the woman, the cocktail dress could be a downgraded version of the more formal evening dress, or an upgraded version of the everyday dress. These in-between dresses were always beautiful and elegant, yet practical for mingling, dancing and drinking.

The 40s cocktail dress

In the early 40s, only a few women were still attending cocktail hour. Therefore, the cocktail dress was often an upgrade on the everyday dress, using materials such as rayon, velvet and satin in an a-line cut. If the dress had sleeves, it was usually with shoulder pads for a sharp look. Jewelry and accessories were also a big thing in the 40s, making it easy to style dresses for dressy occasions.
Small hats or fashinators, stoles, gloves and of course jewelry were used. In the late 40s, you started to see a more fitted cut. Instead of the a-line dress, the pencil dress was now the popular design. Pinups adopted these pencil dresses to create a more curvy look. Stockings with seams were of course a must!

50s cocktail dress

The pencil dress cut as we saw it in the late 40s continued into the 50s and became one of the two most popular styles of cocktail dresses. The other style was the swing dress where the bodice was still fitted, but the bottom went into a circle-cut skirt worn with a petticoat underneath for lots of fullness.
Both looks were equally popular and popular colors were black, white, blue, green and red. Prints such as checks, polka dots and florals were also popular.

60s cocktail dress

Both of the above two versions of the cocktail dress continued into the first part of the 60s. The dresses then started to become shorter and with a small a-line skirt. Black remained the most popular color for the cocktail dress with silver and gold also becoming a big hit in the 60s. Shoe fashion changed in the 60s where the cocktail dress was worn with flats or "Mary Janes".
Click here to see our selection of60s style dresses.

The cocktail dress today

Today, most of us don't go to many formal gatherings anymore, and today the cocktail dress is one that is worn when going out to festive occasions such as weddings, confirmations, birthday parties, a night out on the town, dinner parties, Christmas parties or of course New Year's Eve.
In Scandinavian culture, we don't often see women wearing floor-length dresses, so the shorter cocktail dress is usually the go-to dress when you want to dress up. Most people think that a cocktail dress should be black, but we think it can look great in navy blue, green or red!

Styling the cocktail dress

A cocktail dress is usually very simple, making it easy to style with jewelry, shoes and accessories. If you're styling the dress for a fancier event or New Year's Eve, we recommend some fine jewelry and perhaps long satin gloves. A must-have is always a pair of thin seamed stockings from What Katie Did and a pair of heels.
Click here to see our selection of satin gloves

See all our cocktail dresses in our Copenhagen store

We always have a good selection of cocktail dresses in different colors and cuts in stock both here on our webshop and in our store in Copenhagen N. Here on the webshop you can browse and see what we have in stock of cocktail dresses right now, but if you have the opportunity to stop by our store in Copenhagen, we recommend you do so.
We will be happy to welcome you and give you guidance and tips for the perfect cocktail dress.

Do you have any questions about our cocktail dresses?

At Mondo Kaos, our first priority is always happy customers. So if you have any questions about our cocktail dresses or other clothing, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
You can reach us every weekday on 60 95 11 36 between 09:00 and 12:00 beyond this time, it can be difficult for us to answer the phone if we are busy in the store.
Therefore, it would be an advantage to write your question to shop@mondokaos.dk where we strive to respond within one business day.