This is How You Rock a Suit at a Cocktail Party

This is How You Rock a Suit at a Cocktail Party
20 Jun 2023

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Image by olcay ertem from Pixabay

That big networking cocktail party is on the immediate event horizon. You know you’ll be expected to show up looking like you mean business. But you’re a business casual guy. Your sartorial agenda relegates suits to “special occasion”. But wouldn’t you like to look fantastic for this cocktail party? I think you would! Because looking good is half the battle.

When you’re networking – trying to make friends and influence people – the job is to be seen and then heard. Standing out at a cocktail party, whether you’re trying to meet new friends or new business associates, is all about walking into the room with confidence and style, announcing your competence with a pulled-together presentation.

And if you’re new to wearing a suit, then you’re joining us at a dynamic moment, suit virgin! The last several years of men’s fashion have liberated the suit from its traditional stuffiness. Just as the 1980s’ Miami Vice “ice cream” suit once liberated the suit from its shackles, this decade has brought men’s suiting renewed freedom!

First Impressions Stick

You know how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror and like what you see. You feel good. You feel confident. There’s no question that dressing well and paying attention to your appearance makes a difference in the way you feel. When you feel confident, you radiate that quality to the people around you. And people notice.

Whether we like it or not, first impressions are “sticky”. People will form an opinion about you within 3 to 7 seconds of your first encounter. While that’s not “fair” and some will object, it’s human nature. That’s why it’s important to present yourself well, especially in business settings – even ostensibly informal ones like cocktail parties. Don’t let sticky first impressions undermine your ambitions.

Fit Comes First

No matter what you’re wearing, if it doesn’t fit well it’s not going to make the positive impression you’re after. That’s especially true if you’re wearing a suit. So, if you have a suit you like but haven’t worn for a minute, pull it from the back of the closet and put it on. Too tight? Too loose? Dated and stale? All these conditions can be addressed with the help of a proficient tailor. You can do yourself one even better with a customized suit and save yourself a trip to the tailor.

Before you shuffle that suit off to the local Goodwill, find out what’s current in men’s fashion. You may still be able to leverage your old suit with a tailor’s help. Lapels can be adjusted, fit can be improved, and pants can be updated. If the suit’s made from a quality fabric and you still like it, it’s worth the price of a tailor. A key point to remember is that suiting has evolved to be less stuffy, traditional, and constricting, so leverage that tendency by discussing updates with your tailor. But if you want to save yourself the headache, just get it customized to fit you from the start.

Color is a Dude’s Best Friend

Being shy about wearing color is a thing of the past. Men now wear everything from fuchsia to pastel pink. The highly publicized and emulated style of Harry Styles is changing the face of men’s fashion by breaking down boundaries that have limited color and styling options for men in the past.

But if a yellow suit is a bridge too far for your professional profile, there are other ways to play with color as part of your look. Add it to your rocking cocktail party suit in details like your pocket square, tie, and socks. Adding a pop of color to your look signals confidence and attention to detail. Wearing colors that break the traditional masculine mold is the mark of a man who’s secure in who he is and what he does.

A Flash of Bling

Like color, the right flash of bling is a green flag for self-esteem and social comfort. When you’re at home in your own skin, you’re in the moment. You’re getting things done. And a flash of bling sends that message in a subtle, lighthearted way.

Because you’re rocking a suit at a cocktail party, cufflinks are the ideal scintillating accessory. Your tailor can shave a little off the sleeve length of your jacket to make sure they’re seen! Because cufflinks are worn with the traditional French cuff shirt, this “New Antiquarian” choice is fashion-forward with a strong dash of “dandy”.

Tell me there’s a better conversation starter at a networking cocktail party than a well-dressed man wearing French cuffs with cufflinks. Source your cufflinks from an artistically-gifted jeweler specializing in stones. While metal cufflinks work – depending on whether your look trends traditional or Harry Styles – choose a colored stone for the edge. When you have an edge, you rock more than a suit; you rock the cocktail party.

“Oh, God! I Don’t Own a Suit!”

So, it’s time to go shopping, buddy! Treat yourself to a suit that looks good and makes you feel amazing. If you’re going to rock a suit at a cocktail party – and rock it you must – then hunt down a quality item made of superior fabric.

And if you’re buying a designer suit online, the approximate fit shouldn’t phase you much when you’ve got a great tailor. Choose an online vendor with superior customer service to ensure the best approximate fit possible.

With the proliferation of unique, online designer platforms hosting brands from all over the world, finding a suit that expresses you as the man you are is easier than ever. You can even find previously owned designer brands on these platforms. So if you don’t own a suit, don’t freak out! You have plenty of options at your fingertips.

And finally gentleman, shoes matter. Choose footwear that sticks to your theme – confident, charismatically self-aware, and bold. Walk into that cocktail party dressed and shod to rock it. Suited to thrill, you’ll be feeling like a million bucks, obtaining the digits that spell upward mobility.

Tess DiNapoli

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.

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