January 3rd, 2018
Evening Wear Dilemma

Cocktail Outfit Query

A longtime kic reader emailed me asking for advice on what to wear to a cocktail party in St. Moritz later this month. I suggested a Vilshenko mid length dress or a tuxedo with great accessories, then jokingly said that I’d be like designer Josephine Dahlin in black, above, next to Giovanna Battaglia Englebert in sequins.

Evening wear is not my forte, so I thought I’d put it out there to all of you to weigh in with some suggestions.

Image @bat_gio


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Parker leather sandals


Merino wool sweater


Jenna cropped cotton-blend slim-leg trousers


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Cel-V two-strap neoprene sandals

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  • A crepe or velvet dress from La Double J would be great.

    KathyJanuary 3rd, 2018  10:34 AM

  • Although my regular wardrobe is a sea of black and other neutrals, for a cocktail dress, I like to mix it up with some color. I have a favorite silhouette which I stick to, and then keep an open mind as to color(s).

    SusanJanuary 3rd, 2018  11:17 AM

  • I prefer black, worn with a favorite necklace (gold works best with my coloring). Occasionally I’ll try something more colorful, sparkly or otherwise non-neutral and without fail, I find myself feeling a bit clownish and envying the women who went for understated elegance. I can appreciate more standout looks on others – they simply aren’t right for me.

    AliJanuary 3rd, 2018  11:42 AM

  • I have owned a Ralph Lauren Purple Label black lace pencil skirt for years. It is my default cocktail piece. I have paired it with white blouses, black cashmere sweaters, blazers, jackets, other tops, etc. It hits at the most flattering point of my knee. It has solved many a (this is my daughters’ term) “code black” situation. I’ve even worn it with a tee shirt and denim jacket while traveling. I dread the day it begins to wear out.

    BarbaraJanuary 3rd, 2018  11:46 AM

  • I’m eyeing that strapless Toteme dress you posted a week ago to wear with some fabulous jewelry.

    YNYJanuary 3rd, 2018  12:46 PM

  • For winter events like this, I find myself opting for a fitted knee length black sequin three quarter length sleeve dress with classic Manolo evening pumps. It always works because if people are more dressed up, the sequins provide enough bling and if they are a little less dressed up, it’s black and not too flashy.

    LizJanuary 3rd, 2018  1:10 PM

  • I must say, I am with you, Preston, and I am very envious of the woman in the black dress. I have searched high and low for a dress like that and I cannot find one anywhere. Any suggestions who makes it or one like it?

    heleneJanuary 3rd, 2018  2:33 PM

  • A black lace pencil skirt sounds divine! I have a black lace t-neck style top which is worn with a satin cami underneath, and it’s beautiful with both long and short skirts and even a dress pant. I once parted with some dress pieces, and I live to regret it. I love cocktail dresses, but really prefer purchasing evening separates which are wonderful because you can wear them in many different ways – from late-day to black tie. I have a beautiful short Asprey tulle skirt with a grosgrain ribbon waistline, which I purchased when they discontinued their ready-to-wear. I’ve worn it with anything from a white tee to the lace top and a black single-ply cashmere t-neck. My evening wardrobe consists mainly of black and white – when you add your favorite jewelry and a pretty shoe, it’s impossible to go wrong.

    My question is, how do you safely transport evening wear to the party so it isn’t crushed or, worse, lost in transport!?

    PaulaJanuary 3rd, 2018  2:41 PM

  • This can be quite the dilemma, especially if you haven’t multiple uses for a cocktail dress/attire throughout the year – you don’t want to invest in something with limited mileage. For LBD, I’d suggest looking at Cushnie and Ochs for high-impact dresses, Lela Rose for classic, and The Line/The Apt for a more modern take on cocktail attire. Hope that helps!

    LisaJanuary 3rd, 2018  3:01 PM

  • Change of heart – everything about the dress Liz describes (sequins, length & sleeve) sounds perfect to me, and it would be easier to pack. I love Blahnik pumps for evening as well.

    PaulaJanuary 3rd, 2018  3:17 PM

  • I happen to know that the woman in black is Josephine Dahlin. Her beautiful silk dress is from her own brand Deitas.

    LisaJanuary 3rd, 2018  4:16 PM

  • I’m with Barbara and Paula – evening separates are the way to go in the long run. I have a By Malene Birger black, solid-sequin pencil skirt that goes with everything. I’ve even seen it worn with a denim shirt for daytime. A dress can feel more “special” but the versatility of separates can’t be beat. Preston, I also want to chime in with the others with thanks for the daily inspiration through 2017. Happy new year, everyone!

    Lisa MacJanuary 3rd, 2018  5:21 PM

  • Ages ago you posted a long black silk Nili Lotan dress that I’m kicking myself for not buying. I have an event this weekend that it would be perfect for. I might have to check some resale sights to see if I can find it….

    CatherineJanuary 3rd, 2018  5:21 PM

  • I wanted to add after reading all the great comments, that I also usually go for black for evening, but I thought that perhaps this woman was asking because the cocktail party is in winter resort and that she might have wanted something less “city” for the cocktail party? I’m curious if she’s reading the comments and what she thinks?

    KathyJanuary 3rd, 2018  7:05 PM

  • Oh, I say go for the paillette, velvet, and silk, somethings sumptuous. A cocktail party in St. Moritz in January sounds glamorous.

    KWJanuary 4th, 2018  3:02 AM

  • It’s me! I’m the lucky gal to have access to the entire KIC braintrust for this one event. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and to Preston for posting and bringing us all together. I agree with the black sentiment. It often feels to me that if I’m not at the absolute core of an event I am happiest in black. I ordered the vilshenko dress, i like the idea embroidery over sparkle. I have also always wanted an awesome tuxedo, and perhaps this is my moment for acquisition? Has anyone tried any recently? I am glad though a little surprised to see the beautiful women in the picture rocking open toes in frigid temps and will likely follow their lead even though my instinct had been more toward a pump initially. Thanks again.

    AnneJanuary 4th, 2018  10:39 AM

  • My go-to is my fitted, black Balmain jacket with satin lapels/flap pockets. Always chic and appropriate with blk satin slacks or slim long skirt. A successful investment.

    GigiJanuary 4th, 2018  11:36 AM

  • I prefer chic to shouty and the black dress is gorgeous. But then for something really fancy, I’d go for the gold sequins…

    That's Not My AgeJanuary 4th, 2018  5:18 PM

  • I like a black wool Alaia dress — long sleeved or sleeveless. Can accessorize with a gorgeous belt or not. For certain figure types, it always looks good and packs easily too (and is timeless).

    Blakely GriggsJanuary 5th, 2018  10:50 PM

  • When I travel I believe in black , tailored and tons of pearls . Saint Laurent has a black tuxedo jacket that fits perfectly , I wear it with a Row satin camisole and all my pearls then Row black lace pants I have had for ever . Or an Alaïa long black silk skirt . I aged into those designer purchases but believe one could also a similar look in much more accessible price range . . . wearing just a great bold yellow gold hoop that you will have forever !

    BrookeJanuary 6th, 2018  10:15 AM


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