Have a party, a wedding, a formal or semi-formal event to attend? A cocktail dress is probably what you need. Cocktail dresses are dresses that are dressy yet not too extravagant. They are also sometimes called tea dresses or party dresses. Typically, a cocktail dress will be knee-length or mid-calf.

Owning a cocktail dress that makes you feel great is a must at any age and should be a staple in your wardrobe beyond your 50s – always be ready for those party invites. Yet finding the perfect cocktail dress for your body shape can be a little challenging because of all the choices out there.

Let’s face it, the cute and sexy cocktail dresses you wore when you were in your 30s probably don’t fit your shape or lifestyle anymore. Personally, I prefer more elegant and chic dresses now that I am in my 50s.

Let’s Talk Body Shapes

Our bodies naturally change as we get older. So, trying to fit into the clothing that we used to wear a decade or two ago may leave us frustrated and significantly reduce our self-esteem. Instead of fighting it, let’s try to embrace our changing bodies.

Knowing your body shape is essential when shopping for clothing. Just remember, no body shape is better than another. Welcome your shape and size and learn to love and dress it. The confidence you will acquire will shine through when you are strutting in your fabulous cocktail dress at your next party.

So, what is your body shape?

Fuller on the Top

Simply put, your bust and/or shoulder measurements are fuller than your hips and bottom.

Fuller on the Bottom

You are fuller at the hips and bottom and smaller on the top.

Fuller in the Middle

There is a little extra in the middle – this could be from numerous things, like Super Bowl food.

Curvy

You are a curvy woman with a full bust, a defined waist, and full hips, resulting in the ultimate hourglass figure.

Not Curvy

There is very little difference between your chest, waist, and hip measurements.

Do you have a tape measure? Especially now that online shopping has become mainstream, it’s imperative that you own a tape measure and know your exact measurements.

Styles of Cocktail Dresses

So, now that you have figured out your body shape, you can narrow down your cocktail dress options. Let’s take a look at the different types of cocktail dresses that work well for women over 50.

The A-Line Cocktail Dress

The vintage-inspired A-line cocktail dress is a style that flatters many different body types. It looks great on heavier shapes as well as thinner women who want to add some curves to their figure.

A-line cocktail dresses are flirty and can be knee-length or mid-calf. They can be strapless, halter top, strappy, and also have various sleeve lengths.

The Little Black Dress

Every woman should own a classic little black dress. It’s a staple in all wardrobes and can be a last-minute lifesaver. Black dresses are elegant and tend to ooze finesse and class.

The little black dress comes in a variety of shapes – from A-line to body fitting. Paired with the perfect shoes and accessories, a little black dress will look good on any body type.

The Lace Cocktail Dress

I love lace. It’s so romantic and feminine and can soften any figure. You will find some cocktail dresses entirely designed with lace and others who have accents of lace (like the neckline or sleeves, for example).

Lace cocktail dresses come in a variety of shapes but are oftentimes form-fitting, hugging the body, and accentuating shapely figures.

The Strapless Cocktail Dress

Strapless cocktail dresses are a little more daring, and you don’t need to shy away from them because you are over 50. They actually look great on women who are fuller on the top. Pair it with a short cover-up, like a bolero jacket or shawl.

The Cocktail Dress with Sleeves

There’s something about dresses with sleeves. Cocktail dresses with sleeves are sophisticated and can be a good option for you if you wish to cover your arms. From cap-sleeve to long sleeve, pick the one that makes you feel confident.

11 Cocktail Dresses Perfect for Older Women

I’ve selected 11 cocktail dresses for women over 50 that I think will fit a variety of shapes and sizes.

Carolina Herrera Taffeta Trench-Style Cocktail Dress

Carolina Herrera Taffeta Trench-Style Cocktail Dress

This classically tailored cocktail dress with ¾ sleeves looks great on almost all body types. Offered by Neiman Marcus, this cocktail dress will take you effortlessly to a variety of occasions.

Alex Evenings Lace Cocktail Dress with Jacket

Alex Evenings Lace Cocktail Dress with Jacket

If you love lace, this 2-piece form-fitting cocktail dress set is perfect to take you from a formal dinner event to a wedding.

Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon Leaf-Print Jacquard Cocktail Dress

Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon Leaf-Print Jacquard Cocktail Dress

I love the leaf pattern on this classic cut cocktail dress. Bold yet elegant, it’s perfect for a gallery opening or an afternoon cocktail event.

Calvin Klein Plus Size Tulip Sleeve Belted Fit + Flare Dress

Calvin Klein Plus Size Tulip Sleeve Belted Fit + Flare Dress

This tulip sleeve cocktail dress from Calvin Klein is very versatile and fits the curvier body types beautifully. And it has pockets – don’t you love pockets in dresses?

Nanette Lepore Lace Sheath Dress

This flirty and chic little black dress with an empire waist is sure to turn some heads. The scalloped lace hem detail adds the perfect touch.

Alex Evenings Sequined Lace Contrast Dress

Alex Evenings Sequined Lace Contrast Dress

The sequin top and knee-length soft flowy skirt make a perfect combo for any occasion. This cocktail dress comes in several colors – from shell pink to navy blue.

Le Chateau Knit Crêpe Off-the-Shoulder Dress

Le Chateau Knit Crêpe Off-the-Shoulder Dress

Want to be a little bolder with your little black dress? This off-the-shoulder cocktail dress has the perfect hint of sheerness in just the right places.

Norma Kamali Long-Sleeve Tara Dress

Norma Kamali Long-Sleeve Tara Dress

Flaunt your great figure in this stretch, off-the-shoulder, sexy little black cocktail dress from Bloomingdale’s. Accessorize as much or as little as you want, depending on the event you are attending.

Ignite Evenings 2-Piece Embellished Tiered Jacket Dress

Ignite Evenings 2-Piece Embellished Tiered Jacket Dress

Tiered dresses flatter many different body types. The sequin and beaded details on this set are not overpowering and offer a hint of glamour.

Monique Lhuillier Lace Short-Sleeve A-Line Midi Dress

Monique Lhuillier Lace Short-Sleeve A-Line Midi Dress

This romantic lace cocktail dress from designer Monique Lhuillier is a true classic cut and is sure to become a timeless piece in your wardrobe. Get it from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Kay Unger Lolita Swan Neck Elbow Sleeve Metallic Shantung Jacquard Party Dress

Kay Unger Lolita Swan Neck Elbow Sleeve Metallic Shantung Jacquard Party Dress

Look at the beautiful neckline detail on this dress. It’s the definition of refinement and grace. The box pleated skirt detail flatters many body types.

Invest in Timeless Pieces

I like to purchase timeless pieces when it comes to items like cocktail dresses. I prefer to have a simple dress and then pop it with accessories and fabulous shoes depending on the occasion I’m attending.

How do you evaluate your body type? Is it easy or difficult to find dresses that flatter your body? Which dress styles make you feel beautiful and confident when you wear them? Please share below and let’s discuss dress styles!

Let's Have a Conversation!