Historically the length of a cocktail dress was long, often touching the ankle. When it is about 5 cm (2 inches) above the ankle it is called tea length and when it is almost touching the ankle it is called ballerina length, although ballerina length dresses usually fall into the evening gown category.
The modern definition of a cocktail dress is commonly taken to mean a shorter dress above the knee. It must be smart, such as the little black dress, and may have sequins or lace as a feature.
At semi-formal occasions, a less elaborate, shorter-length cocktail dress may be worn. Prior to the mid 20th century this type of dress was known as 'late afternoon'. When gentlemen are in business suits, ladies also wear dress suits or "good" afternoon skirt and dresses.
In the mid-20th century, some couturiers began describing full-skirted cocktail gowns as "dancing costumes". These are suitable for formal dances but not for balls, or other white tie affairs, where ball gowns are worn.
Christian Dior was the first to use the term "cocktail dress" to refer to early evening wear, in the late 1940s.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cocktail dress.|
- da Cruz, Elyssa (2000). "Dressing for the Cocktail Hour". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
- May, Stephen (2011-05-10). "Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion, 1920–1980". Antiques and the Arts Online. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- The Fashion Culte Magazine (2014-11-28). "The Myth of the Little Black Dress". Jane Curtain. Retrieved 2014-12-17.