Between graduation parties, weddings, and holiday soirees, it seems like summertime is host to some of the most exciting events of the year. But what does one wear to a formal event when the RSVPs aren’t the only thing coming in hot?
Donning the wrong fabric or fit can lead to a sticky situation (literally), so it’s essential to invest in a cocktail dress that will feel as good as it looks.
If you, like us, are in the throes of event outfit planning, you’ll be pleased to know that the internet has hundreds of cute dresses approved for hot weather. And the even better news is that we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best summer cocktail dresses out there.
How We Found The Best Cocktail Dresses
It’s simple: data. Our proprietary ranking algorithm uses data such as user reviews, editorial mentions, and social buzz to find the products that are truly the best in their category. Ahead, see which cocktail dresses rose to the (formal) occasion, from satin sheaths in fun colors to bold bodycons with intricate lace overlays.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Floral Dresses.
Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
Superdown Sophie Draped Mini Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: Flattering as can be, this satin cocktail dress features a relaxed collar and V-neckline with a ruched wrap-style bodice. It’s available in five different colors, from a striking red to an electric teal, and the tie can be styled into a feminine bow or left to drape down your legs in a dramatic fashion.
DEFINING DETAILS: There’s a hidden side zipper that makes this dress easy to get on and off, and the size range is relatively inclusive with options from XXS to XL.
Lulu's Love Poem Lace Mini Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: Based on the thousands of reviews left for this style, we’re not the only ones who rely on Lulu's for affordable summer cocktail dresses. We may have a new favorite, though, because the Love Poem dress is perfectly feminine and flirty with a halter-style neckline and a crochet floral lace overlay.
DEFINING DETAILS: If you love having options, you’ll be excited to hear that this lace cocktail dress comes in 10 different colors.
Reformation Frasier Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: No doubt about it, this midi cocktail dress is super sophisticated. We’d expect nothing less from Reformation, but it’s always nice to see options that offer coverage while still being sexy. And with a crew neckline, cap sleeves, and a high leg slit, the Frasier Dress is exactly that.
DEFINING DETAILS: Another thing to love about this dress is the strategic, flattering placements of the buttons on the bodice. Plus, you can purchase this cocktail dress in black, cherry red, and green, as well as six additional patterns.
Elliatt Camo Asymmetric Satin Cocktail Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: We’re obsessed with this satin cocktail dress because of its structure. It has an almost-angular silhouette due to the asymmetrical hemline, and the halter top seems made for styling your hair up and showing off a pair of statement earrings.
DEFINING DETAILS: Thank you, Elliatt Camo, for offering us seven different colors to purchase this dress in, from lilac to lapis.
Lulu's Forever Your Girl Bodycon Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: The perfect example of a versatile cocktail dress, the Forever Your Girl style lives between simplicity and trendiness. It features a shallow V-neckline, a princess seamed bodice, and a wrap skirt that offers a figure-flaunting fit.
DEFINING DETAILS: Because it’s made from a polyester-spandex blend, you can dance all night long in this cocktail dress without experiencing any discomfort. And like other Lulu's styles, this dress is available in 10 different colors.
French Connection Whisper Ruffle Minidress
WHAT TO LOVE: French Connection made this mini dress with wedding season in mind, so if there’s a ceremony on your calendar that you’re lacking an outfit for, this style is a safe bet. That’s not to say that it’s not a stunner, though, because with ruffle sleeves and a fitted bodice, you’re sure to turn some heads as you make your way to the dance floor in this number.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Because this style runs small, Nordstrom recommends ordering a size up from your usual.
Elliatt Cassini One-Shoulder Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: Have you ever wanted to wear a dress reminiscent of something a goddess would don? If your answer is yes, then this shiny, one-shoulder number from Elliatt Cassini is for you.
DEFINING DETAILS: This satin midi cocktail dress has ruching all along the bodice that offers a slimming effect, as well as a tulip-style leg slit for showing just enough skin. It’s available in five different colors, including a steely blue and a champagne gold.
Show Me Your Mumu Jasmine Halter Mini Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: Show Me Your Mumu took their best-selling maxi dress style and converted it into a mini dress for the summer. That’s the origin story of the Jasmine Halter cocktail dress, and you’ll understand why the original is so popular after one glimpse at the unique criss-cross halter top of this style.
DEFINING DETAILS: Sexy and simple, this satin mini cocktail dress is designed to drape along your body effortlessly. You can snag it in black, silver, and white, as well as a vibrant coral and an energetic lime color.
Made In Usa
ASTR The Label Gaia Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: Revolve is a leading name in the realm of dress couturiers, so when one of their styles is listed as a best-seller, you know it’s legit. The Gaia Dress is equal parts cocktail gown and party dress, and we have a feeling that its popularity is due to the fact that it perfectly toes that line.
DEFINING DETAILS: A draped neckline, leg slit, and strappy back infuse effortless sexiness into this satin cocktail dress. In addition to the ultra-feminine Icy Pink version, you can purchase this dress in Sage, Champagne, and Denim.
Merokeety Lace Crew Neck Cocktail Dress
WHAT TO LOVE: When the #1 style on one of our lists also happens to be the most affordable option in the lineup, all feels right in the world. To further elevate those warm feelings, we’ll go ahead and let you know that this lace cocktail dress also has over 10,000 5-star reviews.
DEFINING DETAILS: So, what’s all the hype about? Truth is, this dress has it all: a sexy lace overlay, a sheath-style slip, a figure-hugging silhouette, and 15 different colors to choose from.