Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Part of being invited to a wedding means you have to find the perfect dress for the occasion. For women looking for a petite cocktail dress, this is often easier said than done. Petite dresses aren't always easy to come by and the in-store selection usually isn't that great. But the right dress is worth the search for a great, comfortable fit that doesn't require alterations.
When the wedding you're going to call requires semi-formal attire, a cocktail dress is a good go-to option. Cocktail dresses are defined as a dress that typically falls right above or below the knee, so it's usually on the shorter side. For petite people, finding this length can be difficult because a regular length can sometimes run too long and ends up needing to be hemmed. It's nice to be able to find a cocktail dress that fits just right without spending extra money on alterations.
We've searched the internet for the best petite cocktail dresses, some of which are versatile enough to be worn to a variety of different weddings, and some of which feel more trendy and modern. Here are our favorites.
Best Maxi: Adrianna Papell Petite Floral High Neck Halter
Cocktail dresses are typically on the shorter side, but that doesn't mean there's a strict rule against maxi dresses. Something floral like this one from Adrianna Papell is a nice balance between dressed up and casual. It can be tough to find petite maxi dresses, but this is a great option if you don't want to get yours hemmed.
Best Long Sleeve: River Island Petite Floral Ruched Mini Dress
It's not always easy to find shorter dresses with long sleeves, especially if you want one that doesn't scream "winter wedding." This River Island option is perfect. The sleeves are sheer so they aren't too heavy, and the pattern could be worn year-round.
For a Spring Wedding: Not So Serious by Pallavi Mohan Lace Wrap Mini Dress
Picking out the right dress for a wedding during transitional seasons can sometimes feel hard. This one is a good balance: long sleeves are great for the chill left in the air for spring, and the shorter length keeps it from looking too much like winter attire. Plus, the bright pink hue is perfect for spring days.
Most Versatile: Nic & Zoe Floral Ponte Dress
You can never go wrong with a little black dress, and this embossed floral dress from Nic & Zoe is a nice spin on the classic. The shape, style, and pattern make this one work for basically any formal event, any time of the year, and it will quickly become a go-to.
Most Versatile White House Black Market Petite Cap-Sleeve Asymmetrical Neck Sheath Dress
A dress that can effortlessly go from work to a wedding is one you want to have in your closet. This sheath dress comes in a beautiful shade of deep green. And with the right shoes and accessories, it can be dressed up for a wedding.
Most Casual: Reformation Petites Rosehip Dress
If you're going to a wedding with a slightly more casual feel and you don't want to pick something too fancy, opt for this simple Reformation dress. It can easily be more dressed up with the right shoes and jewelry, but you can also leave it as is, making it more versatile.
Best Lace: Maeve Embroidered Lace Mini Dress
Between the purple shade and the lace design, this dress feels very romantic and feminine. According to Anthropologie, the word "Maeve" references a purple flower, a Greek goddess, and a famously beautiful Irish warrior queen, which is a nice way to think about the inspiration behind this beautiful design.
Do cocktail dresses have to be short?
Traditionally, a cocktail dress is a shorter dress, something that hits at or just above the knee. This is because the shorter length makes them appear more casual and less formal. However, there are no strict rules: in some cases, a midi or maxi dress can be appropriate as cocktail attire as well.
Can cocktail dresses be casual?
Should you avoid white cocktail dresses at a wedding?
Generally speaking, the one fashion rule most people seem to continue to follow at a wedding is to avoid wearing white unless you're the bride. Even if your cocktail dress is casual, your best bet is to opt for any other color aside from white.