21 Beautiful Petite Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

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wedding guests

Photo by Samm Blake

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.

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Best Slit Skirt: Reformation Petites Kourtney Dress

yellow floral dress

Courtesy of Reformation

With a fitted bodice, wrap skirt, high slit, and skinny spaghetti strap sleeves, this is the perfect dress for a spring or summer wedding. It comes in a few different color and pattern options, and the below-the-knee fit is beautiful.

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Best Off-The-Shoulder: Vince Camuto Popover Cocktail Dress

black off the shoulder dress

Courtesy of Vince Camuto

Available in petite sizes, this popover dress makes for the perfect go-to little black dress. We love the off-the-shoulder look for something that feels elegant and sophisticated without being overdone.

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Best Floral: Ann Taylor Petite Batik Floral Square Neck Midi Dress

floral colorful dress

Courtesy of Ann Taylor

This is technically a midi dress, but can still easily pass as cocktail dress attire. The bright colors and interesting floral pattern really make this one stand out.

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Best LBD: White House Black Market Petite Floral Jacquard Sheath Dress

black dress

Courtesy of White House Black Market

The fitted sheath style and subtle floral jacquard of this dress make it a perfect LBD (little black dress). If you buy this for one wedding, you're basically guaranteed to wear it to several other events as well.

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For a Casual Beach Wedding: Anthropologie Palm Frond Shift Mini Dress

palm dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Heading to a more casual outdoor wedding, perhaps on a beach? A colorful palm frond dress like this one is a perfect fit. We love the slightly vintage vibe, too.

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For an Effortlessly Stylish Look: Reformation Petites Gavin Dress

green cap sleeve

Courtesy of Reformation

If you want to look chic but don't want to look like you're trying too hard, opt for this beautiful Reformation dress. Simple but still stunning, it comes in a few different colors and patterns and has a lovely fit.

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Sweetest Pattern: Anthropologie Sweetheart Midi Dress

midi dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Solid colored dresses might be a little easier to wear, but patterns are still always a win. Tiny brightly colored flowers cover this dress, making it both adorable and chic all at once.

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Best Maxi: Adrianna Papell Petite Floral High Neck Halter

blue floral halter maxi dress

Courtesy of Adrianna Papell

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.

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Best Long Sleeve: River Island Petite Floral Ruched Mini Dress

long sleeved dress

Courtesy of ASOS

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.

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Most Romantic: Reformation Petites Nikita Dress

blue and white floral

Courtesy of Reformation

This beautiful blue and white midi dress features a unique trumpet skirt, a ruffled neckline, and adjustable tie sleeves. The floral design makes it look extra romantic.

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Best Bow Detail: Hutch Bow-Front Slip Midi Dress

red bow front dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie

When you can't decide between a maxi and a shorter dress, opt for a midi. This red slip dress is perfectly simple, and we love the minimalist bow detail on the front—it really adds something without being too cutesy.

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For Some Added Shimmer: Jessica Howard Petite Sparkle-Knit Sheath Dress

gold shimmery dress

Courtesy of Macy's

If you have a winter wedding approaching, this shimmering gold sheath dress is made for the occasion. With long sleeves and an extremely flattering wrap shape, this one will stand out without being too much of a statement.

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For a Spring Wedding: Not So Serious by Pallavi Mohan Lace Wrap Mini Dress

bright pink dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie

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.

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Most Versatile: Nic & Zoe Floral Ponte Dress

blue dress

Courtesy of Nic & Zoe

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.

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Most Fun: Karen Miller Petite Feather Bardot Mini Dress

feather blue dress

Courtesy of Karen Miller

Want to wear something that feels fun without being over-the-top? This Karen Miller dress is a great choice. We love the bright blue shade, and the feathered top makes this one more unique. It's a bold choice that won't overshadow the bride.

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Most Classic: Madewell Petite Ruffle-Sleeve Wrap Mini Dress

red mini dress

Courtesy of Madewell

What could be more classic than a wrap dress for a wedding? This Madewell dress in ripe persimmon is gorgeous and simple in the best way. We love the ruffle sleeve detail for a little extra femininity.

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Most Versatile White House Black Market Petite Cap-Sleeve Asymmetrical Neck Sheath Dress

green sheath dress

Courtesy of White House Black Market

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.

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Best Sleeves: R&M Richards Petite Illusion Bell Sleeve Dress

black long sleeve dress

Courtesy of Macy's

Statement sleeves, like these bell sleeves that feature an illusion panel, always make a dress more interesting. This one comes in a few different color options and is a nice way to play around with style while staying classic.

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Most Casual: Reformation Petites Rosehip Dress

blue midi

Courtesy of Reformation

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.

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For a Vintage-Inspired Look: R&M Richards Petite Beaded Mesh Godet-Hem Dress

beaded pink dress

Courtesy of Kohl's

The beaded design and overall silhouette of this dress make it look slightly vintage, like it was Gatsby-inspired. This is a beautiful and different option that would look lovely in a '20s inspired venue.

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Best Lace: Maeve Embroidered Lace Mini Dress

purple lace dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie

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?

    With the right accessories, a more casual dress can easily be worn as cocktail party and wedding attire. These more casual dresses are usually also more versatile.

  • 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.

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