How to Dress Down a Cocktail Dress

How to Dress Down a Cocktail Dress

Have you ever spotted a cocktail dress hanging in your closet and wondered how you could get more wear out of it? Or if you could style it as a casual daytime look? You are in luck! Paired with the right items, a formal dress can work as the staple piece in a chic everyday outfit that isn't overly fancy. 

We are breaking down all the ways to make a cocktail dress look more relaxed and comfortable. Learn how to dress down a cocktail dress with this helpful guide.

How to Dress Down a Formal Dress With Shoes

Explore some of the ways different types of shoes can make your dress look more comfortable and easygoing:


When styling a cocktail dress to look more casual, skip the high heels and go for something more subdued. Consider wearing a stylish yet simple pair of flats to make your outfit more low-key. 

Flats are the perfect shoe option for when you want to look put together for everyday activities. They can help make a formal dress look more like you're wearing a sundress.


The right pair of sneakers can transform a cocktail dress. They are a comfortable option that make a bold statement. A simple white sneaker pairs amazingly well with a flowing or form-fitting dress. 

Sneakers also add a sporty element to your outfit and allow you to experiment with the tennis-inspired fashion trends that are huge right now. If you're looking to channel a '90s flair, adding a crew sock can elevate your entire ensemble. 


Consider adding sandals to your look if you are trying to find a way to make a dress appear less formal. Whether you prefer a bright-colored slide or something a little sleeker like a studded sandal, you can find trendy options in a diverse range of styles. 

Nothing says easygoing like a gorgeous pair of sandals that allow you to walk in total comfort. 

Small Heels

Small Heels

A high heel elevates a cocktail dress and makes a strong statement. If you opt for something a little shorter, like a kitten heel or mule, you can make your dress look more casual and nonchalant. 

A heel under 4 inches is ideal for a dressed-down look. Short heels are easier to walk in and can make your outfit look refined without going over the top. You can feel as feminine and beautiful as ever without the extra height.


Booties are another fantastic shoe option if you want to make a formal dress look less fancy. You can opt for a pair with a small heel or a flat sole. They add a cozy touch to your outfit and are an amazing choice for a fall or winter look. 

How to Wear a Dress Casually With Layers

Make your cocktail dress more leisurely and cozy by adding one of the following layers to your look:


Pairing a daytime cocktail dress with a sweater is an effective way to make your outfit look more casual. Sweaters are a great pick because they can add a cozy, leisurely element to any outfit.

You can wear a cardigan that allows you to showcase the top of your dress, or you can go with a pullover sweater that gives the effect of wearing a skirt and top.

Under Shirts

A stylish way to make a formal dress a little more suitable for everyday wear is by adding a shirt underneath. This pairing is best with a loose dress that has thinner straps. 

You can wear a long-sleeve top for a warmer look. The trick is to find a top that fits comfortably underneath the dress without bunching. A t-shirt or other short-sleeve top under a dress can make for a very fashionable and chic outfit.


Adding outerwear, such as a kimono or jacket, can also make a cocktail dress look more casual. 

A kimono's flowing fabric adds a relaxed element to your outfit that will help to dress down the look. Pairing a formal dress with a trendy "shacket" is another way to make a look feel less fancy. 

How to Dress Down a Dress With Accessories

The following accessories can make a formal dress more casual and better suited for everyday wear:


Adding a sun hat to your outfit is a great way to dress down a cocktail dress. Hats can give off an effortless, breezy vibe that is perfect for making a fancy outfit look more casual. Consider choosing a neutral color like tan or brown to create a natural and easygoing look. 


A scarf can add a cozy element to your outfit that dresses the entire look down. You can style it in endless ways. If you like taking fashion risks, you can use a scarf as a belt or headband to achieve an easygoing, boho look. 

Scarves are an excellent way to make a form-fitting dress look more casual. They add a flowing texture that creates a relaxed and comfy statement. 


If you're working with an especially flowy cocktail dress, consider belting it to create an entirely new look.

A casual belt can cinch your waist and make your outfit look perfect for everyday wear. Tying a loose or flimsy belt into a knot can add a unique and relaxed touch to your look. There are endless ways to style a belt to dress down a fancy formal dress. 

Casual Bags

Adding a bag is another excellent way to make a cocktail dress look more casual. By opting for one of the following styles, you can create an easygoing, everyday look:

  • Tote
  • Crossbody
  • Messenger

The right purse style and material can create a powerful effect. Think of the distinct contrast between a large woven tote back and a glitzy studded clutch and how these styles can create a totally different vibe. Do not overlook the power a handbag has to transform your outfit. 

Shop Cocktail Dresses From Perfectly Priscilla

Whether you're looking for pieces to make an outfit more casual or you're on the hunt for a brand-new dress, turn to Perfectly Priscilla.

We have a wide selection of trendy clothing items for every size. We believe that a stylish outfit should be empowering and that the best looks are the ones that make you feel amazing. From cozy sweaters to statement accessories and stylish shoes, we have everything you need to make your wardrobe pop. 

Are you ready to start shopping? Browse stylish cocktail dresses from Perfectly Priscilla today!

Shop Cocktail Dresses From Perfectly Priscilla

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