Cocktail Dresses For Women Over 50 + The Best Style for Your Body Type

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell

Cocktail dresses for women over 50? Oh, I’m here for it! When we got invited to a fancy-schmancy party, I started shopping immediately!

And then I went a little crazy.

And I bought TWELVE dresses.

Yep. It’s true! I’ve wanted to do a post on cocktail dresses for women over 50 for some time now. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it authentically until we got invited to a really special event ourselves! Today I’m sharing how to select the best dress for your next event. I’m also asking you to help me decide which dress I should wear to mine!

Last week I shared my twelve dresses with my Instagram followers in the same order as I’m sharing them here. Over two days, I posted mirror selfie videos of me wearing and talking about each dress. After each selfie video, I posted the still picture of me in the dresses that you’re seeing in this post! They aren’t the best quality and my legs clearly need self-tanner! Hahaha! Then I asked people to vote.

We also posted a fun Reel to Instagram where you can see all of the dresses in about 45 seconds! You can watch it HERE.

I’ll put my Instagram follower’s votes together with your votes, and that will determine the dress I wear to my event!

How to Select the Right Cocktail Dress

When it comes to figuring out the best cocktail dress for you, there are several things to consider.

Which Cocktail Dress Style is Best for Your Body?

Start by identifying your body shape, and go from there. God made every body beautiful!

graphic of women's body types


Pear-shaped bodies are fuller at the hips and bottom and smaller on top. One-shoulder or strapless dresses will draw the eye up and enhance your upper body. Full or A-line skirts help hide wider hips.

Inverted Triangle

Inverted triangle bodies are fuller in the bust. Halter neck, V-neck, or scoop necklines will create a slimming effect by drawing the eye downward. Look for A-lines, full skirts, and details at the hemline (even if it’s just a sheer panel) to help balance out the bottom half.


Weight is carried around the middle, without a well-defined waist. Babydoll dresses and dresses with an empire waist, or neck detailing draw the eye up, taking attention away from the middle and allowing for a looser fit. A-line styles and full skirts can create an hourglass illusion.


(Also called “Athletic” or “Straight”) Little definition between bust, waist, and hip measurements. Fitted sheath dresses, baby dolls, and A-line styles will accentuate the curves you do have and create the illusion of more. Look for dresses with embellishment, gathering, or ruching. This is my body type!


Curvy with a full bust, defined waist, and full hips. Dresses with fitted waists enhance this classically feminine shape.

Consider Your Event

  • Who is hosting?
  • What time does it start?
  • Where is it being held?
  • Who will be there?
  • What’s on the agenda? Dinner? Dancing?

Identify the Type of Dress You Feel Most Comfortable Wearing

  • Is color a consideration? Are you trying to coordinate with the bride? Your husband?
  • LBD? Would white be appropriate, or not?
  • Long Sleeve? Short Sleeve? Sleeveless?
  • Long? Short? Mini? Midi?

Our Event

Our event is a 50th wedding anniversary party for a well-known public figure and his wife, who also happen to be personal friends. It is being held at a lovely downtown Dallas hotel in the ballroom. The invitation said “Cocktail or Festive Attire.” It starts at 6:30, so I assume we are eating. It will be a conservative crowd, so it’s not the place to be too daring with my look!

Cocktail Dresses For Women Over 50

collage of woman over 50 standing by back door wearing 6 different cocktail dresses

1. Mac Duggal Sequin Mesh Sheath Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing mac duggal Sequin Mesh Sheath Dress

This midi-length sheath dress comes in multiple colors! It’s especially flattering because the vertical sequins create an optical illusion that elongates your frame. The waistband has zigzag beading darts to give the effect of a belt.

I almost chose it in Deep Emerald (a very hot color for fall), but I finally selected the dress in “Saffron” because I thought the color felt autumnal, it was flattering on my skin tone, and the emeral dress felt a little dark for an August party. This dress fits me perfectly!

2. Mac Duggal One-Shoulder Metallic Brocade Midi Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Mac Duggal One-Shoulder Metallic Brocade Midi Cocktail Dress

This gold brocade one-shoulder midi dress is a show stopper! The fabric has gilded scrollwork, and the dress even has pockets!

This dress ran a little large in the bust. I ordered it in my size, but it will need a little altering.

3. WHBM Bow-Neck Tiered Shift Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing WHBM Bow-Neck Tiered Shift Dress

This tiered shift dress has a halter neckline with bow detailing. It’s loose and easy to move in. (No Spanx needed!) It has great movement and would be fun on the dance floor!

This dress fits me well, but I’m not sure it does anything for my figure. What do you think?

4. Adrianna Papell Women’s Dot Mikado Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Adrianna Papell Women's Dot Mikado Dress from Amazon

This polka dot off-the-shoulder dress has loads of personality! It has a high-low hem and it was really fun to wear! The A-line fit & flare styling compliments every woman, and I thought the full skirt was absolutely adorable!

This dress fit me well and was comfortable. I’m worried it looks too young, though! Thoughts?

5. Sam Edelman Sleeveless Pleated Midi Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Sam Edelman Sleeveless Pleated Midi Dress

This feminine chiffon midi dress has the prettiest pleated skirt and an oh-so-flattering cutaway shoulder neckline! It has great movement and feels really elegant. The color pops!

I love this dress, but I’m not sure if it’s “cocktail-y” enough. What do you think? Maybe it’s more of a bridal shower or wedding guest dress?

6. Sam Edelman Bow Back Lace Sheath Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing sam edelman Bow Back Lace Sheath Dress

This stretchy sheath floral lace dress is fully lined and has a pretty corded floral lace overlay. It has a sweet bow closure at the top of the cutout on the top of the back. (Click HERE to see that.) It’s 40% off right now but only available in a few sizes!

This dress fit well, but when I walked it rode up on my hips, so I kept tugging it down at the bottom. Also, I think the color might be too close to my skin tone.

Did you find a favorite in the first six dresses? If not, don’t worry, I’ve got six more dresses coming up next!

More Cocktail Dresses For Women Over 50

collage of woman over 50 standing by back door wearing 6 different cocktail dresses

7. WHBM One-Shoulder Ruffled Midi Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing WHBM One-Shoulder Ruffled Midi Dress

If you’re looking for a white dress, then know that this one-shoulder asymmetrical hem dress is a stunner! It’s a stretchy sheath style, so be prepared with the Spanx!. The neckline is topped with a darling ruffle, along with the asymmetrically cascading hem. I found several beautiful white dresses, so if you’re looking to make a statement, look no further! BTW, this dress is a dupe of THIS Vince Camuto dress.

This dress hugs me in all of the right places! It fits well but will need a tiny bit of altering in the bust. (The story of my life!) The only thing I’m not sure about is if white will take too much attention away from the honorees. What do you think?

8. Grace Karin Vintage-Look Sleeveless V-Neck Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing GRACE KARIN Women's 50s 60s Vintage Sleeveless V-Neck Cocktail Swing Dress from Amazon

This cute v-neck sleeveless A-line dress fits well and is under $40! 😲 It comes in…wait for it…32 color options! It’s lined, has stretch, and would be fun for the right event. It fits me well! I ultimately decided it wasn’t cocktail-y enough for my event, but I still may keep it because it’s a great style.

9. Adrianna Papell One-Shoulder Floral A-Line Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Adrianna Papell One-Shoulder Floral A-Line Dress

The combination of the elegant floral with the one-shoulder neckline makes this A-line dress so feminine and special. It’s fitted over the chest and waist, and it has pleats in place of gathers at the waistline. (Pleats will always lay better and provide a slimmer silhouette.)

Unfortunately, I had to order this dress one size larger than my normal size, and it’s definitely too big in the bust. I could have it taken in if it’s the winner!

10. Adrianna Papell Women’s Jacquard Midi Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Adrianna Papell Women's Jacquard Midi Dress from Amazon

This one-shoulder pink floral jacquard fit & flare dress has an asymmetrical neckline with a spaghetti strap on the bare shoulder for comfort. (Translation: No tugging necessary!) The asymmetrical ruffle in the front lays flat and adds interest.

I also had to order this one size too large, but could easily have it altered. I love the color!

11. Ieena for Mac Duggal One-Shoulder Fit-&-Flare Shimmer Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Ieena for Mac Duggal One-Shoulder Asymmetrical Fit-&-Flare Shimmer Dress

This one-shoulder fit & flare dress has the WOW factor, for sure! The shimmery metallic skirt has body so that it stands out from the dress. As you can see, the left sleeve is long, and the hem hits above the knee. I would wear this dress with black pumps rather than the nude pumps I wore to keep these photos as uniform as possible.

This dress is my size but needs to be taken in a tiny bit up top. This was Bob’s favorite!

12. Adrianna Papell Jacquard A-Line Midi Dress

woman over 50 standing by back door wearing Adrianna Papell Jacquard A-Line Midi Dress

This A-line midi floral dress has an on-trend square neckline, and I love all of the shades of blue in the flowers. (Blue is such a big color for fall!) The jacquard fabric is textured, with the floral pattern woven into it, rather than printed, dyed, or embroidered on top. It is stunning up close!

I had to order this dress one size too large, which you can probably tell from the photo! It can easily be altered!

Okay, now that you’ve seen all of the dresses, do you have a favorite? My Instagram followers had lots of thoughts! I’m going to take their votes and add them to your votes, and the dress with the most votes will be the dress I wear! Several of the dresses need to be taken up top to accommodate my barely-there chest but I’ve already spoken to my tailor and he has promised that he could make any of the alterations in time for my party. (After all, he’s used to making that exact alteration on lots of my clothes! Hahaha!)

Please vote for your favorite in the comments at the end of this post. I’ll announce the winning dress in my subscriber-exclusive weekend post and share as many photos as I can take (without being obnoxious!) at the party.

If you’re not an Empty Nest Blessed subscriber, you’ll miss my weekend post, and that makes me so sad! My weekend posts are when I open up and share what’s going on in my life, what’s on my radar, and cool scoop like ENB best-sellers, exclusive discount codes just for my followers, and details on all of the best weekend sales. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up HERE.

Below is a curated boutique of all of the dresses I considered. Some of them were not available in my size or I didn’t feel like they were a flattering style for me. Some of them seemed like they would be better for a wedding, a shower, or a luncheon than for my evening event. That said, they may be right for your event, so I wanted to be sure I included them!

Click on any image for more information.

Suzy Mighell

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  1. I love both dresses 1 and 2. 1 is classic and beautiful. I love the length of 2 — yes, it’s a showstopper but the length is classy. Not crazy for 11. The length and high contrast don’t appeal to me. I feel it may cut you in two and may make you look too short. BUT choose what you love and can dance in!

    1. Laura,

      Great comments! At 5’5″ no one has ever been worried about me looking too short, so I hadn’t thought of that! Thank you so much!


    1. I agree with Bob and vote for #11
      It looks great on you, it’s stunning and very flattering. I love the style and the full skirt is so cute. Thanks for sharing all those choices. Hope you enjoy the evening.

  2. You are beautiful in all of them! I love number 6! The most on you! I think the color actually compliments your skin! I love number one as my second choice! But I think the length on number 6 is best on you! Have fun and thank you for all you do! 😇

    1. Stephanie,

      Don’t tell anyone 😂, but I think those are my two favorites as well. Unfortunately, I’m not choosing – y’all are! I’ll put you down for one vote for each of those!


  3. #1 receives my vote! Perfect color, style, and right amount of sparkle for an August event. I love the gold skirt and black one shoulder also. But do you want to wear a dress that looks like you may wear to a holiday party? Don’t get that many opportunities to wear a show stopper dress. I say enjoy it!

  4. #1, #5, #8 are my 3 top picks, in that order. But I agree with others in that you look lovely in everything! 🙂

  5. You didn’t ask for commentary, haha, but here I go anyway! First, the exclusions – 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12 appear too afternoon-ish to me either because of the color, fabric, or sleeve cut; not a fan of all-white or all-black for a wedding or wedding anniversary event, so 3 and 7 are out for me even though they look great; the riding up of 6 makes it a hard no; 11 is fabulous on you – I see why it’s Bob’s pick – but the long black sleeve puts it a little out of season (pleeease get it, but for the holidays or a marvelous date night 😇); which leaves 1, 2, and 4. 1 is beautiful and yes, fits you very nicely. Will the sequins and fit handle being seated for dinner? Because the neckline is more casual, I think it needs some great vertical drop earrings (a rectangle to echo the sequins), and dressier shoes if it ends up being your pick. The gold of 2 is wonderful with your skin, very flattering, and a potentially fun nod to the golden anniversary event. Number 4 remains my top choice in a great field, though – the festive dot pattern trumps any concerns about black and white, it fits and flatters you beautifully with no alterations needed, and works well for evening and the event. I don’t think it’s too young at all – the irregular dot pattern takes it out of that realm. You’re going to look fabulous in whatever you wear and Bob will receive his share of envious looks because of it – have fun!

    1. Susan,

      Wow! I feel like I’ve had a session with a personal stylist! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. They were fantastic! I’m so grateful!


  6. Such beautiful choices & you look lovely in all of them!
    My vote is for #2. Have a great time no matter which one is picked!!

  7. Oh goodness…you did a great job (as always) picking some beautiful dresses! #4, #2 & #1, are the tops for me. #2 is so pretty and such a classic style! #4 seems to take itself less serious (which I’m a fan of). #1 is somewhat understated…all are lovely and look great on you!!

  8. Well I do like #1 but with no stretch you will be uncomfortable at times.
    Sequins and beads are difficult to sit in. (My background is in theater and costumes)
    Keep it simple and accessorize.
    I would love to see a giant single flower on that dress somewhere.
    Fab earrings and gold shoes to represent the 50th.
    Remember to let the anniversary couple stand out and shine at this party you don’t wanna look like a movie star at their celebration.😊

    1. Susan,

      Thank you for your insightful words! I couldn’t look like a movie star if I tried! (But I can’t wait to tell Bob you said that!) HAhaha! I appreciate you so much!


  9. You look amazing in #1! The bell of the ball😍
    Agree, #11 looks too much like a holiday dress for August.

    1. Helena,

      Great insight! Thank you! If I had an invitation to a fabulous holiday party, I might snag it for that! We never get invited anywhere, so that’s unlikely! Hahaha!


    1. Vicky,

      Thank you! You might need #5 in your closet! It’s a classic and would work for so many occasions. I may snag it whether it wins or not.


    2. Keep #11 too and host a simple wine and charcuterie holiday cocktail party with a themed photo booth for your guests , and room for dancing to big band retro favorites (how fun), or, have Bob take you to an exquisite dinner and holiday play or concert afterwards. Agree with him, #11 is a stunner on you as well. Keep that one too!

      1. Helena,

        Wow, that’s ambitious! I love the way you painted a picture for me to step right into! You sound like a great hostess. Thanks so much for sharing your favorite!


  10. When you said where the event is being held, and what the event is I knew my vote … #11!

  11. This is a tough decision because you look fabulous in all of the dresses but I vote for #11 for the win!

  12. I agree with Bob #11. Perfect for a cocktail party and yet fun too. You could also off #4. The Polka Dots are a classic!

  13. Theresa,

    Thank you! I love them both but am not sure #5 is dressy enough for my event. I still may keep it, because it’s a great dress for so many other occasions!


  14. I vote for #5 all the way. The dress looks lovely on you. The color and flowy fabric are perfect since it is still summertime. You may need a little something over shoulders if the A/C is high. It’s modest enough for the conservative crowd, but a little flirty, too.
    As for #11 – No way! (Sorry Bob). Save that one for New Years Eve.

    1. Tracie,

      Thanks so much for your good input! Bob will be fine! Men don’t think about the occasion as much as we probably do. He just liked the dress on me! Hahaha!


  15. Number 1, number 2 and yes number 11 (spousal approval is very important). Number 1 seems the best fit for the event you have described in this post. The color is yummy with your skin and hair tones and the style is very flattering and elegant. It will not detract from anyone else but it will make YOU glow! Get Bob to coordinate with his tie choice.

    1. Mary Beth,

      You are so good! I actually hadn’t thought about having Bob coordinate! What a great idea and he will be fine with it! (SUCH a good guy!) Thanks for you input! Loved it!


  16. So hard to decide! You look beautiful in all of them. The winner for me is #2. I loved it on you!! So complimentary to your skin tone and fits the occasion beautifully. Some other favorites #1 just not as elegant to me as #2. I also loved the polka dot dress and Bob’s favorite would be a great holiday dress!

    1. Holly,

      I know exactly what you mean! I thought the 2nd dress would be a great tribute for a Golden Anniversary! It’s so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I loved them!


  17. You have lots of different opinions going on! I really like number 2&5 on you. I think you have the right personality to pull off number 2.

  18. I have a lot to say, Suzy Q!

    #1 My fave! The longer length, beadwork, and color are appropriate for the evening and the season. It already fits you perfectly. Creates long lines and a very slimming look. Not everyone can pull that off, but you can. I’m often inclined to wear a more solid color for a more formal event. The beadwork here provides texture and interest to a unique solid color.
    #2 A fun nod to the Golden Anniversary!
    #3 Keep this for a myriad of other occasions.
    #4 I know it already fits you perfectly, and it looks great, but “no” to polka dots for the evening. Save it for a fun daytime event.
    #5 Not unique enough.
    #6 This style is common. While it does flatter your figure, you say that it rides up when you walk. There’s your answer: no.
    #7 My other absolute fave! While this longer length and style is perfect for this event, this would be the most KILLER dress next to a tuxedo’d Bob. Buy it and find an event to showcase yourselves!
    #8 Not special enough.
    #9 My least fave. Washes you out. Gotta be careful of peachy colors against lighter skin tones.
    #10 Too garden partyish for an evening event. Not crazy about that shoulder strap. Looks kinda 8th Grade Cotillion.
    #11 Bob may win here, but this looks like New Year’s Rockin’ Eve! The black long sleeve looks HOT (and I mean sweltering Texas August hot). If you are being photographed from the waist up, you’ll only see black. I agree with another commenter who said that it cuts you in half. Would some sort of simple, sparkly belt be possible? Ask Bob.
    #12 Again, too many garden party, luncheon, and daytime wedding guest vibes.

    To sum it up, you could wear a potato sack and look fabulous (with the right accessories). You seem to be drawn to the one-shoulder look, which does look great on you.

    The bottom line is that your beautiful smile and infectious charm are your most striking ensemble! Truthfully, go with your gut. Which one have you kept on the longest, posed in the mirror more for, and didn’t want to take off? That’s your dress. Enjoy celebrating with and honoring your friends! As you know, I love ya!

  19. Becky,

    You are a jewel! Trust my sorority sister to spend probably WAYYYY too long investing in answering me! You are the sweetest. As usual, you are right on target with every single thing you said! Thank you so much!

    Come back tomorrow for my post to see which one I picked, and to see the shoes and bag I’ll be carrying!

    Love and miss you, girlie! 🪁

  20. Hi Suzy,

    You probably already picked! Takes me a bit to get through my non-biz emails. I bet you can relate! You look smashing in all, but I’m obsessed with you in number 11. Absolutely stunning!

    Have fun,

    1. Nancy,

      You are the sweetest! We had a great time at our event and it was so special! I ended up deciding (as many people mentioned) that #11 looked a little too holiday-ish! I wore #1 and felt perfect in it! I got so many compliments!


    1. Thank you, Sherry! That is the dress that won! I wore it Saturday and got lots of compliments! The photos are up on my Instagram Story today, and I’ll share more in my weekend post this coming weekend!

      Thanks for voting and for reading ENB!


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