8 Items You Can Wear Over Your Cocktail Dress or Formal Attire

When it comes to dressing up for formal events during the winter months, there is a skill to it. We often think we have to sacrifice warmth for comfort but that is very far from the truth.

There are ways to style an evening gown to keep warm yet stylish and that is what we shall be going over in today’s blog post.

As someone who tends to have a busy social calendar over the holidays, I have had to figure many things out. One of them has been how to look stylish but stay warm while attending a cocktail party taking place in the cold weather.

I can’t pair my Ugg boots with cocktail attire and wearing a sweater on top of my evening dress. This has led me to try out different methods of staying warm at a fancy occasion.

If you are looking for ideas on how to cover up your formal dresses to stay warm yet chic, you need to keep reading. I would be sharing some of the best ways you can cover your arms and shoulders without compromising your stylish outfit during the colder months.

You deserve to look cute at formal occasions taking place during the winter without throwing on your puffer jacket.

One easy way to add some warmth to your winter formal wear is to choose a dress with long sleeves. This can permit to not need any outerwear if you won’t be outside for long.

Sometimes, adding a layer of warmth to a formal outfit can be burdensome. In this case, choose an outfit that is longer in length and with long sleeves to make your work easier.

Before we dive into the different items you can wear over your cocktail dress to keep warm, I would like to share some great options of cocktail dresses. These dresses would be perfect for the cold months, if you layer them correctly.

Get the look HERE

For some inspiration on how to rock your LBD in the winter, check out my post: 6 simple ways to wear your little black dress in the winter. This would be particularly helpful if your cocktail dress is an LBD.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no cost to you.

Where to buy a cocktail dress for winter formal occasions

i) Nordstrom

Nordstrom offers a number of long-sleeved dresses you could wear to a special event taking place during the winter. If you want to stay warm, opt for dresses that are at least midi length, that way you keep your legs as warm as possible.

A little black dress such as THIS sequin cocktail dress would be a great option for winter weddings.

ii) Lulus

Sometimes, it’s not about the length of the dress and its sleeves that make it a great choice for a winter gathering. The type of fabric the dress is made from plays a role in determining how warm your cocktail dress could keep you warm.

Thicker materials such as wool help to keep the heat locked in. Lace is also a thicker fabric and so choosing a cocktail dress made from lace, such as THIS ONE would be a good choice.

iii) Amazon

Some cocktail dresses are professional enough to be worn to the office. THIS long sleeve dress would be a great option if you are looking for a chic dress you could to a wedding and then recycle for office wear.

The neutral colors are also appropriate for the office and the long sleeves would keep you warm during the cold months.

iv) Pretty Little Thing

Opting for maxi dresses is a great way to add some warmth to your cocktail attire during the winter or fall. A maxi dress with long sleeves is your best option however if you’re worried you may get too hot, choose a long dress with short sleeves.

Also remember from Physics class that dark colors absorb more light. This means dresses in darker colors would keep you warmer than those in light colors.

Get the look HERE

Now that you have some great options of cocktail dresses that work well during the winter, let’s talk about styling them to stay warm. Whether you’re working with a short cocktail dress or a long one, these suggestions would work to add an extra layer of warmth to your formal dresses. Let’s see how we can stay fabulous yet warm all winter.

What to wear on top of a cocktail dress to stay warm

1) A fur wrap or stole

A fur wrap is an elegant way of styling a cocktail dress to keep warm. Some people refer to them as a stole or even a shrug.

You can gently drape one across your sleeveless dresses or elevate your entire outfit. If you are not a fan of real fur, there are many faux fur options you can find that are just as elegant.

Get the look HERE

Stand out at this year’s holiday parties by pairing your strapless dress with a pair of high heels and a faux fur shrug across your shoulders. Accessorize with a small evening purse.

Find the black version HERE

2) A bolero

A bolero is a sort of shrug used to cover one’s arms. It is a good option to go with if you are wearing a formal dress with thin straps and need your arms to stay warm.

You can maintain an elegant look by opting for a bolero in a solid neutral color or one that compliments the color of your dress.

Get the look HERE

The best part about aa bolero is that you do not have to worry about your outerwear slipping off or falling as you wear it like a cardigan. If you are looking for something more elegant than a suit jacket, you have to try one of these.

3) A silk scarf

Adding a silk scarf to a simple cocktail dress is a great way to not only make your outfit more interesting but also add some extra warmth.

I suggest choosing a large scarf if you really want to cover your arms and shoulders. This is a stylish look you could rock to an indoor winter wedding reception.

Get the look HERE

As scarves tend to have multiple colors, a simple dress is your best bet in order to avoid too much color clashing. A little black dress would be the best option to pair with a silk scarf featuring lots of prints and/or colors.

4) A small cardigan

Cropped cardigans in neutral colors are easy to pair with evening wear styled for the cold climate. You can create more stylish looks with a short cardigan versus a long and bulky one which would take away from the beauty of your cocktail dress.

A cropped cardigan could be worn with a midi dress to accentuate your waist and create many stylish looks.

Get a similar look HERE

Complete your look with a pair of heels or ankle boots. You can also add some even more warmth to your outfit by adding a pair of black tights under your dress. Leave the cardigan unbuttoned for a sexier look like the one below.

Get a similar slip dress HERE

5) A shawl

A soft shawl is one of the best ways to create a delicate and feminine look with your cocktail dresses during the cold months. A lighter sheer wrap is a great option during the summer and during the inter, you can opt for a heavier one.

Silk shawls are a great way to style formal clothing if you’re worried about the weather being a little chilly.

Get the look HERE

6) A kimono

Kimonos can be worn both casually as well as for a special event. I have mentioned on this blog that longer kimonos are typically reserved for casual events such as festivals. Shorter kimonos can be worn on top of a short-sleeved dress to create a stylish and warmer look.

Look for kimonos in solid colors or with minimal print if your dress is busy. Or you can play around with colors, depending on your personal style.

Get the look HERE

Read up more on how to style a kimono on my post: How to wear a kimono with jeans and other items.

7) A fur coat

Show off your bougie side by pulling up to a special event in a cocktail dress and a fur coat on top of your shoulders. This look is bound to turn heads so make sure you’ve got your best strappy heels on.

The general rule for pairing a fur coat with a dress is to choose a fur coat (or faux fur coat) that is longer than your dress.

A shorter coat works fine if your dress is a maxi dress. Just remember to take your coat off before you hit the dance floor.

Get the look HERE

Check out faux fur options HERE

8) Long coats

I’m not talking about your everyday winter coat here. When styling a sophisticated formal look, the type of coat or jacket you pair it with is the most important thing. The jacket can make or break your entire outfit.

A trench coat is a good option to go with if you are dressing for an office party and would be taking your coat off one you arrive at your destination.

Get the look HERE

A cocoon coat is also a great coat to pair with your more formal clothing as it is more stylish than your parka. Complete your look with a pair of sleek ankle boots.

I hope you have gotten lots of outfit inspiration you can put to use the next time you’re putting together a chic look for a cocktail event during the winter. Let me know which ones of these options is your favorite!

For ideas on what to wear over your summer dresses, check out my post: 11 Items to Wear over a Sleeveless Dress in the Summer.

Headed to an awards ceremony, check out my post: What to Wear to an Awards Ceremony for some outfit ideas.

Do check out my post: 9 outfits to wear to a winter bridal shower if you are going to be attending one during the winter months.

If you need some assistance pairing outerwear with a cocktail dress, check out my post: 11 Items to Wear Over a Cocktail Dress All Year-Long.

I have a post titled 7 Ideas of What to Wear Under a Kimono if you ware looking for more ways to style a kimono.

Headed to a country concert on a chilly night? Check out my post: 11 Outfit Ideas to Wear to a Country Concert When it’s Cold.

Until the next post,


I also have a video where I show you exactly what to wear over your cocktail dress to stay warm.