The Difference Between Cocktail Dresses & Kaftans

Cocktail Dresses & Kaftans


Cocktail dresses and kaftan dresses are wardrobe essentials that every woman should have in her armoury: with the right dresses in your wardrobe you’ll always be ready for any occasion.

Cocktail dresses are the perfect choice for cocktail parties, night’s out with the girls, and even date nights with your significant other.  Meanwhile kaftan dresses look great dressed up for dinner dates, but can also be dressed down for brunch, pool parties, and sunny days on the beach.

So, what are the differences between a kaftan dress and a cocktail dress?  Can you wear a kaftan dress as a cocktail dress?  Here’s everything you need to know!

Cocktail Dresses & Kaftan Dresses, Mid Length Kaftan Dress, Laloom KaftansIn this photo:  The Nice Mid Length Kaftan Dress

The Cocktail Dress

A cocktail dress is a semi-formal dress, usually with a tailored or form-fitting shape, that falls to just below or just above the knee.  Cocktail dresses are shorter than evening dresses, and unlike far more formal black-tie events, you have the freedom to choose the colour and pattern that suits you best.  Cocktail dresses are generally worn with heels, clutch bags or evening handbags, and fine jewellery.

There is a much bigger market for plus size cocktail dresses in Australia than ever before, and it’s now easier than ever to find a cocktail dress that looks and feels fantastic.  Your dress size should never be a barrier to wearing the style and fit of dress that you love.

The rules of cocktail attire are something that people just don’t talk about enough, but if you’re wearing cocktail dresses regularly then it’s important to know the do's and don’ts.  Firstly, your hemlines and necklines should be appropriate: avoid anything too short or too plunging.  When it comes to accessorizing your plus size cocktail dress, just one statement accessory is enough: anything else will overpower your dress and look too fussy.  Finally, don’t wear a floor length gown: cocktail dresses should never cover you from head to toe as these are simply too formal.

Kaftans & Cocktail Dresses, Mid Length Kaftan, Laloom KaftansIn this photo:  Mirihi Island Mid Length Kaftan Dress

The Kaftan Dress

Kaftan dresses are much more versatile than cocktail dresses because you can wear them for both formal and informal occasions.  A kaftan dress is a loose and flowing dress with wide sleeves, typically in lightweight or sheer fabrics.  Kaftan dresses are available in a variety of different lengths and their structureless shape means that they will skim over the curves of women of any size.

When dressed up with heels and accessories, kaftan dresses are just like plus size cocktail dresses with sleeves, making them the ideal choice if you’re looking for a cocktail dress that you can wear for more than one occasion.  Add the same accessories as you would wear with a cocktail dress, such as statement earrings, heels, and a matching clutch bag, and you’re ready to charm the night away.

The key to wearing a plus size kaftan dress for an evening occasion is to add a lightweight fabric or leather belt to create curves and draw attention to your waist.  Wear a slip underneath your sheer kaftan to protect your modesty and wear your colours with confidence.  Because kaftans come in such a wonderful array of colours, patterns, and styles, you have almost endless options to create an outfit that is uniquely you.

Kaftan Dresses & Cocktail Dresses, Short Kaftan Dress, Laloom KaftansIn this photo:  The Antibes Short Kaftan Dress

The Differences Between Kaftan Dresses and Cocktail Dresses

The main difference between a kaftan dress and a cocktail dress is their versatility.  The cocktail dress is the wardrobe one trick pony: they look great for special occasions but they can’t really be worn outside of their evening umbrella.  Meanwhile, kaftan dresses are considerably more versatile: there are very few occasions where you can’t wear your favourite kaftan.

The other difference between the cocktail dress and the kaftan dress is the fit. Traditional cocktail dresses tend to fit closely to the body whilst kaftan dresses are looser and will skim your physique.  Many plus size women feel more confident in plus size kaftans rather than plus size cocktail dresses because they offer a more flattering fit and because they will continue to fit and look fantastic even if you gain or lose a few pounds.  Embrace a kaftan dress and you will have the perfect outfit to wear for every occasion.



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