60 Different Types of Dresses: A to Z of Dress Styles 2022

Dresses that you wear to work usually are very simple and don’t feature a lot of curves or structure. They usually have a very rectangular shape, sometimes featuring a belt that brings the waist in a little bit.

55 Types of Dresses (Epic List – A Dress for Every Occasion)


Read the exhaustive guide to dresses of the world to find the design for your event and body type. From shifts to tent dresses, wedding gowns to cocktail dresses, you can find it in this guide to the types of dresses.

Woman wearing a dress

Whether you call them dresses, frocks or gowns, you’ve probably worn a lot of them. You’ve no doubt worn short dresses, long dresses, tight dresses and loose dresses. You may have dreamed about a prom dress, a wedding dress or some other important dress you may one day wear. But did you know what any of them were properly called? There are many different types of dresses. And without this list, you’ll probably never be able to name them all!

Table of Contents

Types of Dresses (A to Z)

From that basic design of one piece of material come many variations. Hemlines vary from micro-mini to maxi dresses, including minis, midis, semi-formals, tea length and full length. The cut of the skirts includes the A-line, the bell, the pencil, the slip, and the cigar.

The sleeves can vary from none at all, as on a halter or tube style, to full-length sleeves. Between that are off-the-shoulder dresses, shoulder, Bardot, short sleeves, pouf or bell sleeves, three-quarter length and thumb or fingerless mitten sleeves.

Various cultures contribute their own designs, crossing not just borders but oceans to reach foreign shores with their looks. Designs from Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Indian and various Caribbean cultures have become popular the world over and currently crowd American garment racks.

A rack of women

Just when you think designers have exhausted every possible idea, they debut something like the meat dress, styled from actual cuts of meat. Feather dresses have been a thing, too. In the 1960s and early 1970s, newsprint dresses became all the rage. Made of newspaper material, they did not last long but they proved entertaining if you were stuck for something to read while on the subway.

Gaultier created the conical bra shape for his bodices, while Nicole Moan uses ceramics for the corsets of her designs and their matching purses.

Typical materials include silk, satin, cotton, polyester, muslin, Lycra, lace, leather and pleather. Embellishments may include mesh, eyelet, beads, sequins, embroidery or ribbon.


Two women wearing A-line dresses.

Christian Dior introduced the A-line dress in 1955. A full fashion line of these dresses wasn’t introduced on the fashion scene until 1958, when it was created by Yves Saint Laurent.

The A-line dress has the shape of an A. It fits tightly around the shoulders and gently flares out through to the hem. The A-line typically falls to about mid-thigh but longer and shorter versions are made. What’s important is that A-shaped silhouette.


Woman in an apron dress.

The apron dress is an instantly recognizable look that has very old origins. Also known as a pinafore , the apron dress is widely associated with Viking clothing. It often appears on reenactors and in movies as a common fashion choice. However, evidence suggests that the apron dress may be a modern invention…more like an interpretation of Viking clothing .

This clothing item probably evolved from an item worn in the 1300s, a sideless dress known as a surcote that was worn over another dress. The low neckline of the surcote created a look very similar to shoulder straps.

The apron dress has a full skirt with a bib that extends up the chest. This overdress may be pinned into place or may have straps that go up over the shoulders. Apron dresses are also known as jumpers or jumper dresses .


A model in an asymmetrical dress walks the runway.

The asymmetrical dress exploded onto the fashion scene in the 1970s, when Roy Halston released a series of dresses featuring slanted hemlines. Halston was inspired by ancient Grecian gowns, according to the Joy of Clothes . Asymmetrical dress designs are still hot in the fashion world.

Due to the vast variations, most body types can typically find an asymmetrical dress design that suits their frame.

Baby doll

Kate Walsh during 13th Annual Premiere Women wearing a blue baby doll dress.

The baby doll dress , or babydoll , was a nightgown before it was a dress. The babydoll was designed by Sylvia Pedler in 1942. The shortened design was a direct result of fabric shortages during WWII, according to Glamour .

babydoll dresses became daywear in the 1960s. This is when they adopted their signature look of long sleeves, short hems and high, empire waistlines.


Woman wearing a stunning gold ball gown.

The ball dress , or ball gown , is a classic silhouette that’s so popular, it’s even been featured in fairy tales.

According to Love to Know , ball gowns date to the Middle Ages. The look was very popular in the 1800s when throwing balls was a celebrated pastime.

Traditionally, ball gowns are sleeveless gowns with tight bodices and full, wide skirts. Ball gowns are often very elaborate and worn for the most formal events. The ball gown silhouette is a popular wedding dress style. Because of the silhouette’s association with Disney characters, the ball gown is also known as the princess dress .


Demi Lovato wearing a Herve Leger bandage dress at MTV Video Music Awards.

The bandage dress was a hot look in the late 1990s, right after it was created by Herve Leroux, who would later become Herve Leger. Sexy stars like Cindy Crawford wore the form-hugging, tight bandage dresses, so named because they look like bandages wrapped tightly around the body.

But this dress exploded on the style scene again in the 2000s, hugging the bodies of huge stars like Lindsay Lohan, Kristen Stewart and Kate Winslet. Designers took the bandage dress to the next level at this time, creating full-length styles in addition to the standard short, minidress designs.


Portrait of a woman in a bardot dress.

The Bardot dress can be any length and have any style of waist. It can be sleeveless or have long sleeves. The Bardot dress can be just about any style, so long as it has the one feature that makes it a Bardot: it’s off-the-shoulder . The wide-open, off-shoulder Bardot neckline picked up this name in the 1950s thanks to screen star Brigitte Bardot. She often wore the style and popularized the look of the off-the-shoulder dress.

Any dress that is off-the-shoulder is a Bardot dress, though it may also be many other types of dresses as well.

Bell sleeve

Woman in a forest wearing a white bell sleeve dress.

Bell sleeves , or flared sleeves , are an ancient style. This look dates to at least 700s Japan, when dramatically flared sleeves finished off the kimono designs of the day. Bell sleeves are perhaps most associated with the medieval era, when flared sleeves were a huge part of fashion. Royals wore the biggest, most elaborate bell sleeves as a symbol of their wealth and rank. The sleeves were often trimmed in fur to add to their luxurious look.

Bell sleeves have really been a part of fashion for centuries, always lingering somewhere in the world style closet and reappearing here and there as a classic and often-copied design element. Bell sleeves hit another high in the 1970s, when bell bottom pants were all the rage. The bell sleeves and bell bottoms were a perfect style marriage. Bell sleeves became a popular addition to peasant-style dresses as well.

Any dress that has bell sleeves can be called a bell sleeve dress, despite its length or overall style. Bell sleeves are now a fashion classic that never fully goes out of style and always seems to become super-trendy every few decades or so. Keep your bell sleeve dresses handy because at any moment, they may become the hot look that everyone wants to wear.


Woman wearing a black mini blazer dress.

A relative newcomer on the fashion scene, the blazer dress , or blazer-dress , is styled with a bodice that looks like a buttoned-up blazer. Usually, the blazer dress sits at about mid-thigh, though the hem can be all the way to ankle-length. This can be a casual dress or a professional dress, depending on how you style it.


Woman wearing shades and a blouson dress.

Blouson dress styles are cinched at the waist with a loose bodice that blouses up over the waistband. Blouson dress styles are often loose, drapey and breezy and may be made in any style of length. What’s important is that blousy bodice and cinched waist. This is what makes a blouson dress a blouson dress.


Woman posing at urban street wearing a green bodycon dress.

Like the bandage dress, the bodycon dress is very form-fitting and figure-hugging. In fact, the two styles are often mixed up. However, there are some differences between these two types of dresses.

Bandage dresses are made in designs that look like strips of fabric wrapped around the body to achieve a form-fitting look. Bodycon dress styles are form-fitting in any fabric that does not have the bandage look. Unlike bandage dresses, bodycon dresses do not provide any support for the curves of the body. Bodycon dresses do not fit quite as tightly as bandage dresses, though they do trace and hug the figure.


Two kids in a field wearing white dress and wreaths.

The bouffant dress may have any bodice style. It’s the skirt of the dress that creates the bouffant style . This is a full skirt that poofs out away from the body at the waist, flaring out through the length of the dress. This style is achieved through multiple layers of fabric and is usually gathered to create the poofy silhouette.


Model wearing a white cape dress.

Cape dresses can be made in any style, any length, any fabric. The only thing a cape dress must have is, of course, a cape. This is a very classic look that has been seen on celebrities and royals through the last few decades, with many famous faces stepping out in daring cape dress styles. When you want to make a stunning im[pression at a formal event and you’re feeling super fashionable, a cape dress is the perfect choice.


Woman in a red trench coat.

The coat dress or coatdress dates to around 1914. The bottom of the dress has a standard skirt in any length but the bodice of the dress resembles a single or double-breasted coat, according to “ The Dictionary of Fashion History .” This style often features lapels. The coat dress is similar to the blazer dress.


Woman in library wearing a black cocktail dress.

The cocktail dress represents a unique time in history, an important moment where fashion and feminism collided. It was the 1920s and women were breaking away from the full-length skirts and buttoned-up dresses of the Edwardian era. They were breaking fashion norms with shorter hemlines and engaging in behavior that was not “ladylike” in the past, like drinking cocktails in public. The cocktail dress was the result of these changing conventions and it’s still an extremely popular fashion staple.

Women were starting to break out of the restrictions of the past and take important steps toward equality in the 1920s. They had secured the right to vote and they were ready to start wearing the fashion they wanted while they started doing what they wanted, including having cocktails while wearing fashionable frocks.

Short cocktail dresses worn with matching hats, shoes and gloves became the standard evening look for fashionable women of the decade. Between 6 to 8 pm every evening, women put on their cocktail dresses to step out for a night on the town. Dior officially named the early evening dresses “cocktail” dresses upon releasing a version of the popular dress type.

The cocktail dress continued to be worn through the decade and it’s still a major player in the fashion game. No fashionable woman’s wardrobe is complete without at least one cocktail dress. In traditional designs, cocktail dresses are made with fine fabrics, like silks and satins. They are usually around knee-length and form-flattering. Cocktail dresses are often made in sheath styles and sleeveless designs.

Modern cocktail dresses are not typically styled with matching hats, gloves and shoes like they were in the 1920s, though they may be designed with matching jackets or other accessories. They are typically fitted dresses in dark colors. This is the perfect dress for date night or a night out with the girls.


Debutantes enter dance floor at 61st Viennese Opera Ball.

Once, terms like “debutante” and “debutante ball” were commonplace. This has become something of an old-fashioned concept now but there was a time when debutante dresses , or debutant dresses , were very popular.

The idea of a young woman making her “debut” in society as being eligible for marriage became common in the late 1700s. This is when Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of England, began introducing young women at the royal court. These women became known as “debutants.” In the early 1900s, debutante balls were very popular in the U.S.

The classic look of a debutante dress is a simple strapless evening gown. Bold colors are not common. These dresses are usually a soft pastel color but are most often white. Usually, the dress is worn with long white gloves. Debutante dresses are often styled with a sweetheart neckline, which looks like the top curves of a heart.


Woman in a green dirndl dress sitting outudoors.

You may not know the name of the dirndl dress but you have definitely seen one before. This dress is strongly associated with German culture and it’s instantly recognizable. But the real story of the dirndl may just surprise you.

The dirndl has a tight bodice, long sleeves and a skirt that is calf-length to floor-length. The dress is only complete when the apron and shawl or jacket is added. Though the dress is often associated with a country look, the dirndl dress actually caught on in German cities first.

Drop waist

Woman wearing a flapper dress.

The drop waist dress , also known as the flapper dress and the low waist dress , is most associated with 1920s fashion. The waistband of the dress falls past the natural waist, down to the hips. This was an extremely popular look in the 1920s. The drop waist dress had its heyday in this decade but it still appears from time to time, a now-classic piece of fashion that sometimes appears on celebrities and fashionistas of all kinds.

Empire waist

Blake Lively at Premiere of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 wearing an Empire waist dress.

The Empire waist dress style became popular in the late 1790s. This is the type of dress that women in Jane Austen novels wore. The look was everywhere in the early part of the 1800s, a style that was inspired by classic Greece.

Empire waist dresses have a high waistline that sits just under the bust line. The rest of the dress is long and flowing. This look was inspired by the Grecian dress of 2,000 years before: long, flowing, draping clothing styles. Empire waist dresses typically have a low neckline and short sleeves. This silhouette is still popular in evening dress styles and is used for wedding dress looks.

This dress works well for petite women, as it creates the illusion of height. Since it focuses on the area just beneath the breasts, it can also work to make a heavier woman appear more slender since the material beneath the bust line flares out and swirls around the hips without fitting snugly.

Fit and flare

Woman trying on new dress in showroom.

Is there a type of dress that looks good on every body type and won’t ever go out of fashion, it’s the fit and flare dress. This simple silhouette will never let you down and it’s a perfect all-around dress for whatever you want to do.

The fit and flare dress , also known as the fit-and-flare dress , has a close-fitting bodice and that flares out wide at the waist. This silhouette covers a multitude of sins. It’s also fashionable and stylish for daywear or evening wear. This dress may have short sleeves, long sleeves or even no sleeves and can be any length. This is a popular prom dress style.


Elder woman with in a long country dress poses in haystacks.

The granny dress is a very distinct style that is perhaps most associated with long nightgowns. These dresses are loose-fitting everywhere, with long sleeves, an ankle-length hem and a high neckline. They are typically made with light-colored fabrics and are often adorned with ruffles and/or lace. These dresses were actually popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

Laura Ashley popularized the granny dress look in the 1950s, selling the style in the Welsh countryside. The trend made it all the way to California.


 A wax figure of Marilyn Monroe wearing a white halter dress.

The halter dress is one of the most recognizable dresses in all of fashion history. This dress is pretty much Marilyn Monroe’s co-star in one of the most well-known and most-reproduced movie scenes in all of history. Marilyn wore a white halter dress in the film “The Seven Year Itch.” A scene where the flared skirt of the dress blows up to reveal Marilyn’s legs has been seen by millions. Many cannot name the film that created this scene…but everybody knows that dress .

The halter neckline was extremely popular in 1970s disco fashion and it was the height of sexiness after Marilyn wore it in the 1950s. But this style actually dates to the 1920s.

The halter dress is distinct for its bodice, which leaves the arms and shoulders totally bare. The halter neckline often goes up to the neck, where it is finished off with straps that wrap around the back of the shoulders. However, in some designs, the halter may be very low-cut and revealing.

Handkerchief hem

Model in a handkerchief dress walks the runway.

The handkerchief hem dress , or simply handkerchief dress , has a jagged hemline with multiple points of fabric that create an asymmetrical line. The hem looks as though it’s made from different handkerchiefs. Any type of dress can be made with a handkerchief hem , which adds a bit of an edgy, modern flare to any dress design.


Woman wearing a red harem dress.

The harem dress looks like an ancient design and in fact, probably is. But the first known use of the term harem dress as both a style and a word dates to the early 1900s. The harem dress is a full, loose-fitting dress.

High low

Model wearing a high low dress.

The high low dress , also known as the high-low dress and mullet dress , has an asymmetrical hem that is shorter in the front and longer in the back. Sometimes, this difference is only very slight. In other high low dress designs, the length difference between the front and back may be extreme, with a very short front and a long, trailing train in the back.

The high low look has a very modern feeling to it thanks to that asymmetrical hem, a look that’s easy to associate with today’s styles. But this dress style actually dates to the later Victorian Era. High low hems were worn as early as the 1870s. High low hems caught on again in the 1920s and 1930s. The high low hem has never fallen totally out of fashion since.


Woman in a balcony wearing a torquoise and golden Arabic kaftan dress.

The kaftan , or caftan , is worn around the world because it’s a loose, comfortable dress that’s drapey and pretty. But in one part of the world, this dress has a very special cultural meaning.

The kaftan comes from Morocco, where it is worn only by women for everything from an everyday outfit to a formal evening look. This dress dates to at least the ninth century, making it a truly ancient dress style .

The kaftan is such a popular style that the word is often applied to many types of Middle Eastern dresses and long tunics. A true kaftan dress looks like a long robe with a narrow cut and full sleeves. It usually has a deep neckline and is often secured with buttons.


Japanese woman wearing a traditional kimono dress.

The kimono is strongly associated with Japanese culture. This dress has been a part of Japanese fashion for over 1,000 years. The kimono is still worn in Japan for ceremonial occasions, weddings and other special events, according to Culture Trip . See more Japanese dress styles here.

Wearing a kimono is a long and proud tradition in Japanese culture. It is a loose, voluminous, robe-like garment that is tied with a cloth sash called an obi. The colors and patterns on kimono often have special meaning. The colors represent seasons, gender, even family ties and political affiliations. A kimono is a work of art and some of them can cost more than a home. Kimono are passed down through generations.

Kimono are made from a variety of materials. Linen, cotton and silk are common. Kimono are often decorated in prints that are added to the fabric by hand.


White lingerie dress in a mannequin.

Lingerie dresses , also called lingerie frocks , are now rarely seen outside of TV shows and movies set during historic periods. But in the late 1800s and early 1900s, these dresses were very popular. Every fashionable gal wore one of these lightweight dresses, which were usually white or off-white, according to the Dreamstress . Lingerie dresses were made with lace, embroidery and lots of detailed, delicate embellishments. The lingerie dress may also be called a lace dress .

Little black

Woman in a little black dress and red handbag standing against a white wall.

The little black dress , or LBD , may be the most iconic dress on the entire list. It’s extremely well-known and considered to be a must-have staple of every female wardrobe. Coco Chanel designed the first little black dress in 1926. This was a calf-length, sheath-style dress with long sleeves.

Many types of dresses can be little black dresses. The only requirement is that the dress be black and not too voluminous, though it can be any length and any style. Often, little black dresses are fitted dresses with a shorter hemline.

Long Sleeve Dress

Woman in a shopping center wearing black sequin dress and a red clutch.

The term long sleeve dress refers to a frock with sleeves that fully cover the arms from shoulder to wrist. Nearly any style of dress can feature long sleeves, including formal gowns, so you can stay both warm and fashionable during winter.


Woman near palace wearing a mantua dress.

The mantua was worn in the 1600s to the 1700s. This was an overdress with a loose bodice and a floor-length skirt with a long train. The front of the dress was split to reveal the petticoat underneath. This was a formal gown and was typically embellished and made with fine fabrics, according to Fashion History Timeline .

Maxi Dress

Woman in a floral maxi dress walking down the street.

The maxi dress was designed by Oscar de la Renta in the late 1960, setting off a fashion craze. Though it disappeared from the fashion scene for a while, the maxi dress has made a huge comeback in recent years to become a trendy style.

Maxi dress styles are ankle-length and usually have a full, voluminous skirt. Many types of bodices are seen in maxi dress designs, through strapless, halter and sleeveless styles are common.


Keira Knightley in a Vera Wang mermaid gown and vintage Bulgari jewelry.

The mermaid dress , also known as the fishtail dress , has an extremely distinct shape. This dress is fitted through the bodice, waist and hips. At the knees, the skirt of the dress suddenly flares out dramatically to the floor. Marcel Rochas first designed the mermaid dress in the 1930s. It’s been a popular dress silhouette ever since, never fully fading from the fashion spotlight. Mermaid gowns are seen often in formal wear and appear everywhere, from red carpets to weddings to proms.


Woman in a street wearing sunglasses and a printed midi dress.

Midi dresses , also known as mid dresses and knee-length dresses , end anywhere from the knee to the mid-calf. Several types of dresses can also be categorized as midi dress styles , including cocktail dresses. The midi skirt actually came before the midi dress. It was designed in the 1970s.


Gilda Ambrosio in a mini denim dress seen outside MIU MIU show.

Mini dresses end around mid-thigh. The length is what makes a mini dress, or minidress . THe dress itself may be form-fitting, loose, flared or many other different styles. The mini dress was inspired by the mini skirt, which set the fashion world on fire in the 1960s. Evidence shows that the mini skirt actually dates to ancient times. This short-short style was worn more than 5,000 years ago, according to Reader’s Digest . That’s a lot of time for mini dresses to be created in amazing styles.


Woman in a blue muumuu dress performing on the stage.

The muumuu , sometimes referred to as a muumuu dress , is an overly large and very loose dress that is typically brightly-colored and decorated with vivid patterns. The patterns are often floral, as the muumuu is associated with Hawaii. Muumuu dress styles were given to women in Hawaii by missionaries who came to the islands.


A girl in the middle of a field wearing a white peasant dress and holding a dream catcher.

Peasant dress styles became popular in the 1960s, a then-modern take on centuries-old clothing styles worn in Europe by farmers. The skirt of the peasant dress is full and may fall to any length, from mid-thigh to the floor. The bodice is loose with long, loose sleeves. The necklines are typically wide, usually off the shoulder.

Peasant dresses are typically made with soft, natural materials, such as linen or cotton. Neutral colors and earth tones are often used in peasant dresses.


A pillowcase dress with floral print in a hanger.

Pillowcase dresses are incredibly simple and very easy to DIY . It’s a simple, sacklike dress that is sleeveless with a high, drawstring neckline. The dress flares out slightly from the neck, getting wider through to the short hem. These dresses quite literally look like pillowcases. These are children’s dresses and they’re often made in fun, colorful designs.


Woman in a qipao dress standing next to an ancient phonograph.

You may not know what to call it, but you know the qipao dress immediately when you see it. This dress is associated with Chinese fashion and it’s been worn since the 1600s. This began as a traditional dress worn by women, though a version of it was later worn by men as well.

The qipao took on a more modern appearance in the 1920s and soon became a highly stylish look that was quickly picked up by celebrities. It was named as one of the official national dresses of the Republic of China in 1929. In the 1950s, the dress began to spread to the rest of the world.

The traditional original qipao was wide and baggy, with a high neck and a straight skirt that fell to the floor. The dress was made of silk and embellished with embroidery. The modern version of the dress is very different. Today, the qipao is form-fitting with a high slit on both sides. It is usually sleeveless or has bell sleeves. They are typically knee-length and have short collars.

Sack-back gown

Georgian woman wearing a silk sack-back gown.

Some styles, like the ball gown, stay popular for centuries. Others, like the sack-back gown or sack back gown , burn very briefly and then just disappear. Also called a robe a la Francaise , this dress was all the rage in 1700s Europe. The notable feature of this gown is the back, which has two box pleats that go all the way down the back of the dress to form a train. The dress is open in front to reveal a pretty petticoat underneath. The sack back gown is also known as the sack gown .


Woman in a bathroom wearing a sexy sheath dress.

How old is the sheath dress style? You can probably think of classy dames from the 1950s movies wearing chic sheath dresses. Actually, this dress style is thousands of years old and it’s still in style right now.

Some of the first sheath dresses in history were worn by the Egyptians. These simple dresses were close-fitting, tube-shaped gowns with shoulder straps. The more recent version of sheath dresses appeared in the late 1800s. This time, it was known as the princess sheath. It was a tight-fitting dress that was often embellished with ruffles on the lower back.

The sheath dress became truly modern when it appeared on the fashion scene again in the 1930s. The fitted, simple sheath really caught on in the 1930s and became a style staple that has never gone away again. Because the skirt of the sheath dress is fitted, this may also be called a pencil dress .


Woman in short black shift dress.

The simple, pretty shift dress is a classic look that’s always in style and totally chic for daywear or evening wear. This dress is perfect for spring and summer looks, according to Who What Wear . The shift dress still looks modern and fresh but this style is actually almost a century old.

The flapper look of the 1920s inspired the shift dress. The short hems, bare arms and loose-fitting style of flapper dresses ultimately inspired the simple shift design. The dress became a hot look of 1960s fashion and it’s become a go-to look to suit any fashionable, modern gal.

Shift dresses hang straight down from the shoulders in a clean line, creating a look that is loose and comfortable but still looks tailored. A shift dress is loose but not baggy. These dresses are often sleeveless, though there are many variations. Shift dresses are a simple design that can be created in any color or pattern. These dresses may be embellished or plain. Because of the design, this style may also be called a straight dress.

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Woman in sunglasses and long shirtwaist dress walking on street.

The shirtwaist dress , also known as the shirt waist dress , shirt dress , shirtdress and shirtmaker dress , is an American design that has been in style for decades.

The shirt dress is inspired by men’s collared, button-down dress shirt designs. It looks like a long men’s shirt that is belted at the waist. The first shirt dress styles were designed to be nurse’s uniforms. In fact, it was the uniform for Red Cross nurses during WWI, according to Love to Know .

The shirt dress style caught on among all women in the 1920s and in the 1950s, it was everywhere. The shirtdress became a staple of women’s fashion that is still seen today.


A girl figure skating in an ice arena.

The skater dress , or skating dress , is worn in figure skating. Until the 1960s, two-piece skating costumes were common. In the 1960s and 1970s, skating dresses became embellished with sequins and other decorations. Skating dresses are typically long-sleeved with short, full skirts and tight-fitting bodies. Scoop neck and V-neck designs are common. In modern skating dresses, anything goes. Skaters use their dresses to show off their own style and personality and often design their dresses to somehow match their performance.


A model in a silk slip dress walks the runway.

The simple, sexy slip dress was a fashion staple of the 1990s. All the hot young models and celebs were seen strutting in these thin frocks. But the history of the slip dress goes back much, much further than the days of the Seattle sound and AOL.

The first slips appeared during the medieval era, known as a smock in England and a chemise in France. These were loose-fitting, lightweight under-dresses that were worn beneath gowns.

In the 1700s, French women began wearing their slip-like dresses as actual dresses. The trend was started by none other than Queen Marie Antionette herself. These loose-fitting gowns were worn over stays and a petticoat but they were still considered to be essentially underwear.

These slip gowns were meant to be worn only among other females at quiet gatherings. A scandal erupted when Marie Antionette had a portrait of herself painted wearing only her chemise, according to Startup Fashion . It was, at the time, quite shocking.

In the 1910s, the more modern slip began to take shape. It became a simple garment worn under short flapper dresses.

In the 1990s, slips were a common undergarment…until they became the hottest dress look of the decade. Designers drew inspiration from silky slips and created the slip dress, short dresses that fit close to the body. Slip dresses are usually finished with spaghetti straps and may be low-cut and revealing.


A woman tries on a green smock dress in a fashion store.

The smock dress is designed to look somewhat oversized. It’s made with full sleeves and a full skirt and usually has a scoop neck. Snock dresses are decorated with smocking, which is embroidery on the surface of the fabric.

The smock dress has been around for so long, no one knows how long. It’s probably an ancient design, according to the Joy of Clothes . Smock dresses were very popular in the 1700s in England. In those days, the embroidery on the dresses identified the region where the wearer lived. Smock dresses are seen in modern fashion because they’re loose-fitting, cute and comfortable.


The squaw dress first appeared as regional fashion but the look has been seen all around the world. The dress first climbed to popularity in the 1950s and became a popular part of the southwestern U.S. fashion scene for about 20 years.

Squaw dresses are rarely seen now but the distinct look still stands out. The squaw dress has a very full accordion skirt that is made with many small pleats. The bodice of the dress is typically simple, a close-fitting, simple, sleeveless design.


Jessica Chastain at the 85th Annual Academy Awards wearing a strapless dress.

The term strapless dress refers to a fitted bodice and bust dress that has no sleeves or straps. Its tight fit across the bust holds it in place. Designer Mainbocher debuted this style in the 1930s, according to the Fashion Encyclopedia . Strapless dress designs are made in many different styles with many different types of skirts and may be styled for casual to formal wear.


Woman on a city street wearing a yellow sun dress.

The sun dress or sundress can be any lightweight, sleeveless dress. By definition , the sundress is any dress that leaves the shoulders, arms and some of the back exposed. These lightweight, skin-revealing dresses are perfect for summer’s heat.


Woman wearing a gray sweater dress.

Sweater dress designs are styled to look like long, pullover sweaters. They can be any length, from mid-thigh to the ankles. Sweater dresses may be styled with any sleeve length, including sleeveless designs. Sweater dresses are knit, so they cling to the curves of the body. Some sweater dresses are intentionally styled to be bigger for a looser, blousier effect.


A woman dressed in a retro swing dress sitting in a restaurant.

In a way, the swing dress was inspired by rock and roll. The dress was made with a full skirt that ended right around knee-length. Swing dresses were often paired with full crinolines or petticoats underneath. The full skirt of the swing dress provided plenty of room for dancing and swung upward to reveal the dancer’s legs. Swing dresses are typically styled with short-sleeve or sleeveless bodices.


Model wearing a colorful tent dress during Bangkok International Fashion Week.

The tent dress is an incredibly simple design. The tent dress flares out from the neckline down to the hem, creating a wide, very loose fit. This dress design is very easy to DIY. The tent dress has no darts, waistline or any definition whatsoever.


Molly Sims at Blades of Glory Premiere wearing a trapeze dress.

The trapeze dress was a surprise design that dazzled the fashion world when it was introduced by a young designer named Yves Saint Laurent, who worked for Christian Dior at that time. Laurent debuted the Trapeze line that year. It was met with a standing ovation when it appeared on the runway, according to Vogue .

The trapeze dress is fitted through the neck and bust but then flares out with a wide, full skirt. The trapeze dress is typically around knee-length.


Models walk the runway in a runic dress.

The tunic dress is inspired by the tunics worn in the Middle Ages. Tunics were simple shirts with open sides. Tunic dresses are long- or short-sleeved, somewhat loose-fitting dresses that often have slits on the sides. Tunic dresses usually end above the knee and look like an oversized, overlong tunic shirt.


Woman in a short wrap dress standing next to a piano.

Charles James was the first to create a wrap dress in the 1930s. His design was a sheath-like dress in a sort of spiral pattern that crossed over the front of the chest. He called his creation the taxi dress because he said the design was something a woman could slip off or slip on in the back of a cab, according to Startup Fashion .

Other designers were inspired by James and began creating their own versions of the wrap dress. But it was in the 1970s that wrap dress styles really became a trendy look. Diane Von Furstenberg had improved the wrap dress, giving it the V-neck and waist sash that it is still known for today. By the end of the decade, more than a million of Von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses had been sold.

A World of Dresses

From full-length formal gowns to micro mini dresses, women’s dresses run the gamut from teeny tiny to flowy toe skimmers.

Woman in a store picking out dress.

Dress sales generate $41 billion each year in the U.S. alone. Women in every country wear dresses. Since fashions vary by culture and climate, a multitude of types of dresses exist. Women’s dresses come in different shapes, styles, fabrics, materials and colors.

The Dress Defined

So, what makes a dress, a dress?

The term dress refers to a one-piece garment that covers the torso and a portion of or all of the legs without dividing the material that covers the legs into pant legs. The lower portion of a dress forms a skirt. As you can imagine, clothing designers seize upon the versatility of this garment.

Where to Buy Dresses

Shopping for dresses can take some time. If you find it tough to find a dress that fits you properly, you might want to shop in person. Sometimes, that cannot happen.

Personal Shopper

You can use one of the many personal shopper services available to have someone else shop according to your style likes and ship you a certain number of options in your size. ThredUp offers this service, as do Stitch Fix and Gwynnie Bee.

If you swear by shopping on Amazon and dearly want your Amazon smile charity to receive your donation from shopping, you can use the Amazon personal shopper service.

Shopping in Person

Perhaps you get a kick out of shopping. You do not mind hitting the local mall or visiting your local stores to peruse the garment racks and try on the outfits.

Remember to take the shoes with you that you want to wear with the dress. If you shoe shop at the same time, select a pair of heels or flats suitable for the type of dress you will purchase and take them with you into the fitting room. If the fitting room only has a single mirror, step outside it to use the three-way mirror to examine each outfit from multiple angles.

Online Shopping

Teenage girls walking in their prom dresses.

Many department stores and women’s clothing stores have e-commerce options now. You can shop at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Foley’s, Belk’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney and Sears online, to name a few. Regardless of your budget, your style or the size you wear, you can find a dress online. J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, and Land’s End also host online shops. You can easily have your favorite items shipped directly to your door.

Custom Experience

You might also consider using a designer for a bespoke dress. This option makes sense if you have a hard-to-fit body. Many female athletes run into this problem since most designers do not cut clothing for those of very athletic builds, for those of short stature or the extremely tall. This makes purchasing a dress a tough proposition for female athletes.

The bespoke everything craze has made purchasing made-to-order items much easier and more affordable. Purchasing a bespoke design can also provide you with a more versatile option. You can have multiple sashes, belts or scarves designed as a part of the dress, allowing you to switch out the accessories and make the dress seem like a different outfit.

Purchasing a matching blazer or suit jacket can also add to the versatility. A designer can create a skirt with zippers on the inside, hidden by a seam on the outer side. When unzipped, you can break away one length of the skirt, providing a maxi, midi and mini choice all in one skirt. Zip out liners let you wear a dress during all four seasons. These options make the investment in a bespoke dress much more affordable since the resulting dress provides three different length options and a business office look when paired with the blazer.

A History of Dresses

The history of women’s dresses dates back to ancient Egypt when women like Queen Cleopatra adorned themselves in full-length gowns of light fabrics such as linen or other sheer fabrics. These breathable fabrics kept them cool and dry in the busy times of 51 B.C.E. Although the style of the dresses remained plain, women adorned them with gold or semi-precious stones.

Collection of woman clothing by decades.

A couple of decades later, the Greeks improved upon the Egyptian design, using linen as well, but adding silk as a fabric of choice. Their method of draping or wrapping the fabric, toga-style, required no sewing.

Light fabrics and simple designs requiring little to no sewing remained popular for centuries. Women simply wanted to throw something on and go. The times changed and by about 1450, royal courts in Europe began commissioning fashion designers to create ornate outfits for them.

Dress Evolution

Living in a vastly different climate than Egypt or Greece, women of Europe dressed for warmth. Layering became popular, as did heavier fabrics. This period added ribbon and other embellishments to the dresses, sewing them to the garment as opposed to cuffing them over it as the Egyptians had.

As medieval times developed, so did court fashion, the original haute couture. Anne Boleyn, one of Henry the VIII’s many wives, favored velvet dresses. Women during this period wore square necklines and piled on the necklaces to exhibit family wealth. Gaudy fashion ruled the day. Long scarves as a loose belt or accessory also proved popular.

Back profile of a princess in an autumn scene with mystic blue fog.

By 1650, two trends became popular that would remain in fashion forever. The true waist design used neither the empire waist, which actually hit just below the breast, nor the high waist of the early medieval times. With this waistband placed where a woman’s waist actually falls, designers created the first hoop skirts.

Rather than the round shape they eventually took on, the earliest hoops were oval. They caused the dress to flare out to either side and that fashion trend caused women to have to sidle through doors sideways for decades when their skirts became wider than the doorways they needed to pass through.

American Influence

A tiny upstart country of only a few colonies at the time began to influence fashion. Although it only had 13 colonies, the nation that would become known as the United States of America melded citizens from France, England, Spain, Scotland and Ireland.

With each country’s fashion influence combined with the constant work it took to forge a new nation, women’s fashions simplified. Even affluent debutantes of the time, like future First Lady Martha Washington, wore an open-fronted dress covered with a contrasting-colored petticoat. In the colonies, women young and old chose simpler fashions with less opulence and greater fluidity and movement.

By 1790, the upstart U.S. influenced fashion, helping bring back the empire waist. A high, draped neckline finally did away with the need for pounds of jewelry, and that increased freedom of movement.

The Egyptian and Grecian influence resurged in the 1800s. Muslin became the “it” fabric. Cap sleeves became all the rage, as did ruffles on an empire-waist gown for formal attire. By 1820, full skirts regained popularity. One fashion statement caused quite a stir: the off-the-shoulder dress.

By the 1850s, the hoop skirt made its comeback. This time, the hoop broadened as it reached the floor, providing a bell shape. The dresses became adorned with embellishments, such as large flowers or beadwork. In the following decade, the skirts remained full, but a bustle in the back poked it out over the woman’s buttocks, while the front remained nearly flush with her legs. Sitting down became far from an easy task.

Modern Fashion

Woman wearing a Victorian dress with matching hat and umbrella.

Toward the end of the 1800s and the dawn of the Victorian era, women’s dresses became straight up and down designs with high necks and long sleeves.

Fashion became serious as women modernized. Although known for prudery, the Victorian age gave rise to another important era that would forever influence fashion: women’s rights.

During the mid-1800s, some vital notions and ideas took shape. They influenced the future of fashion and life. As the Victorian era ended and evolved into the Edwardian era, women convinced more people of their societal importance. As hemlines finally rose above the ankle in 1910, women readied themselves for a new era.

It all happened in 1920. Women received suffrage. Fashion changed to suit the modern woman and hemlines rose remarkably. The flapper girl became all the rage. She frequented nightclubs. She drank and smoked. She worked. She voted. The flapper with her short midi skirt and sleeveless dress, not a gown, became the talk of the town. This intellectual in a drop-waist dress could Charleston with you one minute, then discuss politics over a drink.

Satin and silk dresses became popular again in the 1920s, but the stock market crash in 1929 radically changed fashion in the U.S. and the world over.

The crash ruined many businesses. The wealthy suddenly had nothing and those they had employed had less. Fashion became less about parties and opulence and more about work clothes. The 1930s brought about new patterns for clothing based on the now large range of necklines, sleeve lengths and hemlines. The dress also received new competition, since the 1930s introduced pants for women.

Women in Washington, D.C. office wearing dress.

War in the 1940s brought rationing but influenced women’s wear again since women now comprised most of the workforce. With most First World countries at war, the males of adult age fought. Women took over the efforts at home, running munitions plants, businesses, hospitals, schools and much more.

The women’s business suit came into vogue and never really went out of it. A-line skirts with a belt and blazers suited the 1940s businesswoman. Once the war ended, ruche fabric and other playful touches joined the business suit and other dresses.

The 1950s introduced the popularity of tea-length dresses, especially for formal or semi-formal events. The House of Dior exerted the greatest influence and established itself as a lasting fashion icon brand.

The 1960s brought the sheath dress, made famous by then First Lady Jackie Kennedy. While the wealthy followed her lead, teens and 20-somethings chose the mod look with its mini-skirt lengths paired with chunky heels.

Short remained the length for decades. The 1970s through the 1990s used the mini length as their model for ideal fashion. The 1980s added shoulder pads to virtually everything except bathing suits. Women began taking over boardrooms and felt the need to dress like linebackers.

The 1990s went minimalist in dress looks and length. The micro mini length became so popular that Drew Barrymore wore it on the red carpet. The only place to find a full-length gown was a Cher concert or a fundraiser formal.

The backlash to that came in the early 2000s with the maxi dress. The look paired BoHo fabrics with an ankle-skimming skirt. The new century also brought a fun vintage period the re-visited fashionable dresses of the past.


Knowing the different types of dresses is a start but there’s still a whole lot to know. Which dresses suit you? How should you dress up your dresses with footwear and extras? What else should you know about dresses? Get all the answers to the most common dress questions.

Silhouette of dresses with various necklines.

  • What are the different types of dress necklines?

There are many different necklines. The most common of these, the scoop or round neckline , takes on a C or U shape depending on how deep the neckline plunges.

The other necklines include the crew, jewel, square, V, Boat/Bateau, scoop, collared, gathered, strapless, cowl, diamond, keyhole, sweetheart, off-the-shoulder, halter, ruffled, wide-square/Florentine, halter neckline with straps, strap, décolleté, one shoulder, paper bag, Queen Elizabeth, court, horseshoe, racerback, Queen Ann, wide square, mitered square, scallop, slash/slit, asymmetrical, illusion, cardigan, yoke, banded, bib and high.

  • What is the lower part of a dress called?

The area of the dress from the waistband to the hem gets called a skirt . Depending on the hemline, a skirt may be micro-mini, mini, midi or maxi. Other terms exist for these lengths. For example, a tea-length skirt is a length of midi skirt.

  • What types of wedding dresses are there?

Wedding dresses take many forms. You could have a wedding dress that reaches the floor, such as a ball gown, or one that takes on a cocktail length. A traditional American or Western European wedding dress is white in color.

A collection of white wedding dresses.

The bride typically wears the dress with matching accessories designed to work with the dress. These include a train, a long piece of material, typically satin (taffeta), that trails behind the bride, and a veil that covers the face and neck but allows the bride to see through it. Usually of mesh or lace, it matches the lace used on the dress. As for bridesmaids, check out our Infinity Dress Styles article.

  • What types of dresses are good to wear to a wedding?

Dressing for a wedding as a guest is not easy. There are some specific rules to follow. For example, you definitely can’t wear white. But you also can’t dress better than the bride. Since weddings can have any number of casual themes these days and may occur anywhere, from a stable to a sandy beach, this is easier to do than you think. But if you follow a few simple style tips, you will always know how to dress for a wedding and look great…but not too great.

Churches, temples and other houses of worship may have strict rules and all of them have standards and traditions. If the wedding is taking place at a house of worship of any kind, play it safe by wearing a dress that covers your shoulders or bring a jacket you can wear to cover your shoulders. An off-the-shoulder dress may look great but in some places, it’s considered inappropriate.

As for skirt length, don’t go any shorter than just above the knee. A wedding is not the right event to break out your favorite minidress.

Follow these basic rules and you’ll be okay. But you should also look for the dress code, which should be listed on the wedding invitation itself. If you don’t see a dress code specified, go to the couple’s website or social media account. It’s likely this information will be included on the invite. You should be able to find out about the dress code here. If there is no dress code listed at all, assume the dress code is semi-formal.

Otherwise, dress accordingly. If you see that the wedding is white tie or full attire, dress like you’re going to walk the red carpet at the Oscars. That means you want a formal, floor-length gown that is fully accessorized. Style your hair and wear a little makeup, a touch of lipstick at minimum.

It’s more likely that if you’re going to a formal wedding, it will be black tie. This is still an occasion for a formal gown but you can wear a cocktail- or tea-length dress or even wear pants, if that’s your thing.

If cocktail attire is specified, you can have a bit more fun with your formal wear. A great party dress will work just fine here, along with a cocktail dress or any other formal dress that’s knee-length or longer.

If you’re going to a beach wedding or a casual attire wedding, a simple flowy maxi dress or sundress will do nicely. Leave the flip flops at home no matter what and opt for pretty sandals, flats or wedges.

  • How many types of dresses are there?

Model in a dressing room selecting an outfit.

There are many different types of dresses, everything from everyday dresses to ceremonial dresses that are worn for special occasions. Dresses have ancient origins and over the years, there have been numerous variations and changes to the fashion world.

Designers are coming up with new ideas for dresses all the time. Because dresses are always changing and fashion trends are always being invented, it’s impossible to say at any one moment how many types of dresses there are. But no matter the number, there are plenty of dresses to choose from!

  • What types of dresses have a slimming effect?

Some dresses can help emphasize your best assets (and smallest body parts) to give you an overall slimming effect . A V-neck dress that is cinched at the waist will help make the most of your curves and make your waist look smaller. A maxi dress will make you look longer and leaner. Check out 7 slimming dress styles here.

  • How can you match types of dresses to body type?

Some types of dresses look really great on certain body types but not that hot on others. Learn how to dress for your body type and you’ll learn how to make the most out your assets.

If you have an ample bust and broad shoulders, with a lower body that’s somewhat slimmer, you have more of an apple body shape. A-line and empire waist gowns will help elongate and slim your waist while still highlighting your bustline.

If you have a well-defined waist with a bustline and hipline that are pretty much the same width, you have an hourglass shape. Dresses that cling to your curves will serve you well if you have an hourglass shape. A-line dresses work great as well. Though many say that the hourglass is the coveted shape, an hourglass figure can be difficult to dress. The trick is don’t try to hide those curves and show off that hourglass figure by wearing dresses that fit the waist.

If you have a smaller waistline with hips that are wider than your bust, you have a pear shaped body. Look for dresses with ruffled tops or a lot of detail around the shoulder area. A-line dresses also look good on pear-shaped figures.

The rectangular body shape is somewhat balanced throughout. A-line dresses and dresses with layers or ruffles work wonders on a rectangular body. Anything that is sleeveless or strapless works well on this body type.

Some types of dresses are designed to emphasize specific areas of your body, so you can create the illusion of having an hourglass figure. They’re sometimes referred to as hourglass dress styles. A peplum skirt and blouse, sometimes called a peplum dress, has an extra ruffle of fabric around the hips that helps make you look curvier.

  • Which types of dresses hide belly fat?

If you have to camouflage belly fat, try a higher waistline. An empire waist, for example, will help hide your belly.

  • Are many of the dress styles above also available as maternity dresses?

Yes. In fact, several of the common dress styles come as maternity dresses. See our 7 Maternity Dress Styles article here.

  • Which types of dresses are business casual?

Model wearing a floral spring dress, sunglasses, and red purse.

It’s very difficult to dress business casual . This is a bit of an ill-defined dress code. There aren’t a lot of dresses that can suit this look. However, a sheath paired with a blazer will work nicely for any business casual setting. A peplum dress (which is really a peplum skirt with a matching top) also looks great in any professional setting.

There are many things a tailor can do to alter a dress. The neckline can be changed, a zipper can be added, skirts can be shortened, even a lining can be added. But the shoulders of any dress cannot be adjusted much. Dresses can be made a little bit bigger or a little bit smaller but big size differences are not possible with most dress styles.

Dresses can be dyed a different color, with many exceptions. A white dress can be dyed just about any color you like. A black dress, however, really cannot be dyed so easily. Darker colors are, of course, much more difficult to dye. Fabric that already has a color to it may react in different ways with dye, creating color shades you didn’t expect. You can use a color remover to attempt to lighten the fabric but this may have mixed results.

Also, different fabrics react differently with dyes . A cotton dress will dye differently than a silk dress, for example.

  • How many dresses should a woman own and which dresses should every woman own?

A collage of women wearing various dresses.

There are many occasions in life where you may need to wear a dress because it’s appropriate and it’s the right look. A wedding, a funeral, a formal event, an important business meeting…there are many reasons why you might need to put on a dress. So how many dresses should you have on hand just to make sure you’re ready for anything that may happen?

Popsugar suggests that every woman have at least one “work sheath,” a professional sheath that will look great under a blazer or by itself. Choose a sheath in a muted color that fits well, not too tightly, and has a high-cut neckline.

A maxi dress is another great closet addition. This long, flowing dress looks great for casual to semi-formal events. It’s a go-to for any work picnic, beach wedding or garden party. Make sure you also keep a sweater dress on hand, because sometimes events that require dresses happen during fall and winter, too.

You should also have at least one formal dress you can slip into if needed. You never know when you’re going to get an invite to a formal event on short notice but you will know you can attend as long as you’ve got a dress ready to go . For this same reason, you want to have at least one cocktail dress. For most women, this can double as a little black dress, the go-to, wear-anywhere dress that will never steer you wrong.

Keep a sundress handy for vacations, days at the lake and all those other fun summer events and parties that may crop up during the hotter months of the year.

If you keep these five dresses in your closet, you will be well-dressed and ready for any occasion that arrives, even when it happens at the last minute.

There are several oddities in fashion. For example, you may have noticed that buttons and zippers on women’s clothing are on the opposite side they’re on in men’s clothing. Another one of those quirks of fashion is the pockets . Meaning, of course, that lots of women’s clothes don’t have any. So…what’s that about?

No clothing was made with pockets hundreds of years ago. Pockets were separate cloth pouches worn under the clothing that were used to carry money and small personal items. It was about 400 years ago that pockets were added to men’s clothing. Women’s clothing , however, still went without.

This trend has continued through the centuries and even today, as lots of women’s clothing is still made with no pockets. This is because women’s clothing is often made to flatter and define the lines and curves of the body. Pockets would add bulk. While men’s clothing has historically been designed for practical wear and function, as well as for fashion, women’s clothing is all about looks.

  • Which types of dresses look good with boots?

There are many different ways to pair boots with dresses. Boots can look great with any type of dress. According to Real Simple , you can pair ankle boots with pretty much everything you own, including dresses. Knee-high, over-the thigh and many other types of boots look great with dresses of all lengths. Play around with different combinations. If you like it, wear it!

Woman in white dress and boots sitting on a blue truck.

Don’t forget: any time you need to keep your legs warm, just add tights. This way, you can wear boots and dresses in any length you like.

  • How should you style dresses with jackets?

Dresses and jackets are a natural fashion fit. A jacket is a great way to add another layer to your outfit and it’s a great way to style dresses.

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Add a pop to any dress with a blazer. The blazer is a quick way to make a dress look more professional and more polished. Don’t restrict it just to office wear. Blazers look great with dresses in all sorts of settings. A blazer is a great way to go from a day look to an evening look. Just remove the blazer when the evening arrives.

If you want to add a touch of glam to your dress, reach for a faux fur jacket. A little bit of fur goes a long way toward giving you that movie star energy. If you’re going for a look of elegance, a wool coat won’t let you down. This adds the right touch of class and style that will make your look stand out.

Leather jackets are a great way to add a little edginess to any dress. This instantly adds a bit of a rock star vibe to any dress and it’s a great, easy way to liven up any outfit .

A denim jacket will immediately add a casual, laid-back flair to your look. This shows that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty even while you’re busy looking fabulous. A denim jacket can also be paired with a denim dress to create a chic look. A denim dress is a great match for a leather jacket, too.

  • What is the most popular type of dress?

Women have been wearing dresses for thousands of years and pretty much everybody has a favorite. All women are different and have different bodies, so the dress that looks great on you might not look amazing on someone else. There is no one specific type or cut of dress that stands above the rest by most criteria.

However, the most searched-for term on the internet involving dresses is usually “little black dress.” The classic LBD can be any cut or style, so long as it’s small and black. It makes sense that this is a popular style because the little black dress is famous for being able to go anywhere and look stylish while it’s doing it.

Some dresses will never really go out of style because they have reached iconic fashion status. Simple sheath dresses, flattering fit and flare dresses and A-line dresses are great go-to choices if you’re not quite sure what’s trendy.

Women wearing fancy little black dresses.

Right now, maxi dresses are hot on the fashion scene, according to WhoWhatWear . You’ll see them everywhere once you start looking. On the opposite end of the fashion spectrum, minidresses are also hot on the scene right now.

  • How do you turn a summer dress into a winter dress?

Who says a summer dress can’t be a winter dress? Well…the weather. Summer dresses are made in lightweight, breezy fabrics and they’re often cut to promote airflow on the skin to keep you cool. However, there is a simple way to make just about any summer dress work as winter fashion: layers.

Wear your summer dress with warm tights underneath and a warm coat on top. You can also put on a long-sleeves blouse under your dress. Add a scarf for warmth and flair. Don’t forget boots! While it’s okay to get out your summer dress in winter, you want to leave the summer sandals in the closet. Opt for boots so your feet stay warm and protected.

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60+ Different Types of Dresses: A to Z of Dress Styles 2022

Types of dresses - faverie

A dress is a classic clothing option that provides you with a lot of beauty and versatility. With the large number of types of dresses that are available in fashion right now, there’s something for each and every event, personality, and body type.

When you’re choosing a dress, there is a lot to consider. In the coming chapters, we will take a look at different types of dresses, the history of dresses, what you should think about when trying to pick the perfect dress and different outfit combinations that use dresses as their main focal point.

We hope that you’ll read through all of the following information so you can expand your wardrobe to include more dresses and really express your beauty and personality.

Let’s get started!


Introduction to dresses

Dresses are a feminine clothing option that can be worn casually, formally, and everything in between. There are so many different styles of dresses; you can always find something that will be appropriate for where you’re going.

In this chapter, we’re going to talk about what a dress is by definition, the history of the dress, and the different parts of a dress. If you need to choose a dress for a special occasion or everyday wear, you’ll know all the basics by the end of this chapter.

What’s a dress?

A dress is a clothing garment for a female that typically consists of a one-piece design that has a skirt and bodice. A style of dress will reflect the time period when it was designed. There have been many different types of dress styles over the decades.

Wearing a dress is very different than wearing pants and a top. Dresses can give off a very professional appearance; you can look very feminine. And you can even choose a dress that’s appropriate for a casual event while looking well put together. Contrary to popular belief, dresses can actually be very comfortable. You just need to choose the right one.

Most women only have a few dresses in their closet these days, whereas dresses were what women primarily wore hundreds of years ago. Today dresses are very different from what women were wearing in the 1800s.

We now have very simple styles that require a lot less fabric for their construction. However, some women still really prefer to wear dresses that flatter their body type and provide them with a stylish go-to outfit each day for work or their social life. Dresses provide a style that you can’t get with anything other clothing items in your closet.

History and origins

We’ve seen a lot of different dresses come and go. Dresses have changed to accommodate changes in fashion, functionality needs, climate, and much more. Some styles have completely disappeared, while others are still evolving and changing with the times.

Dress designers have always taken inspiration from things like religion, cultural customs, nature, etc. Let’s take a look at the history of the dress and how it has evolved over the years.

It is believed that the very first official formal dress was designed in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago. The Tarkhan dress was more of a linen v-neck shirt that was long and flowing. It was very breathable, which was important in the Egyptian heat.

The Minoans in the area of Crete had more elaborate dresses that included embroidery for the first time. Greek women wore similar clothing but started incorporating very bright colors into their designs.

In the 19th century, we saw a big shift in what women were wearing. Dress designs started to incorporate large billowing skirts with puffy sleeves. An oversized silhouette was preferred, and it was common for wire or whalebone to be used to create structure within a dress design.

As the 19th century evolved, women started to wear cinched corsets to make their midsection appear smaller. This evolved into the Victorian era, where dresses were about as elaborate as they have ever been. Women started to experiment with off-the-shoulder sleeves and plunging necklines.

Woman golden dress embellished

The 20th century reflected conservative dress styles that still showed definition in the waist area. Various fabrics were used to create dresses for daily wear and special events. This included lace, chiffon, and much more sewn into ruffles, sashes, etc.

What are the different parts of a dress?

While styles of dresses have evolved over the years, the general structure has remained essentially the same. The concept of a fitted top with a flowing lower skirt is what the whole scheme has been based on. There are some other parts of a dress to consider, however. They are as follows:


The neckline is at the very top of a dress. This is where the arms are attached, and the head goes through this area. The neckline is often what people notice first about a dress because of its proximity to the face.

Some necklines are higher up, creating a more conservative look. Others are lower to create a sexier appearance. This includes a plunging neckline, v-neck, off-the-shoulder, or halter neckline.


Not all dresses have sleeves these days, but sleeves can add a very distinct amount of style to a dress regardless of the season. You can choose a dress for cold weather that has long sleeves. Short sleeves that resemble a t-shirt are lovely and make a dress appear more casual. You can completely skip sleeves for a more elegant or sexy appearance.


The upper portion of a dress that fits on the torso is considered the bodice. This area starts at the neckline and extends down to the portion of the dress where the skirt starts.

The bodice can be loose for a modern/casual look, but more formal dresses like wedding gowns often have a structure that makes the bodice appear more sophisticated. A bodice can be very decorated with embroidery, beading, or lace.


The waistline of a dress is the horizontal seam that runs across the middle of the body. This part of a dress is very important because it helps to create definition and shape. The waistline of a dress should be chosen based on body shape and type.

A high waistline is a great option for women that want to hide their shape a bit. You can choose a very tight and low waistline if you want to show off your curves.


The bottom portion of a dress is the skirt, and this is probably one of the most important parts of a dress. Without the skirt, you wouldn’t be wearing a dress. Shapes, lengths, and sizes of a skirt vary.

Formal dresses usually have layers of fabric that make the skirt look very big and flowing. The skirt of a formal dress may feature beading and accents as well.

What are the different types of dress necklines?

There are dozens of necklines that can be incorporated into the design of a dress. We could write an entire article about just necklines, but we’re going to talk about some of the most commonly worn necklines in current fashion.

A traditional neckline that cuts down slightly to the chest and has straps that extend over the shoulders can be formed in a few different ways. For example, a square neckline has very distinct lines that form a square on the chest.

A sweetheart neckline comes down similarly to a square neckline. However, the horizontal portion on the chest dips down into curves that meet in the middle at the top of the cleavage. Scoop necklines swoop down into a wide U on the chest.

A jewel neckline comes very high up on the chest, so it touches the very bottom of the neck. An illusion neckline is similar, but the actual cut of the dress comes down much lower.

There is usually a piece of sheer fabric at the top of that area that covers the chest all the way up to the neck. A portrait neckline is also high, but it has a wider cut at the neck that makes it almost look like the straps are going to be off the shoulder.

How many dresses should a woman own? Why?

If you are a woman that loves dresses, you might be wondering how many of them you should own. If your closet is big enough, I suppose you can’t own too many dresses.

Hanging clothes closet rack

If you’re just starting your dress collection and don’t have an unlimited budget, you’ll want to choose your dresses carefully. There are some very practical styles that you can choose that provide you with the most versatile options possible.

You can break down your dress collection into the types of dresses that you own. A couple of formal dresses are more than enough to get started. A basic black dress (or two) is something that every woman should own. You can also opt for a basic navy blue dress.

If you work in a professional environment that requires you to dress up each day, look for basic dresses that can be matched with a variety of blazers and cardigans to make your wardrobe more functional.

You can also choose casual dresses in a variety of prints that can be worn when you’re going out with friends for dinner, or you have an event to attend at your child’s school.

We hope that our information regarding what a dress is and the basics of a dress have gotten you thinking about your own dress collection. In the next few chapters, we will be talking more about different types of dresses, dress ideas, and much more.

All different types of dresses [A to Z]

We’ve discussed the basics of the dress; what it consists of, how it’s designed, and its history of it. In chapter two, we’re going to talk more specifically about the types of dresses that you can choose from if you have a special event that you need to dress up for. Not every dress will work for your specific figure, style sense, and budget. Luckily, there are a lot of different dress types to consider.

As a woman, it’s important to know about the different types of dresses that are being designed these days. It’s even ideal that you know about the different historical dresses that were once popular. This allows you to make a bolder fashion statement when you dress up.

Group women dancing sunset

It also may seem like your options are endless when you have to select a dress for an outing. There are a lot of factors to take into account that affect the style of dress that works best for you. This may include your age, body type, weight, budget, personality, style, the season, and much more.

Let’s take a look at some commonly worn dress types!

A-line dress

An A-line dress is probably one of the most popular dress types. It’s practical for a lot of different body types. The most commonly worn A-line dress is one that has a fitted bodice with a waistline that flares out to a large skirt.

The effect is triangular, forming what looks like a letter “A.” If you have a narrow waist, wide hips, and a shapely bust, this is a great dress option for you.

A-line dresses can vary quite a bit. Ideally, the hem has to be wider than the shoulder area. The waist can be anything from cinched to corset-based. You can genuinely select an A-line dress based on what look you’re trying to achieve. They’ve been around since the 1950s, so we’ve seen a lot of variation over the years.

Apron dress

Aprons have been around for centuries, used as a garment that would protect nicer clothes underneath. Eventually, the apron evolved into its own fashion statement as a dress. It was largely a cultural item that was worn by Amish women or Norse women.

It had a very conservative look to it, only made in very neutral colors. You can now find the apron dress in a lot of different styles. It can be made to look very feminine; it can have straps that cross at the back, and buttons can be added for some detail.

You’ll usually see large, functional pockets on the front of an apron dress. You might consider this to be more uniform-like than something formal and fancy. However, it’s very easy to make, and it can be worn in many different ways.

Asymmetrical dress

An asymmetrical dress is easy to pick out because it will have a slanted hemline or neckline. It’s commonly worn as a one-shoulder design. You may also see the bottom of the dress shorter in the front with a longer back that almost resembles a train.

A front crisscross design may include layers of fabric that are layered over one another to create an angular, asymmetrical look. The angle of the slant can vary, creating a very subtle asymmetrical look or something bolder.

It was made popular in the 1970s. Cocktail dresses and gowns were made asymmetrical for a unique and stylish dress option.

Bandage dress

A bandage dress is a very tight style that is designed to look like you’re wearing woven pieces of fabric wrapped across your body in an almost mummy-type look. Essentially, a bandage dress looks like you’re wearing gauze strips across your body.

It was originally created by designer Azzedine Alaia and also made popular by Herve Leger. Many stars have worn the bandage dress for a sexy look.

It’s usually a shorter dress that looks more like a cocktail dress than anything else. You won’t find a bandage dress at a very formal affair. It works well for a woman that has a small waist and curvy hips.

Baby doll dress

A baby doll dress features a short skirt that ends at the middle of the thigh. The top of the bodice is often strapless, revealing some skin in the cleavage area. They were made famous in the 1950s as a more casual nightwear outfit.

Woman street posing babydoll dress

A baby doll dress was worn by Carroll Baker in the movie Baby Doll, which is how this dress got its name. The design has evolved into a sexier option over the decades, having been worn by stars like Madonna and Courtney Love. Fabrics vary but can include lace, satin, and even ruffles.


There are many different types of gowns, but the ballgown is very popular and classic. It’s worn for a very formal affair, and you may find many wedding dresses following the ballgown style. The bodice is fitted down to a very tight waist area.

The full-length skirt is very full and may also feature a train out the back for more style and sophistication. Ballgowns come in a variety of colors. They’re usually solid in color and won’t feature prints or geometrical designs. You can often find embroidery or beading on the bodice or skirt.

Ball gowns are worn by both women and small children. It creates a very regal look that’s often worn by wealthy people of importance. The cost is usually rather high, as a lot of fabric is used to make this type of dress.

The skirt alone has many layers of fabric. It may even feature some type of framed structure inside of the skirt in order to keep the structure in place.

Blazer dress

A blazer dress is also known as a tuxedo dress. It’s designed to look a bit more masculine, adding different angles and layers to a typical dress style. It’s a mix between a traditional look and something more formal, but it’s often worn as a more casual option.

A blazer dress is a great option for a special dinner, corporate event, or as a party dress if you’re going to change out for something fancier halfway through the evening.

You don’t have to put too much thought into what you want to wear with your blazer dress. It pairs well with many different styles of shoes and accessories. A pair of solid-colored heels that match your dress is ideal.

When picking a bag, choose something with a bit more structure. A clutch that is free of straps and too much detail will look nice. You can match your accessories to any accents on your dress.

Balloon dress

The balloon dress is essentially two different garments in one. The skirt is usually comprised of a straight skirt along with a gathered skirt. The straight skirt sits about two inches shorter than the gathered skirt.

When being constructed, the bottom and the top of the material at the waist and hem will be sewn in a gathered fashion. The straight skirt is sewn on the inside of the gathered skirt to create a ballooned appearance. You may also see balloon sleeves sewn onto a simpler dress for a very flowing, bohemian look.

Blouson dress

A blouson dress features a cinched waist along with blousing material that is billowed out slightly. The bodice has a puffed-out appearance, so it works well with many different body types.

There isn’t a set length of the dress. Some have fitted hems that resemble a pencil skirt. Others look like a flowing maxi dress. You can find casual versions that work for everyday wear, and formal blouson dresses can be worn to special events.

You can style a blouson dress in a few different ways. It can be worn alone but looks lovely with a sweater, blazer, or jacket over it. Try to match other articles with the fabric of your dress. Blouson dresses look nice when made with polyester, denim, cotton, etc. You can pair your dress with boots, heels, or even ballet flats.

Boho dress

Boho (or bohemian) is a type of style that embraces the free spirit of hippies in the 60s and 70s. If you see a boho dress that you like, it probably has a long flowing skirt that may have different tiers of fabric worked into it.

Boho dresses made a big comeback in the early 2000s, and they are still popular today. They are made with bold prints that are usually floral or have some sort of distressed look.

A boho dress goes well with unique accessories that are made of wood, embroidered items, and beading. A fringed purse or bag with a casual pair of sandals will complete the look. Hair should be worn loose.

You don’t want to dress up a boho dress too much. It’s a very casual look that is for everyday wear. You probably won’t wear one of these dresses to a formal affair.

Bodycon dress

A bodycon dress allows you to show off your very best features thanks to how stretchy and fitted its design is. If you have curves, then this is the dress for you. First introduced in the 90s, the bodycon dress has gotten a bit of a trashy reputation.

However, there are plenty of tasteful options that you can wear to feel more confident and sophisticated. Why not flaunt what you have?

To really complete the look of your bodycon dress, wear it with a high pair of heels that matches hoop earrings, dazzling accessories, and wear your hair with lots of volume. This is a bold dress that takes courage to pull off properly.

Bardot dress

A Bardot dress is often styled with an off-the-shoulder concept. The goal is to show off your neck, chest, and shoulders for a sexy look. It’s a common dress at a cocktail party or a more casual event. This type of dress is made in various colors and materials, and it often features accents made of lace or beading.

Woman looking camera bardot dress

You can wear a Bardot dress that cuts straight across the collarbone area but has two small straps that keep the dress in place. This allows for more secure movement throughout the night. The length can vary and can include a small slit up one side, an angular design at the bottom, etc.

Bell-sleeve dress

A dress will bell-shaped sleeves can be both long or short. The sleeves can end at the elbow or go all the way to the wrist. The sleeves are fitted at the top of the arm where the bicep is located.

They then flare out towards the elbow and are then gathered at the armhole area at the bottom. The actual flare of the bell can vary quite a bit.

You can create a very noticeable and dramatic look with a large bell, but there are more modest bell-shaped sleeves that only come out slightly at the very bottom.

Bell-sleeve dresses are made in a multitude of fabric types. You may find them in casual styles with plaid prints, while there are other formal bell-shaped sleeve dresses that are satin, lace, etc. What you pair your dress with will depend on the dress you choose

Bouffant dress

A bouffant dress is a gown that has a very full skirt that looks a lot like a hoop skirt. It can be anywhere from mid-length or go all the way down to the floor. This was a popular style in the mid-19th century, but the dress has evolved since then. Its concept is still used today.

You’ll see the bouffant style used a lot in the design of a wedding gown or ballgown. Some modern dresses take inspiration from the bouffant dress to make something more casual and pretty. A lot of shorter party dresses feature this style but are made in floral prints and bold colors.

Cocktail dress

The cocktail dress is a semi-formal outfit that is often worn to events like cocktail parties or afternoon events. After World War I, there was a rise in working women’s freedom and popularity. This is when women started to drink at business events. This is how the cocktail party got its name, and the dress is based on that concept.

The cocktail dress is functional and comfortable. You should be able to wear it for the duration of an event, mingling and socializing with ease. Cocktail dresses come in many different colors and styles, but they are usually more fitted and short in length than something formal.

Camisole dress

The camisole dress (or Cami dress) is a flowing dress that does not have any sleeves. It is held up by two small straps that are both small strips of fabric that have a rope-like design.

It’s a very casual dress that is often banned from events where young girls and boys will be attending because they are slightly revealing up top. They show off a lot of skin around the collarbone and chest. The camisole dress usually stops at the knee or goes slightly below that point.

Corset dress

A corset was designed to hold a woman’s waist in place for an extended period of time, so it looked thinner and slender. The corset was then worked into the design of a dress. The bodice of a corset dress is essentially a corset, but the appearance of it is a bit more detailed and elaborate.

It may have stitching, beading, or embroidery on it. There is then a skirt attached to the bottom of the corset. It usually flows out into a large gathering of fabric to make the waist of the person wearing the dress even smaller.

Cape dress

Cape dresses combine a simple dress with an actual cape. Attached to the dress in some way is an extra piece of fabric that is either pinned on or sewn on. The cape and the dress will be made with the same material so that it matches perfectly.

This is a very serious and sophisticated dress option that exudes confidence and beauty. Match your heels to your dress for a very put-together look. Coordinate your earrings with your necklace, bracelets, etc.

Coat dress

A coat dress looks like a large dress coat that a man would wear, or it looks a lot like a woman’s blazer. However, the size of it is larger, so it can be worn as a dress. The designer will work in some different curves and buttons to give the wearer more shape.

You’ll usually see some buttons or zippers on the front to make it look like the dress is an actual coat that is being held closed that way. Wear a coat dress with heels and carry a simple handbag. Accessories should also be kept simple and should match any hardware on your dress.

Denim dress

A denim dress can be cut a number of ways, but it will be made of the same material that your favorite pair of jeans is. This is a casual look that is perfect for a girls’ night out, a weekend date, or to head out shopping for the day.

You can dress it up with formal heels, but it can work really well with a pair of athletic sneakers as well. Keep your accessories casual with a denim dress.

Empire dress

An empire dress has a high waist that hugs your body just under your bust line. The rest of the skirt will flow out, concealing your waist and hips a bit. It’s a great option if you’re not thrilled with the lower portion of your body but still want to show off your bust and waist.

Woman red empire dress

The empire dress is usually full length, but the width of the skirt will vary. You can wear an empire dress to elongate the look of your body if you’re looking to add some height to your appearance.

Fit and flare dress

Fit and flare dresses are very flattering for women with hourglass shapes. It’s similar to an empire dress in some regard. It has a fitted bodice that ends just below the bust. It will then flare out at the hips and narrow slightly near the knees.

It’s appropriate to wear to work, but you can also wear a fit and flare dress out for a date or formal dinner. If you have wide hips, the structured design of this dress type will keep you comfortable and gorgeous. You can top a fit and flare dress with a cropped jacket, sweater, blazer, etc.

Handkerchief dress

Made with an asymmetrical hem, a handkerchief dress is made from various fabric panels at different lengths. The hem has a number of corners that will hang down into points.

The fabric is usually very thin and sheer so that your dress sits loosely on your body and flows in the breeze. Because this is a more casual look, you can choose a strappy sandal or ballet flat as your shoe option. Match your purse to your shoes and wear a stack of bangle bracelets and dangling earrings.

Halter dress

A halter dress has a fitted bodice that usually has a deep cut at the chest. The dress’s straps will come up and wrap around the back of the neck. The shoulders are left exposed, as is the entire back. The skirt of the dress will then flow out to the ground. A halter dress can be both full at the skirt level or slightly narrower for a fitted look.

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High-low dress

You can wear a high-low dress for just about any occasion. It’s a very versatile dress that comes with high-low hemlines in both evening gowns and party dresses. A short look at the front makes the dress look very fun and flirty. The back is much longer, giving a more conservative look that really transforms the entire look into something much more sophisticated.

Kimono dress

A legitimate Kimono dress is the official dress of Japan; however, we have a lot of Kimono-inspired dresses in the U.S. as well. A t-shaped design that wraps around the front of the body, a Kimono dress will typically be worn in a bright floral print with casual accessories and shoes.

Kimono dresses are conservative, so they cover the arms and legs. There may be a slight v-cut in at the chest, but don’t expect to see a lot of skin with this dress option.

Kaftan dress

A kaftan is a robe or tunic that fits similarly to a Kimono. It has been historically worn by a number of cultures, including Russians and Asians. A lot of fabric is used to create a flowing look.

The arms are fed through large fabric panels, creating a one-piece look that doesn’t have a lot of definition or structure. Bold colors may be used to make a kaftan dress, but prints and embroidery are also popular.

Little black dress

Every woman needs at least one little black dress in her closet. It’s nice to have one for every season. This is the go-to dress that you’ll wear when you need to head to a formal event last minute. Choose your little black dress, so it accentuates your specific body type. Pick something practical that can be paired with different shoes, sweaters, blazers, etc.

Lace dress

Lace adds a lot of style and femininity to a dress. Usually, a lace dress has some sort of fabric underneath that conceals the body, and the lace lays on top to create a softer look. Lace is used in the design of wedding dresses, gowns, party dresses, and much more.

Long-sleeve dress

If you’re going to be wearing your dress during months of the year that are very cold outside, you can choose a long-sleeve dress as your go-to formal option. Most long-sleeve dresses have very tight sleeves that attach to a fitted bodice.

Woman white dress

The skirt will flow out down the legs to soften the look. You’ll usually have a full-length skirt if you’re opting for a dress with full sleeves.

Mermaid dress

Mermaid dresses are unique, but they give a really neat look for a special event. You don’t find the mermaid style for casual looks because of how the outline of the skirt looks.

Most mermaid dresses are topless at the bodice, and the bottom of the dress will fit very tightly all the way down to the area of the knees. This is where the skirt will flare out boldly into different layers of fabric.

Essentially, the bottom of the skirt is designed to look like a mermaid tail. The mermaid dress is usually made in a bright and bold color to resemble the look of a mermaid. The fabric may also have a bit of a sheen to it.

You may catch some subtle mermaid gowns on the runway or at a special event. Some even feature sheer fabric as the lower skirt, with a shorter skirt laying underneath to cover the body.

Mini dress

A mini dress is a casual dress option that is usually relatively short and has a revealing neckline. It’s more of a cocktail dress that is fun and flirty. Mini dresses come in all kinds of styles, colors, and fits. You can stick with a solid color for a more formal approach.

There are also fun mini dresses that have a floral or geometric pattern to them. A mini dress may have an off-the-shoulder neckline; it can be cut asymmetrically at the bottom or feature different types of embroidery, beading, etc.

Midi dress

Very different from a maxi dress, a midi dress rises above the ankles but will fall around the mid-calf area. They come in a multitude of styles that will fit just about any body type and style personality.

You can wear a midi dress in most seasons, and it can be dressed up or down with the accessories that you choose. Don’t be afraid to pair it with a denim jacket and sneakers for a casual look.

You can also dress a midi dress up with heels and dazzling accessories. An affordable dress option, you can easily accumulate a large selection of midi dresses in your closet.

Maxi dress

A maxi dress is similar to a midi dress, but it is a longer article of clothing. It’s a very simple style that is made with cotton fabric or something similar for a stretchy and comfortable look. It’s perfect for warm weather, thanks to how breezy and flowing it is.

You can also find maxi dresses that have full sleeves for a warmer and higher coverage option. Maxi dresses work with any figure as you can choose between different waistlines and necklines.

Simple jewelry is all you need to complete the look of a maxi dress, and sandals or heels can be worn as your shoe option. Also, keep your handbag simple as well.

Off-the-shoulders dress

Showing a little bit of skin can make your outfit look incredibly sexy and sophisticated. A dress that has an off-the-shoulder design leaves a little bit of intrigue and interest to be desired. The shoulder may be low on one side, but it can be cut straight across the chest to reveal both shoulders as well.

Make sure that you choose the right undergarments for your off-the-shoulder dress. You don’t want to see the strap of a bra, so choose something that is strapless or has one strap on the side of your body that is covered. A great pair of heels completes the look.

One-shoulder dress

A one-shoulder dress really speaks for itself and requires very little in the way of accessories. The dress sleeve can be a cap sleeve or caped sleeve that includes extra fabric. There may also be a thin strap holding the dress on your shoulder.

Make sure that you feel comfortable in a one-shoulder dress before purchasing it. You want to ensure that it fits well and feels comfortable. The area under your arm should fit well, so there isn’t a gap in the fabric.

The opposite side holding up the dress should fit your body nicely as well, so you can move around with ease all night. This is a feminine look that you should pair with heels and a great handbag.

Peplum dress

A peplum dress has a ruffle of fabric around the hips/waist of the dress. It’s a popular look that really accentuates the curves of a woman. You may find a peplum dress that has a belt or band just above the ruffled area. The rest of the dress is usually very simple, so your attention is drawn to the unique peplum area. This look is very professional so that you can wear it to work or a business event.

Pencil dress

A pencil dress features a very slim-fitting skirt and a tight top. It’s a slender look that is very sexy. Most pencil dresses come in dark colors to increase the sex appeal of the look. The top may have full coverage shoulders and sleeves, while a slight v-neck or halter neckline may be used. A high pair of classic heels are perfect for completing a pencil dress.

Peasant dress

A peasant dress is a very boxy clothing item that has a very stretchy neckline and bunchy sleeves. There isn’t a lot of shape to this dress, so you’ll want to be careful with choosing something that fits you very well.

The loose style can be structured a bit using a belt, and stick to simple flats as your shoes to prevent the look from getting too complicated. A peasant dress looks very similar to a tunic top, so it’s a casual look overall.

Princess gown

A princess gown is very formal and features a full skirt with a lot of detail and fabric. Different embellishments may include beading, stitching, sparkles, and much more. It’s a very romantic and feminine look that is perfect for females of all ages.

Woman sitting sofa interior big dress

Even young girls will wear princess gowns to special events. It’s also a popular look for wedding dresses when the bride wants to look like a regal princess on their special day.

Pouf dress

A pouf dress is a very traditional and fairytale-like garment that has been carried into modern times for very elaborate and special events. An ordinary skirt is taken to the next level with a more rigid and structured design that billows out into waves of fabric. The skirt gathers at the waist and then hugs the bodice area.

A pouf dress is right up your alley if you want to look like you stepped right out of a movie from hundreds of years ago. Your skirt swirls around you for an enchanting look. Be careful with your shoe and accessory choices, so you stick with the traditional nature of the pouf dress and don’t distract from its beauty.

Pinafore dress

A pinafore dress is also known as an apron dress. There is usually some type of shirt either worn underneath the dress or worked into the design of the dress to create the look of a two-piece design.

It’s a casual clothing item that is often worn by young girls or when you want to achieve a more casual look. You can wear a pinafore dress with sneakers, ballet flats or sandals. Don’t try to dress the look up too much with heels or elaborate accessories. It’s really a very simple and young style.

Qipao dress

The Qipao dress is also known as a cheongsam dress. You may have also heard it called a mandarin gown. It is a formal dress that is typically worn by Chinese women, inspired by the Manchu people. It’s a long, form-fitting dress that has a high neck/collar.

It also has an asymmetrical fabric panel at the chest that lays left over the right side. Slits are usually included on each side as well. It was originally designed in the 1920s but has retained its popularity in Asian culture since then.

Sheath dress

A sheath dress is a straight-cut, fitted dress that has a minimal waistline. The bodice and the skirt come together in small stitches in the fabric that accentuate a woman’s hips. The length of a sheath dress can vary, and different patterns and fabric colors are used to create a specific look. It’s a more casual look that can be paired with simple accessories and shoes. It’s very summer-like and breezy.


A sari is a dress that is popular in Indian culture and worn in areas like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is a long drape of fabric that usually wraps tightly around the waist and has one end of fabric draped over the shoulder. The dress is designed in such a way that it sometimes shows off the midriff.

Shift dress

A shift dress features fabric that falls right from the shoulders and circles around the bust area. It usually has a very pronounced scoop neck or boat neckline. Very similar to a sheath dress, shift dresses are slightly more form-fitting and tighter in the waist area.

They became very popular in the 1920s and regained their popularity in the 1960s. They are very flattering on rectangular body types and body types that are columnar or simple without a lot of curves.

Slip dress

A slip dress is designed to look like an undergarment or petticoat. It is cut on the bias with very thin spaghetti straps. It’s not quite as sheer as an actual underslip, but it’s commonly made of lace or silk.

Woman elegant dress fur coat

The goal is to show off the curves of the woman’s body underneath the dress. It’s a popular dress in Hollywood, with many stars having worn slip dresses to special events to make a bold fashion statement. It’s a simple look that makes a big impression.

Skater dress

A skater dress doesn’t have anything to do with a skateboard. Instead, it’s the style of dress that ice skaters wear when they are performing. Of course, the style can be worn off the ice, though the dress may look a bit simpler and cover the body more.

The bodice is fitted and usually covers the chest area. The shirt is short and will flare out dramatically from the waistline. It’s usually worn with heels or a high platform sandal.

Strapless dress

Strapless dresses are very beautiful and sexy. There isn’t anything holding the dress up on the shoulders, so you need to make sure that it fits you well so you can move around. Strapless dresses are usually worn for formal events, especially as part of a wedding attire.

It’s not something you’ll choose if you’re going to a casual event where you’ll be doing a lot of dancing or moving around. Strapless dresses can be both short and long.


A sundress is a very simple and casual look that is worn when the temperatures outside are in the higher digits. This is because the straps are usually very thin, the fabric is also thin, and the length tends to be on the short side.

Sundresses often have a feminine floral pattern on them, but they can also be solid in color. You may see different ruffles and styles of fabric used for the skirt.

Smock dress

A smock dress is a dress that has a very loose fit. It’s usually shorter in length, hitting the middle of the thigh area. It’s similar to a midi dress but with less structure and form to it. This is a general term that can incorporate a lot of different cuts, styles, colors, and patterns.

The smock dress fits a lot like a t-shirt dress or swing dress. You can move freely in it with the skirt swinging around you. Pair it with a pair of comfortable sandals or even a pair of casual sneakers and a denim jacket for when it cools down in the evening.

Sweater dress

A sweater dress is something you would wear in the winter months when the weather outside is cold. It looks like a large, oversized sweater. However, it can reach anywhere from the middle of the thigh down to below the knee.

Sweater dresses may have an oversized appearance, but it’s not uncommon to see one that is more slender and reaches up high into a turtleneck line. Sweater dresses look great with a pair of knee-high boots and a leather handbag.

Shirt dress

A shirt dress is similar to a smock dress. It appears to be an oversized dress shirt that is worn down to the knee or just above that point. The sleeve length can be to the elbow with a rolled-up look, or you can have a sleeveless shirt dress that is very breathable and comfortable for the summer months.

Stick with a casual shoe option like a flat sandal or even a pair of ballet flats. Shirt dresses should be paired with very simple accessories like a pair of hoop earrings or a set of bangle bracelets.

Swing dress

Swing dresses have been around for decades, but the modern swing dress has an A-line shape. The top of the “A” will cling to your chest area while the rest of the dress flows down at the legs.

There’s a lot of extra fabric at the bottom and not a lot of structure or form-fitting design. It’s great for a night out dancing with friends, but it’s casual enough for just a quick lunch on the weekend or to wear shopping.

The swing dress is usually made out of a very thin and breathable material that works well in the summer. You can also top it with a sweater or jacket if the temperature is cooler.

T-shirt dress

A t-shirt dress is usually made of cotton and fits at the top like an actual t-shirt. The neckline and sleeves are simple, and the bottom of the fabric extends much longer than a shirt would, so it covers the legs. The entire dress is cut very straight and doesn’t usually hug the waist much.

You can wear this look with sandals, sneakers, ballet flats, and so much more. Top it with a denim jacket or cardigan sweater for a fun and comfortable look for going out with friends or on a date.

Tea-length dress

A tea-length dress is one that has a hemline that ends just above the ankle but below the knee. Some of the more modern tea-length dresses may be a few inches shorter. The bodice is usually fitted with the waistline flaring out into a full, pleated skirt.

You may see this type of dress in very pale and feminine colors, including floral prints. The skirt may also have layers of sheer fabric that softens the entire look of the dress.

Tutu dress

While you probably wouldn’t venture out of the house wearing an actual ballet tutu, the tutu dress is fun and gives off the same concept. Lots of tulle is layered to create a tiered look that can be both short or long.

Woman sitting tutu dress cupcake

You can find them in very bold colors, but a classic tutu dress is made in earth tones or light shades of pink. The top of the dress is attached and fitted, but it may almost look like there is a separate top or leotard underneath.

Tube dress

A tube dress is usually strapless and has a very slender and straight design. It’s made of a stretchy material that will hug the body and keep everything in place. You wear a tube dress with a pair of heels to match. The entire look is very elongated and thin. It’s a comfortable and casual look as well.

Tent dress

A tent dress is a full and loose-fitting article of clothing that has a very narrow shoulder design. It widens quite a bit at the hem area, but there is no defined waistline. It’s called a tent dress because it appears to be a very large piece of fabric that essentially hangs on the body.

It’s perfect for shapely women, but anyone can wear this dress. You can dress it up with heels and accessories or keep it simple and casual with flats.

Tunic dress

A tunic dress looks like an oversized tunic top that hangs on the body with minimal stitching to bring in the structure of the waist or bust. It can have long sleeves, ¾ sleeves, short sleeves, or even be sleeveless.

Usually made from a very durable and breathable fabric, the tunic dress is comfortable and cool. The chest may feature a few buttons, and a cut down the middle. You may also see a collared design for the neck as well.

Wrap dress

Wrap dresses are perfect for just about anybody. They are usually stitched together in one garment, but the look conveys that fabric was wrapped around the body in a way that hugs every curve.

A wrap dress can be floral and simple for a casual look, but more formal, solid-colored wrap dresses are also available. They may have a small tie around the waist or have a gathering at one hip to add some style.

Now that you have an adequate idea of what different dress types there are available, you should be able to narrow down what kind of dresses will look best on your specific body type. You can also choose your dress based on the type of event that you’re going to and what will look appropriate.

Dresses Outfit Ideas

Your knowledge of different types of dresses and dress styles may have you inspired to pick out some new outfits. In this chapter, we will discuss some of the different outfit ideas that you can work into your wardrobe using dresses as your main clothing choice.

Whether you have to attend a formal event for work or you’re heading out on a date, let’s look at what dresses are popular right now and how you can go about choosing what will look best on you.

What type of dresses are in fashion now?

Trends in fashion change pretty frequently, while some classic styles will also be acceptable. If you’re someone that likes to keep up with what’s hot at the moment, you’re probably wondering what kind of dresses are in fashion right now.


Dresses that are popular right now for more casual wear include a length that goes down to the knee or just above that point. More formal attire will take that length down to the floor.


Very feminine colors have made a comeback recently. You’ll see a lot of light pinks and pastel colors. Floral prints are also popular for casual sundresses and maxi dresses. Colors are darker when you’re wearing a formal gown or full-length dress.


Very soft and sheer fabrics are popular in the spring and summer months. Stretchy and comfortable fabrics make for very practical dresses that can be worn by all different body types. You may also see ruffles and panels of fabric that wrap around the body to hide areas of the body you don’t like while accentuating the ones that you do.

The neckline of a dress is popular if it is asymmetrical, hanging down off one of the shoulders. Strapless dresses are still popular, thanks to their classic design. Halter dresses and spaghetti strap dresses are still fashionable, as long as you’re wearing them appropriately.

How do I choose my style?

Your style ultimately determines what you want to wear when you’re dressing up. Your style may be flirty, fashionable, professional, conservative, or fun. Rest assured, there are dresses out there for just about every personality. Struggling with determining what your style is? Read on to find out more.

Woman smiling blue dress

Take a look at what you already have in your closet. You want to pay close attention to your favorite items that frequently make their way in and out of rotation.

Pay attention to the colors of your clothing, their comfort level, the fabrics that you gravitate to, and the clothes that fit you best. You should be able to find dresses that incorporate those different features into something more formal.

What are the dresses like that you already own? Are there things about those dresses that you absolutely hate? You will want to shop for something new that addresses those dislikes. Don’t be afraid to try something completely new to see how you feel about it.

You don’t have to always pick dresses based on a classic style that will always be popular. Choose something that has the potential to go out of style in a year or two, but you’re going to look great when you do wear that dress over that time period. Donate it or pass it on when it’s no longer something you find stylish.

Which dresses are suitable for my body shape?

Knowing what you like in the way of style is important, but you should also pay close attention to the shape of your body. You want to pick something that’s going to be flattering, comfortable, and make you look your best.

Don’t choose a dress that you’re going to be falling out of because it just isn’t the dress for you. There are so many different kinds of dresses; you’ll have no trouble finding something you love that also makes you look wonderful.

An apple-shaped body will usually be slender up top and then larger in the area of the bottom and hips. A dress that flatters this body type may have an elongated bodice that hugs your body all the way down to where a full skirt will emerge.

A pear-shaped body features a very small waist with large hips. You should show off your hips with a fitted dress that hugs your curves from top to bottom.

A rectangle body shape doesn’t have a lot of curves, but you can choose a dress that creates a structure where you need it by way of gathers of fabric, the pattern used, etc.

An inverted triangle body shape features a large bust and a smaller lower body. Wear a dress that is tight up top, but it should flow down into a fuller skirt in order to balance your proportions.

Dresses outfit ideas

Combining different articles of clothing can create a very unique and distinct look. It’s even better if you can choose versatile dresses that can be used in many ways. This makes your money go further in the long run. Let’s take a look at some potential outfit combinations that you can use for a multitude of events.

Maxi dress + jacket

Maxi dresses are incredibly popular thanks to how comfortable and versatile they are. You can pair a maxi dress of any length with a jacket. This can be a denim jacket, a casual canvas jacket, or even a leather jacket. What you choose will really be determined by the color or print of your maxi dress.

Little black dress + heels

A little black dress is a staple of any wardrobe. Hopefully, you have a few of them for the different seasons, and you can pair your black dress with an impressive number of items to dress the look up or down.

Woman black dress sunglasses street

For a very dressy and gorgeous look, wear a great pair of heels with a basic black dress. Pay attention to your hair and makeup to complete the look. A more casual shoe option might be a high pair of strappy wedges or sandals.

Spaghetti strap floral dress + sandals/wedges

An adorable look that is very feminine includes a spaghetti strap floral dress paired with sandals or wedges. Floral dresses come in many different styles, from fitted numbers to more flowing skirts that are perfect for any body type. Keep your accessories casual, including your purse, shoes, earrings, and other jewelry.

Tunic dress + leggings

If you want to be more conservative or dress for chilly weather while still wearing a dress, opt for a tunic dress and wear a pair of leggings underneath. You get plenty of coverage from this outfit so that you can wear it for all kinds of outings and events.

Stick with a pair of basic black leggings if you want to keep things simple. You can also choose a colored pair that matches one of the colors of your dress.

Knee-high boots + dress

Another way to make a dress look more casual is to pair it with high boots that go up to the knee. An item that you have to have in your closet is a pair of black knee-high boots in a soft leather or shiny material.

They go perfect with a flowing dress that ends just above the knee. This look also adds some versatility to dresses in your closet. Cold weather can be addressed with boots that will keep your legs warm, so you don’t have to pack away all of your dresses for the winter.

Formal Dress and Shawl

If you have to dress up for a formal event, but you anticipate that the weather is going to cool down at some point, you can accessorize your dress with a shawl. Shawls are great because they’re affordable, and they can be worn with many different outfits. They’re not just for dresses. You can also wear them with a pair of slacks and a blouse.

Boho dress + denim jacket

Embrace your inner hippie with a boho dress that has a gorgeous floral print and flowing sleeves. You can make the look more casual with a denim jacket that can be taken off or added back on as needed. This look pairs with a comfortable pair of sandals or even wedges for a more feminine look.

Basic dress + cardigan

A basic solid-colored dress can be paired with a cardigan of some sort. The cardigan softens the look of your dress if it’s very basic or conservative. If you have a black or navy-blue dress, try making the whole look appear bolder with a bright pop of color.

Woman standing city red dress white cardigan

A bright pink sweater or even something with a print can really take a simple look to a whole new level. Stick with a pair of heels that matches either your dress or the sweater you’ve chosen.

Workwear + blazer

Dresses that you wear to work usually are very simple and don’t feature a lot of curves or structure. They usually have a very rectangular shape, sometimes featuring a belt that brings the waist in a little bit.

Try topping these dresses with a colorful blazer or a cardigan sweater to make them more fun and attractive. You can breathe new life into some of your old work dresses by pairing them with some new and affordable items.

Shirt Dress + Sandals

A shirt dress looks like an oversized dress shirt that often has buttons at the top or all the way down to the bottom. It’s a casual look that’s great for going out to dinner with your girlfriends or for a fun day out shopping.

You can pair a shirt dress with a flat pair of slip-on sandals. If you need to keep things comfortable, try a pair of simple canvas sneakers as your shoe of choice.

Maxi Dress + Belt + Ballet Flats

Your maxi dresses can be taken to a whole new level by using a belt around the waistline. This will bring the waist in a little bit so you can show off your curves while looking stylish. Match the color of your belt to the color of your shoes. A simple pair of ballet flats makes for a comfortable shoe option that is also very practical and stylish.

Now that we’ve inspired you with numerous dress options and combinations look into your closet to see what you can come up with using dresses and clothing you already have.

Once you know what you can create, you can head to the stores to see what other dresses and items you can invest in to elaborate upon your existing wardrobe.


Now it’s time to take a step back and look at the different items that are in your closet. How many dresses do you own? Are they still in style? Is it time to invest in some new dresses that are more modern and updated?

Let us know what kind of fantastic dress combinations you came up with, as well as your favorite places to shop for dresses.

Share this post with your friends, and let us know if you have any questions about how to choose the perfect dress. Take a look at our other posts to learn more about fashion and functionality.