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Little Black Dresses (LBD)

 
Please be advised that all of the "Editor's Picks" featured in this section are hand-selected by Elegant Plus. Although every effort is made to keep featured products current, retailers can sell out of popular styles before the Editor has had an opportunity to update the page. Although Elegant Plus earns a small fee on all purchases, it is a completely free shopping resource for the consumer, and many times we are able to provide links that offer consumer discounts and free shipping offers upon landing on the partner retailer's site. All selections are available at time of posting and purchases can be made directly from the retailer on the associated shopping link. All of the shopping guides include designer selections which are noted with the designer's name in descriptions.
 


Last Update:  June 11, 2017

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Embellished Neck Dress
Size 14 - 22W
 
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Size 14 - 22W
 

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Size
1X - 3X

 

The classic "Little Black Dress" is the basic must-have dress for any woman's closet.  A perfect choice for any number of social occasions including dinner dates, art gallery openings, evenings at the opera, or that last-minute invitation to an old friend's cocktail party.  For women who have careers that require socializing after hours, having a few of these gems in their closet is a must.

They're also the perfect choice for formal dinner nights on cruise and resort vacations.  Performers are sometimes required to wear black dresses during concerts, especially in the classical music world. It's also becoming increasingly more acceptable to wear black to weddings even for members of the bridal party.

Younger women often choose chic, sophisticated cocktail length dresses for proms, homecoming and other special occasions on the school calendar with black a favorite. 

Cocktail dresses are usually more upscale than their sisters worn as club wear, although price tags run the gamut from inexpensive to upscale and luxury designer wear.  Popular fabrics include chiffon, lace, and during the holiday season, velvet.

Silk has become more difficult to find and tends to be used in only the most expensive dresses. Beading sprinkled across bodices and in intricate patterns is also common in better quality options.

 

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Bell Sleeve Lace Dress
Size
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Knit Wrap Dress
Size
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Size
14 - 24W

Knit Cape Dress
Size 12 - 36W
 

 

More readily available during the holiday season, plus-size cocktail dresses are difficult to find at any time of year. Consequently scooping up one or two to keep in reserve for those special events is a common strategy when just the right one to suit and flatter full-figures becomes available.  This is especially true of beaded and sequin styles popular as club wear all year.

This modern classic is useful for many occasions, but it's the truly great Little Black Dress that can go from work to the opera with just simple change of accessories. For sleek, simple sophistication pearls are the classic choice, but choosing jewelry that expresses your style and personality is the way to stand out.  Statement necklaces in bold colors have also been immensely popular in recent years.  Shoes are another area in which personal style plays a role. Keep them classic and subtle,  or make them pop: your choice.

 

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Black Chiffon Overlay Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

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Sequin Bodice Jumpsuit
Size 14 - 24W 

Flounce Sleeve Shift
Size XS - 3X
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Chiffon Overlay Dress
Size
14 - 24W

 

Foundation garments are often key to achieving a particular silhouette.  Shapewear such as body briefers, waist nippers, and bras that either lift or minimize in addition to straps and cuts appropriate for necklines are key components. Bare legs are increasingly unacceptable with special occasion dresses and can be pegged to the lady-like style influence of the Duchess of Cambridge. Hosiery companies such as Spanx build in shapewear with pantyhose, but other options such as thigh highs and garters can be more comfortable although still more popular in Europe than the U.S.
 

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Lace Dress
Size 1
0 - 32W

 

Eileen Fisher
Silk Georgette Shift

Size 1X - 3X

Embellished
Evening Pantsuit
Size 8 - 24W

Tadashi Shoji
Ruffled Bardot Dress
Size 1X - 3X

 

Shopping Resources to Help You Find the Right Plus-Size Black Cocktail Dress

Cocktail dresses are easier to find on the internet than in most brick-and-mortar stores, especially after the Christmas Holiday party season.  During the winter velvets and beaded or sequin dresses are some of the most popular.  Lace dresses have been especially important in cocktail dress styles in recent years.  Lighter chiffons, silks, and jersey knits are also frequently used. During the holiday season plus-size black cocktail dresses will turn up places that otherwise carry more casual or career apparel.  The following resources are useful all year.

Several department stores are must stops for better cocktail dresses. Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom carries some of the most youthful and contemporary styles, in addition to more sophisticated labels such as Betsy & Adam, Jessica Howard, and Pisarro Nights.  Bon Ton and  Dillard's have a slightly more conservative feel with many options with sleeves or jackets.    All the department stores carry up to size 24W, with a few beginning to extend sizing here and there to 26W and the occasional size 28W. 

Saks Fifth Avenue regularly offers the most expensive and sophisticated designer labels including Basler, Lafayette 148, Kay Unger and Marina Rinaldi.  Tadashi Shoji can also be found here on occasion, as well as ABS by Allen Schwartz and Eileen Fisher.  They also, along with Neiman Marcus, carry an especially deep collection of high end designer cocktail dresses in size 12 to 16/18 out on their main racks with names such as St. John Collection, Carmen Marc Valvo, Badgley Mishka, Monique Lhuillier, and many other regularly available in full-figured sizing.
 

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Badgley Mischka, Off-the-Shoulder Sheath, Size 2 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Off-the-Shoulder Sheath, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Chiffon Cut Out Back
High Low Dress
Size L - 6X

 

Black Sequin Dress
Size
2 - 26W

 

Badgley Mischka
Off-the-Shoulder Sheath

Size 2 - 1
6

 

Off-the-Shoulder Sheath
Size 14 - 24W
 

 

More mature and sophisticated women will find selections available from retailers such as Coldwater Creek and Draper's & Damon's especially as the holiday shopping season is in full swing.  Both carry sizes from 4 to 24W. Meanwhile, Dress Barn, as their name suggests, makes dresses a priority.  Moderately priced, there are always a few LBD in stock in sizes to 24W. 

Fun flapper and vintage swing dresses are specialty at Unique Vintage in size XS to 4X.  Titanic era and Downton Abbey style dresses from Nataya are available at the Wardrobe Shop for sizes S to 3X.

 

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Rachel Roy
Asymmetric Dress
Size XL - 3X

Jersey Side Slit Jumpsuit
Size 1X - 6X
 

Ruffled Black Sequin Shift
Size 8 - 22W
 

Chiffon Jacket Dress
Size 16 - 32W

 

Youthful Styles

Plus specialty retailer Ashley Stewart carries some of the  most body conscious styles with styles selling out quickly and new styles in on a regular basis for size 12 to 32W.

Those with a little bit more money to spend will want to check out the options at ModCloth and eShakti, both of which have retro vintage flairs.  The latter is noteworthy for its extended size range to 36W and ability to make easy alterations for talls and petites for a small fee.

Eloquii offers chic, fashion forward looks that can sometimes include more cutting edge cocktail looks such as jumpsuits in size 14 to 28W.  Meanwhile, Simply Be has developed into a go-to shopping hot spot for contemporary special occasion fashion at moderate prices for size 8 to 28W. Inventory changes quickly here, so grab what you like when you see it.   Body conscious and trendier styles are regularly available from City Chic in short mini to long flowing maxi dress styles for size 14 to 24W.

 

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Black One Shoulder Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Karen Kane, Cold Shoulder Maxi, Size XL - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Sequin Trim
Chiffon Overlay Dress

Size 12 - 30W

 

Beaded Chiffon Dress
Size 14 - 22W
 

One Shoulder Dress
Size 14 - 28W
 

Karen Kane
Cold Shoulder Maxi

Size
XL - 3X 

 

Value Priced

Direct from wholesale manufacturer e-commerce sites for special occasion and formalwear can help keep costs down on styles you would normally find in a bridal shop.  Order times are much shorter than special ordering from most local boutiques, and will usually arrive in two to three weeks.   Customizations are also usually available for small fees. Styles can run the gamut from appropriate for prom and homecoming to more sophisticated styles appropriate for the mother-of-the-bride.  Keep in mind, these retailers usually make to order and consequently most styles are available in black even when pictured in other colors.  One of the leading shopping sites in this category is Light in the Box.  Most dresses are available to a 26W, but be sure to check your measurements and compare to sizing charts for fit.

Young trendy spots such as Torrid and Rainbow Shops can turn up inexpensive options, especially around the holidays for sizes up to 6X.  Those who look for more classic styles can sometimes find choices at Old Pueblo Traders in sizes up to 28W and Kohls up to 24W.

Those looking for value priced extended sizes will do well at Avenue where sales of 30 to 50% bring the extensive dress inventory for size 14 to 32W down into most budgets. During the holiday party season dressier styles are stocked, although versatile knits that can be dressed up or down are often available.

 

 

Extended Sizes


Some of the plus specialty retailers such as Ulla Popken and Catherine's are also reliable resources for women who wear sizes 12 to 34W, with some petite plus styles available. 

Torrid has an edgier feel and is the most likely to carry black dresses appropriate for clubbing in sizes up to 6X.

Also of note, are indie designers Kiyonna which is especially well known for their lace offerings in size 0X to 5X. SWAK is the trendiest in the super size category and usually has a black dress or two suitable for cocktails in size 1X to 6X.

 

 
 

 

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Plus-size clothing featured is hand selected by the Elegant Plus Fashion Editor from our extensive network of plus-fashion business partnerships. Although Elegant Plus earns a small fee on all purchases, it is a completely free shopping resource for the consumer, and many times we are able to provide links that offer consumer discounts and free shipping offers upon landing on the partner retailer's site.