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. 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.
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Last Update: September 15, 2016
More Colors Available
Jacquard Evening Suit
Size 8 - 22W
Split Sleeve Sheath
Size 14 - 24W
Buckle Wrap Dress
Size 14 - 32W
Cocktail dresses are one of the most sought after
full-figured items. Rarely available in
local shops and boutiques, the internet is the
go-to source when a woman receives a wedding
invitation in the mail, needs the perfect
holiday office party outfit, or is packing for
that dream vacation cruise.
dressier than social occasion dresses, fabrics tend to
finer and styles barer. Longer sleeves and
jacket styles are especially popular with
special wedding guests such as mother of the bride or
groom, grandmothers, and aunts.
Younger women will often choose shorter party dresses
for prom, homecoming, and other dances
throughout the school calendar year creating a
demand for more youthful styles, although hem
lines have been coming down for that age group the
last few seasons, as well.
Price points and quality vary tremendously from
rock bottom fast fashion to high end luxury
designer. Along with
classic black plus-size
cocktail dresses, colors from rich
jewel tones to lighter pastels and shimmering
metallics are quite popular. A big trend during
the last year has been white, and
full-figured women have embraced it with gusto.
Meanwhile, especially during the Christmas party
season and Valentine's Day celebrations, red dresses
are among the most popular.
dresses often reflect more romantic, vintage
styles with feminine lines and soft fabrics,
although edgier looks sometimes trend into this
category. Especially during the holidays
look for metallic brocades, lace, and velvet,
while spring occasions see more silk and floral patterns.
Women who prefer dresses with jackets or
sleeves tend to be older, but
recent trends have meant younger styles are
Those looking for upscale, designer looks will
want to visit the designer dress
page. Many red carpet looks
can also be luxury, shorter cocktail length
Several department stores in
recent years have offered extensive cocktail
dress collections in women' sizes all year and
this plus-size dress category is where several
of them really shine.
has a particularly good and deep collection with
contemporary styles a strength. Trendier styles
at slightly lower price points are also starting
to mix in here, especially during the spring
wedding and fall/winter holiday occasion dress
seasons, along with plenty of sophisticated
styles with sleeves for sizes up to 26W.
Brands regularly include Alex Evenings,
Marina,Tadashi Shoji, Adrianna Papell, Pisarro
Nights, Ralph Lauren, Komarov, and trendier
Lord & Taylor
tend to stock styles appealing to older women,
including many styles with sleeves or matching
jackets, although more youthful styles are being
added. In addition to lace and finer
fabrics, beading plays a large role in many of
these styles with labels such as Jessica Howard,
Brianna, SL Fashion, Pisarro Nights,
Alex Evenings, and Adrianna Papell frequently
available. More moderately priced, but an
extensive trendy to contemporary collection is
found on-line at
for size 0 to 24W.
On the high, designer end
Neiman Marcus carries women's cocktail
dresses in sizes up to 24W in two locations on
their website. The most upscale labels
such as Carmen Marc Valvo, Theia, Lela Rose, and
Marchesa are racked with
smaller sizes in the
Evening Wear tab.
More contemporary and plus-exclusive labels such
as Marina Rinaldi, Joan Vass, Rachel Pally, Kay Unger, and Melissa
Masse are located with the
plus women's dresses.
Equally upscale are the offerings at
Saks Fifth Avenue
which regularly carries Kay Unger, Tadashi
Shoji, Lafayette 148, several fine Italian designers, and also
slightly less pricey labels such as ABS by Alan
Schwartz. Meanwhile, full-figured
women up to size 20 can
enjoy upscale designer looks from
Teri Jon by Rickie
Plus specialty designers are an excellent
resource, especially for sizes extending beyond
known best for their lace cocktail dresses with
a slightly vintage feel in size 10 to 32W.
The romantic vintage designs of Nataya
reminiscent of Downton Abbey and Titanic era
fashion is available in extended sizes through
3X at the
Some of the catalogs also offer
good selections year around, especially for
women who appreciate more mature styles.
Draper's & Damon's
special occasion collection is perfect for
cruises and other special events in size 6 to
26W, with petite sizes available as large as 16P.
Meanwhile, the moderately priced and deep
special occasion dress offerings at
frequently has styles unavailable elsewhere for
women who appreciate more individualized looks.
Those looking for special occasion jacket dresses in
rich colors, patterns, and fabrics will find a good
selection stocked at
size 6 to 26W
has re-opened as a catalog and e-commerce
retailer exclusively. Currently they are
experimenting with stocking better label
cocktail and formalwear from labels such as
Komarov, Alex Evenings, Pisarro, and Adrianna
Papell for sizes up 24W.
Young women will find the cocktail dress styles at
on trend in size 14 to 24W. This is the spot to
find trendy and contemporary European and
British labels such as Elvi, Lovedrobed, Little
Mistress, and Chi Chi London. Newly extending
sizes to include plus, fast fashion retailer
Rue 21 also
frequently offer trendy, affordable cocktail
styles for size 1X to 3X.
is increasingly stocking both trendy and gothier
special occasion and cocktail styles including
lace, velvet, and satin in both shorter and maxi
lengths for size L to 6X.
has upped their style game in the last couple of
years, especially on-line where they include
many dresses not sold in store from other designer labels such as ABS
by Allen Schwartz, Eliza J, and Adrianna Papell.
Capsule collections from well known high fashion
runway designers such as Lela Rose, Isabella
Toledo, and Christian Siriano have frequently
included cocktail looks for sizes 10 to 28W.
Those who like a vintage
sensibility will find a growing inventory at
with more and more options available up to 4X. 1950's style party dresses,
Edwardian romantic frocks, and Old Hollywood
starlet looks have begun regularly turning up
among the more practical day dresses.
a must-stop for glam Mad Men style vintage
dresses that can be customized for a small fee
to your measurements, with off the rack styles
sized 0 - 36W. Gatsby flapper styles are a
Unique Vintage in sizes up to 4X, along
with fun vintage style wiggle dresses, tulle
1950's cocktail dresses, and swing dress styles.
The prom tab has even more formal styles
available appropriate for any age group looking
for occasion wear.
true to its name, carries an extensive inventory
of moderately priced dresses for a wide variety
of occasions. Special occasion options,
including cocktail dresses and full length
gowns, are more plentiful during the winter
holiday party season, and spring wedding season.
Those who prefer more fashion conscious looks
will find a selection of on-trend dresses at
Eloquii in size 14 to 28W.
Catherine's carries both dresses and
separates for size 16 to 34W, with petite sizes
often available to 3X.
carries dressier styles during the
holiday party season for sizes 14 to 32W.
On-line direct from manufacturer
formalwear websites can be a good resource for
those who need dressier cocktail dresses at
Light in the Box
offers sizes to 26W and a rainbow assortment of
colors for most styles, with hem length
alterations available for a small additional
Bargain hunters can also often find high-end
designer options from past seasons at a fraction
or retail from
Neiman Marcus Last Call
Saks Off Fifth.
Cocktail dresses like most other formalwear
looks best when
undergarments and shapewear are
worn. This is what give the desired
silhouette structure, regardless of body size or
shape. While plus specialty shops such as
regularly offer options.
The largest inventory of dress shoes in a
wide variety of heel heights, styles, price
points, sizes, and widths can be found at
Zappos which offers speedy
shipping and returns.
is one of the best resources for both fine and
costume jewelry in styles that come in extended
lengths and sizes to fit larger customers.