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Your Favorite Internet Shopping Guide to Stylishly Curvy Clothes: Size 12 +

Plus-Size Clothing Internet Shopping Guides >> Plus-Size Cocktail Looks

Elegant Plus Shopping Guide & Editor's Picks:  Plus-Size Cocktail Dresses & Looks in Size 12 +

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: April 15, 2016
 

RELATED SHOPPING GUIDES

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Dillard's

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DESIGNERS

Blue Chambray Lace Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

White Dotted Mesh Sheath Dress, Size 14  - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Floral Chiffon Kimono Dress, Size XS - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Chambray Lace Dress
Size 1X - 3X

White Dotted Mesh Sheath
Size 14 - 32W

Floral Chiffon
Kimono Dress
Size XS - 3X
Petite to XL

Plus-Size Cocktail Fashion Report
[Shopping Resources &  Editor's Picks Below]

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.  A little 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 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.

Special occasion 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 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 available also.

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 options.

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Special Occasion Clothes @ Draper's & Damon's

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Contemporary Plus-Size Fashion @ Eloquii

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Alex Evenings @ alight

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Modcloth

Tiered Chiffon Capelet Dress, Size 8 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

White Lace Up Back Jumpsuit, Size 14 - 24W  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Sequin Floral Sheath Dress, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Pink Pleated Chiffon Frock, Size XS - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Tiered Chiffon Capelet Dress
Size 8 - 22W

Lace Up Back Jumpsuit
Size 14 - 24W

Floral Sequin Sheath
Size 14 - 22W

Pleated Chiffon &
Lace Dress

Size XS - 4X

 

Internet Shopping Resources for Plus-Size Cocktail Dresses

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.  Dillard's and 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 Pisarro Nights, Alex Evenings, and Adrianna Papell frequently available. 

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Plus-Size Clothing @ Macys

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Fashion @ Asos

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Designer Dresses @ Saks Fifth Avenue

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Torrid

Navy Sequin Fringe Dress, Size 14 - 22W  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

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

Designer: Marina Rinaldi, White Lace Sheath, Size 14 -24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Navy Illusion Dot Dress, Size 12 - 30W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Fringed Navy Sequin Dress
Size 14 - 22W

Vintage Floral Chiffon Dress
Size 14 - 24W

Marina Rinaldi
Lace Sheath
Size 14 - 24W

Navy Illusion Dot Dress
Size 12 - 30W

 

Nordstrom 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.  More moderately priced, but an extensive trendy to contemporary collection is found on-line at Macy's for size 0 to 24W.

Plus specialty designers are an excellent resource, especially for sizes extending beyond 24W.  Kiyonna is known best for their lace cocktail dresses with a slightly vintage feel in size 10 to 32W.  Similarly sized designer Igigi uses bolder patterns in their collections, alongside classic black.   Meanwhile, award winning designer Anna Scholz can occasionally be purchased from upscale retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, with her entire collection including more moderately priced lines available directly through her brand website with shipping worl wide for UK size 16 to 28W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Plus-Size Clothing @ Ashley Stewart

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Neiman Marcus

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Dresses @ Dress Barn

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Fashion @ Lane Bryant

Chiffon Maxi, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Designer: Kay Unger, Metallic Platinum, Cut Out Sheath, Size 2 - 16| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Tiered Floral Chiffon Sheath, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Pleated Chiffon Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Chiffon Maxi
Size 1X - 3X

Kay Unger
Metallic Platinum Sheath
Size 2 - 16

Tiered Floral Chiffon Sheath
Size 6 - 24W

Pleated Chiffon Dress
Size 14 - 28W


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 Anna Scholz, Marina Rinaldi, 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.
 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Monroe & Main

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Zappos

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Bon Ton

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Plus-Size Clothing @ Saks Fifth Avenue

Vintage Beaded Chiffon Jacket Dress, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Coral Lace Dress, Size XL - 5X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lavender Chiffon Overlay Shift Dress, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Designer: Tadashi Shoji, Lace Sheath Dress, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Vintage Beaded Chiffon
Jacket Dress
Size S - 3X

 Lace Dress
Size XL - 5X

Chiffon Overlay Shift
Size 14 - 22W

Tadashi Shoji
Lace Sheath
Size 2 - 18

 

Some of the catalogs also offer good selections year around, especially for women who appreciate more mature styles.   Ulla Popken regularly has beaded cocktail dresses styles available to size 12 to 34W, with the occasional dress available as large as 38W.  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 Midnight Velvet frequently has styles unavailable elsewhere for women who appreciate more individualized looks. 

Coldwater Creek 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 t24W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Fashion @ Amazon

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothes @ Talbots

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ eShakti

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Special Occasion Clothes @ Draper's & Damon's

Red Chiffon Tulip Sleeve Shift, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Doupioni Sheath, Size 2 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Doupioni, Fit & Flare Frock, Size 0 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Chiffon Lace Pant Set, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Top & Bottom Sold Separately
More Colors Available

Tulip Sleeve
Chiffon Shift
Size 14 - 22W

Doupioni Sheath
Size 2 - 24W
Petite to 22W

Doupioni Fit & Flare Frock
Size 0 - 36W
Avg - Petite - Tall

Chiffon Lace Pant Set
Size S - 3X

 

Young women will find the affordable cocktail dress styles at  Asos and Forever 21 on trend in size 14 to 24W. Newly extending sizes to include plus, fast fashion retailers Charlotte Russe and Rue 21 also frequently offer trendy, affordable cocktail styles for size 1X to 3X.

Lane Bryant has upped their style game in the last couple of years, especially on-line where they include dresses from other designer labels such as ABS by Allen Schwartz and Adrianna Papell.  Meanwhile, full-figured women up to size 18 can enjoy upscale designer looks from Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman.

Those who like a vintage sensibility will find a growing inventory at ModCloth, with more and more options available larger than 3X.   1950's style party dresses, Edwardian romantic frocks, and Old Hollywood starlet looks have begun regularly turning up among the more practical day dresses.   eShakti is 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.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothing @ Ulla Popken

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothes @ Old Pueblo Traders

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Dress Barn

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Contemporary Plus-Size Fashion @ Target

Chiffon Shift, Size XL - 5X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Also Available in B & W Print
 

Beaded Jacket Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

 Blue Lace Dress, Sizes 10 - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Floral Lace Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Chiffon Shift
Size  XL - 5X
Petite to 3X

Beaded Jacket Dress
Size 8 - 26W

Lace Dress
Size 10 - 32W

Floral Lace Dress
Size 14 - 24W

 

Dress Barn, 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.

On-line direct from manufacturer formalwear websites can be a good resource for those who need dressier cocktail dresses at affordable prices.  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 fee.

Bargain hunters can also often find high-end designer options from past seasons at a fraction or retail from Neiman Marcus Last Call and Saks Off Fifth.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Fashion @ Forever 21

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Fashion @ Ulla Popken

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Fashion @ Lord & Taylor

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Cocktail Dresses @ Teri Jon

Cutout Sheath, Size XS - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Navy Chiffon Dress with Shawl, Size 14 - 30W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Ombre Lace Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman, Floral Applique Cocktail Dress, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Cutout Sheath
Size S - 3X

Navy Chiffon High Low
Dress with Shawl
Size 14 - 30W

Ombre Lace Dress
Size 14 - 24W

Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman
Floral Appliqué Dress
Size 2 - 18

 

Finishing Touches

Cocktail dresses like most other formalwear looks best when body smoothing 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 Lane Bryant regularly offer options, some of the deepest inventories are at lingerie specialty shops such as Bare Necessities.

Spanx is a favorite with stars who regularly walk red carpets, and this allows for shapewear built into hosiery.  A variety of strengths and types are available for women size S to 3X.

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.  QVC 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.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Fashion @ Ashro Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Stylish Women's Fashion @ Monroe & Main Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Evans Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Unique, Vintage & Romantic Fashion @ Pyramid Collection

Yellow Chiffon Overlay Dress, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Beaded Georgette Dress, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Floral Chiffon Shift, Size 10 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Embroidered Mint Chiffon Dress, Size 2 - 28W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Chiffon Overlay Sheath
Size S - 3X

 

Beaded Georgette Dress
Size S - 3X

 

Floral Chiffon Shift
Size 10 - 28W

 

Tonal Embroidered
Lace Hem Dress
Size 2 - 28W

 

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All Editor's Picks and plus-size clothing featured are hand- selected by the Elegant Plus Fashion Editor from our
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TAGS: # PLUS-SIZE DRESSES | # SPECIAL OCCASION WEAR | # WEDDINGS | # CLASSIC | # TRENDY | # DESIGNER PLUS-SIZE FASHION | # RESORT WEAR |
# HOLIDAYS

 

Many special occasions in life call for special dresses.  Plus-size cocktail and party dresses are in demand with young and mature women, alike.

 

Elegant plus cocktail dresses & evening wear,  hand-selected for full-figured women size 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, L, XL, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X