Elegant Plus

Serving Savvy Web Shoppers Since 2002

Fashion Flash &
 Weekly Trend Reports
 

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

Plus-Size Clothing Internet Shopping Guides
>> Plus-Size Cocktail Dresses, Jumpsuits, Party Dresses, Separates & Ensembles

 
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.
 


Last Update: November 18, 2016

RELATED
SHOPPING GUIDES

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Modcloth Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Dillard's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Contemporary Plus-Size Fashion @ Eloquii
Beaded Party Dress, Size XXS - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Sheath, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Baroque Floral Sequin Dress, Size 14 - 24W  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Beaded Party Dress
Size XXS - 4X

 

Lace Sheath
Size 14 - 24W

 

Baroque
Floral Sequin Dress

Size 14 - 24W

 

 

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 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.

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 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 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: Trendy Plus-Size Clothing @ Macys Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Igigi Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Special Occasion Clothes @ Draper's & Damon's
Beaded Collar Cocktail Skirt Suit, Size 6- 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Faux Wrap Velvet Dress, Size 1X - 3X  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Cold Shoulder Dress, Size 14  - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Sequin Chiffon Evening Jacket, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Bead Collar
Social Skirt Suit
Size 6 - 24W

 

Faux Wrap
Velvet Dress
Size
14 - 24W

 

Cold Shoulder Dress
Size 14 - 32W
  

Sequin Chiffon
 Evening Jacket

Size S - 3X
 

 

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. 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, 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 looks from City Chic

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 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 Macy's for size 0 to 24W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Dress Barn Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Vintage Dresses @ Wardrobe Shop Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Fashion @ QVC Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Torrid
Green Velvet Lace Dress, Sizes 10 - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Nataya, Vintage Party Dress, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Velvet Dress, Size 0 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Navy Sequin Midi Dress, Size 10 - 30W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Green Velvet Lace Dress
Size 10 - 32W

Nataya
Vintage Party Dress
Size S - 3X
 

Velvet Dress
Size 0 - 28W

 

Navy Sequin Midi Dress
Size 10 - 30W
 

 

 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 Freeman.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Fashion @ Lane Bryant Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Dresses @ Dress Barn Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Neiman Marcus Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Fashion @ Asos
Lace Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
White Lace Bell Sleeve Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Carmen Marc Valvo, Floral Jacquard Dress, Size 4 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Green Velvet Wrap Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lace Dress
Size 14 - 28W
 

Lace Belle Sleeve Dress
Size 14 - 24W

 

Carmen Marc Valvo
Floral Jacquard Dress

Size 4 - 16

Velvet Wrap Dress
Size 14 - 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.  The romantic vintage designs of Nataya reminiscent of Downton Abbey and Titanic era fashion is available in extended sizes through 3X at the Wardrobe Shop

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 Midnight Velvet 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 Ashro for size 6 to 26W

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ City Chic Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Fashion @ Coldwater Creek Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Monroe & Main Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Plus-Size Clothing @ Ashley Stewart
Print Party Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Plum Velvet Dress, Size 6 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Green Overlay Dress, Size M - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Satin Floral Wrap Dress, Size 14 - 24W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Print Party Dress
Size 14 - 24W

Velvet Opulence Dress
Size 6 - 24W
 
Petite to 16P

 Overlay Dress
Size M - 3X

Satin Floral Wrap Dress
Size 14- 24W 

 

 

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 24W.

Young women will find the  cocktail dress styles at  Asos 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.  Torrid 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.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ eShakti Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothes @ Talbots Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Contemporary Plus-Size Fashion @ Eloquii Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Alex Evenings @ alight
Purple Metallic Jacquard Party Dress, Size 0 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Rose Print Fit & Flare Dress, Size 2 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Gold Lame Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Vintage Beaded Midi Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
 

Metallic Jacquard
Party Dress

Size 0 - 36W
Avg - Petite - Tall
 

Rose Print
Fit & Flare Dress
Size 2 - 24W
Petite to 16P

Gold Lame Party Dress
Size 14 - 28W 

Vintage Beaded
Midi Dress
Size 14 - 24W
 

 

Lane Bryant 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 ModCloth, 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.   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.  Gatsby flapper styles are a specialty at 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.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Plus-Size Clothing @ Ashley Stewart Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothes @ Old Pueblo Traders Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Evans Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothing @ Ulla Popken
Velvet Skirt Suit,  Size 12 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Classic Wrap Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Red Peplum Dress, Size 12 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Gold Lace Jacket Dress, Size 16 - 34W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Velvet Skirt Suit
Size 12 - 26W
 

Classic Wrap Dress
Size 8 - 26W 

Peplum Dress
Size 12 - 22W
 

Gold Lace Jacket Dress
Size 16 - 34W
 

 

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. 

Meanwhile, Catherine's carries both dresses and separates for size 16 to 34W, with petite sizes often available to 3X.  Avenue 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 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:  Plus-Size Fashion @ Lord & Taylor Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Stylish Women's Fashion @ Monroe & Main Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Cocktail Dresses @ Teri Jon Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Fashion @ Ashro
Rachel Roy, Red Sequin Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Beaded Pantsuit, Size S- 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman, Ruffled Silk Blouse, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Beaded Lace Skirt Set, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Rachel Roy
Red Sequin Dress
Size 1X- 3X 

Beaded Pantsuit
Size S - 3X

Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman
Ruffled Silk Blouse
Size 2 - 18

Beaded Lace Skirt Set
Size S - 3X

 

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 and Avenue 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.  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: Alex Evenings @ alight Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Willow Ridge Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Stylish Women's Fashion @ Unique Vintage Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Unique, Vintage & Romantic Fashion @ Pyramid Collection
Melissa McCarthy, Silver Metallic Blouse, Size XL - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Tiered Chiffon Jacket Dress, Size 8 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
White Beaded Flapper Dress, Size S- 4X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Burgundy Velvet Jacket, Size 6 - 28W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Melissa McCarthy
Silver Metallic Blouse
Size XL - 4X 

Tiered Chiffon Jacket Dress
Size 8 - 24W

White Beaded
Flapper Dress

Size S - 4X
 

Burgundy Velvet Jacket
Size 6 - 28W 

 

 

Advertisement:
  Always free shipping on all orders $99 or more at Lord & Taylor. Shop now!
 

 

 

ElegantPlus.com 2002-2016


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.