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: May 9, 2018
Color Block Gown
14 - 24W
Size 14 - 24W
Lace Bell Sleeve
XL - 3X
High end gala events such as art, theater and
opera openings, upscale formal corporate and
state dinners, various red carpet occasions,
awards dinners, weddings, and holiday balls can
all require something extra special.
At some, full length formal gowns are preferred
while at others cocktail dresses, pant suits, or
separates may work well.
These are the occasions when style, fit,
quality, and fine fabrics and materials are
noted and price points are correspondingly
high. For some lifestyles wardrobes full
of these gorgeous clothes are the norm; for
others it is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
While Hollywood continues to provide the
illusion that all women attending this type of
event are exquisitely small and youthful, the
fact that women of all shapes, ages, and sizes
walk in every social circle means these clothes
are also in demand in larger sizes.
Some of the most luxurious designer labels do
carry extended sizes above 12, but can be more
challenging to find. Some upscale
formalwear labels also offer extended sizes as
large as 30.
Celebrity red carpet events are where the public
is most often exposed to high end designer
labels. In fact, televised events such as
the Oscars have turned into a much loved
tradition of dress watching and golden
opportunity for designers to brand their lines.
However, Hollywood is mainly populated by
petite, ultra-slim starlets and many of the
designers, rare to begin with and hard to
obtain, are not available larger than a size 10
or 12. For this reason, those willing to
work with more voluptuous stars who attend the
event to celebrate their incredible acting
talents and abilities, can catch the attention
of the majority of the market and build a
following with little competition.
may be among the most famous formalwear
designers to offer plus-sizes thanks to the
success of his muse, Oscar winning Octavia
Spencer. Other curvaceous stars such as
Christina Hendricks, Rebel Wilson, and Queen
Latifah have all been spotted in his cocktail
dresses and gowns at events. Gala and cocktail dresses with a
vintage flavor are his specialty at surprisingly
affordable off-the-rack price points.
Available more widely during the holiday party
season, a selection is frequently available at
several of the major department stores all year.
Other designers to dress full-figured
celebrities in recent years have included Theia which
created a gorgeous textured petal gown for
Gabourey Sidibe at the 2014 Academy Awards, and
Italian luxury designer Marina Rinaldi
which has worked with Melissa McCarthy multiple
times both for the red carpet and magazine
Lesser known eveningwear specialty designers
that are regular go-tos for celebrities of all
shapes and sizes include labels such as Mac Duggal
and Terani Couture.
Meanwhile, a handful of famous global Fashion
Week designers offer select evening styles in
extended sizes beyond 12 to a 16, 18, and
sometimes 20. Keep in mind these are
usually misses and not women's cuts so will run
slightly smaller in areas such as the upper arm
and bust. Some well known designers
to look for include Lela Rose, Oscar de la Renta,
Carmen Marc Valvo, Badgley Mischka, Armani
Collezioni, and Marchesa.
Well heeled political and business circles that
are expected to regularly attend formal dinners
and gala events have long appreciated the expert
tailoring and quality materials of more
conservative lifestyle designer labels such as
Kay Unger and Lafayette 148 which both consistently
include a selection of eveningwear choices in
their extended women's (14 - 24W) collections,
and finish their misses sizes at 16 or 18.
Other labels appealing to these shoppers that
consistently offer sizes up to a 16 or 18
include Teri Jon by Rickie Freeman,
Carolina Herrera, and St. John.
Many of these labels are exceptionally hard to
find in larger sizes anywhere.
Several formalwear designers do offer direct
orders in extended sizes, with quick shipping
from their brand websites. One of the best
known from celebrity red carpets is
who has a misses line extended to size 18 and
occasionally 20, and a full women's line
available from 14 to 24W. Similarly
upscale are the designs from
which is adding more and more styles in the 14,
16, 18 and even size 20 range, especially those
appealing to those who prefer sleeves in their
Several of the upscale department stores include
extended misses sizes on their main eveningwear
racks, with their search tools making it
possible to locate designs available in size 14,
16, 18 and even 20. The best is
Saks Fifth Avenue
also offer selections.
Full women's size lines (14 - 24W) are
even more difficult to come by. Tadashi
Shoji is the label most widely available at many
of the department stores in both cocktail and
full length styles. Ralph Lauren's
more moderately priced LAUREN line, Calvin
Klein's diffusion line, and more moderate labels
such as Adrianna Papell and Pisarro Nights are
well stocked at
Smaller, more moderately priced designer lines
including MYNT 1792, Soulmates, and Komarov are
also regularly well represented here.
is the place to find extended sizes from
eveningwear designers Mac Duggal, Jovani, Terani
Couture, and Mori Lee with as large as size 28W
turning up from time to time. Styles
frequently are heavily embellished with sleeves,
jackets, or illusion bodices.
Soulmates is another upscale designer label
regularly stocked to 3X.
has a smaller collection with more in stock
during the spring and summer wedding seasons,
and the holiday party season. Here is
where you may find a Carmen Marc Valvo gown in
sizes up to 24W, Kay Unger cocktail dresses, and
special occasion designs from Lafayette 138 and
Marina Rinaldi in sizes 14 to 24W.
Some of the most unusual European full-figured
designer wear is available from
Saks Fifth Avenue.
Cocktail and evening styles may include options
from Marina Rinaldi, Basler, and Fuzzi.
Lafayette 148 is also regularly offered. More
moderately priced designer cocktail dresses from
the ABS by Allen Schwartz line are also well
represented here in size 14 to 24W.
Women who wear larger than size 24W can
occasionally find a designer gown from Mac
Duggal, Cassandra Stone, or Mori Lee at
Unique Vintage. Plus
Igigi has long been known for their
cocktail dresses and evening gowns. Some options
are available for immediate shipment, while
other styles are made according to custom order
for sizes 14 to 36W. A quick 10 to 14
days, with tailoring to height, make this option
attractive for most special occasions.
Meanwhile mid-priced plus exclusive designer
Kiyonna is the best bet for
size 12 to 32W in lace, high quality jersey
knits, and occasionally other fabrics such as