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Elegant Plus Shopping Guide & Editor's Picks:  Formal Evening Dresses for Military Balls in Sizes 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: December 31, 2015

 

 

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Full-Figured Military Ball Gowns Report
[Shopping Resources & Editor's Picks Below]

Attending a military ball is an honor that many take seriously.  Whether you are the date of a service member, or a member of the military yourself finding the right dress is important.

Military ball gown styles tend to be simpler and more conservative than other types of evening gowns or cocktail dresses such as red carpet, prom or homecoming dresses.  Those happening during the holiday season, especially for New Year's Eve, can be especially formal affairs, but for many both cocktail and full length dresses are acceptable choices.

Sleeves and higher necklines are not unusual in this formalwear type, but not mandatory. Consequently, some more formal mother-of-the-bride dresses may also be appropriate. Red and other bold colors, classic black and navy, and blue are always favorites. 

Like any other type of formalwear, the dresses and gowns worn for military balls require proper undergarments to achieve the right, structured silhouettes. 

The right hosiery and other accessories such as shoes, jewelry, and bags are also important pieces to the ensemble.
 

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Chi Chi London, Vintage Tulle Cocktail Dress, Size 2 - 26 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

One Shoulder Mermaid Gown, Sizes 2-26W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Lace Bodice Tea Length Dress, Size 2 -26W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Lace Tulle Gown, Size 14 - 28W| ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Chi Chi London
Vintage Tulle Cocktail Dress
Size 2 - 26

One Shoulder Mermaid Gown
Size 2 - 26W

Lace Bodice Tea Length Dress
Size 2 - 26W

Lace Tulle Gown
Size 14 - 28W

 

Shopping Resources for Plus-Size Dresses Appropriate for Military Balls

For those who don't wish to go through the special order process of a bridal or formalwear boutique which can lead to waits of up to 3 months, a number of options are available on-line for plus-size formalwear.

Department Stores

Several of the upscale department stores are especially good for plus-size formalwear all year, if you are willing to shop on-line.  Dillard's consistently offers some of the most conservative styles with plenty of options with jackets or sleeves, in addition to barer styles in size 0 to 24W.  Price points range from more moderately priced options from labels such as Adrianna Papell to more luxury gowns from Tadashi Shoji, Mori Lee, Terani Couture, and .  Lord & Taylor has a growing collection appealing to more mature full-figured women, including styles with sleeves, capelets, or jackets for sizes up to 24W.

 

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Petal Neck Mermaid Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Silk Ball Gown, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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ABS Allen Schwartz, Cape Gown, Size XL - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Ruffled Gown, Size 6 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Petal Neck Mermaid Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Teri Jon
Beaded Silk Ball Gown
Size 2 - 18

ABS by Allen Schwartz
Cape Gown

Size XL - 3X

Ruffled Gown
Size 6 - 24W

 

Nordstrom also stocks a deep inventory of mid priced range formal gowns and cocktail dresses all year with super fast, free shipping and returns making last minute purchases easy. The women's plus-size section is well stocked and ranges from size 14 to 24W, while even more selection and options from more upscale labels are available out in the main collection in size 0 to 18.

Those with the largest budgets will find the best selection at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.   Saks has more available for full figured women to size 18 in their main collection (available only on-line) with designer offering from brands such as Kay Unger, Teri Jon, Theia, and Tadashi Shoji.  Neiman Marcus is better stocked for smaller plus women with their main collection formalwear, designer racks that include names such as Monique Lhuillier, and Badgley Mischka in sizes up to 18, with a selection of gowns for women size 14 to 24W from labels such as Marina Rinaldi, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Kay Unger in their Special Sizes: Women collection.

 

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Mac Duggal, Embellished Green Jersey Gown, Size 14 - 30W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Melissa Masse, Lace Bodice Print Maxi Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Sweetheart Gown, Sizes 14-20W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Embroidered Cocktail Dress, Size 6 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Mac Duggal
Embellished Jersey Gown
Size 14 - 30W

Melissa Masse
Lace Bodice Print Dress
Size 1X - 3X

Sweetheart Gown
Size 14 - 20W

Embroidered Cocktail Dress
Size 6 - 26W

Formalwear Specialists

Sydney's Closet is one of the oldest plus specialty on-line retailers of formalwear on the internet with cocktail and full length gowns available in size 14 to 44W.  Meanwhile, Unique Vintage has an entire department devoted exclusively to formalwear with names such as Mac Duggal, Terani Couture, Mori Lee and others regularly available in full-figured sizes.   Price points range from moderate to upscale for sizes 0 to 30W.

Low, direct from manufacturer prices are available from several websites that often will allow you to adjust measurements for petite and tall sizes for a small fee, as well.  Two of the most popular are Light in the Box and Izi Dress, both of which offer size 2 to 26W.
 

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Lace Cocktail Dress, Size 10 -32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Floral Sequin Trim Tulle Gown, Sizes XL - 5X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Picks

Lace Panel Gown, Plus-Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Navy Ruched Gown, Plus-Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Lace Cocktail Dress
Size 10 - 32W

Floral Sequin Trim Tulle Gown
Size XL - 5X

Lace Panel Gown
Size  14 - 22W

Navy Blue Ruched Gown
Size 14 - 22W

More Formal Dress Shopping Resources

As it's name suggests Dress Barn specializes in dresses. While a majority of their offerings are geared to working women, there is usually a small selection of cocktail and formal dresses and low to moderate prices in classic to contemporary styles available, especially during the holiday party and summer wedding seasons.  Sizes run from 2 to 24W, with petites available to 16P.  More youthful, budget friendly options can often be found at ASOS in size 14 to 24W and occasionally at Ashley Stewart in size 12 to 26W.

Kiyonna, an indie plus designer dress specialist that is well established and manufacturers completely in the USA, always has a good selection of cocktail dresses, maxi dresses with a more formal feel, and a small number of wedding dresses.  Fancier limited edition styles are often available during the holiday party season.  The style here is contemporary with sizing on most dresses from 10 to 32W.  For those who enjoy a vintage or retro feel, there are increasing numbers of formal and cocktail options available at ModCloth in size 0 to 30W.

 

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Tadashi Shoji, Belted Lace Chiffon Gown, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Pale Blue, Lace Ribbon Gown, Size 8 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Chiffon Halter Gown, Size 2 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Chiffon Color Block Gown, Sizes 2-26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Tadashi Shoji
Belted Lace Chiffon Gown
Size 2 - 18

Lace Ribbon Gown
Size 8 - 24W

Chiffon Halter Gown
Size 2 - 28W

Striped Chiffon
One Shoulder Gown

Size 2 - 26W

Target has a collection of moderately priced bridesmaids dresses which can often work well for military balls with tulle, chiffon, and lace well represented in a collection for size 2 to 28W.

Several catalogs regularly offer moderately priced formalwear with quick, off-the-rack shipping.  Midnight Velvet is known for a more romantic style with a mix of long evening gowns and cocktail dresses in their inventory.  Beading, dressy fabrics, and lace are common along with contemporary styling. Some styles are more appealing to those who prefer more arm coverage, while others are barer. Sizes range from 6 to 24W. An unusual collection, including fancier jacket dresses, evening pant suits, cocktail dresses, and long formal gowns, is available from Ashro.  Sheer chiffon, beading, and lace are common in both classic colors and bolder, more striking hues in size 6 to 26W.

Finishing Touches

Those looking to purchase shapewear and items such as bras and hosiery from the same location will have the best luck at Bare Necessities, an internet lingerie super store.  A small selection for fuller figures is also regularly available from the plus specialty retailers such as Lane Bryant.

Along with the department stores already mentioned above, Zappos, has one of the most extensive selections of dress shoes and sandals with quick and easy free shipping returns. Evening hand bags are also available. For jewelry, including larger sized rings, necklaces with extenders, and many different earring styles QVC has one of the deepest collections of both costume and fine jewelry.
 

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Lace Sheath Gown, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Strapless Tulle High Low Dress, Sizes 2-26W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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St John, Pleated Shimmer Knit Gown, Size 2 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Soutache Lace Gown, Plus-Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lace Sheath Gown
Size 14 - 22W

Tulle High Low Dress
Size 2 - 26W
Custom Sizes Available

St John
Pleated Shimmer Knit Gown
Size 2 - 16

Soutache Lace Gown
Size 14 - 24W

 

 

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TAGS: # SPECIAL OCCASIONS | # DRESSES | # DESIGNER CLOTHES

 

 

Elegant plus-size formalwear and plus-size dresses for full-figured women size 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, L, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X