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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:  April 29, 2016

 

 

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Floral Gown, Sizes 14-22W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Gown Editor's Pick

Jewel Neck Chiffon Gown, Size 10 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Lace Chiffon Gown, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Floral Gown
Size 14 - 22W

Jewel Neck Chiffon Gown
Size 10 - 26W
Custom Sizes Available

Lace Chiffon Gown
Size 14 - 22W

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 Peach Lace Dress, Size 2 - 26 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Satin One Shoulder High Low Dress, Size 12 - 30W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Lace Off-the-Shoulder Gown, Size 2 -26W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
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Vintage Mint Tulle Party Dress, Size S - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Chi Chi London
Vintage Lace Party Dress
Size 2 - 26

Satin One Shoulder Dress
Size 12 - 30W

Lace Off-the-Shoulder Gown
Size 2 - 26W

Tulle Cocktail Dress
Size S - 4X

 

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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Cape Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Navy Blue Lace Bodice Gown, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

ABS Allen Schwartz, Cape Gown, Size XL - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Jewel Clasp Evening Jacket Dress, Size 6 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Cape Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Lace Bodice Gown
Size 14 - 22W

ABS by Allen Schwartz
Cape Gown

Size XL - 3X

Jewel Clasp
Evening Jacket Dress
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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Peplum Gown, Size S - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Rachel Pally, Jersey Caftan Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick
Also Available in Black

Print Chiffon Halter Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Ruched Asymmetric Dress, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Peplum Gown
Size S - 4X

Rachel Pally
Jersey Caftan Dress

Size 1X - 3X

Print Chiffon Halter Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Ruched Asymmetric Dress
Size S - 3X

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 Gown, Size 10 -32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Lace Shoulder Gown, Size 1X - 3X  | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Picks
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Black Lace Bodice High Low Gown, Plus-Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Faux Wrap Gown, Plus-Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Lace Gown
Size 10 - 32W

Lace Shoulder Gown
Size 1X - 3X

Black Lace Bodice
High Low Gown
Size  14 - 22W

Faux Wrap Gown
Size 14 - 24W

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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Theia, Vintage Beaded Gown, Size 0 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Color Block Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Beaded Tiered Column Gown, Size S - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Chiffon Color Block Gown, Sizes 2-26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Theia
Vintage Beaded Gown
Size 0 - 18

Color Block Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Beaded Tiered
Column
Gown
Size S - 3X

Lace Ball 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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Pleated Gown, Size 18 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Embellished Lace Gown, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Donna Morgan, Cap Sleeve Sequin Gown, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Military Ball Editor's Pick

Terani Couture, Beaded Peplum Gown, Plus-Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Beaded Pleated Gown
Size 18 - 24W

Teri Jon
Beaded Silk Ball Gown
Size 2 - 18

Donna Morgan
Cap Sleeve Sequin Gown
Size 2 - 18

Terani Couture
Beaded Peplum Gown

Size 14 - 24W

 

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