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

Plus-Size Clothing Internet Shopping Guides
>> Plus-Size
Dresses for Social Occasions & Special Events

 
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:  June 23, 2017

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SHOPPING GUIDES

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Embroidered Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick MICHAEL Michael Kors, Pleat Chiffon Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick White Burnout Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Embroidered Dress
Size 14 - 24W

MICHAEL Michael Kors
Pleat Chiffon Dress

Size 1X - 3X

White Burnout Dress
Size
14 - 28W

Dresses for social occasions are often not quite as dressy as those worn for cocktail parties, but are softer and more feminine than dresses appropriate for work.  The types of occasions can range from attending weddings as a guest to brunch with family, church holidays, and school graduation parties. They are also often good choices for dates, dinners, and evenings out at social events such as the theater, gallery openings, and less formal cocktail parties. 

The fall and winter holiday season spanning from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day often has the dressiest styles with sequins, beading, metallics and finer fabrics such as jacquard, brocade, and velvet more the norm, with red dresses an annual favorite at this time of year.  Spring occasions such as Easter, Mother's Day, and graduations favor more floral prints, cottons, and sometimes linen, although light chiffons, silk, and lace are also popular choices.

Plus-size social dresses are only available in limited numbers in most towns, while the internet offers a much larger range both in size and styles.  Styles can be bare, body conscious and trendy, or more demure and appealing those who appreciate modesty. 
 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Norm Thompson Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Talbots Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Last Call Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothing @ Avenue
Watercolor Floral Dress, Size 6 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Embroidered Border Print Sheath, Size 2 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Floral Print Scuba Dress, Size 14 - 24W  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Crochet Yoke Trapeze Dress, Size 14 - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Watercolor Floral Dress
Size 6 - 22W
Petite to 16P

 

Embroidered
Border Print Sheath
Size 2 - 24W
Petite to 16P

Floral Print Scuba Dress
Size 14 - 24W

Crochet Yoke
Trapeze Dress

Size 14 - 32W

 

 

Internet Shopping Resources for Plus-Size Social Occasion Dresses

Many of the major department stores are the best sources for dresses up to size 24W. Most carry the deepest selection of plus-size dresses on-line, with several offering larger sizes exclusively to internet customers.   Free shipping has become the norm in the upscale department store space (sometimes with reasonable minimum purchase), with some even offering free returns for customer convenience.  Many are geared to the needs of working, professional women who may need social dresses not just for private occasions, but also work related events.  Consequently styles lean towards classic to contemporary designers, with trendier options more readily available at other types of retailers.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothing @ Igigi Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothing @ Dress Barn Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothing @ Willow Ridge Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothing @ eShakti
Purple Print Dress, Size 14 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Dress, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Embroidered Georgette Jacket Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Floral Crepe Dress, Size 0 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Print Dress
Size 14 - 36W

 

Lace Dress
Size 14 - 22W

 

Embroidered Georgette
Jacket Dress
Size
8 - 26W

 

Floral Crepe Dress
Size 0 - 36W
Avg - Petite - Tall

 

 

Plus-Size Special Occasion Dresses from Major Department Stores

 Nordstrom has the best and deepest selection of plus-size social dresses on-line. Options range from approximately $100 to several hundred dollars with both youthful and more sophisticated options. The trendy, Australian City Chic line is now available here for easy, direct order for the U.S. market.  Other labels regularly include Adrianna Papell, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Donna Ricco, and Eliza J to name a few. Day dresses in softer styles are available in addition to more evening appropriate looks. 

Macy's has a trendy to contemporary flavor to many of their options, although more mature styles are also available.   Lord & Taylor focuses on the contemporary to more mature customer, with special occasion dress offerings more plentiful during the holiday shopping season, and spring wedding guest season. Dillard's is particularly good for women who prefer sleeves or jacket style cocktail dresses and longer styles.  
 

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Belted Chiffon Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Skater Dress, Size 12 - 32W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Cinched Dress, Plus-Size 10 - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Floral Chiffon Layer Dress, Size 12 - 30W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Belted Chiffon Dress
Size
14 - 24W
 

Skater Dress
Size 12 - 32W 
 

Cinched Dress
Size 10 - 32W
 

Floral Chiffon Maxi
Size
12 - 30W
 

 

For those who prefer upscale, luxury options look for Kay Unger, Tadashi Shoji, Melissa Masse, and Marina Rinaldi at Saks Fifth Avenue. More contemporary looks and designers appealing to younger women have been added in recent years, with special occasion dresses starting at about $150.  Neiman Marcus has some of the most luxurious options from designers such as Marina Rinaldi, Johnny Was, Melissa Masse, Joan Vass, and Anna Scholz in sizes to 24W.

Meanwhile, Lane Bryant has been stepping up its style game to include collaborations with upscale designers at more moderate, diffusion prices in the $100 to $200 range, made especially for the plus market.  Special occasion dresses have been a part of the first two collections in collaboration with Isabel Toledo who is worn by Michelle Obama, among others.  The Lela Rose collaboration for both Spring and Winter Holidays 2015 had special occasion pieces, as she is known for her soft, feminine dresses.

 

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Cap Sleeve Tie Waist Dress, Size XS - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Burnout Dot Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Green Print Halter Dress, Size XL - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Belted Floral Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Cap Sleeve Tie Waist Dress
Size XS - 3X
Petite & Tall to XL (18)

 

 Burnout Dot Dress
Size 14 - 24W
 

Lace Fit & Flare Dress
Size 1
4 - 24W

 

Belted Floral Dress
Size
1X - 3X

 

 

Moderately Priced Plus-Size Social Dresses

Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call stock good selections of occasion dresses at steep discounts.  Many labels aren't available on their main website, and styles have classic to contemporary appeal for sizes up to 24W.

Vintage and trendier looks are a specialty at ModCloth in size XS to 4X.  Young, urban professionals will like the body and trend conscious looks at Eloquii in size 14 to 28W.   Meanwhile Torrid's dress collection is growing in popularity with looks appealing to the trendier fashionistas and young at heart for sizes L to 6X.  Body conscious styles in bold, bright colors and prints are favored by urban plus retailer Ashley Stewart in size 12 to 32W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Bedford Fair Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Trendy Clothes @ Fashion to Figure Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ ModCloth Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Clothes @ Eloquii
Lace Dress, Size 6 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available 
Ruffle Wrap Dress, Size XL - 5X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick 
More Colors Available
Retro Floral Bee Print Dress, Size XS - 4X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Eyelet Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lace Dress
Size 6 - 26W
Petite to 16P

 

Knit Wrap Dress
Size XL - 5X

 

Retro Floral Bee Print Dress
Size XS - 4X  

 

Eyelet Dress
Size 14 - 24W
Avg - Petite

 

Talbots offers a collections with classic sophistication, often in natural fibers such as cotton, linen and silk for size 2 to 24W.  Moderately priced options for classic to contemporary shoppers are a specialty at Dress Barn in size 4 to 24W.  Plus specialty designer Igigi is back with their signature California contemporary style in sizes 14 to 36W.

Of the catalogs, Draper's & Damon's is a particularly good resource for dressier social looks appealing to women with more mature tastes.  Pyramid Collections has a vintage, romantic, and bohemian flavor to their dresses, many of which are in styles not found elsewhere in sizes up to 3X (28W).

 

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Bead Neck Black Chiffon Trapeze Dress,  Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Yellow Pleat Chiffon Maxi, Size L - 6X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Ruffled Off-the-Shoulder Dress, Size 2 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Yellow Lace Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Bead Neck
Chiffon Trapeze Dress
Size 14 - 22W

Pleat Chiffon Maxi
Size L - 6X
 

Ruffled
Off-the-Shoulder Dress
Size 2 - 24W
Petite to 18P
  

Lace Dress
Size 8 - 26W

 

Extended Plus Sizes

 eShakti is expanding their vintage inspired dress collection to include more styles in contemporary and bohemian looks.  Everything is available size 0 to 36W, with easy low-cost customizations for petite and tall plus-size women.  Avenue has picked up its style game in recent months with dresses their strongest on-line category for size 14 to 32W.

Sealed with a Kiss offers breezy styles with a laid back Californian vibe, often with lots of jersey knits and maxi dress styles available in size 1X to 6X.  Catherine's is especially appealing to women who like classic clothing with a little bit of contemporary styling to keep it fresh in size 16 to 34W.  Kiyonna is known for their gorgeous lace occasion dresses, knit maxis, and wrap dresses for size 10 to 32W.  Meanwhile, Ulla Popken is revamping their inventory for size 12 to 38W with a much larger selection of fine and natural fabrics.
 

Finishing Touches

Dressy cardigans and shrugs or wraps are often added during cooler weather and in air-conditioned environments.  In recent years hosiery has become more important for dressier occasions with a resurgence in interest in stockings and pantyhose.  Meanwhile, the right shapewear provides the perfect foundation and silhouette for gorgeous curves.

 

 

 

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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.