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: February 18,
More Colors Available
Floral Wrap Dress
10 - 32W
Lace Maxi Dress
Paisley Fit & Flare Dress
Petite & Tall to XL
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
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
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.
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.
Floral Midi Dress
14 - 22W
Lace Sequin Sheath
Indigo Blue Lace Dress
Floral Jacket Dress
8 - 24W
Plus-Size Special Occasion
Dresses from Major Department Stores
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
a trendy to contemporary flavor to many of their
options, although more mature styles are also
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
For those who prefer
upscale, luxury options look for Kay Unger,
Tadashi Shoji, Melissa Masse, and Marina Rinaldi
Saks Fifth Avenue.
More contemporary looks and designers appealing
to younger women have been added in recent
years, with special occasion dresses starting at
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.
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.
Moderately Priced Plus-Size
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
size XS to 4X. Young, urban professionals will
body and trend conscious looks at
size 14 to 28W. Meanwhile
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
in size 12 to 32W.
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
in size 4 to 24W. Plus specialty designer
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.
has a vintage, romantic, and bohemian
flavor to their dresses, many of which are in
styles not found elsewhere in sizes up to 3X
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
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.
is especially appealing to women who like
classic clothing with a little bit of
contemporary styling to keep it fresh in size 16
known for their gorgeous lace occasion dresses,
knit maxis, and wrap dresses for size 10 to 32W.
is revamping their inventory for
size 12 to 38W with a much larger selection of
fine and natural fabrics.
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
stockings and pantyhose.
Meanwhile, the right
provides the perfect foundation and silhouette
for gorgeous curves.