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Plus-Size Special Occasion Clothing
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Featured editor's selections throughout the Elegant Plus Shopping Guides, Trend Reports, and  Fashion Flash Looks include designer clothes which are noted in the captions by designer label.  The Shopping Guides below specifically discuss shopping resources  for Special Occasion looks available in extended sizes.  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.













Finding just the right dress, outfit, or accessory is often one of the biggest challenges when that event invitation arrives. No two special occasions have precisely the same needs, although most are incredibly difficult to shop for in most cities.  On-line resources continue to offer the most depth and options at a variety of price points, especially in larger sizes.

Special occasions can range from the giddy first date or birthday celebrations at a club to swank art gallery openings or military balls.  Religious family occasions may call for special attire, along with holiday gatherings and celebrations such as graduations, engagement parties, and baby showers where day dresses with a feminine appeal are the norm. Mother's Day brunches and

Some events are all about the spotlight and taking center stage.  Performers often need outfits that sparkle, shine and catch the light. Plus-size pageant queens are perhaps the best known center stage divas, but musicians who sing smoky jazz, play in an orchestra, or sing in opera companies are another group who have formalwear needs.

The winter holidays are a particularly busy social time with everything from chic, black cocktail dresses to gorgeous New Year's Eve gowns coming out of many closets. Meanwhile, other times of year can cause a flurry of searches for other colors such as classic red or pure white.

High school and college calendars offer many opportunities for dressing up for parties.  Some young women prefer short, semi-formal attire for homecoming dances and proms, while many others enjoy full-length Old World glam.  Some events have stricter dress codes with very specific requirement, and this is especially true of sorority and debutante balls.

While formal dresses with sleeves were once thought to be the preference of older women, exclusively, current trends in lace or with illusion necklines, backs, or sleeves are becoming increasingly popular with all age groups. Furthermore hemlines are coming down with midi length dresses in a variety of silhouettes making a come back.

Special Occasion Shopping

On-line collections are much richer and varied in style than in most brick and mortar locations for most retailers. Price points range from budget friendly to high end designer.  Some of the deepest selections at mid-range to slightly upscale price points are available from major department stores such as  Dillard's, Macy's, and Nordstrom in size 0 to 26W.  Upscale department store Lord & Taylor is actively stocking contemporary and more trend conscious styles in extended sizes on-line to supplement their more classic offerings in sizes up to 24W.

Luxury designer dresses from designers such as Kay Unger and Carmen Marc Valvo are regularly available at Neiman Marcus for size 14 to 24W during the holiday party season, with even more luxury designer dresses and gowns in size 12 to 18 available all year out on their main racks Saks Fifth Avenue is the place to look for luxury plus-specialty designers such as Marina Rinaldi, with both cocktail dress and full length gowns often available to size 24W.

Meanwhile, Lane Bryant is becoming a leader in full-figured cocktail dresses and special occasion looks on-line, supplementing their own designs with both limited edition capsule collections from well-known luxury designers at lower price points, and other labels such as Adrianna Papell and ABS by Allen Schwartz.  Sister retailer Dress Barn offers more moderately priced options,  including evening tops and pants in sizes up to 24W.

 Those shopping for hard-to-fit specialty sizes such as plus petite, plus talls, and super sizes to 36W may want to check out the customizable modern vintage dress shop, eShakti.   Another extended plus specialty retailer, Kiyonna, is especially well known for their lace dresses and maxi dresses, some of which can be worn to formal events for size 10 to 32W.

The deepest formalwear selections are available at budget friendly direct-from-wholesale sites such as TB Dress and Light in the Box.

Foundation Garments

One of the most important aspects of achieving a finished look for special occasion is having the right foundation garments including shapewear, hosiery, and bras.   Many formal dresses and looks are form fitting.  Creating a smooth silhouette enhances special occasion looks significantly.


For wedding party attire please see our Plus-Size Bridal Resources page.

Wedding guests will find many options above.





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All Editor's Picks and plus-size clothing featured are hand- selected by the Elegant Plus Fashion Editor from our
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