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With picks from Anthropologie, Good American, and Wray.
There’s nothing like a good dress. The garment can be worn anywhere depending on style, and it can be both easy to wear and supremely stylish — particularly so for plus-size consumers, who might like the way they move with their bodies and the flexibility they give in terms of shape and structure, from form-fitting to loose and flowy.
Even though some brands still refuse to expand into the plus-size space, there are still tons of great dress options out there for big and bold consumers, from affordable tank dresses for work at home to long ruffled styles for special nights out on the town. To make the search simpler for InStyle readers, we researched and compiled a list of the 20 best plus-size dresses available now. We're confident you'll feel like the coolest, best-dressed person in the room no matter what.
Best Overall: Universal Standard Velvety-Cool Jersey Twist Dress
In a category as broad as dresses, it's difficult to choose just one dress for our top pick, given how tastes, preferences, and lifestyle needs can vary so greatly. For us, versatility was key here.
Universal Standard's Velvety-Cool Jersey Twist Dress is exactly that. The curve-hugging style would work well for a day at the office to happy hour and dinner with friends thereafter, or for a cocktail party on the weekend. It features a fun twist detail that subtly accentuates the smallest part of the waist and a V-neckline perfect for showing off a statement necklace.
Material: Polyester, elastane | Size: 0–40
Best Budget: BloomChic SuperSoft Essentials Pleated Midi Dress
What We Love: It comes in sizes up to 30, or 6X, which means the great price can reach just about everyone.
What We Don’t Love: It’s pretty basic, so you’ll need to accessorize it to give it any flair.
A prolific budget-friendly brand that proudly makes sizes 10–30, BloomChic is known for its stretchy, flattering dresses. Hence, you really can’t beat the BloomChic SuperSoft Essentials Pleated Midi Dress in terms of being an affordable basic. A cute little skater number, the midi dress has T-shirt length fitted sleeves, a kicky skirt, and is made of super plush, stretchy material that feels downright delightful. For under $30, the dress is also so affordable that you won’t feel bad picking up a few to have in your drawer — especially since it comes in 11 colors.
Material: Polyester, rayon, spandex | Size: 10–30
Best Splurge: Mara Hoffman Eliza Dress
What We Love: Plunging front V draws attention to your face, neck, and shoulders.
What We Don’t Love: The popcorn-like material could feel tired, fast.
If you don’t mind ponying up serious coin, Mara Hoffman’s Eliza Dress is a big-time winner. Marcy Guevara-Prete, a plus-size stylist who owns Los Angeles plus-size retail shop The Plus Bus, says the dress is one of her personal favorites. “I get so many compliments anytime I wear Mara Hoffman,” she says. “It happens over and over and over.”
The Eliza, linked here in the Gemma print, is an unlined mid-length dress with long sleeves. That doesn’t mean the wearer’s covered up, though: A plunging V-neck means the wearer’s face and decolletage are deliciously framed, and there’s smocking throughout the dress that gives it a very touchable, popcorn-like texture.
Material: Tencel lyocell | Size: XXS–3X
Best Linen: Linenbee Dahlia Maxi Dress
What We Love: The empire cut of this dress will have you feeling your Jane Austen fantasy.
What We Don’t Love: It comes in a huge range of colors, but they’re not all pictured on the model so you have to sort of guess what any given fabric will look like in more than a swatch.
As its name suggests, Linenbee specializes in linen garments, offering pretty much everything it sells in a truly impressive range of colors and two fabric weights. While there are more than a few super cute linen dresses in its collection, we’re especially partial to the Dahlia Maxi dress, which is a variation on another of the brand’s best sellers, the Delilah. With an empire waist and handy pockets, the dress has sort of an “Elizabeth Bennett going to town” vibe, but with a charmingly modern twist. The three-fourths sleeves have flattering slits, and the whole thing is breezy, comfortable, and supremely wearable.
Best of all, though, is the brand’s commitment to custom fits. Each dress is individually cut, sewn, and pre-washed based on the wearer’s measurements. If you want your dress to be shorter than it appears in the listing, you can say that. Longer, too.
Material: Linen | Size: XXS–4XL
Best Cotton: Wray Jean Dress
What We Love: The dark denim material creates structure without feeling overly casual.
What We Don’t Love: It doesn't come in many colors.
Curvy and plus-sized fashionistas have long sung the praises of Wray, a New York-based brand that creates fair-trade garments designed to excel in both form and function. While there’s a lot to love in each of the brand’s seasonal collections, the Jean dress is a particularly big winner. With its vintage-inspired silhouette, button front, and elastic-backed waist, it’s both a stylish and comfortable staple. The cotton denim construction makes it soft, but durable, and as a bonus, the dress can also be worn as a jacket, should you choose to open it up and remove the sash belt. Now that’s a dress that’ll make you feel like you got your money’s worth!
Material: Cotton, Lycra | Size: XXS–6X
Best on Amazon: BerryGo Boho V-Neck Wrap Dress
What We Love: Wrap dresses flatter almost all body types.
What We Don’t Love: It only comes in sizes up to 22.
One of the most popular plus-friendly dresses on Amazon with thousands of positive reviews, BerryGo’s Boho V-Neck Wrap dress clearly aims to please. It comes in a staggering amount of colors and fabrics and a range of sizes from 0 to 22.
Shopping for plus-size clothes on Amazon can sometimes feel like a bit of a crap shoot, BerryGo says this dress actually runs a little big, meaning that even if you’re pushing the boundaries of a 22, it might be worth ordering this one up to give it a go. After all, you can’t really ever go wrong with a wrap dress, especially if it’s got a swinging skirt like this one.
Material: Polyester | Size: 16–22
Best Bodycon: Remi X Revolve Nicole Dress
What We Love: This mesh dress is breathable, easy to wear, and the pattern is cute.
What We Don’t Love: It’s so popular it’s backordered.
A bodycon pick from influencer Remi Bader's recent collaboration with Revolve, the Nicole Dress was so popular when it was released it sold out almost instantly. Bader says she believes that’s because of the garment’s stretchy mesh construction, which she says “fits and looks good on everyone no matter what size you are.”
Most mesh, she points out, is somewhat see-through, but for this style, Bader and Revolve went with something more substantial, choosing a two-ply fabric that didn’t reveal as much of the wearer’s body. They also went with a visually interesting print that sort of draws the eye along the body, camouflaging anything you want to hide and accentuating anything the wearer wants to show off. “It truly is the perfect dress,” Bader boasts.
Material: Polyester, spandex | Size: XXS–4X
Best Tank: Good American Modern Tank Maxi Dress
What We Love: Its throw-on-and-go appeal.
What We Don’t Love: Sculpting construction means it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear for long stretches of time.
When Bader was first adventuring in the world of plus-size fashion, it was with Good American garments. She loved the look of the dresses coming out of Khloe Kardashian’s brand, which she says were the first garments that she found that were both plus-size and “trendy.” That’s certainly true of the Modern Tank Maxi, a sexy, curve-hugging black dress that looks straight out of a Kardashian's closet.
Made of sculpting double-knit stretch fabric, the dress smooths and shapes the wearer’s curves, meaning your butt will always look great and you won’t have to worry about anything jiggling around unless you want it to. Style it simply with sandals and chunky gold jewelry and throw on a luxe cardigan as needed.
Material: Nylon, elastane | Size: XS–5XL
Best Midi: Hilary MacMillan Knit Swirl Midi Dress
What We Love: This wildly flattering dress comes in bold colors and a wide range of sizes.
What We Don’t Love: The color options are limited.
A flattering dress festooned with a trio of figure-flattering stripes, Hilary MacMillan’s Knit Swirl dress has the power to make any wearer feel like a super sexy piece of candy. A favorite of the pair of co-founders behind the plus-friendly brand Zuri, the Knit Swirl dress works well for summer, but throw a blazer or a jean jacket on top, and you’re set for spring and fall, too
We love that it’s made of stretchy knit fabric and that it hits just below the knee, meaning you’ll get to show some skin without worrying about bend over too far. Moreover, we love that it features a bra-friendly cut, since so many plus-sized gals know the value and importance of a really supportive piece of lingerie.
Material: Viscose, polyester, and polyamid | Size: XS–5X
Best A-Line: Ace & Jig Avi Dress
What We Love: It comes in a bunch of fun patterns and it’s super comfortable to wear.
What We Don’t Love: It's hand wash- or dry clean-only.
An increasingly popular plus-size player that Zuri co-founders Sandra Zhao and Ashleigh Miller singled out for having "gorgeous fabrics" and "beautiful size-inclusive clothing,” Ace & Jig makes a ton of really fun dresses for all types of events. For everyday wear, we love the Avi, which boasts a flattering A-line cut, comes in five lively prints, and has delightfully deep side pockets. Perfect for everything from a day working at home to a picnic in the park, the Avi is made of 100 percent non-GMO organic cotton, meaning it’s been crafted and processed without any chemicals or fertilizers.
Material: Organic cotton | Size: XXS–4X
Best for Weddings: Mac Duggal Tiered V-Neckline Ruched Gown
What We Love: There’s just something so fabulous about a big, ruffled pink gown.
What We Don’t Love: It’s only available in sizes up to 20.
Bader looks at Anthropologie’s plus-size and weddings pages when she needs a new outfit. “They have amazing dresses for every occasion,” she says. That includes formal affairs, with the brand boasting a few dozen ready-to-wear evening dresses.
If you’re looking for something fun and flirty, you really can’t go wrong with Mac Duggal’s tiered V-Neckline ruched gown, which comes in a Barbie pink so adorable that there’s just no way you can wear it and not have fun. Dress it down with a sandal and a wicker bag for a daytime wedding, or add some flair with heels, drop earrings, and an updo for an evening affair.
Material: Polyester | Size: 12–20
Best Shirt: Zuri Onward Dress
What We Love: The silhouette offers versatility, and it's so flattering.
What We Don’t Love: It only comes in sizes up to a 3X.
Wearing a Zuri dress will earn you not just a staggering amount of compliments but also a ton of “Where did you get that? Can you send me the link?” queries. The company has made its name on its comfortable and versatile garments, which can be worn as dresses, long shirts over leggings, or even duster-style jackets. They sell dresses both with and without sleeves and in two lengths. All of the company’s fabrics are sourced from markets and manufacturers in Africa, where the dresses are made by workers earning fair wages, and, beyond that, they’re also pretty darn affordable, considering how many wash and wear cycles they can endure while still looking absolutely brand new.
While we pretty much love all Zuri dresses, if you’re looking for a good place to start, pattern-wise, you can’t really go wrong with this one, which is a dabbled leaf print that’s both bold and also sort of neutral. The brand also offers more sedate options, as well as even wilder ones for those who yearn for something a little more bold.
Material: Cotton | Size: XXS–3X
Best Mini: Hanifa Clarissa Mini
What We Love: This dress just looks like a party.
What We Don’t Love: It’s shorter than some people might feel comfortable with.
Another of Bader’s favorite brands, Hanifa is a black-female owned clothing company that makes everything from footwear to wedding dresses, and knows its way around curves and swerves, with many of the garments not shying away from stomach cutouts or super high waistlines. With its short length and to-the-body cut, the Clarissa Mini certainly fits in that group, but the garment’s long sleeves and turtleneck bodice mean wearers really aren’t baring too much. (Not that that’s a thing.) It comes in a Barbie pink and an attention-grabbing orange, making it the perfect dress for a night out at the club.
Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XS–3X
Best Maxi: Amazon Essentials Tank Waisted Maxi Dress
What We Love: It’s sexy and flowy at the same time, with a flattering waistline.
What We Don’t Love: It can stretch out a bit with repeat washes.
When you’re shopping for a maxi dress, there are really a few things that you want: First, fabric flowy and breathable enough that you’ll feel comfortable on a summer day, and second: something cute and flattering, so you don’t feel like grandma or a character in The Flying Nun.
Amazon Essentials’ Tank Waisted Maxi has both of those essentials in spades, with a scooped neckline, flattering and comfortable elastic waistband, and breathable rayon fabric. It would look great at the beach and it would look great at a wedding, and its wide range of colors means you can pick something that you’ll really love. In the reviews section, Amazon customers seem to really love the dress, calling it “exactly what I was looking for,” and “the perfect dress.” They call out the dress as being especially great for anyone who’s a little more pear-shaped, saying it can fit close to the body on the top while giving your lower half a little room to breathe.
Material: Polyester | Size: XS–6X
Best Cocktail: Anthropologie Maya Ruched Cowl-Neck Dress
What We Love: Every single color it comes in feels rich and lush.
What We Don’t Love: It’s only available in sizes up to 3X.
The holidays are over, but the parties don't stop. If you have a festive function to attend, or perhaps some special Valentine's Day plans where you’re looking to stun, Anthropologie’s Maya cowl-neck dress won't disappoint. It comes in three stunning jewel-like velvet colors and looks great with everything from combat boots to sky-high pumps. The pullover gown is made of stretch polyester, feels super comfortable, and has a front slit that means that while it feels like a maxi, you’ll have access to a pretty decent range of motion. Reviewers say it’s “very flattering,” though they say it does run a bit small, so perhaps consider sizing up.
Material: Polyester, elastane, and nylon | Size: 1X–3X
Best Athletic: Old Navy PowerSoft Shelf-Bra Support Dress
What We Love: There’s a built-in bra. Need we say more?
What We Don’t Love: Ostensibly built for yoga or tennis, this dress is pretty short, which may not feel comfortable to everyone.
We’ve seen and heard the Old Navy PowerSoft Shelf Bra dress touted everywhere from podcasts to shopping newsletters, and for good reason. The athletic-inspired frock is simple and chic, but also incredibly wearable. It’s ideally meant for the tennis court, but it can absolutely go beyond that if you want to pair it with some Jordans or a nice pair of heels. And while it might feel a little short or risqué, there’s actually both a bodysuit and a shelf bra with removable cups built into the garment, meaning you can rest assured that you’re not one big gust of wind away from a wardrobe malfunction. If you run a little hot, the dress is perfect for you, too: It has vented side slits to keep air moving, and it’s made of Go-Dry moisture-wicking fabric
Material: Polyester, spandex | Size: XS–4X; S–XXL tall; and XS–XL petite
Best Wrap: Osei Duro Letsa Wrap Dress
What We Love: It’s easy to wear and supremely flattering.
What We Don’t Love: At $260, it’s a little beyond the reach of some consumers.
For plus-sized customers, a good wrap dress is always a welcome addition to one’s closet. Zuri’s co-founders love the hand-dyed Letsa dress from Osei Duro, which boasts batwing sleeves, soft pleats, and a small cascade detail on the front. There are ties keeping the dress closed around the waist and at the sides, with the brand even taking care to make those nice and thick for customers who just can’t get down with a flimsy piece of fabric cutting into their rolls. Like Zuri, Osei-Duro is headquartered in Africa — in this case, Ghana, where it dyes and sews all of its garments, using local artisans and manufacturers to craft everything sustainably and from scratch.
Material: Lenzing Ecovero rayon | Size: XS–4X
What to Keep in Mind
Just like all customers, plus-size buyers often get in a rut, style-wise. They might think they have to wear sleeves, or that only one cut or style of jeans really works for them. There’s nothing wrong with trying something new on, though: You never know when a bold pattern may really pop against your skin, or a high-waisted pair of pants might really accentuate your curves in a way you might have expected.
That being said: It can be harder for someone wearing a size 20 to build up the confidence to hit up a dressing room than it might be for someone wearing a size two. Just know that you’re not alone. “I can be the first to admit,” Bader says, “that I don’t always feel 100 percent in my body, and I’m not sure I ever have. All I can do is tell people that fashion has changed my life and brought me confidence over time… When I find pieces that make me look and feel good, it not only boosts my confidence but also makes me want to continue to encourage other people to not have these strict rules around fashion and what they can and can’t wear.”
Zuri, who are known for its bright and colorful dresses, say that the happiest notes they ever get are from customers who only wore black or neutral pieces before diving into the rainbow pool. “We've had customers tell us that someone yelled out their car window to ask where they got their dress, or older women who feel that they often go unnoticed suddenly stopped on the street,” says Zhao. “ While it's true that beauty shines from the inside out, it may also be true that confidence can build from the outside in, so if you're nervous about standing out or getting noticed, honestly, all we can say is that the only people who will be noticing you are the fans.”
Above all else, listen to yourself. Guevara-Prete says that as far as she’s concerned, the only rule that should be adhered to in the dressing room is that you must ask yourself how you feel in the garment. “The male gaze, the mother's gaze, the fear of being perceived as fat will only hold people back as long as they allow it,” she says.
Even now, a lot of major, mass-market brands still don’t see the value in making plus-sized clothes — or when they do, they don’t take the necessary steps to make clothes that look good, fit well, and are stylish for plus-sized customers. “The most important thing brands need to understand when making inclusive sizing is that you truly have to have the budget for fitting on multiple models,” says Guevara-Prete. “You cannot simply grade up from a size 8 and hope it works. To have a proper fit, you must consider proportion, how fat lays on the body, and so on.” Brands that truly want to make size-inclusive clothing must understand who they’re really designing for, she says, and they must be willing to invest in that expansion.
Similarly, plus-size customers must be willing to invest in themselves. While there are very affordable, accessible plus pieces on the market today, some of the very best, most flattering, and most unique pieces available come from smaller manufacturers. While those garments might cost a little more than something at a big box store or from a fast fashion company, they’re well worth it if they make you feel great and are well-made. You really just can’t put a price on feeling sexy, free, and fashionable.
Plus-size clothes can succeed or fail based entirely on their fit. If you’re in the market for something specific, be prepared to try on multiple options. You never know if one manufacturer has a different shoulder cut than another, or if, say, a traditional Levi’s denim jacket might fit your bust but not your waist, while the denim moto jacket might hit you just right. As a plus-size customer, you might have to be more patient and more creative than other shoppers, but you’ll be rewarded when you finally find the piece that fits you to a T.
Your Questions, Answered
Which style of dress is generally best for plus-sized figures?
While everyone has a preference — some people love a body-con fit no matter what, while others swear by a babydoll — pretty much all plus-size customers look good in an A-line dress. Closer to the body on top with a slight flare starting at the waist, an A-line dress gives wearers extra room in their stomach, hip, and butt areas — all of which can be tough fits for some customers depending on the garments. You’ll have to shop around to see what works for you, but if you’re just diving into the world of plus-size dresses, an A-line dress or maybe a skater dress is a pretty solid place to start.
Why Shop With Us
Marah Eakin, the author of this article, has been a journalist reporting on entertainment, fashion, and culture for almost 15 years. She’s a mom who wears a dress almost every day, and she’s a fervent follower of plus-size fashion trends, who’s making the newest and best plus-sized garments, and a bit of a bargain shopper. She has dozens of dresses in her own closet, almost all of which garner compliments every single time they see the light of day.
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