The 23 Best Knit Dresses for Effortless Elegance

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We love these wooly frocks.

<p>InStyle / Kristin Kempa</p>

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

There are two kinds of people in the world: winter people and summer people. Luckily, knitted dresses generally suit a variety of temperatures, making them perfect for both seasons. Without delving too far into the design details — such as long sleeves or sleeves and cotton or wool — the garment may just be the common ground for the two teams.

For fashion content creator Aarica Nichole, “quality materials that feel great on the skin” are a general must-have. It’s also worth factoring in the setting and the season, and then experimenting with different textures, patterns, and designs. Looking for short and flirty? We found just the one for you. Or perhaps you’re going for soft sophistication with something long-sleeve and floor-length? See our top picks, ahead.

Related: The 22 Best Dresses on Amazon for Every Occasion

Best Overall: Dissh Reign White Sleeved Knit Midi Dress

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What We Love: There’s a tie that can be cinched to highlight the waist.

What We Don’t Love: The brand tends to run large, in our experience, so you may need to size down.

The first place I go to find cute dresses is always Dissh, whether it’s a linen, silk, or knitted piece. The Australian label has become somewhat of a destination spot for mature and effortless styles, and this knitted midi dress is a perfect example of that. With its long sleeves, scoop V-neck and adjustable tie around the waist, the silhouette is sleek and sophisticated.

Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XS–XXL | Colors: 3 | Length: Maxi

Best Budget: Merokeety Bodycon Sleeveless Sweater Dress

$41 at

What We Love: The bodycon dress is neither too tight nor too short, making it appropriate for almost all occasions.

What We Don’t Love: The lighter shades are see-through, according to reviewers.

I spent a good amount of time sorting through the customer photos of this dress, and have to say it looks even better in person than on the pictured model. This knitted midi hugs the body without feeling too skin-tight, flattering the curves in a comfortable embrace. The plunge neckline also allows the décolletage to show alluringly. Thanks to its longer length, however, the dress remains modest, making it appropriate for just about any occasion.

One common concern amongst the reviewers is that the lighter colors, like white and beige, can be see-through. Luckily, there are 16 colors to choose from, so you can opt for a richer hue, like navy or forest green, for a more opaque look.

Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 16 | Length: Midi

Best Splurge-Worthy: Cult Gaia Pyton Knit Dress

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What We Love: The asymmetrical ribbing makes for an eye-catching design.

What We Don’t Love: It’s only offered in one color.

When I need a special occasion dress — something that will turn heads — I go to Cult Gaia. In both cut and feel, the label goes above and beyond in its creation of sexy yet sophisticated dresses, which is something Los Angeles-based fashion designer and stylist Danielle Williams-Eke, who has helped style shoots for 11 Honoré and Torrid, looks for, too. For winter, she loves a heavy-gauge sweater dress like this one, complete with voluminous short sleeves, curvy seaming, and an asymmetrical hemline. Just throw on some statement earrings and boots to complete the look.

While the V-neck feels alluring, the oversized puff sleeves take your attention away from the flirty decolletage. Asymmetrical ribbing can be seen swirling over the dress, and the hem almost looks like an upside-down tulip. A true masterpiece of a dress, if you ask me, and yet it can be worn on multiple occasions, from casual to formal.

Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XXS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Midi

Best Plus-Size: Hanifa Soraya Mini Knit Dress

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What We Love: It comes in a mini and a maxi length.

What We Don’t Love: It runs large, so size down for a snug fit.

We’ve expressed our love for Hanifa’s knit dresses before — there are simply so many stunning styles that it’s difficult to pick just one. And still, we think the Soraya Dress, with its button-down details and unique floral print, stands out from the bunch. The dress comes in a mini and a maxi, so ponder which season you hope to wear it first before choosing the length. While we can’t guarantee we’ll look as good as Gabrielle Union-Wade in this dress, we do think the exaggerated collar and cozy fit are universally flattering. The brand does recommend sizing down however if you wish for a snug fit.

Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XS–3XL | Colors: 2 | Length: Mini

Best Petite: Reiss Michelle Bodycon Knitted Midi Dress

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What We Love: It’s extremely comfortable.

What We Don’t Love: Rather than an everyday dress, this dress suits formal occasions, giving you fewer opportunities to wear it out.

We love brands that offer different inseam lengths to our taller and shorter friends. Reiss is one of those brands, cutting off 2.75 inches from the regular fit to create a petite dress. Beyond the comfort of the stretchy knit fabric, we love the subtle, sophisticated design details, such as the slits at the cuffs of the sleeves and the row of buttons from the hips to the knees and down the chest. If you’re frequently going to the office and hitting up post-work drinks, we’d definitely recommend this number.

Material: Viscose, polyester, nylon, elastane | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Midi

Best Mini: Commense Cream Rib Long Sleeve Short Sweater Dress

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What We Love: The ribbing curves in at the waist, accentuating an hourglass figure.

What We Don’t Love: The nylon and acrylic material makeup might not be the warmest.

I’ve ordered a few things from Commense — a little apprehensive of the affordable price tags — but was pleasantly surprised at everything that arrived. For this reason, I feel confident recommending this cream mini dress. The cozy knit features long sleeves, an A-line skirt, and ribbing that curves in and out of the center — a feature that creates the illusion of a cinched-in waist. It’s the kind of dress you want to pair with some tights and boots in the winter or fall. Although we can’t confirm how warm the acrylic and nylon material would be, one reviewer seems to be very enthusiastic about it being nice and toasty.

Material: Nylon, acrylic | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 2 | Length: Mini

Best Midi: Anthropologie The Wolf Gang Sleeveless V-Neck Shell Midi Dress

$268 at

What We Love: The straps are adjustable in length.

What We Don’t Love: The shell design might restrict its wearability in everyday situations.

How endearing is this midi dress? Adorned with little seashells, the Australian label takes inspiration from vintage vacation photographs. And while that might restrict its wearability to the beach or on vacation, we can’t help but swoon over its beautiful design, making it worth it in our books. On the back, you’ll find delicate strings tying together, while keeping most of the upper back bare. This feature also allows you to adjust the straps for snugness. While it’s only available in this ivory/pink color at Anthropologie, you can find a navy version on The Wolf Gang’s website as well.

Material: Cotton, nylon | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 2 | Length: Midi

Best Maxi: Meshki Kenny Long Sleeve Knit Dress

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What We Love: The back looks extra interesting.

What We Don’t Love: With all the holes in the back you need to be careful to stick your head into the right one as you get dressed.

I like dresses that serve multiple purposes. A dress like this can easily be worn to a dinner with friends or a winter wedding. Never one to shy away from an open-shoulder moment, the elegant twisted front looks particularly appealing. Long sleeves cover past the palms as well, elongating your overall look. But the real catch-point is in the back. There’s an open cutout in the midsection, a slit at the hem, another twisted top and a single string delicately crossing over from the right to the left shoulder. Just be careful to stick your head through the right hole as you put this dress on.

Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XXS–3XL | Colors: 2 | Length: Maxi

Best Black: Skims Soft Lounge Long Slip Dress

$39 at

$47 at

What We Love: It’s as flattering as it is comfortable.

What We Don’t Love: It's too casual to be very versatile.

The viral Skims Soft Lounge Dress became famous for good reason — it’s as flattering as it is comfortable, in our experience. Wear it to lounge at home or out to brunch. It hugs the body in all the right ways without feeling compressive. Instead, the knit feels feathery-soft and stretchy. Because it is a maxi dress, however, you should be careful not to drag the hem along the floor.

Material: Modal, spandex | Size: XXS–4XL | Colors: 6 | Length: Maxi

Best White: Rouje Elisa Dress

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What We Love: There’s a delicate cricket stitching along the chest.

What We Don’t Love: The plunging neckline might feel too revealing for some.

A white dress often serves as a great foundation for layering and accessorizing, though we think this dress could easily stand alone with its effortless chic appeal. We love the interest of the V neckline that doesn’t feel all too revealing for work. Still, if you lean conservative when it comes to office attire, it could also work well for date night. Either way, this number is sure to wow with its form-hugging skirt and endearing cricket stitching along the chest. Because the hem crops right at your knees, you won’t have any trouble moving around the pencil skirt.

Material: Viscose, elastane | Size: EU34–EU44 | Colors: 2 | Length: Midi

Best Patterned: Staud Shoko Ribbed Longline Cardigan

$117 at

$103 at

What We Love: The long sleeves, hem, and thick knit make this a warm option for the winter.

What We Don’t Love: It stretches out and becomes a little big after some wear.

Super bold patterns can feel tired after a season or two. For a better investment, we recommend opting for something more classic, like stripes, that’s less likely to lose its appeal.

We love this ribbed style not only for its uniquely sized and multicolored stripes but also for its cardigan-style design that’s as classic as the sweater style itself but less expected than the typical crewneck knit dress. Still, the rich tones and lightweight fabric make this a great option for the fall-to-spring period.

Material: Viscose, nylon | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Midi

Best Long-Sleeve: The Line by K Candela Dress

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What We Love: The fabric is double-layered.

What We Don’t Love: It may be difficult to walk in this design.

Here’s a dress to wear all fall and winter. Not only will it keep you covered and warm with its maxi length and super long sleeves, but also with the double-layered fabric that feels substantially thick. The delicately soft piece has a near-invisible zip going down the chest, while an edgy collar frames the face. It’s a piece for the minimalist, who appreciates clean designs with quality stitching.

We could imagine it would be difficult to take big strides in this dress, given the narrow, near-maxi-length skirt (without even a slit for some give). However, we expect the stretch content in the fabric will assist.

Material: Rayon, spandex | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 2 | Length: Maxi

Best Sexy: Alohas Delicate White Knit Dress

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What We Love: Delicate spaghetti straps frame the back before endearingly tying together at your lower back.

What We Don’t Love: The side-boob might not be for everyone.

Heading on a vacation? Let this be the first dress you pack. The delicate knit dress doesn’t lack any wow factors, starting with the open back and thin spaghetti straps that tie at the lower back. It’s form-hugging at the hips but then dangles loosely down the calves. From the front, you’ll have a bit of side-boob action going on, which may not be for everyone. The brand also warns that the cotton knit can be a little see-through, so be prepared to wear your nude underwear and nipple covers underneath it. Once you get past those points, we’re certain the Spain-made knit dress will transport you to beautiful places.

Material: Cotton, polybutylene | Size: S–L | Colors: 6 | Length: Midi

Best Bodycon: Enza Costa Silk Knit Sleeveless Twist Midi Dress

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What We Love: There is some silk blended into the material for a luxe feel.

What We Don’t Love: It may be difficult to walk in.

This bodycon knit dress manages to hug all your curves in the right way, without feeling one bit revealing. Perhaps that’s due to the mock neck or the subtle ruching around the ribs. Maybe it’s the midi length gracing the calves — whatever it is, the dress looks extraordinarily sharp, all while sticking close to the body. The dress has a minimalist appeal, sticking to the classic silhouette and avoiding any extravagant detailing. It makes it that much more versatile, allowing for plenty of ways to style and wear it on multiple occasions. Do be aware, though, that bodycon dresses in this length will be difficult to walk in.

Material: Viscose, silk, Lycra | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 4 | Length: Midi

Best Cable-Knit: Princess Polly Corthay Knit Mini Dress

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What We Love: It’s long enough to pass as a dress and short enough to wear over jeans.

What We Don’t Love: The 100 percent polyester material might not be the most durable option.

Cable-knit sweater dresses feel like winter’s uniform. The cozy aesthetic requires zero effort to put together yet delivers maximum comfort and style points. This option comes with a little mock neck, which provides additional warmth as well. On the body, there’s the cable-knit stitching that you came here for, but at the hem and cuffs, the sweater ends in rib knit stitchings. Cropping just above the mid-thigh, the sweater is long enough to pass as a dress but can also be worn over a pair of jeans.

For Nichole, this upcoming year is all about “a mini-length sweater dress with tights and ballet flats,” but you can never go wrong with a pair of boots either.

Material: Polyester | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Mini

Best Rib-Knit: Nia The Brand Tanya Sweater Dress

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What We Love: There’s an eye-catching cutout at the back.

What We Don’t Love: The sizing is very limited.

Nia The Brand's pieces are affordable, good-quality, and stylish pieces. The midi-length, under-$100 Tanya dress is a great representation of that, with ribbing throughout its canvas, as well as a square neck opening around the chest. Turn it around and you’ll see a big open cutout that goes from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. Although the size range is limited, the garment is stretchy and could likely accommodate those between a size large and extra-large. And if beige isn't your neutral, it's also available in solid black.

Material: Viscose, polyester, nylon | Size: XS–L | Colors: 2 | Length: Maxi

Best Off-The-Shoulder: Na-kd Off Shoulder Open Back Dress

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What We Love: A slit at the back of the dress makes walking easier.

What We Don’t Love: Raising the arms will cause the sleeves to awkwardly rise up the shoulders, requiring constant readjustments.

Chic and cozy, the off-the-shoulder dress deserves a spot in your closet as well. While the shoulders and collarbones are left bare, the chest is covered by a double layer of knit. Elongated sleeves cover the palm of your hands, as the rest of the dress drops down to the floor. Aside from the cutout at the lower back, the rest of the dress is simple and sophisticated. Thanks to the slit at the back of the hem, walking is made easy as well.

Material: Cotton, polyester | Size: XXS–XXL | Colors: 2 | Length: Maxi

Best Wrap: Zesika Long Sleeve Wrap V-Neck Dress

$51 at

What We Love: The pleated A-line skirt.

What We Don’t Love: The size range is limited.

A wrap dress such as this one allows you to tie the bow snugly around your waist and accentuate your figure as you please. Combined with the pleated A-line skirt, this dress intends to create an hourglass figure appeal. Reviewers also confirm that the material is substantial, not sheer, avoiding any unwanted peek-a-boos. And with 17 colors available, there’s a dress for every mood.

Material: Viscose, polyester, nylon | Size: S–XL | Colors: 17 | Length: Midi

Best for Lounging: Na-kd A-Line Fuzzy Knit Midi Dress

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What We Love: The flared hem makes walking easy.

What We Don’t Love: It needs to be air-dried.

I almost made Skims' Soft Lounge Slip dress the “Best for Lounging” option, but then I found this similar number made from a fuzzy knit and knew it took the crown. Allow your body to be embraced by this luxuriously soft fabric after a long day — a substantial upgrade from your sloppy sweatpants. It’s form-fitting throughout the bodice but then dangles around the calves in a slight flare. The best part? It doesn’t come with complicated wash instructions, so you can wear it as much as you please. Just try to avoid the dryer as much as possible.

Material: Polyamide, viscose, polyester | Size: XXS–XXL | Colors: 2 | Length: Midi

Best Wool: Filippa-K Rib Knit Dress

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What We Love: It’s made sustainably with high-quality materials.

What We Don’t Love: You will have to hand wash this.

Pioneers in Scandinavian minimalism, Filippa K is all about sustainability, simplicity, and quality. Using only the best materials, including tencel lyocell, wool, and silk, the rib knit dress looks and feels luxurious. There will be no itchy or scratchy sensations with this on, only ultra-soft fabrics kissing the skin. Don’t let the image fool you, however, as this is a lightweight dress – you’ll still need a thick coat in the wintertime. Add on some boots and a thick scarf, and your winter outfit is ready to go. When the day is done, just remember to hand wash and hang dry if you wish to maintain its superior texture.

Material: Tencel lyocell, wool, silk | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Maxi

Best Sheer: S/W/F Asymmetric Mini Dress

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What We Love: There’s a drawstring around the waist to give it a little shape.

What We Don’t Love: It's not versatile.

As the warm months draw closer, now is the time to stock up on beachwear. This crochet-knit dress is both sheer and breathable. It has a single shoulder strap, adding a bit of an allure to the look, as well as a drawstring for adjustability at the waist. It’s all you’ll need when walking from the pool back to the hotel, or to sit at a beachside tavern post-swim.

Material: Sustainable cotton | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Mini

Best Crochet: Marine Layer Celeste Crochet Dress

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What We Love: It’s not see-through.

What We Don’t Love: Crochet is a delicate knit that needs to be worn with care.

How endearing is this crochet mini dress? While most crochet pieces are a little see-through (take the previous option as an example), this one is perfectly opaque and can be worn out and about without a worry. While the groovy handknit pattern is eye-catching and fun, the earthy tones keep it casual for everyday wear. The square neckline feels very current as well. In terms of care, this piece is fairly low-maintenance — you can machine wash the garment delicately and lay it flat to dry.

Material: Cotton, acrylic | Size: XS–XL | Colors: 1 | Length: Mini

Best Striped: Sezane Leontine Dress

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What We Love: It’s made of 100 percent organic cotton.

What We Don’t Love: You have to hand wash this piece.

Made of 100 percent organic cotton, this ultra-soft sweater dress is begging to be worn on all of your daily errands, from post-office and grocery store runs to your standing nail appointment. Charming navy stripes go across the loose-knit sweater. You’ll also find a little button-down descending the top half of the sweater. The Parisian label Sezane knows just how to deliver a je ne sais quoi appeal in their clothes.

Material: Organic cotton | Size: XS–XXL | Colors: 1 | Length: Mini

What to Keep in Mind

  • Material: Knit is a universal term to define a fabric that’s been woven together in interlocking patterns. The materials used can thus range, as it’s more referring to the style of the weave rather than the substance. Still, Williams-Eke says she looks for “anything blended with viscose or rayon, as this tends to give the sweater knit a more soft, sleek, and elevated feel.” For style curator Jamie Grimstad, it’s important that the fabric won’t itch, which is why she recommends “merino-wool, cashmere, or a blend of the two.” The Reformation all-cashmere dress fits her bill. The composition makes it not only incredibly soft but very warm, too. The Filippa-K Rib Knit Dress, too, harnesses softness, warmth, and durability with its silk/wool/lyocell composition.

  • Season: From fall through spring, knit dresses can be a go-to — you just have to consider the length and weight to match the occasion. For fall, consider something that balances good coverage and exposure. If the hem is short, the sleeves should be long, and vice versa. Meanwhile, spring allows you to shed the heavy-duty fabrics and opt for lightweight looks, and even in the summer, knit dresses can make sense. “I would go for an open-knit dress or a crochet dress, as you can style them as a swimsuit cover-up or even wear them with undergarments peeking through for a more daring look,” Nichole says.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you style a knit dress?

“When styling a knit dress, it’s all about putting a look together with accessories that balance out the proportions (silhouette) and material of the dress,” Grimstad says. These details will depend on the season and the occasion for which you’re dressing, of course, but both Grimstad and Nichole agree that knee-high boots are often a winning addition. For accessories, Grimstad loves a chunky pair of earrings or a stack of bangles to add even more dimension.

If we’re talking about fall specifically, Williams-Eke suggests layering by “throwing a collared shirt under the dress and pairing it with chic patent leather booties. Throw a full-length trench or blazer over your shoulders to complete the look.” By the time summer rolls around, you can take the same dress and just pair it with strappy open-toe heels and oversized sunglasses, she points out.

How do you wash a knit dress?

It’s important to pay attention to each dress’s wash instructions. Many of them warn against throwing it in the washer or dryer, because the delicate weave may take a hit from the rigorous movement and heat of the machines. For this reason, you’ll need to either take it to a dry cleaner or hand wash it and lay it flat to dry.

You should also avoid overstretching it by hanging it. To help preserve its shape, Grimstad recommends storing your knit dress folded in your closet.

Why Shop With Us

Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer with three years of experience covering fashion and beauty. Over the past few years, she’s collected a number of knit dresses herself, prompting her to write this article. She consulted stylists and fashion influencers Jamie Grimstad, Aarica Nichole, and Danielle Williams-Eke who brought in professional insights on how to shop, style, and care for knitted dresses.

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