20+ Types of Dresses: A Guide to the Chic Styles

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE

Joanna Elizabeth

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Updated May 24, 2024

Types of Dresses
See a guide to different types of dresses.

Finding the perfect dress can be challenging, given the many types of dresses available. Whether you’re searching for a dress for a special occasion like a semi-formal wedding or a casual outing, rest assured because there is a dress to suit every occasion and body type. 

Types of Dresses

Elegant Types Dresses
From elegant to casual, there’s a wide range of dress styles. Photo: Shutterstock

Our guide will dive into the world of dresses, exploring some of the most sought-after styles, from the timeless little black dress to the trendy and daring asymmetrical and balloon dresses. Also, find out different styling tips on how to wear these popular designs.

Little Black Dress

Little Black Types Dresses Reformation Ozzlie
An LBD from Reformation is a classic look. Photo: Reformation

The little black dress is a true classic that every woman should have in her wardrobe. It’s a dress that effortlessly adapts to various occasions, whether a fancy soirée or a fun-filled night out with friends. Often associated with Coco Chanel, it became popular in the early 20th century.

The beauty lies in its versatility—you can elevate it by donning high heels and eye-catching jewelry for a formal affair or embrace a more relaxed vibe by pairing it with a leather jacket and knee-high boots for a casual yet chic look. The little black dress is a fashion staple that never goes out of style.

Slip Dress

Slip Types Dresses superdown
Channel minimal chic in a gorgeous slip dress from superdown. Photo: REVOLVE

Slip dresses, often associated with the effortless elegance of the ’90s, continue to be a staple for the fashion-forward. Their sleek and simplistic silhouette, usually characterized by spaghetti straps and a straight cut, adds a touch of understated sophistication to any look. 

These dresses work marvelously across various fabrics, but silk and satin renditions particularly capture the essence of luxury. Pair a slip dress with a leather jacket and ankle boots for an edgy yet chic ensemble, or strappy heels. The Mint Julep Boutique suggests accessorizing with delicate jewelry and a clutch for an elegant evening look.

Evening Gown

Evening Gown Types Dresses Eliza J
An evening gown like this ruffle-front style from Eliza J is made for a formal event. Photo: Nordstrom

Evening gowns are floor-length dresses typically made from luxurious fabrics like silk, velvet, or chiffon. These types of dresses make an appearance at formal events.

From body-skimming silhouettes that accentuate natural curves to ethereal ballgowns that make for a fairy-tale look, evening gowns come in various styles. 

Pair an evening gown with diamonds or other gemstone jewelry and a sleek clutch to create an unforgettable look. 

Shift Dress

Shift Types Dresses Shiloh Splendid
Take it easy in a shift dress from brands like Splendid. Photo: Nordstrom

The shift dress, a timeless style that rose to prominence in the 1960s, is known for its clean and boxy shape. This dress type offers a relaxed fit without a defined waistline, making it a fantastic choice for those with a lean and straight body shape. 

The straight silhouette gracefully skims the body, avoiding overly snug contours. Embrace the retro vibes by pairing a shift dress with a mid-length duster jacket and slingback heels, or opt for knee-high boots to complete the throwback look.

Sheath Dress

Sheath Dress Types DKNY Floral Print Godet Trim
A classic silhouette of the sheath dress stands out in this DKNY floral print style. Photo: Macy’s

The sheath dress showcases a fitted bodice and a straight, narrow skirt. It’s a splendid option for women with broad shoulders and a well-defined waistline. This classic and sophisticated style effortlessly transitions between occasions, from a lively cocktail party to a formal wedding affair. 

Upgrade its elegance with high heels and statement jewelry for a refined and polished appearance. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for a more casual vibe, team the sheath dress with a denim jacket and ankle boots for a chic yet relaxed ensemble.

Wrap Dress

Wrap Types Dresses ASOS Design
Channel ladylike style in a wrap silhouette with crinkle detail from ASOS Design. Photo: ASOS

Behold the wrap dress, a stylish design that boasts a front closure achieved by wrapping one side of the dress across the other and securing it at the waist or back. This style is often associated with the 1970s.

This dress is an excellent choice for women seeking to emphasize their waistline and create an alluring hourglass shape. The wrap dress’s appeal lies in its ability to adapt easily to various occasions. Whether you desire a sophisticated or a more laid-back ensemble from brands like DVF, the wrap dress can be dressed up or down accordingly.

Bodycon Dress

Bodycon Types Dresses Michael Costello
Flaunt your figure in a bodycon style with ruching from labels such as Michael Costello. Photo: REVOLVE

Bodycon dresses, short for body-conscious dresses, are known for their figure-hugging and tight silhouette. They celebrate the body’s natural curves in the most glamorous way. Crafted from stretchable fabrics, they’re designed to flatter and highlight one’s form. 

Available in many colors and patterns, bodycon dresses cater to various styles and occasions. Pair a bodycon dress with peep-toe heels and statement accessories for a bold night-out look. 

Cocktail Dress

Cocktail Types Dresses Dress Population
Head to your next event in style with a fitted cocktail dress from Dress the Population. Photo: Nordstrom

The cocktail dress is a must-have for those seeking fashionable elegance at cocktail parties and other formal gatherings. This dress style typically features a flattering, shorter length, falling gracefully above the knee.

You can find styles with a fitted bodice and flared skirt that exudes an air of refinement. Pair it with high heels and statement jewelry for a more formal look. Alternatively, for a touch of casual flair, opt for a leather jacket and ankle boots to create a trendy and effortlessly chic ensemble.

Ball Gown

Ball Gown Types Dresses
Make a stunning entrance in a ballgown with a voluminous skirt. Photo: Shutterstock

A ball gown is characterized by a fitted or structured bodice and a voluminous skirt, creating a striking and regal silhouette. Its long and voluminous structure commands attention and creates a magnificent entrance wherever you go.

Embrace various styles when choosing your ball gown, whether elegant mermaid, princess cuts, or timeless and traditional designs. These gowns can be crafted from various luxurious fabrics, such as silk, taffeta, or organza.

Pair your ball gown with high heels and statement jewelry to truly make an impression, instantly transforming into a vision of glamour and sophistication. 

Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress
Wedding dresses often feature dramatic silhouettes. Photo: Shutterstock

A wedding dress is a ceremonial garment worn by a bride on her wedding day, channeling elegance and tradition. These gowns often showcase intricate details, with many featuring a corset to shape the figure, blending classic beauty with modern design.

More minimal or casual wedding dresses celebrate simplicity with short hemlines or relaxed silhouettes. Common wedding dress accessories include veils, tiaras, and elegant sashes.

Peplum Dress

Peplum Types Dresses Bebe
The peplum dress is modern with this sleek silhouette from Bebe featuring lace. Photo: Nordstrom

The peplum dress is a remarkable choice for those desiring to create an alluring hourglass shape while accentuating the waistline. This dress style features a flared ruffle or peplum at the waist, adding a touch of elegance. This silhouette found popularity in the 1940s and 1950s but is still worn today.

Explore the myriad of peplum dress options, ranging from sleeveless designs that embrace a more contemporary aesthetic to long-sleeved variations exuding sophistication. Enhance your ensemble by selecting accessories that perfectly complement your look, such as a statement necklace or dressy flats.

T-Shirt Dress

T-Shirt Types Dresses
A T-shirt dress is great for those casual outings. Photo: FP

Now, let’s look at the eternally fabulous t-shirt dress, a fashion marvel designed to resemble an oversized t-shirt. It’s the epitome of casual style, making it a perfect choice for everyday wear. 

Embrace the relaxed vibes by pairing the t-shirt dress with sneakers or sandals, perfect for achieving that laid-back and carefree look. Alternatively, for those seeking to make a statement, elevate the t-shirt dress by pairing it with platform heels and eye-catching jewelry like chandelier earrings, transforming it into a more formal outfit.

Sweater Dress

Sweater Types Dresses Calvin Klein
A sweater dress can be great for all seasons, as shown by this Calvin Klein Jeans style. Photo: Macy’s

Sweater dresses are designs made from knit fabric, making them the epitome of comfort and style. The knitted texture adds depth and warmth, making them a beloved choice for cooler seasons. 

These dresses come in various designs, from ribbed variants to oversized or body-skimming styles. When paired with knee-high boots and a statement belt, a chunky knit sweater dress creates an irresistible fall or winter look. Their versatility ensures they transition beautifully from a day at the office to dinner with friends.

Smock Dress

Smock Types Dresses ASOS Design
Step out in the relaxed silhouette of a smock dress from ASOS. Photo: ASOS

The smock dress is renowned for its loose-fitting and flowing shape. This style is all about comfort and relaxation, featuring a relaxed and unstructured bodice that sets it apart from other dress styles.

It’s tailor-made for everyday wear, allowing you to embrace a chic ease without compromising style. The smock dress comes in many styles, from sleeveless to long sleeves, catering to diverse preferences. 

Complete your ensemble by experimenting with complementary pieces like denim jackets or ankle boots to achieve a look that perfectly reflects your style.

Asymmetrical Dress

Asymmetrical Types Dresses NBD
Keep it sleek in an asymmetrical dress from contemporary brands such as NBD. Photo: REVOLVE

Asymmetrical dresses feature irregular hemlines or one-shoulder designs, showcasing unconventional and artistic lines. These styles introduce an element of surprise and visual interest for a unique statement piece in any wardrobe. 

An asymmetrical dress, paired with strappy heels and minimalist jewelry, can create a compelling look for a special occasion. These styles break from tradition and exude a modern aesthetic.

Baby Doll Dress

Babydoll Types Dresses Free People
Channel whimsical vibes in a babydoll dress from the likes of Free People. Photo: Nordstrom

Baby doll dresses typically feature a high waistline and a short, flared skirt, creating a whimsical silhouette. The style is known for its cute and feminine charm and playful and endearing style. From solid hues to patterns and laces, the variety is impressive. 

Baby doll dresses are ideal for a casual day out, a brunch date, or a summer concert. Pair one with ballet flats and a cute crossbody bag for a youthful look. Their innate charm and lightheartedness make them a fun addition to any fashionista’s wardrobe.

A-Line Dress

A-Line Dress MSK
The A-line silhouette is flattering on every body type, as shown by this MSK style. Photo: Macy’s

Embrace the timeless elegance of A-line dresses, a classic style that flatters every body type. These dresses hug your hips before gracefully flaring out into an A-shape silhouette. Available in long and short lengths, A-line dresses come in an array of fabrics, ranging from cotton to silk. 

This style is particularly flattering for pear-shaped bodies. Versatility is the hallmark of A-line dresses, as they can effortlessly transition from casual to formal occasions. 

Opt for a long A-line dress paired with stilettos and diamond jewelry to create a sophisticated look for a formal event. Alternatively, a short A-line dress paired with sandals and a linen jacket strikes the perfect balance of comfort and style for a more relaxed day out.

Maxi Dress

Maxi Types Dresses ASOS
Channel casual vibes in a beach maxi dress from ASOS Design. Photo: ASOS

Get ready to embrace the carefree and flowing style of the maxi dress, a long garment that skims the floor. These dresses are ideal for casual settings, whether it’s a sun-soaked day at the beach or a delightful picnic in the park. 

Maxi dresses come in various styles, including strapless and off-the-shoulder, and can be crafted from cotton, silk, or chiffon. Maxi dresses are known for their comfort and versatility, making them a beloved choice among many women. 

Pair your long dress with sandals and a charming sun hat for a beach day, exuding effortless elegance. On the other hand, elevate your maxi dress for a formal event by combining it with pumps and colorful gemstones, creating a look that demands attention.

Mini Dress

Mini Types Dresses
A mini dress can come in so many different styles. Photo: Shutterstock

The mini dress is a short and flirty style that falls above the knee. It’s a perfect choice for showcasing your legs. Mini dresses come in various styles, ranging from figure-hugging bodycon designs to relaxed and breezy shift silhouettes. 

They can be crafted from various fabrics, such as cotton, silk, or lace, ensuring a diverse range of options to suit your style. Mini dresses are your go-to for a night out on the town or a romantic date with your significant other. 

Pair your mini dress with stylish heels and some of your favorite jewelry to achieve a glamorous, head-turning look. Alternatively, opt for a combination of sneakers and a cardigan sweater for a more casual and laid-back day out, effortlessly exuding a chic and relaxed vibe.

Midi Dress

Midi Types Dresses
The midi-dress is shown in a more formal style with shimmering metallic fabric. Photo: Shutterstock

The midi dress is a fabulous style, with its hemline falling between the knee and ankle. They are the perfect choice for various occasions, whether a productive day at the office or a joyous wedding celebration.

Midi dresses come in various styles, from flattering wrap dresses to curve-hugging bodycon designs. They can be crafted from cotton, silk, or jersey, ensuring plenty of options to suit your preferences.

For a polished and professional look, pair a midi dress with a pair of pumps and a sophisticated blazer. Alternatively, if you want a more relaxed and casual vibe, dress it down with sandals and a straw hat for warm days.

Off-The-Shoulder Dress

Off Shoulder Types Dresses
Whether in a print or solid color, the off-the-shoulder style stands out. Photo: Shutterstock

Off-the-shoulder dresses are those beautiful dresses that showcase your shoulders while retaining a sleeve or delicate ruffle on the bicep. These dresses are perfect for embracing your femininity and making a stylish statement. 

Off-the-shoulder dresses come in various styles, ranging from bohemian-inspired designs to more formal and sophisticated options. Whether you’re headed for a thrilling night out on the town or attending a formal event, the off-the-shoulder dress is your go-to option. 

Pinafore Dress

Pinafore Types Dresses Vero Moda
The pinafore dress is a great option for layering, as shown by this style from Vera Moda. Photo: ASOS

Pinafore dresses, or apron dresses, are sleeveless styles with a bib at the front, adding a whimsical and charming touch to your wardrobe. These dresses can be worn over another simple dress, creating a layered and playful look. 

These dresses come in various styles, from vintage-inspired designs to modern interpretations. They can be crafted from fabrics like cotton, silk, or linen, offering a delightful array of choices.

Pinafore dresses are ideal for a casual day out or a delightful picnic in the park. For a comfortable and chic look, pair an apron dress with comfortable sandals and a stylish sun hat.

Blazer Dress

Blazer Types Dresses
Mean business in a stylish blazer dress. Photo: Shutterstock

Blazer dresses resemble the structure and design of a double-breasted blazer, channeling a more formal and polished vibe. They are excellent for professional settings such as the office or semi-formal events. 

These types of dresses come in various styles, from sleeveless options to those with long sleeves, catering to different preferences and occasions. To elevate your style, pair a blazer dress with platform heels, which adds sophistication and elongates the silhouette. 

Deciphering Dress Styles

Striped Dress
Stripes are a popular print for many styles. Photo: Deposit Photos

There’s an extensive wardrobe of dresses available for every woman, where choices abound in style and occasion. From the indispensable little black dress that anchors a wardrobe to the free-flowing maxi or the sophisticated evening gown, there’s a style for every rendezvous.

Choosing the Right Dress for Your Body

Body Types Dress
Flatter your figure with a dress that highlights your favorite areas. Photo: Deposit Photos

Understanding the contours of your physique is crucial in selecting a dress that not only fits but flatters. A cinched waist on a fitted dress can celebrate an hourglass figure, while A-line silhouettes can sculpt curves for those with a more columnar body shape.

Occasion-Perfect Dresses

Ocassion Dress
A special occasion dress takes on a formal silhouette. Photo: Deposit Photos

Dresses transition effortlessly from day to night, season to season, casual to formal. Consider the timeless little black dress, which can traverse cocktail hour and a formal soirée with equal success.

Meanwhile, maxi dresses embody the spirit of summer and relaxation, ideal for leisurely gatherings. For the pinnacle of elegance, evening gowns answer the call of black-tie affairs, while cocktail dresses mingle easily at less formal yet festive occasions.

The Universal Appeal: Dresses for Every Body

Versatile Dress
Certain silhouettes can be worn by a range of body types. Photo: Deposit Photos

Some dresses are celebrated for their ability to flatter every figure. The A-line dress, with its cinched waist and flared skirt, crafts a harmonious silhouette for any wearer.

The wrap dress is another sartorial savior, offering adjustability to complement many shapes. When in doubt, these styles are a foolproof choice, promising a look that is both comfortable and chic.

A Final Note on Selecting the Perfect Dress

Shirt Dress Types
A shirtdress combines a shirt with a dress silhouette. Photo: Shutterstock

There is a world of choices for different types of dresses, depending on your taste and the occasion. From the timeless and versatile little black dress to the edgier asymmetrical or balloon dress, each style has its distinct flair and attributes. 

The beauty of dresses lies in their ability to be paired with a wide range of accessories, allowing you to customize your look to perfection. Whether you seek a dress for a special event or a relaxed outing, rest assured that there is one that caters to your needs and flatters your body type. 

And with our guide, you’re well-equipped to discover the ideal dress that aligns with your style and expresses your unique personality. So, embrace the magic of dresses, experiment with different styles, and let your sartorial choices reflect the beautiful and multifaceted person you are.


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