How To Choose Cocktail Dresses for Women? [Best Plus Size Dresses to Buy]

It’s party time! And you need to look your best to stand out amongst the crowd. But being a plus-sized woman, you need to think wisely about your attire if you don’t want to be a laughing stock. That’s why today we are here to discuss how to choose cocktail dresses for women who are plus size.

Besides the size and color, there are many other things you need to take into consideration, such as material, design, and length, when choosing a cocktail dress that is both comfortable and suitable for your body shape.

Stick with us as we tell you, so you can learn more on how to get dolled up and show the world that even ladies like us who are plus size can look glamorous too.

What Is A Cocktail Dress?

What is a Cocktail dress
Cocktail Dresses

A cocktail dress is a piece of clothing that is worn by women when attending cocktail parties, prom weddings, or any other formal occasion. Although traditionally, cocktail dresses were long in size. They are now available in different lengths, designs, and colors.

Choosing the most flattering cocktail dress for plus-size women can prove to be quite a challenge because wearing something above the knee may look odd. Hence it is a good idea to go with something similar to a cocktail gown or a dress that is ‘ballerina length,’ meaning a dress that touches the ankle.

Nonetheless, nowadays, there are many options to choose from as the traditional ‘little black dress’ is no longer a must-have cocktail dress for women. But instead, the dresses are available in different floral patterns and a variety of lengths starting from above the knee to your ankle.

Factors to take into consideration when choosing a dress 

Factors to take into consideration when choosing a dress 
Why do we need a Cocktail Dress?

Tip 1: Avoid Oversized Dresses 

Even if you are a plus size lady, never go for dresses that are oversized than the ones you wear. Firstly because they will make you look bigger, and secondly, don’t be shy to show off your body. You are just as attractive as those who have slim figures.

Tip 2: Buy A Dress That Covers Your Bulges 

When choosing a dresss try to avoid short plus size cocktail dresses as it will make the bulges more visible. Instead, go for something longer with a  skirt part starting from the waist, as this will create an artificial outline to hide your plus-size tummy and waistline.

Tip 3: Purchase Good Quality Undergarments 

There is no point in spending a fortune on a fancy cocktail dress if you are not willing to buy undergarments that can hold up all your sides properly. As the proper undergarment can help you to cover up the extra fat on your hips and waist allowing the dress to fit perfectly to make you look good.

Tip 4: Focus On A Particular Feature 

Finding the perfect cocktail dress for plus-sized women like me is a mammoth task. Hence before heading off to the store or ordering online, it is essential to think about which feature of your body you want to focus on.

Those women who have legs that are worth showing off can go for a dress that is above the knees. At the same time, others may have skinny arms and can opt for a plus-size party dress with ¾ sleeves for a more professional and elegant outlook.

On the other hand, there are some ladies that have collarbones as their most possessed feature; hence  V-neck cocktail dresses are ideal for them.

Tip 5: Choose The Appropriate Neckline For Your Dress 

If you are a plus-sized woman and have been avoiding wearing cocktail dresses with flaunting necklines, then you need to get in touch with an expert designer. When it comes to picking out cocktail dresses, make sure that it has a v-neck, scoop neckline, or sweetheart neckline. 

And yes, after wearing the dress, if you see that the neckline needs altering, then head off to a designer that is an expert who will make the dress perfect for your body shape to make you look attractive.

Tip 6: Right Fabric 

Plus-sized ladies need to consider the fabric for their cocktail dresses very carefully. I would suggest avoiding stiff materials such as cotton and going for something like silk or satin that will complement your figure. However, if you do go for stiff fabrics, then make sure the skirt part covers your bulges.

And yes, to make the body shape less prompt, plus-size women should look at dresses with flowery patterns rather than plain colored dresses.

Tip 7: Keep Your Shape In Mind When Buying A Dress 

It doesn’t matter whether a woman is as skinny and curvy or fat and bulky everyone has a body shape. Hence when buying a dress, consider the shape of your body so that the attire can cover up areas where body fat is more visible.

Tip 8:Pick The Correct Style of Dress 

Picking the right style dress depends on the shape of your body and which feature you want to show off. But in general, the A-line dress is the perfect pick for plus-sized women as the length falls just below the knees.

By any chance, if one wants to give attention to the upper part of their body, then a halter neck dress would be a good choice. Besides that, there are other styles, such as empire waists which we have discussed below in this article.

Tip 9: Consider The Events At Which You Can Wear The Dress 

It’s highly unlikely that you will be spending your bank balance purchasing cocktail dresses on a regular basis. Hence if you are attending a formal gathering such as your office party, then you must dress up modestly instead of showing up in party wear. 

I would advise you to go for a cocktail dress that is classic and knee-length so that it could be worn to a girls’ night out with your friends or even at a formal wedding. Or you can always go for the traditional plus-size black cocktail dress which can be worn everywhere.

Tip 10: Alter The Dress According To Your Requirements 

Even if you can’t find the perfect dress that compliments your shape and size, there is absolutely no reason to feel disheartened. Simply buy a dress that is suitable for you color and design-wise, then take it to your tailor to get it altered according to your shape and size. 

Tip 11: Wear Accessories To Create A Unique Look 

Oh yes, if you want to steal the show, then you need jewelry that is eye-catching and goes well with your cocktail dress. An elegant neckpiece or pretty dangling earrings can be your options to make sure you choose the correct accessories; otherwise, your whole look could backfire.

If your upper side is broad, then you need to avoid heavy necklaces as they may make you look bigger, which could be the exact opposite of what you aimed for. Instead, you could wear a single-layered chain.

Also, if you have a broad face, then avoid having big earrings and chokers, as it would look very clumsy. Just put on a pair of stud earrings, or you wear a unique bracelet to grab some attention.

Tip 12: Choose Comfortable Footwear

Ok, so wearing sneakers or flip flops, no matter with a cocktail dress will make you look like a Disney character, no argument there! 

When we talk about comfortable footwear, there are some boundaries; we can’t just wear anything with plus-sized attire. Although pencil-high heels are the perfect match with cocktail dresses, women who are big in size may not feel comfortable in such footwear. Hence I would suggest wearing block heels or platform sandals to compliment the attire.

How To Identify Your Body Shape 

How To Identify Your Body Shape 
Buying Plus Size Cocktail Dresses for Women

If you want a trendy plus-size cocktail dress then you need to measure yourself to find out the accurate size and also the shape of your body to help you pick out the perfect attire to flatter. All you have to do is measure your hips, waist, bust, and shoulder. And then use these measurements to determine the shape of your body.

As you can see below we have specified each body shape according to the measurements for you to identify which category you fall under.

1.Rectangle shape- when the measurements of your bust, shoulders, and hips are between 5℅ of one another.

2. Apple shape- if you have a waist that is not well defined, a large bust along with shoulders that are wider than your hips then you probably have an apple-shaped body.

3. Pear shape- a woman’s hips that are larger than her shoulder, waist, and bust have a pear shape figure.

4. Triangle shape- if your bust and shoulders are 5% or more wider than your hips then you need to look at dresses that are for triangle shape bodies.

5. Hourglass shape- if your waist is 25% smaller than your shoulders, hips, and bust then your body can be defined as an hourglass shape.

Types Of Dresses Available For Plus-Sized Women 

Empire Dresses 

Empire dresses are perfect for those who have rectangle, oval or triangle-shaped bodies as the outfit focuses on the upper side of one’s body rather than the lower side.

The dress style gathers just below the bust draping those areas rather than starting at the waistline. Empire dresses are available in many different lengths making them a suitable outfit for women of all ages to wear. 

You can get mini dresses, short tunics, or even maxi-like empire dresses that have flower prints and are extra long that are sheer, and flowy, and can be done at the beach without having to worry about being overdressed.

But make sure to avoid this type of dress when attending formal gatherings as it will give you a very unprofessional outlook.

A-line Dresses 

A-line dresses are perfect for those who possess an hourglass-shaped body because the top part is fitted and the skirt part (torso) spreads out from the waist area like a triangle. The style is absolutely perfect for plus-size women as it hides all the extra fat and bulges in the lower part.

But when it comes to choosing the material of the dress for plus size women, they should go for materials that are stiff like denim, cotton, and polyester instead of silk or satin. This is because the stiff materials display the shape of the dress making it stand out amongst other styles.

With regards to the color of an A-line dress, black is obviously a good option as it doesn’t focus on any particular part of the body. But you can always try playing with light and dark colors to create a unique effect.

For example, if you have an apple-shaped figure then you can opt for a yellow dress and wear a violet belt on your dress which will help to make the torso look much longer. This is because the dark-colored belt over the light-colored dress will not place focus on the waist.

Corset Dresses 

Corset dresses focus on the back part of the attire with their laced designs rather than emphasizing on the waist. The dresses are designed with panel clinches at the waist area that pushes up the bust and frees the hips making it an hourglass shape.

Corset dresses were widely popular amongst women in the 17th and 18th centuries. They are now worn by women who are plus size because of their style which brings out the shape of their oversized bodies.


Sheath dresses are ideal for those women that possess apple and rectangular-shaped bodies. This is because they do not focus on the waist but instead fall from the shoulders and are the perfect option for  ladies who have shoulders that are the same or bigger in measurements when compared to their waist.

Peplum Dresses 

If you are a plus-sized woman that wants to look slim then the peplum dress is exactly what you are looking for as it makes the waist look much smaller in comparison to the hips and shoulders. 

Peplum dresses come with a ruffle at the waist area and are similar to a body con. The outfit creates a curvy hourglass-shaped figure with its ruffle wraps spreading out a few inches.

The dress is an ideal match for those who have oval or rectangle-shaped bodies and want their waists to look much narrower than the shoulders and hips. Basically, the ruffle which is wrapped around the waistline is the main feature of the free as it creates the perfect style for oversized women.

Straight Dresses 

The perfect plus-size cocktail dress for those over 50s is definitely straight as they are comfortable and can be worn casually. The dress doesn’t emphasize on the waist but just falls from the shoulder making it a great option for those who have waists and shoulders that are the same width.

Since straight dresses do not focus on any particular body part hence older women can wear them without having to worry about their figure. And most of all the dress can be made from any material which includes wool that is used for knitting sweaters.

Off-The-Shoulder Dresses 

If you want to show off your shoulders that are narrower than your hips then off-shoulder dresses are what you should look for. These emphasize in the upper part of your body that usually come with sleeves that are wrapped around the shoulder rather than covering the whole arm front to back.

Women who have rectangular-shaped bodies should go for off-the-shoulder shoulder dresses as they will create an hourglass shape of their bodies. 

Why Should You Avoid Popular Brand  Plus Size Dresses And Get It Made By Designers Instead?

Although popular brands do have a huge collection of plus-size cocktail dresses for women, they may not be suitable for everyone’s figure. Whereas if it’s made by a designer then they can customize it for you according to your requirements. As designers are most likely familiar with the many issues that big women face especially when buying plus-size cocktail dresses for weddings.

Designers also have accessories such as laces, and zippers that can be placed on the dress to make it adjustable. If you find a designer that can make dresses that go with it perfectly and complete your taste then I’m sure you will no longer be ordering any more cocktail dresses online or running to stores to find the perfect attire.

Our Recommendations 

Just to make life a little easy for you, we have added our recommendations of plus-size cocktail dresses for women that are comfortable, glamorous, and unique to wear and can be easily found on Amazon.

Product NameFeaturesPriceAmazon link
Alex Evenings Women’s Tea Length Embroidered Dress 1.Midi embroidered A-Line dress.
2. Bra friendly 
3. Illusion neckline & sleeves 
4. Soft & stretchy all-over embroidery with tie belt at the waist 
5. Center back length: 44
$141.25 – $229.00
Depends on the size.
Adrianna Papell Women’s Plus-Size Long Beaded Gown1.Long gown in allover beading featuring blouson bodice 
2. V-neckline and shoulder straps
3. Concealed back zipper
$271.91 – $280.00
Depends on the size 
Eliza J Women’s Plus Size Sheath Dress with Flounce Sleeve1. Stretchable fabric 
2. Boat neckline 
3. Invisible center back zipper with hook & eye closure
Alex Evenings Plus Size Women’s Cold Shoulder Popover Dress1. Popover bodice 
2. Beaded neckline and shoulder detail
Center back length: 59″
$223.18 – $249.00Depends on the size
Funfash The Little Black Midi Cocktail Plus Size Dress for Women with an Empire Waist1.The empire waist is displayed as a voluminous skirt.
2. The good quality fabric feels smooth and silky when wearing the dress.
3. The dress can be worn at weddings, formal gatherings, or even casually.


1.What is the important tip you need to keep in mind for choosing cocktail dresses?

Firstly consider the occasion you will be attending and make sure you are dressed accordingly. If it’s an official gathering wear something much more formal than what you would normally wear at a wedding.

2. What type of shoes are a good match with cocktail dresses?

It depends on the dress you are wearing. If your cocktail dress is knee-length then I would suggest high heels. But for plus-size women wearing block heels or platform sandals would be a better option to feel comfortable. 

3. What is the perfect length of a cocktail dress?

If you are skinny then a cocktail dress just above or below the knee like a skirt or midi dress would be perfect. But if you are a bit on the bulky side then wear something slightly longer to cover those thighs.

4. Is there any specific color for cocktail dresses?

No, but it’s better to avoid bright colors and stick to shades that are neutral or dark such as maroon, navy blue, dark, green, or black to create a more formal and sophisticated look.


Choosing the perfect plus-size cocktail dress for women isn’t as daunting as you thought it would be. We have mentioned plenty of options regarding what can be done to find something that will fit you perfectly and make you look confident too.

It is advised to take measurements of your body to find out the exact shape of your figure so that you can search for a dress according in shops or online. But at the end of the day if you have a personal designer then that’s the best option as your dress can be customized according to your body shape and the exact design that you are looking for.