Our Ultimate Guide to the Absolute Best Dresses, From Minis to Maxis and More

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Dresses are one of those wardrobe pieces that truly embody individual personality and style—and they might just be the most versatile garment we’ve ever known. With so many different silhouettes to choose from, including ones that are more formal, casual, sporty, or office-appropriate, you can quite literally wear a dress for any and every occasion. Whether it’s heels and a flirty silhouette or sneakers and a T-shirt dress, the options are endless.

With thousands of dresses on the market, we set out to find the best dresses and sorted them into categories based on style, purpose, functionality, and more. From Instagram’s favorite Selkie and Hill House dresses to ones that are travel-friendly, sustainable, and versatile, we curated a collection of our top picks based on style, fit, silhouette, fabric, function, and more.

Keep reading to discover the best dresses you’ll need to add to your wardrobe ASAP.

Meet the Expert

Samantha Brown is wardrobe stylist based in New York City.

Best Overall

J.Crew Gwyneth Cupro Slip Dress

J.Crew Gwyneth Cupro Slip Dress

J.Crew

Choosing the best overall dress is no easy feat. For this category, we searched for a style that complements most body types, can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, has great neutral color options and inclusive sizing, and feels timeless. We landed on this ’90s-inspired slip dress from J.Crew. Not only did it meet our criteria, but it also exceeded them with its high-quality construction, stunning and figure-hugging fabric, perfect length, and eco-friendly touch. The fabric is made from the brand’s eco-cupro fabric, which feels just like silk but is more durable and machine washable, and the dress also has a recycled cotton liner.

Material: Cupro and viscose | Size Range: 00-24 | Length: 49.5 inches (based on size 6)

Best Budget

BTFBM Crew Neck Ruched Summer Sleeveless Tank Bodycon

BTFBM Women Crew Neck Ruched Summer Sleeveless Tank Bodycon

Amazon

This budget-friendly option has 4.2 stars from over 28,000 customers thanks to its quality, make, and fit. We love this dress because it’s priced well based on the quality, it’s incredibly versatile, it has double fabric so it’s flattering all over (and isn’t see-through), and it comes in tons of fun color options. Another reason why it made our list is because it’s a great dress for maternity and postpartum, too. It’s certainly one of those dresses where you order multiples (and ultimately end up living in).

Material: Polyester and cotton | Size Range: S-XL | Length: 36.22 inches (S), 36.81 inches (M), 37.4 inches (L), 38 inches (XL)

Best Designer

Merlette Paradis Open Tier Cotton Dress

Merlette Paradis Open Tier Cotton Dress

Nordstrom

We love this designer dress for its 100 percent lightweight cotton material, frock-like silhouette, and tiered ruffle design. It’s ultra-feminine but can also be grunged up with a pair of combat boots and a leather jacket, giving it some versatility when it comes to styling. Additionally, the billowy silhouette is currently on-trend and a style that comes back in the zeitgeist frequently, making it a good investment that you’ll pull out of your closet for years to come.

Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Length: 46 inches (based on size medium)

Best Midi

Hill House The Ellie Nap Dress

Hill House Home Ellie Nap Dress

Hill House

Behold, the dress that broke the internet. We had to choose this dress for this category because it truly is the best midi dress and certainly lives up to the hype. The Nap Dress is a favorite among influencers and fashion enthusiasts alike for its blend of comfort and style, versatility, durability, flattering fit, and size. It’s no wonder so many women have started a collection of these Nap Dresses.

Material: Cotton and elastane | Size Range: XXS-2XL

Best Wedding Dress

Jenny by Jenny Yoo Lawrence Gown

Jenny by Jenny Yoo Lawrence Gown

Anthropologie

Choosing just one dress for this category was hard, but then we set eyes on this Jenny Yoo wedding dress and all bets were off. We love the classic silhouette, which is certainly a showstopper, yet still simple enough to blend well with a variety of personal styles. On top of that, the elegant dress draws on vintage designs with a touch of modern style in the neckline, making it the perfect mix of trend and timelessness. 

Material: Polyester | Size Range: 0-18 | Length: Floor-length

Best Bridesmaids

Reformation Evelyn Dress

Reformation Evelyn Dress

Courtesy of Reformation

Reformation is a go-to for bridesmaid dresses and we aren’t surprised why. The dress that caught our eye for this category is the Evelyn Dress, which is a simple yet elegant silhouette that features a one-shoulder neckline that can be more universally fitting compared to other styles. We love this dress because not only is it a great bridesmaid dress, it’s a great dress in general and one that you’ll be able to wear over and over again at other formal events.

Material: Viscose | Size Range: 0-12 | Length: Floor-length

Best Maternity

Hatch The Carolina Dress

Hatch The Carolina Dress

Hatch

For the best maternity dress, we wanted a style that is fun and stylish, has enough room for a growing belly, and can be worn postpartum, too. The Carolina Dress from Hatch checked every box. We love the soft, gauzy fabric, breezy silhouette, and overall versatility of the dress in both fit and style (the waist-tie can be worn multiple ways). It’s also made with high-quality and durable fabric and is great for both casual and formal settings.

Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 0-4 | Length: 47 inches (0), 36.5 inches (1), 38.5 inches (2), 40.5 inches (3), 43.5 inches (4)

Best for Work

Everlane The Oxford Shirtdress

Everlane The Oxford Shirtdress

Everlane

For us, this category was all about finding a work option that can be dressed up for business meetings and dressed down for casual Fridays, or even weekend lunch plans. The Oxford Shirtdress from Everlane is all that and more. This dress is smart enough for a day at the office but still makes you feel like yourself with its flattering fit, comfort, and roomy skirt. And, because it is an Everlane dress, it comes with a side of eco-friendly fabrication and design practices, making this a great sustainable choice as well.

Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-XL | Length: 38.5 inches (XXS), 39.5 inches (XS), 40.5 inches (S), 41.5 inches (M), 42.5 inches (L), 43.5 inches (XL), 44.5 inches (XXL)

Best for Travel

The North Face Never Stop Wearing Dress

The North Face Never Stop Wearing Dress

Moosejaw

When traveling in a dress, comfort should be top of mind. We love this T-shirt dress from The North Face because it is comfortable at its core, plus it fits great, is lightweight, pairs well with sneakers, is durable, and has added UPF 50 if you plan on vacationing in the sun. The only thing it doesn’t have is built-in bike shorts, which some might find more comfortable when traveling. If that is you, we recommend pairing this dress with these all-time favorite bike shorts from Abercrombie & Fitch.

Material: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane | Size Range: XS-3XL

Best Sustainable

Reformation Desiree Linen Dress

Reformation Desiree Linen Dress

Reformation

Reformation is one of our favorite places to shop for dresses because the brand takes a sustainable approach to fashion without sacrificing style. Our top pick for this category is the Desiree Linen Dress, which has adjustable straps, fun and flirty ruffle detailing, and comes in the perfect mustard gingham pattern. It’s one of those dresses that easily transitions from day to night, and can be worn casually on the weekend and more formally to an event. Also, it’s strapless-bra-friendly, which is a huge plus for those looking for some extra support.

Material: 100% linen | Size Range: 0-12

Best Mini

Lisa Says Gah Yolande Spaghetti Strap Mini Dress

Lisa Says Gah Yolande Spaghetti Strap Mini Dress

Lisa Says Gah

Nothing says mini dress quite like a dress inspired by Y2K. This mini dress from Lisa Says Gah is trendy and fun with its eye-catching psychedelic heart pattern and cheerful green color. It also features a flattering spaghetti strap silhouette with adjustable side ties that add an extra touch of detail to the design.

Material: 100% viscose rayon | Size Range: XS-3X | Length: 35.5 inches (based on size medium)

Best Sundress

Topshop Floral Print Cotton Sundress

Topshop Floral Print Cotton Sundress

Nordstrom

When shopping for the best sundress, we have a few non-negotiables: Flowy skirts and breathability are musts and 100 percent cotton is a plus. This Topshop dress checked those boxes, plus comes with a few more reasons to love it. The ruffle midi dress boasts a vibrant floral print, has a flattering sweetheart neckline with a sweet knotted tie detail on the bust, and is the perfect length for going from casual to formal in an instant.

Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 2-12

Best Sweater

Open Edit Ribbed Sweater Tank Dress

Open Edit Ribbed Sweater Tank Dress

Nordstrom

The Ribbed Sweater Tank Dress from Open Edit features a classic silhouette that is simple in design with texturized detailing, thanks to the nature of the knit material. We love this dress because it’s figure-flattering, elongates the body with vertical striped ribbing, and makes for a great layering base (we’d pair this with either an open white button-down shirt or a denim jacket).

Material: 50% viscose, 30% polyester, 20% nylon | Size Range: S-XXL | Length: 48.5 inches (based on size medium)

Best Wrap

Diane Von Furstenberg Abigail Midi Wrap Dress

Diane Von Furstenberg Abigail Midi Wrap Dress

DVF

It’s impossible to have the best wrap dress section and not include the iconic DVF wrap dress. Our top pick is the Abigail Midi Wrap Dress for its nod to Diane Von Furstenberg’s classic design and modern detailing. The midi dress is also made of the designer’s soft and silky jersey material, making it one of the more comfortable dresses on this list, despite its dressier design. Wear it with boots, heels, or sneakers—whichever way, you can’t go wrong in a DVF wrap dress.

Material: Signature silk jersey | Size Range: 00-16

Best Turtleneck

Good American Sundown Mock Neck Midi Dress

Good American Sundown Mock Neck Midi Dress

Good American

The Good American Sundown Mock Neck Midi Dress is like a T-shirt dress for turtlenecks, and we are here for it. There are a few reasons to love this dress. First and foremost, it makes for a great basic, allowing you to wear it solo or layer on the outwear in colder climates. It’s also made of a super stretchy material, giving it a layer of comfortability while remaining stylish. And it features a more classic silhouette, so it’s one of those items that will last you for seasons to come.

Material: 59% polyester, 32% rayon, 9% elastane | Size Range: XS-5X

Best Floral

Ted Baker London Zilda Floral Puff Sleeve Faux Wrap Midi Dress

Ted Baker London Zilda Floral Puff Sleeve Faux Wrap Midi Dress

Saks

Floral tends to get a little loud, and although we love a vibrant floral print, we were particularly drawn to the simplicity of this floral midi dress from Ted Baker London. We love the monochromatic color scheme and combination of textures between the fabric’s base and floral design, which adds to the dimensional feeling of the ruffled dress. Like many of the dresses on this list, it’s also versatile (do you sense our theme yet?) as it can be worn in a more formal setting or dressed down with a pair of sneakers or flat sandals.

Material: 90% viscose, 10% polyamide | Size Range: 0-18

Best for Date Night

Sam Edelman High Neck Tiered Hem Sleeveless Midi Dress

Sam Edelman High Neck Tiered Hem Sleeveless Midi Dress

Nordstrom

Date nights call for something flirty and fun. This high-neck sleeveless dress from Sam Edelman boasts a gorgeous silhouette with a tiered ruffle midi skirt and bow detailing on the back of the neck. The fabric also looks and feels luxe and comes in six stunning colors (our favorite is that statement-making blueberry!).

Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: 0-14

Most Versatile

11 Honoré Camille Dress

11 Honoré Camille Dress

11 Honoré

The Camille Dress from 11 Honoré is our top choice for the best plus size dress thanks to its gorgeous, figure-flattering silhouette. We love that the dress is fully lined, fits like a glove, and accentuates the shoulders with its high scoop neckline. We chose this dress for all those reasons, but also because it’s one of those dresses that work for any occasion, including work settings, formal events, casual weekend outings, and more.

Material: 95% rayon, 5% spandex | Size Range: 10-24

Best LBD

ASTR The Label Cowl Slip Midi Dress

ASTR The Label Cowl Slip Midi Dress

Nordstrom

A little black dress can go in many different directions. For this category, we wanted one that was flirty, flattering, and fun, with a level of sophistication. Our must-have pick is the Cowl Slip Midi Dress from ASTR the Label. The silky and slinky dress is simple in design but features eye-catching details, including a strappy criss-cross back and a slit in the skirt.

Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: XS-XL | Length: 39.5-46 inches from center front

Best Maxi

Diarrablu Satu One-Shoulder Dress

diarrablu-satu-one-shoulder-dress

Nordstrom

We swoon for this bold printed maxi dress. The billowing one-sleeve style is made of gorgeous jacquard fabric that drapes the body with elegance and grace. And to add to the wow factor, the dress is handcrafted and made-to-order, which helps reduce waste and ensures utmost quality for a garment that will stand the test of time.

Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: XS-3X

Best T-Shirt

Madewell Tina T-Shirt Dress

Madewell Tina T-Shirt Dress

Nordstrom

The Madewell Tina T-Shirt Dress is one of those classic dresses that everyone should have in their closet. It’s made of 100 percent cotton and features a straight yet flowy silhouette, flattering crewneck, and fun chest pocket detailing. We also gravitated toward this dress because it feels like it truly understood the assignment as a T-shirt that is also a dress.

Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-L | Length: 24 inches

Best Long Sleeve

Princess Polly Lillie Long Sleeve Mini Dress Red

Princess Polly Lillie Long Sleeve Mini Dress Red

Princess Polly

Our philosophy: If it’s going to be the best long-sleeve dress, those sleeves better turn heads. We adore this long-sleeve dress from Princess Polly and chose it for the best long-sleeve category because not only does it feature the best long sleeves ever, but the dress is also one you’ll want to wear over and over again. We also can’t get enough of the corset detailing on the waist, which adds to the dimensional approach to this design.

Material: 95% polyester, 5% spandex | Size Range: 0-12

Best Prairie

DÔEN Ischia Dress

DÔEN Ischia Dress

DÔEN

Prairie dresses are made to feel effortless and this one from DÔEN is all that and more. Designed with countryside charm in mind, the floral print dress has a full skirt and smocked waist with flirty double puffed sleeves. It’s a dress that looks and feels lived in (and one you’ll want to live in), giving it an overall effortless appeal. In addition to style, this dress is something to feel good about, as it’s made from 100 percent organic cotton voile that is GOTS certified, making it a great runner-up for best sustainable dress, too.

Material: 100% organic cotton voile | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Length: 53.62 inches

Best Stripe

Madewell Organic Cotton Crewneck Tank Midi Dress in Stripe

Madewell Organic Cotton Crewneck Tank Midi Dress in Stripe

Madewell

We love the casual-cool vibe of this striped tank top dress from Madewell. It’s made of soft and comfortable organic cotton, has a midi skirt with slits on the side that allow for extra movement, and is an excellent layering piece. Additionally, it is size inclusive and is also available in plus size, too.

Material: Organic cotton | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Length: 45.25 inches (based on size medium)

Best Puff Sleeve

Selkie The Electric Lady Puff Dress

Selkie The Electric Lady Puff Dress

Revolve

The internet’s other favorite dress also happens to be our favorite puff sleeve (okay, puff all over) dress. The classic puff dress from Selkie has a classic baby doll silhouette with poofy sleeves and a skirt made from three layers of gathered organza. Additionally, it is size-inclusive with sizes ranging from XXS to 5X and comes in a variety of colors (though this Electric Lady print is one of our favorites) so you can find one that best suits your style.

Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: XXS-5XL | Length: 23.25-28.25 inches

Best Denim

G-Star Deline Dress

G-Star Deline Dress

G-Star

This denim dress from G-Star is the perfect crossover of feminine meets utility. We love the slight flare silhouette, three-quarter-length sleeves, and the lived-in feeling of the denim wash. But our favorite feature has to be the collar. The mix of dark and light washes gives this dress more depth and personality.

Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 3XS-XXL

Best Print

Farm Rio Pink Pop Leopards Mixed Midi Dress

Farm Rio Pink Pop Leopards Mixed Midi Dress

Nordstrom

When it comes to best-printed dress, it’s hard to choose just one Farm Rio dress—the brand gets an all-around Best Prints Award from us. But we ultimately landed on the Pink Pop Leopards Mixed Midi Dress because, while we love the brightly colored patterns, we adore the silhouette and fit. It’s designed with a flirty sweetheart neckline, tiered ruffle midi skirt, and unique bubble straps that add to the intricacy of the pattern and design.

Material: 100% certified organic cotton | Size Range: XS-XL

Best Athletic

Outdoor Voices Athena Dress

Outdoor Voices Athena Dress

Outdoor Voices

We meant it when we said there is a dress for everything—and the athleisure dress is perhaps one of our favorite trends of the year. The Athena Dress from Outdoor Voices gets our top vote for its simple style, functional design, and versatility. It’s a dress you can play tennis in, run in, or hit the grocery store in. And, while this might not be a favorite for some, we love that the dress is unlined and made for layering. This allows for more uses and lets you choose the undershorts and sports bra of your preference.

Material: 86% polyester, 14% spandex | Size Range: XS-XL

What to Look for When Shopping for Dresses 

Fabric

“Fabric is important because the ongoing investment of dry cleaning can make a well-priced dress become very expensive and high maintenance,” says wardrobe stylist Samantha Brown. “I always suggest looking at the care instructions to know if the garment is right for you." 

Fit

“Perfect fit and wearability are [also] things I’d consider,” Brown says. After all, you want to wear the dress, not have the dress wear you. A well-fitting dress will flatter the figure and leave you feeling comfortable and confident.

FAQ
  • What dresses make you look taller?

    “Color block panels and vertical seams can help create the illusion of length through the body,” says Brown, adding that the sleeves of a dress can also make a difference. “A three-quarter sleeve also creates length, since the line of attention stays up around the waist instead of a long-sleeve, which draws the eye to the hip area, therefore shortening the legs.”

  • How should a woman wear a dress?

    “When choosing a dress, the first thing to look for is fit,” Brown recommends, adding that the areas to be mindful of are your shoulder, bust, waist, and hip. “Length is also important, depending on the occasion and body type of the woman.” Additionally, it’s important to note the proportion of the pattern as “the scale of the pattern should match the scale of the person.” With that in mind, Brown recommends smaller patterns on petite people, as “a large pattern could overwhelm their frame.” Larger patterns are best for curvier people, since “a small pattern will make the garment look larger.”

Why Trust Byrdie 

Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON Magazine to now writing about the best style trends for various publications, Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds. When researching the best dresses, Jessie considered style, silhouette, fit, fabric, and function to narrow down her selections. As a result, she put together an extensive list featuring the best options for Byrdie readers.

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