26 Classic Dresses Every Woman Should Own
These classic dresses are just what you need for every occasion—and you’ll wear them for years to come.
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Dresses that never go out of style
Whether or not you think of yourself as a “dress person,” you might like to have a few classic dresses in your life. They’ll be the ones you pull out of your closet time and again when you need a surefire hit for work, play, a special occasion, or just everyday casual wearing. And while they don’t need to cost a fortune (or even close to it), they are among the best investments you can make in your personal style because they provide an instant wardrobe upgrade.
“It’s important to have at least three dresses you can wear to life events,” explains Astar Davidson, a fashion merchandising and style expert. “The best classic dresses are trend-resistant and remain in style for years at a time, and they can be transformed with accessories to suit every major event life might throw at you.”
How we chose the best classic dresses
From LBDs and evening wear to T-shirt dresses and work-friendly Amazon dresses, each of these styles will make you look and feel like the timeless beauty you are. To find the best of the best, we consulted style experts, scoured online user reviews, and also found brand-new pieces with design features we absolutely adore. Just make sure to grab the right shapewear, your best bra, and your favorite sandals, boots, or pumps to complete each look.
Best little black dress: M.M. LaFleur The Joanna Dress
“A classic black dress will serve you endlessly and be your go-to for parties, dinners out, and both happy and somber events,” says Davidson. “If you can only choose one item to add to your closet right now, make it a little black dress.”
This curve-hugging M.M. LaFleur dress is an excellent choice for pear-shaped bodies, offers a modest long sleeve and square neckline, and hits just around the knee. You’ll love wearing this flattering number everywhere that requires a little pizzazz. Pro tip: The right handbag can help you adjust the look of this LBD depending on where you’re going.
- Flatters a variety of body shapes
- Modest design that enhances and honors feminine curves
- Machine washable and wrinkle resistant
- Available in sizes 0 through 16
Best winter dress: WVN Turtleneck Sweater Dress
Investing in a great turtleneck or cowl-neck sweater dress is essential in a chilly climate, and you’ll be able to dress it up or down depending on the accessories you choose. It’s a flattering silhouette that can be paired with leggings for casual days, worn with patterned tights for some visual excitement, or dressed up with heels and sophisticated jewelry for a night out on the town.
Davidson suggests sticking to a neutral color palette for classic dresses made of knit sweater materials and thinks winter whites and charcoal, black, or muted brown tones will stand the test of time: “You’ll be wearing the same turtleneck sweater dress in a neutral shade for the next five to ten years easily, and nobody will think it’s an old or dated piece. Make sure you pair it with your best bra to look polished and crisp.” This organic cotton and wool dress from WVN hits all the right style notes and comes at a reasonable price.
- Affordable pricing for excellent quality
- Available in sizes XS through XL
- Three neutral colors that flatter every complexion
- Made of all-natural materials
Best holiday dress: Vineyard Vines Tartan Ruffle Tiered Dress
Whether you have dozens of holiday parties to head to each year or you just like to get a little extra festive come fall and winter, Davidson suggests having one versatile little red dress in your arsenal. “You’ll wear this throughout the cold-weather months,” she says. “It’s appropriate for Thanksgiving, the entire Christmas season, and the holiday parties that surround that time of year, and then you’ll break it out again around Valentine’s Day. A classic style that is less focused on trends and more focused on quality will last you for years to come.”
This preppy Vineyard Vines frock is just the ticket. Its super soft, silky fabric flatters thanks to an included lining, and the ruffled sleeves will add a flirty flair to your holiday look. Plus, it works on a variety of sizes and body types.
- Fun, preppy style that’s ideal for the holiday season
- Available in sizes 00 to 24
- Feminine ruffled detailing
Best casual dress: Maurices 24/7 Pocket Boyfriend Midi Dress
You’ll wear this boyfriend midi dress from Maurices 24/7, just like the name implies. That’s because it’s incredibly comfortable, thanks to an easy-to-wear knit fabric and functional pockets. You’ll wear this incredibly affordable dress on its own when it’s warm, replace your favorite loungewear sets with it for lazy days at home, or layer it with leggings, chunky cardigans, and boots when you’re out and about.
- Under $35
- Functional pockets
- Machine washable
- Available in sizes XS through XXL
Best everyday dress: Athleta Balance Dress
If you’re into dresses and like to wear them every day, the Athleta Balance dress is one of Davidson’s favorites. “It’s available in two neutral colors, has long sleeves, and comes in sizes XXS through 3X. It’s even offered in petite and tall sizes. That means it’s designed for almost every body type out there, and you have to love that,” she adds. Bonus: It has two side pockets and a hidden arm pocket for mini essentials! It’s no wonder that this “everything dress,” as one happy customer calls it, has hundreds of positive reviews. Pair it with your everyday purse or backpack and you’ll be all set.
- Lightweight French terry material
- Machine washable
- A great choice for plus-size and curvy body types
Best slip dress: Grey Bandit Sundown Dress
A slip-style dress is a classic that you’ll definitely keep in rotation. It layers like a dream, is lightweight, and won’t add bulk to your body or your closet. You can wear it on its own for a glammed-up night out or layered over a fitted white baby tee for a vintage 1990s throwback look that still holds up today. Or throw one of your best sweaters over it for an updated look that hits current trend notes.
This Grey Bandit Sundown dress comes in a versatile midi length and is offered in a neutral-toned print that will stand the test of time.
- Midi length
- Easy to layer
- Transitions from day to night
Best maxi dress: White House Black Market Smocked Maxi Dress
You’ll wear this flirty, figure-flattering floral maxi from day to night and through at least three seasons of the year, thanks to its breezy, flowy material that offers just a hint of skin without showing too much. The smocked waist offers a belted effect that cinches, narrows, and tucks so you present an hourglass shape every time. It’s available in sizes 00 through 20 and regular and petite silhouettes to serve several body types, too. Choose from this list of affordable jewelry to complete the look.
- Versatile wearing
- Available in regular and petite sizes 00 through 20
- Smocked waist that offers comfortable cinching
Best summer dress: White House Black Market Smocked Waist Pleated Midi Dress
There’s nothing more summery than a crisp white dress with a neatly cinched waistline. This one from White House Black Market features a flattering mock neck that offers the illusion of a halter style (but with far more support), smocking at the waist that offers an hourglass silhouette, elegant pleating, and an airy sleeveless cut. Even better, this classic dress gives you timeless Hollywood-bombshell vibes when you wear it. Summer also calls for sun hats, so while you’re shopping, make sure to pick up a few that are specially suited for your various seasonal styles and activities.
- Fully lined
- Available in regular and petite sizes
Best casual dress for curvy bodies: Torrid Skater Dress
This affordable dress offers a flattering shape that instantly creates an hourglass silhouette on frames up to size 6X. Its magic-producing features? A ruched V-neck, a subtly defined high waist, and a flowy bottom that doesn’t create extra bulk. It’s an affordable, washable frock that can be worn over leggings, tights, or on its own, and it can be easily dressed up or down with accessories and makeup. It’s also a great choice for business casual days.
- Inclusive sizing, from regular size medium through plus size 6X
- Affordable price point
- Easy maintenance
Best A-shape dress: Lilysilk For All Occasions in Silk Cami Dress
Of all the classic dresses out there, the A-shape style might be the most timeless of them all. This silk take on that always-popular silhouette is one you’ll wear over and over again because of its figure-flattering drape that hits just below the knee on most body types. The all-natural, premium materials make the ordinary shape feel ultra-luxe and like a kiss from the clouds against the skin. It really is that soft, and it’s the ideal piece for those who can’t stand the idea of itchy materials.
“If you want a casual warm-weather look, wear this cami dress over a plain white baby tee and pair it with some tennis shoes,” says Davidson. “Or dress it up with sparkly jewelry, sophisticated heels, and a wrap or coat for a holiday party in the winter.”
- Comes in seven rich neutral shades
- Modest price point
- Available in sizes XS through XXL
Best vacation dress: Boden Embroidered Linen Dress
The comfort of this slightly-above-the-knee dress will make it your go-to vacation piece. You can even pop it over your favorite swimsuit when heading out to lunch. It’s a fuss-free embroidered linen beauty that is surprisingly machine washable, offers a relaxed fit that lets you truly enjoy life, and gathers slightly at the front to give the skirt movement. The concealed side zipper and seam pockets offer practicality and high-end detailing that are hard to find at such an affordable price point.
- High-end details like a side zipper and seam pockets
- Machine washable
- Available in sizes 0 through 22
- 3/4 sleeves
Best cocktail dress: Alex Evenings Sequin and Lace Fit-and-Flare Dress
“Evening and cocktail dresses are best in deeper tones like black, navy, deep reds, eggplant, and emerald green,” says Davidson. “Adding rich, over-the-top touches like sequins, lace, and embroidery really drives the evening concept home.”
Flaunt your curves at cocktail parties and weddings in this Alex Evenings sequined dress that comes in a rich navy hue. It is available in sizes 14W through 24W and offers a cinched-waist silhouette, just the right amount of neck and collarbone exposure to add a little va-va-voom without being scandalous, and an always-chic midi length you’ll love showing off.
- Sequined detailing
- Elegant, flattering neckline
- Cinched tie-waist appearance
- Available in sizes 14W through 24W
Best denim dress: Bella Dahl Maxi Shirt Dress
Take chambray to the next level with this denim-feeling maxi shirt dress you can wear in all seasons. “Chambray is a lighter material with a denim look that offers timeless casual wearing,” Davidson explains. As for how to pull off this look? “Don’t go overboard with the denim-on-denim looks like an early-2000s pop star,” she says. “Think about wearing a look like this one with summery wedge sandals, tennis shoes, or booties, depending on the weather.”
You can machine wash it, layer it with other pieces, and make the most of buttoned chest pockets. More pockets equal more fun, right? You’ll also love the high-end details and marks of excellent craftsmanship on this dress, including roll-tab buttoned sleeves and a sassy side-slit detail with frayed hemming. Plus, it’s even comfier than your favorite pair of jeans.
- Easy maintenance and washing
- 100 percent TENCEL fabric
- High-end detailing
- Year-round wear
Best work-travel dress: The Fold London Remington Dress
“Versatility is the key to a great travel dress,” says Davidson, who suggests opting for wrinkle-free fabrics and styles that can easily transition from one setting to another depending on the accessories you choose. This effortlessly chic Remington dress is one of the best travel companions a girl could ask for, thanks to a wrinkle- and crease-resistant material that makes it easy to pack and go. It falls just below the knee, stands up to work meetings and dinners out, and has a neat collar stand. The cuffs and button placket offer fancy-feeling details that make the stretchy Clever Crepe fabric seem runway-worthy…even if you’re only taking it to the airport kind.
- Wrinkle resistant
- Transitions easily from day to night
- European cut and styling
Best budget dress: The Pioneer Woman 3/4 Sleeve A-Line Dress
There’s no reason you have to empty your bank account to add great classic dresses to your wardrobe, and this 3/4-sleeve A-line floral frock is proof of that. It comes in regular size small through 3XL, is under $15, and is easily worn with leggings and boots, over jeans, or on its own with comfortable sandals when the weather permits. If you like this, you’ll definitely want to check out all the other Pioneer Woman clothes that Walmart offers.
- Under-$15 price point
- Easy maintenance
- Inclusive sizing
Best wrap dress: A New Day Wrap Dress
Attention, Target shoppers! This one is for you, and you’re going to be glad you hit the “Add to Cart” button. It’s a 3/4-sleeve wrap dress that features an always-on-trend neutral plaid print, a flattering wrap style that creates gorgeous proportions, and an under-$28 price point. The removable belt with elastic at the back of the waist helps maintain an hourglass shape, while the lightweight fabric keeps you in breathable comfort. The puffed, modern sleeves give this treasured classic a decidedly updated approach.
If you’re on the fence about buying a wrap dress, this may convince you: “A wrap dress is an essential addition to every woman’s wardrobe because it creates an hourglass silhouette even if you don’t normally have one,” Davidson shares. “It cinches the waist at a level that’s comfortable for you, and [this one] moves from day to evening in the blink of an eye with nothing more than a change of shoes.”
- Wrap-style silhouette
- Available in sizes XS through XXL
Best affordable luxury dress: Boden Embroidered Jersey Midi Dress
This embroidered jersey is overflowing with delicate details that would probably cost three to four times this modest price tag anywhere else. Let it serve you between seasons, at outdoor events thanks to a cheerful print and limited exposure, and at the office under a smart solid blazer. “You’ll want a jersey dress in your wardrobe no matter what,” says Davidson. “They’re just so easy and comfortable to wear, and a dress is only good if you wear it. The embroidery on this piece gives it a much higher-end feel.” Choose from two colorful prints and petite or regular sizes ranging from 0 through 22.
- Expensive-feeling details like embroidery at the neck and cuffs
- Cheerful prints
- Extended size range
- Hits slightly beyond mid-calf or nearly maxi for shorter women
Best sweatshirt-style dress: American Giant Hoodie Dress
Add this hoodie dress to your wardrobe immediately if you love soft snuggles and casual frocks. You’ll wear it on its own at home or layered over your favorite fleece-lined leggings when you’re running errands. It’s a sporty, athletic-inspired take on classic dresses that will quickly become your go-to piece. Chances are, you’ll love it so much, you’ll want it in each of the four available neutral colors.
- Comfortable, cozy sweatshirt material
- Easy machine washing
- Available in sizes XS to XL
Best evening dress: Fraiche by J Faux Wrap Velvet Midi Dress
“Velvet is a classic winter and evening staple,” says Davidson, and the wrap-style closure of this particular dress adds definition to your waist. “It’s a double whammy of style that flatters for all sorts of winter and evening events.” You’ll wear this nighttime-perfect stunner to weddings, birthdays, special dinners out, and other momentous occasions. It comes in two rich jewel-tone shades, and the faux-wrap design flatters several different body types and shapes. Plus, it’s under $100.
- Under-$100 price point
- Soft, cozy velvet
Best maternity dress: Kindred Bravely 2-in-1 Nursing & Maternity Knit Midi Dress
It’s hard to find stylish maternity dresses that transition to nursing wear (and give you the time and space to make that transition). But this Kindred Bravely dress does both in style, and it’s offered at an affordable price point under $90. It’s a two-piece dress that can be worn year-round and features detachable elements that make growing and nursing a breeze. The ribbed fabric feels like a lightweight sweater, and it comes in two neutral shades, camel and black, so you’re set for several years (or babies) to come. While you’re at it, find the perfect winter coat, whether you’re currently sporting a baby bump or not.
- Available in sizes S through XXL
- Fits growing (and shrinking) bumps and offers easy nursing access
- Neutral colors
- Modest price point
Best shirt dress: LOFT Corduroy Tiered Pocket Shirtdress
“I love a good shirt dress because you can accessorize it so easily,” Davidson says of this always-in-style piece. “Play up your curves with a belt or trendy accessories to update the look. You can wear these for several seasons on repeat—they’re timeless and usually easy to care for.”
She suggests sticking to slightly thicker fabrics like this corduroy shirt dress from LOFT to avoid awkward fabric crinkles and highlighting areas you may feel insecure about. Shirt dresses are also an all-seasons staple, so you can opt for this piece in the fall and winter and then move to a lighter-weight linen or cotton version come spring and summer.
- Easy to layer and accessorize
- Affordable price point
- Never goes out of style
Best sleeveless dress: Treasure & Bond Ruched Side Sleeveless Dress
Did you know that this casual dress is one of Nordstrom’s best-selling items? Well, it is, and it’s not hard to see why: It’s under $50, and it comes in a dozen colors ranging from neutral to seasonal. Plus, the flattering side ruching makes it a go-to classic dress for women who love to layer their looks. You can wear it solo with a pair of platform heels if you’re going out, or Davidson recommends pairing it with solid-colored trainers and a cropped denim jacket for a daytime look. It’s up to you, but with so many positive reviews and such an affordable price point, you may want to scoop it up a few colors. Before you check out, you might also want to nab Nordstrom’s best shapewear for this dress and every other.
- Under $50
- Easy to dress up or down for most occasions
- Flattering ruching
Best modern sweater dress: Tobi Come Around Off-the-Shoulder Midi Dress
If your take on classic dresses has to have a slightly modern, up-to-date spin, this oatmeal-colored Tobi dress is for you. It’s a holiday dress when you want it to be, a dinner-out-with-friends frock when the mood strikes, or a sophisticated date dress, thanks to its off-the-shoulder bardot neckline and sassy side slit. Pair it with booties, belt it if you feel inclined, or add colorful accessories to give it your own spin. Just make sure you have a comfortable and supportive strapless bra to go under it.
- Exposed shoulders without showing too much skin
- Modern midi length
- Cozy sweater material
- Neutral, on-trend color that won’t go out of style
Best floor-length dress: Azazie Rogue Gown
You’re going to reach for this floor-length dress time and time again. It’s a trend-resistant gown you’ll wear to black-tie affairs, weddings, galas, and more. The best part? It is super affordable for a piece like this (around $100), comes in an extended size range, and is offered in literally dozens of shades ranging from classic black to soft, summery peach. It also makes a smart bridesmaid choice since it’s so adaptable, flattering, and within most budgets.
- Narrow bodice
- Available in dozens of colors
- Extended size range
Best statement dress: MAYFASEY Split-Sleeve Dress
“It’s important to have at least a few modest picks in your wardrobe,” says Davidson. “Modest doesn’t have to mean frumpy, though—you can use added fabrics and longer hemlines as an excuse to play with silhouettes and unusual draping. Add sex appeal with a strappy heel or boot instead.” This classic cape-style dress borrows trends from the 1980s and ’90s and comes in nine exciting colors that are sure to please even the pickiest shoppers. It’s a flattering, non-revealing piece offered at an affordable price that has garnered thousands of Amazon reviews.
“The fabric is much nicer than I’d thought it would be and has lots of give and stretch,” writes one verified Amazon purchaser. “This makes me feel elegant and has all the coverage I want. I love it so much, I plan to order it in other colors.”
- Under $50
- Multiple color offerings
- A sexy, updated take on modest dressing
Best fit-and-flare dress: Nemidor Plus Flare Dress
Every now and then, a plus-size dress comes along that is so universally flattering and easy to care for that it sells out. And then it sells out again. That’s exactly the case with this Nemidor fit-and-flare midi dress, and reviewers are saying they’re buying it in as many colors as possible because it’s a “must-have.” This cult favorite comes in nearly 40 colors and prints, as well as in sizes 14 to 26, and it’s so budget-friendly at under $30 that you’ll want to add a few to your cart.
“Very cute dress! It is very soft and has pockets, so that alone makes it great,” writes verified Amazon reviewer Lindsay. “It is a perfect length for work, and the neckline is modest as well. It does not cling too badly, so it is flattering.”
- Under $30
- Available in sizes 14 through 26
- Dozens of colors and prints
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