The fashion industry never stops evolving. It can feel overwhelming to try and keep up with the latest styles, especially as busy women over 40!
One of my go-to’s when I’m not sure what to wear… a dress. It’s an easy one-and-done piece that is also so feminine. But, again there are SO many dress styles that it can be incredibly overwhelming. To help you find the perfect dress for your personality, style, and lifestyle, I’m going over 20 dress styles that every woman should know about. From summer dresses to evening gowns, I’ve covered all the popular styles to help you update your wardrobe…and get out of overwhelm.
Think of this as your Cliff’s Notes for dresses. Ready? Let’s do this…
#1 | The Backless Dress
Backless dresses are usually worn for formal, or semi-formal events. They bring plenty of sophistication, while still packing style, glamour, and MAJOR sex appeal. The dress above is a dressier option, but there are plenty of backless dresses that are great for casual summer outings too! If you like to flaunt your back and highlight your curves, a backless dress is a great addition to your closet.
#2 | Off the Shoulder Dresses
Off-shoulder dresses show off your shoulders while keeping your upper arm covered. The chest is such a beautiful part of a woman’s body and a great area to highlight at any age. This style gives you femininity and sex appeal, without committing to a completely strapless look. For a great off the shoulder dress that covers your arms, this is a great option.
#3 | Bodycon Dresses
Bodycon dresses can be a little difficult to pull off over 40 but if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Bodycon dresses accentuate your assets by hugging your body. The tight fit naturally draws eyes to your curves. They are usually tighter in the bust and hip areas, which can give you a look that exudes confidence. If you’re unsure, make sure you check out my video on how to determine your body shape!
#4 | Lace Dresses
I love a gorgeous lace dress! Lace dresses present a timeless style that strikes a balance between feminine and conservative. Lace is usually considered a traditional fabric but finding the right kind of lace can be difficult. Some of my favorite lace dresses are by Bardot…they have gorgeous lace patterns and they’re affordable! your wardrobe for a cute and classic look. This lace dress is sold out in lavender but it’s available in other colors here. I also love this sexy, halter neckline which shows off your shoulders.
#5 | Long Sleeve Dresses
Dresses don’t have to be revealing to make a statement. Long sleeve dresses carry a timeless sophistication that really supports the concept of “less is more.” Remember, the great thing about long sleeve dresses is they look great on women of all ages! If you’re self-conscious about your arms, try a long sleeve dress! This dress by Rotate is perfect for women over 40 AND it’ll transition into fall!
#6 | Strapless Dresses
Show off your shoulders and arms with a strapless dress. They draw attention to your collarbones or any necklace accessories you chose to add to your outfit. Remember that if you go for a strapless dress, you’ll need a good strapless bra (another wardrobe basic)!
#7 | A-line Dresses
A-line dresses fit snugly at the chest and hips and gradually flare out, which gives the dress their distinct ‘A’ shape. A-line dresses are usually very flattering on most body shapes! Best of all, they look great in almost any occasion and can easily be dressed up or down. This stunning belted, A-line dress by A.L.C. is super chic and great for summer!
NOTE: The waistline for a-line dresses can be just underbust (empire waist) at your natural waist or a drop waist.
#8 | Shift Dresses
A shift dress does not hug the body, which makes it perfect for women of all shapes and sizes. They don’t have a defined waist, so don’t worry about them being too revealing or snug. There are tons of shift dress styles as well…there are work shift dresses, casual shift dresses, special occasion shift dress, etc.
#9 | Mini Dresses
Mini dresses are exceptionally short, which allows you to show off your legs! This sexy L’Academie mini dress is great for summer and it’s short but still appropriate if you feel comfortable showing some leg!
#10 | Halter Dresses
Halter dresses feature a sleeveless upper half that sometimes ties around the neck. This sexy style will show off toned shoulders! This halter dress is by Amanda Uprichard has a high neck and drop waist. It’s a sweet and sophisticated LWD!
#11 | Peplum Dresses
Peplum dresses use a cute combination of fit and flare. They use a slightly flared strip of fabric around the waistline, while still hugging the upper legs. The peplum top or dress can make your waist look smaller and also hide a little tummy. In the image above, I’m wearing a peplum jacket. I don’t own a peplum dress, but I’m about to change that. I LOVE this one!
#12 | Sweater Dresses
I love a beautiful (and comfy) sweater dress. I even wear them year-round because I live in a cooler climate. It’s easy to throw on with some swanky mules or booties/boots and be ready to go! Plus, you can dress them up or down depending on the occasion. Sweater dresses come in all styles, lengths, levels of warmth, etc. The gorgeous blue sweater dress I’m wearing above is sold out but you can find more sweater dresses here. I shared more about this exact outfit in here.
#13 | Pencil Dresses
Pencil dresses get their name from their long, slender, pencil-like shape. Their form-fitted style lacks frills and can be used to give the illusion of added height. They are perfect for chic occasions and in simple, solid fabrics, ideal for women in corporate America.
#14 | Slip Dresses
Slip dresses are exactly what they sound like… a dress that looks like a slip. They ooze sex appeal because of the fact they are typically reserved for bedtime or as an undergarment. It’s easy to style a slip dress different by throwing a jacket or blazer over your shoulders and changing your shoes. They are often made from delicate fabrics like silk.
#15 | Maxi Dresses
Maxi dresses are THE BEST! The hemline is typically slightly off the ground, just above your shoes. These dresses are very versatile and can be worn to everything from daytime parties, to weddings even the beach!
#16 | Cocktail Dresses
The cocktail dress is an essential piece of after-evening wear. They usually hit somewhere in the knee zone… and are dressy enough to wear to parties and events. This dress should be one that makes a statement and makes you feel confident and sophisticated!
#17 | Tube Dresses
I wouldn’t touch a tube dress unless you are in your 20’s. They are really tough to pull off. It’s basically a bodycon dress, but with a strapless tube-style top. They are tight, form-fitting, and almost always strapless. The stretchy material hugs the chest and waist to prevent the dress from slipping down.
#18 | Sun Dresses
Sundresses are a must-have for summer days. They combine a loose-fitting design with a wide neckline to give off a casual look. Soft, light materials combine with feminine fabric and colors …make this perfect for a cute summer look.
#19 | Kimono Dresses
Kimono dresses borrow from traditional Japanese styles to give off a sophisticated look that is difficult to replicate. They use long sleeves and a distinct wrap dress closure. It’s such a flattering option for many different body shapes. If you are not sure what body shape you are, be sure to watch this video.
#20 | Shirt Dresses
Shirt dreses are my FAVORITE! I love that they are typically belted to create a more defined waist and/or accentuate your shape. They are also versatile and can easily transition from daytime to night.
What is your favorite dress style? Please let me know in the comments below…
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