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Plus-Size Clothing Internet Shopping Guides
>> Plus-Size
Formal & Cocktail Dresses with Sleeves

 
Please be advised that all of the "Editor's Picks" featured in this section are hand-selected by Elegant Plus. Although every effort is made to keep featured products current, retailers can sell out of popular styles before the Editor has had an opportunity to update the page. Although Elegant Plus earns a small fee on all purchases, it is a completely free shopping resource for the consumer, and many times we are able to provide links that offer consumer discounts and free shipping offers upon landing on the partner retailer's site. All selections are available at time of posting and purchases can be made directly from the retailer on the associated shopping link. All of the shopping guides include designer selections which are noted with the designer's name in descriptions.
 


Last Update: August 15, 2017

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SHOPPING GUIDES

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Lace Applique Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Cocktail Dress, Size XL - 5X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Lace Bodice Taffeta Ball Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Lace Appliqué
Cold Shoulder Dress
Size 14 - 24W

Lace Cocktail Dress
Size XL - 5X

Lace Bodice
Taffeta Ball Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Plus-size women often prefer upper arm coverage and are more comfortable in evening gowns and cocktail dresses with jackets or sleeves.  This is especially true of more mature women, but some younger women also fall into this category.  While ideally everyone should be comfortable with and unashamed of their body, a gala or special event is not always the best place to wrestle with those demons or public attitudes.

The popularity and lady-like qualities of Kate Middleton's style is also seeing a resurgence in sleeved styles in formalwear, generally.  Illusion sleeves and bodices in lace or filmy chiffon are among the most popular version.  Furthermore, cocktail dress hemlines are also dropping. The Christmas and New Year holiday party season sees the biggest increase in demand, but shoppers are looking for dresses with long sleeves all year. More conservative events such as military balls can also see sleeved styles in demand.
 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Fashion @ Dress Barn Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Last Call Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Light in the Box
Jewel Strap Cold Shoulder Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Blue Bell Sleeve Sequin Lace Dress, Size 16 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Also Available in Black

Velvet Off-the-Shoulder Gown, Size 2 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Jewel Strap
Cold Shoulder Dress

Size 1
X - 3X

Sequin Lace Dress
Size 16 - 22W

Velvet Portrait Collar Gown
Size 2 - 26W

 

Some of the best designers and labels for formalwear that include sophisticated styles that feature sleeves include Terani,  Adrianna Papell, Tadashi Shoji, and Alex Evenings.  Less well known brands such as Komarov and Scala are also well worth checking out.  Many are available on-line, mainly through the major department stores.

Short and cap sleeves are also bra friendly options for warmer months.  Capelet styles can also make a solution for upper arm coverage. Many of these are good choices for mother-of-the-bride and other wedding guests, cruises, office parties, and events such as gallery openings.

Classic black is still the most popular color, but navy blue has become increasingly available along with white, pale tints, and deeper, richer colors such as deep red or teal green according to the trends of the season.

 

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Marina Rinaldi, Sequin Gown, Size 16 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Beaded Jacket  Gown, Size 6 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Chiara Boni, Peplum Gown, Size 2 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Plum Lace Bell Sleeve Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Marina Rinaldi
Sequin Gown
Size 16 - 22W

 

Beaded Jacket Gown
Size 6 - 24W
Petite to 16P

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe
Peplum Gown
Size 2 - 16

Lace Bell Sleeve Shift
Size 14 - 28W
Avg - Petite

 

Shopping Resources for FORMALWEAR WITH SLEEVES

Dillard's is the best resource for both sleeved dresses and evening jacket dresses. Among others, labels regularly included are Alex Evenings, Patra, Tadashi Shoji, Mac Duggal, Terani Couture, J Kara, and Jessica Howard in size 0 to 28W.  Lord & Taylor also favors more mature styles that often have sleeves for size 4 to 24W.

Nordstrom has one of the deepest collections of plus-size cocktail dresses available on the internet with classic to contemporary styles available with both jackets and sleeves, in addition to barer looks.  Labels such as Adrianna Papell,  Pisarro Nights, Soul Mates, and Komarov are popular sleeved styles here with the occasional offering from well known formalwear designers such as Tadashi Shoji.  The women's plus collection is available from size 14 to 24W, while smaller full figured women can find more options in the main collection in sizes up to 18. 

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothing @ Catherine's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Women's Clothes @ Macy's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Dillard's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ eShakti
Purple Lace Chiffon Cocktail Dress, Size 16 - 34W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Silver Lace Chiffon Dress, Size14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Chiffon Pant Set, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Black Ruffled Lace Cuff Sheath Dress, Size 0 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Purple Lace Chiffon
Cocktail Dress
Size 16 - 34W

Lace Chiffon Dress
Size 14 - 24W

 

Lace Chiffon Pant Set
Size 14 - 24W

Ruffled Lace Cuff
Sheath Dress
Size 0 - 36W
Avg - Petite - Tall

 

Saks Fifth Avenue has upscale and luxury options in both cocktail dress and long gown styles from well-known designers such as Kay Unger and Tadashi Shoji. Neiman Marcus often carries sleeved cocktail dresses and formal gowns from names such as Marina Rinaldi, Carmen Marc Valvo, Eileen Fisher, and Kay Unger.  Smaller plus women will also want to have a look out on their main rack for labels that offer sizes 14, 16, and 18. Names to look for there include Theia, Badgley Mischka, Rene Ruiz, Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose, and St. John to name a few.

Macy's has a good special occasion and formalwear department available all year.  Styles are generally moderately priced and a mixture of more youthful and more mature looks in size 0 to 24W.   Those looking for gowns with an Old Hollywood or vintage appeal will enjoy the selection at Unique Vintage.  Don't let the "Prom" designation fool you, many of these gowns are appropriate for more sophisticated events and more mature women.  Select styles are available as large as 5X.  More conservative, budget friendly styles are frequently available at Dress Barn in size 0 to 24W. 

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Forever 21 Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Old Pueblo Traders Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Nordstrom Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Clothing @ Igigi
Crushed Velvet Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
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Beaded Chiffon Cocktail Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Green Beaded Crepe Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Rose Lace Cocktail Dress, Size 14 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Crushed Velvet Dress
Size 1X - 3X

Beaded Chiffon
Cocktail Dress
Size
8 - 26W 

 

Beaded Crepe Gown
Size 14 - 24W

 

Lace Cocktail Dress
Size 14 - 36W

 

Direct from manufacturer website Light in the Box offers made-to-order formalwear styles in sizes to 26W at deeply reduced prices.  Search the Mother of the Bride category for the best selection.  In spite of the name, some have a more youthful appeal.  For those who enjoy cocktail dresses with a vintage flavor, eShakti offers customizable dresses for a small fee.  Sleeve length, hem length, and necklines can be altered to suit different body types and tastes for size 0 to 36W. 

Coldwater Creek has begun regularly carrying a selection evening and cocktail wear appealing to more mature destination travelers appropriate for cruises, weddings, and other special events for size 6 to 24W.

Catherine's and Ulla Popken both carry cocktail dress styles with sleeves in styles appealing to older women in sizes to 34W.  For more contemporary style, try the maxi dress options at Kiyonna in size 10 to 32W, and the print gown from Igigi in size 14 to 36W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Forever 21 Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Teri Jon Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Draper's & Damon's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Fashion @ Eloquii
Wine Red Embroidered Bodice Gown, Size 1X - 3X  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Teri Jon, Floral Applique Tulle Dress, Size 4- 20W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Chiffon Capelet Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Flare Sleeve Shift Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Embroidered Bodice Gown
Size
1X - 3X

Teri Jon
Floral Appliqué Tulle Dress
Size 4 - 20
 

Chiffon Capelet Dress
Size 8 - 26W
Petite to 18P

Flare Sleeve Shift Dress
Size 14 - 28W

 

Finishing Touches

Remember both the proper undergarments and hosiery are part of what make formal style dresses shine. 

Plus-size shapewear is available to sizes 10X from select lingerie specialists such as Her Room, while Spanx is some of the most popular hosiery with built in shaping features and is regularly available from Lane Bryant on-line.

Dress shoes can be either pumps or sandals, with designer styles popular with those looking to attend gala events.

 

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Blue Bell Sleeve Gown, Size 14-24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Gown, Size 10 - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Tahari, Floral Embroidered Shantung Gown, Size 2 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Ruffled Sleeve Bardot Sheath Dress, Size 14 - 24W| ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Bell Sleeve Gown
Size 14 - 24W
 
Lace Gown
Size 1
0 - 32W
 

Tahari
Floral Embroidered
Shantung Gown
Size
2 - 16

Ruffled Sleeve
Bardot Sheath Dress
Size
14 - 24W

 

 

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Plus-size clothing featured is hand selected by the Elegant Plus Fashion Editor from our extensive network of plus-fashion business partnerships. Although Elegant Plus earns a small fee on all purchases, it is a completely free shopping resource for the consumer, and many times we are able to provide links that offer consumer discounts and free shipping offers upon landing on the partner retailer's site.