20 Types of Dresses for Every Occasion

Whether you need casual and laid-back style or you want to be super dressy, there's a dress that's perfect for the occasion.

Published July 8, 2024
We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we love. See our review process here.

We love the versatility of dresses. There's a dress for virtually any occasion, from an afternoon of tennis to a formal gala. With different lengths, waistlines, and silhouettes, these are some of the dress styles we love.



Is there anything better in the summer than a sundress to help you beat the heat? They're so versatile — you can wear them grocery shopping or dress them up for a garden party, and they're a great way to stay cool when the sun is hot. 

There are so many styles of sundresses, but they all are sleeveless with some type of straps or halter, and they range in length from mini to tea length. 

  • We love the vintage look of this cute ruched sundress, which has a cherry pattern, a flattering a-line shape, and straps wide enough to hide bra straps. 
  • This casual v-neck sundress has a sweet floral pattern and a relaxed, boho vibe. 

Peasant Dress


If you love to cultivate a boho vibe, then a peasant dress will definitely fit the bill. These blousy dresses are usually made from natural fabrics, and they fit loosely and comfortably, with features like ruching, embroidery, or smocking adding pretty details.

This adorable short peasant dress hits mid-thigh and has a smocked waist and a pretty ruffle at the bottom. 



Shirtwaist dresses feature buttons down the front — either to the waist or all the way to the hem. It has been a popular style since the 1900s and can either be casual or a bit dressier. In the 50s and 60s, it was a popular house dress for women who stayed home and took care of the house and kids. 



A-line dresses take the shape of an A when you wear it — either extending from shoulders to hem, or from the waist to the hem. It's a flattering shape for most figures.

Wrap Dress


While Diane von Fürstenberg is often credited as creating this extremely flattering dress shape, it's a dress style that has been around since ancient times in East Asia. But von Fürstenberg certainly gave it new life in the Western world and created a popular dress sensation that has withstood the test of time.

Wrap dresses have one side that wraps over the other, creating a V-neckline. The dresses tie at the side or in the front, and they hug curves beautifully. 



Sheath dresses are form-fitting dresses perfect for business because they dress up well under a blazer. They skim the body but offer good coverage, with a nipped-in waist but no waistline, creating a smooth silhouette from collar to hem. 

Maxi Dress


Maxi dresses are causal dresses that extend to the ankles or floor. They come in a variety of styles, including peasant dresses and sundresses, for instance. They usually offer great coverage and are perfect for weekend or casual wear.

  • One of the things we love the most about this casual maxi sundress is its pockets. Any dress with pockets is a great dress in our book. 
  • This casual strappy maxi dress has pockets and a slit — perfect for comfort. It makes a great beach cover-up, but it also looks good bopping around town. 



A shift dress falls from the shoulders to just above the knee, and it doesn't have any internal shaping, so it essentially falls in a straight or slightly flared line. It can be sleeveless or have sleeves. Shift dresses work well in the office when dressed up with a blazer, but they're also great for casual events.

We like this basic woman's sleeveless shift for its versatility. 

Empire Wasit


Empire waist dresses have been fashionable since ancient times. The empire style gives a lot of dresses a classic, old-fashioned flare that still fits well in modern styling. These dresses cinch below the bustline and above the natural waist, with the dress flowing without fitting from that point. It's a great figure-flattering style, especially if you have a bit of a tummy since the fabric skims over it instead of clinging.

Body Con Dress


Body con dresses show off what you've got. Whether they're short-sleeved or long-sleeved, they cling to your curves. They're the perfect dress for clubbing, and they make a great LBD for dates or fun nights out with friends. 

Cocktail Dress


Cocktail dresses are semi-formal attire, perfect for cocktail parties, nice dinners out, and more. They typically fall to the knees (or just below), mid-calf, or ankle and tend to be well-made and well-structured in elegant materials (so not cotton). 

Slip Dress


If you're not from the 80s or earlier, you may not have ever known a slip as anything other than a dress. But back in the day, we always wore slips under dresses to help them hang properly. Today, many slips are dresses, and they look a lot like super pretty versions of what women used to wear as an undergarment. They have strap sleeves and body-con shapes that skim curves. They can extend any length. They're definitely date-night dresses because they're super sexy.

This long slip dress is the picture of sexy elegance. 

Fit and Flare


A fit-and-flare dress has a flattering shape. It's a type of A-line dress where the bodice is fitted through the waist, and then the skirt flares out from the waist in an A shape. Depending on the dress, it can work well for all kinds of occasions — from the boardroom to a gala. 



Trapeze dresses, sometimes called tent dresses, fit at the shoulders and then flare out, falling to a wide flare in the skirt. These roomy dresses are super casual.

We love this light and breezy summer trapeze dress with a lace halter neckline and tiered skirt. It's perfect as a swim coverup or for a casual summer afternoon outing.



A caftan is a super flowy long dress with a floor-length design. They're usually relatively shapeless and comfy, and they make great loungewear or casual clothing. They also make great swimwear coverups.

This comfy lightweight caftan is perfect for days at the beach. 

Ball Gown


Ball gowns are formal evening wear, perfect for fancy parties and galas. They typically extend all the way to the floor and have pretty embellishments that make them super formal. Think grown-up prom dress.



It doesn't matter how old you are or what your body shape is — every woman needs a little black dress in her wardrobe. It's a mainstay for all kinds of occasions, from layering under a blazer at work to wearing for a party or night on the town.



A peplum dress has a flared ruffle sewn into the waistline. It's a good business dress. For example, this pleated peplum crew-neck dress with subtle piping trim is perfect for professional environments. 



Mermaid-shaped dresses are called that because the flare of the skirt looks like a mermaid's tail. These long, formal dresses are fitted to the knees and then flare out at the bottom. They're best for formal occasions. Take, for example, this glitzy, sparkly mermaid-style formal gown



A bouffant dress has a wide, full skirt that flares from a nipped in waist. Often, petticoats are used to flare the skirt. Think 1950s dresses. We love the vintage feel of this tea-length two-piece bouffant dress and cloak



From beachy casual to super formal, the wedding dress always ends the fashion show, so we'll end our tour of dresses here. Bridal gowns have evolved over the years, and there are so many gorgeous styles in all kinds of colors (even though white is still the most common and traditional). We're all about anything that makes a bride feel her best on her special day. 

So Many Types of Dresses


There are so many types of dresses that it would be impossible to list them all here, and there's a lot of overlap among categories. We love just how versatile dresses are, going from casual daytime wear to the most formal of occasions. So whether you're headed to the beach or you need to be red-carpet-ready, there's a dress style to suit the occasion.

20 Types of Dresses for Every Occasion