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How to Buy Plus Size Winter Dresses

Rachel Blumenfeld
Plus Size Winter

When the temperature takes a dip, it's time to find some great plus size winter dresses to keep you stylish throughout the holiday season. Whether you're looking for something casual, a dress that's suitable for a formal occasion, or something in between, there are plenty of options. A few tips can help you make the right choices.

Winter Dress Materials and Colors

When summer is over, it's time to put away lightweight fabrics. You'll typically find winter dresses made from materials like:

Denim and Tweed; © Konstantin Khanzhov | Dreamstime.com
Denim and Tweed
  • Wool
  • Knit jersey
  • Tweed
  • Velvet
  • Denim
  • Brocade
  • Lace

Choosing the Right Material

Typically, winter fashions are made of these heavier materials to keep you warm. Just keep in mind where you plan to wear the dress when picking your material.

Elegant Brocade
Elegant Brocade

For example:

  • A wool sweater dress may be too hot to wear in a heated office, but it may be perfect for an outdoor event like going to botanical gardens.
  • Denim is warm and sturdy, but it's not a very elegant choice if you're looking for a dress to wear to a wedding. Brocade and velvet would be better choices for that kind of occasion.
  • Knit jersey is a great choice for more casual occasions like at-home gatherings with family and friends.

Choosing Colors

As for colors, you'll probably put away your pastel clothing and begin to pull out more black, chocolate brown, and gray pieces. Although your color choices are darker for fall and winter, you always have the option to add a splash of color to an, otherwise, more subdued ensemble.

Breaking up Black; © Viovita | Dreamstime.com
Breaking up Black

For example:

  • If you're the type who enjoys bright and vibrant colors, use them to your advantage on cold winter mornings. Instead of hot pink dress, wear one that's cherry red.
  • Keep a black dress from looking too somber by adding a red, purple or turquoise belt.
  • Jazz up a gray sweater dress with a red scarf. There's no need to feel the winter doldrums just because fashion dictates warmer, darker colors.

Types of Winter Dresses and Where to Wear Them

Sweater Dresses

Sweater dresses are usually made from wool, cotton, or acrylic, and are essentially sweaters that continue on past your waist to cover your thighs as well. Usually they are knee length, but you may be able to find some that go to your ankles. These dresses can be dressed up or down, depending on your accessories, and they are extremely comfortable. They are great for casual gatherings, meeting friends at coffee shops, or wearing on the weekend. You may even be able to dress yours up enough for date night!

When you are shopping for plus size sweater dresses, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Be sure to find a dress that stretches a bit so it can move with your body and give you shape at the same time. You don't want a dress that has no stretch and is too loose because the thick fabric, without shape, will make you appear bulky.
  • You may also want to find a dress that doesn't have full-length sleeves so you don't get overheated.
  • These dresses look great paired with tall boots, whether flat or high heeled, and you can also wear sheer tights with them.
  • It's best to avoid opaque leggings underneath these dresses because the outfit as a whole will look too heavy.

Business Casual Dresses

Business casual winter dresses are the ones you can wear to the office to keep you looking stylish. They have more shape to them than casual dresses, so you look more professional. These dresses are usually sheathed dresses or wrapped dresses, and they can come in a variety of materials.

Shopping for a business casual dress is a little trickier than shopping for other casual wear.

  • You will want to find a dress that goes at least to your knees to be office appropriate, and you can pair it with statement jewelry, such as a necklace or earrings, and high heels.
  • Dresses with defined waists, such as belted dresses or wrap dresses, are the most flattering on plus size women.
  • If you find a dress with short or no sleeves, warm it up with a cozy, lightweight cardigan that goes just to your hips. You don't want to cover a beautifully-shaped dress with a bulky cape.

Casual Dresses

Winter casual dresses have less structure than the dresses you would wear to the office. They're a bit more comfortable as well, so you can wear them all day long when you're out and about.

There are a few points to be aware of as you shop.

  • Less shape means you will have to accessorize more so you don't look drab.
  • With these dresses, it's important to look for material that isn't bulky so it won't make you look larger than you are.
  • These dresses often look great with ankle booties and a printed scarf to add a pop of color. And, especially
  • For plus sized women, almost every dress looks great with an accent belt.

Cocktail and Party Dresses

The best cocktail and party dresses for plus size women are body contouring (Bodycon) dresses and fit and flare dresses.

Not everyone can wear a Bodycon dress, so keep these tips in mind.

  • These dresses are usually made from stretchy-but-supportive fabric, and they look best on a woman who has an hourglass shape.
  • Look for this type of dress in a comfortable length that doesn't ride up when you walk.
  • Consider purchasing one size larger so you show some shape, but the dress isn't quite so revealing.

Fit and flare dresses also come with a few shopping tips.

  • A woman who doesn't want to highlight her shape as much would probably feel more comfortable in this style.
  • This style has a defined waist and a skirt that spreads out.
  • Look for a dress made of sturdier fabric with more structure to it so it doesn't just hang on you.

Either of these styles look great with heels and glamorous earrings. If the dress is sleeveless, don't be afraid to toss a cardigan over it; just keep the cardigan lightweight and hip-length.

Black Tie and Formal Dresses

Black tie and formal winter dresses are made from heavier, more luxurious fabrics like velvet. These dresses tend to be fitted through the hips, but the thicker fabric is quite good for covering any flaws. The skirt of this style dress is often looser so plus size woman can walk and dance comfortably.

Keep the following tips in mind for your formal wear.

  • Avoid dresses that have no shape and just fall straight down from the chest. While this shape may look like it's forgiving on the hanger, it is not as flattering on your body as a dress that works with your curves instead of against them.
  • During the winter, formal dresses usually have plenty of sparkle and shine so you only need minimal accessories to complete the look. Just find a matching pair of heels and a clutch, and you will be ready to steal the spotlight wherever you are going.

Plus Size Winter Dresses to Consider

Now that you're armed with the tips and info you need, it's time to check out some great examples of fashionable, plus size dresses.

  • Alfani striped cowl-neck sweater dress - This dress has all the comforts of a sweater dress without using unflattering, bulky material. The dress has a defined waist, which looks good on most plus size women, and a cowl neck, which is a great feature for anyone. Wear this dress with knee-high boots and a chunky bracelet to complete the look. It's available in sizes 0X to 3X for about $100.
  • Lane Bryant plaid sheath dress - This business casual dress is perfect for plus size shoppers in the winter months. The gray and black plaid is a timeless, classy print, and the skinny belt defines and accentuates your waist. Wear this dress with flat boots for a modern British look, or wear it with pumps to radiate class. A look-at-me necklace can add some color to the look, or draw people's eyes to your face with attention-grabbing earrings. This dress is available in sizes 14 to 28 for about $100.
  • ASOS Curve short sleeve swing dress with pockets in longer length - This style is a great choice for a casual weekend dress you can wear out with friends or to a movie. Even though this dress isn't fitted, it flares out along its length so it's still flattering for a plus size woman. It's also great because the elbow-length sleeves keep you from becoming overheated. The dress comes in different jewel tones to give you a pop of color in the dreary wintertime, and it looks great with a pair of ankle booties and a silk scarf or a decorative headband. It's available in sizes 14 to 24 for about $48.
  • ASOS Curve debutante full midi dress - A great choice for parties, this fit and flare dress has a higher, defined waist that opens out to a full, knee-length skirt. There are some pleats in the skirt to give the dress shape and volume, and the wide waistband is flattering on women with an hourglass shape. Wear this dress with heels and some sparkling jewelry to look chic, and don't forget a cardigan to keep you warm. It comes in sizes 14 to 24 for about $77.
  • Adrianna Papell beaded mesh gown - This beautiful gown is perfect for formal events in the winter. It has a slightly-fitted bodice with ample ruching around the hips and stomach to help cover what you don't want anyone to see. The floral embellishment at the high waist draws attention to your thinnest part, and the sheer mesh overlay gives the illusion of being revealing without actually showing anything. This dress speaks for itself, so it needs minimal accessories. Just put on some strappy heels and a pair of jeweled stud earrings. The dress is available in sizes 14 to 22 for about $200.

Enjoy Your Winter Fashions

There's no need to dread colder days when you know your wardrobe will get you through in style. Just because the skies are gray doesn't mean you can't add splashes of vibrant color to your everyday look. A few new dresses for the season will help you hang on until spring rolls around again.

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How to Buy Plus Size Winter Dresses