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Not ready to buy? Why not read our style notes for all you need to know before choose a mens trench coat

Style notes: How to compare women’s dresses online

Dresses are the foundation of women’s fashion and a total ‘must have’ in any wardrobe. We're here to help you find the cheapest dresses online because we know that just like us you'll want one in every color, style and shape!

If you feel tired of every dress website and need a little style inspiration before you buy a dress online, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compared some of the best dresses available online to create our online emporium of cheap dresses, designer dresses and the best fashion dresses.

We’ve also prepared tons of helpful tips and tricks to guide you in choosing a dress that leaves you feeling amazing! And finally we’ve put together some practical pointers for buying dresses online.

When buying a dress online, what different styles are available?

1. A-Line – This style is narrower at the top, getting gradually wider towards the bottom (looking like the letter A – hence the name). The A-line works well for most figures, especially pear-shaped women.

2. Baby doll – A baby doll dresses is a shortened empire dress (see details of empire dress further down) and tends to have a sweetheart or straight neckline. This style is often said to resemble night gowns, so be careful how you wear it.

3. Bandeau – This dress resembles a strapless bra at the top, falling to create a dress. Bandeau’s traditionally tend to be more fitted, often having detail on the front, such as a bow or a zip. This style of dress is great for show casing a curvaceous figure.

4. Bodycon – The bodycon is ideally suited to those confident ladies wanting to show off their killer curves. Made from stretched fabric that clings to the body, this style of dress emphasises your bust and butt (great!) but also the tummy area (not so great!). 

5. Empire – The waist line on this dress usually falls right underneath the bust. This style is ideal for shorter women who want to lengthen their figure; it’s also great for disguising a bottom heavy figure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Kaftan – This style is perfect for budget shoppers looking for a cheap dress that doesn’t compromise on style. Designed to be more of a beach cover-up than a dress to wear out, simply pair with shorts and a strap top underneath to hit the streets in style.

7. Maxi – These are very popular and stylish in summer, as the floaty style is perfect for hot weather. This dress is figure flattering for every kind of shape. However if you are not blessed in the height department make sure you pair it with some heels to elongate your figure.

8. Mini – This is a broad umbrella terms for any dress that is short in length. The most popular in this category is the little black dress (LBD). 

9. Shift – The shift dress is cut just above the knee and falls straight down from the bust. It can have a variety of neck lines, but they are usually higher. The dress has no definition at the waist and generally isn’t figure hugging. This style is perfect for ladies that want a little bit of comfort, or something a little looser on hot days.

10. Smock – Originally designed for pregnant women, be careful when wearing a smock as it can make you look bigger if you have a larger frame. If you have a straight and slim figure, this dress will look great paired with boots. This kind of dress tends to have little shape at the top before flowing lower down, concealing any lumps or bumps in the tummy area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Sun Dress – This is a versatile choice for the modern woman for all casual occasions. They traditionally have a floral print and stop just above the knee.

12. Trapeze – Wear this unfitted dress with caution as it can be unflattering on certain figures. It can also makes some figures look bottom heavy (never good!). This dress is cut above the knee, has no waist line and has a fuller bottom.

13. Wrap – A winner for all, this dress has been awarded our ‘favorite dress. Ever!’ This style is great for all body shapes (it can hide a many of the places we'd rather keep to ourselves!). The wrap dress crosses over underneath the bust and then falls down concealing the tummy area. If you’re a busty woman, this should be a wardrobe staple as it will ensure you have curves in all the right places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding dress types is half the battle, now we can look at what dresses will flatter your figure.

If I buy a dress online, how will I know what will suit my body shape?

This is the part most dress websites don’t tell you. They just try and sell you the ‘latest’ dress.

Apple-shaped ladies – Bigger bust, rounded tummy, slender hips and lovely legs. When buying a women’s dress online, follow these tips:

  • Go for a V neckline on a dress because this will show off some of your best assets.
  • Pairing your dress with a tailored jacket is always a good little trick because it will make your waist look thinner.
  • Try finding a dress with detail on the side to draw attention away from your tummy area. Wrap dresses are a perfect example of this.
  • When it comes to the bottom of the dress, go for an A-Line skirt. The fullness will make your waist and legs look even slimmer. After all, this is what every woman wants.
  • Pattern is a must; it creates texture and depth to the whole look.
 

Pear-shaped ladies – Small bust and big butt, thighs or hips. When browsing for the best deals and offers makes sure you follow these golden rules:

  • Strapless dresses are a must to show off your narrow shouldars. 
  • Detail in the waist is great to emphasise your tiny waist.
  • A-Line skirts will work well if you have a pear-shaped figure. It will make your waist look tiny without emphasising your hips.
  • Maxi dresses are brilliant as they cover larger hips. Make sure you find one that has detail at the waist to give you some shape.
 
 
Hourglass figures (the lucky few!) – Lovely balanced figure, curvy hips, big bust and a tiny waist. Although you have an amazing figure you should still try and follow these rules when looking for cheap dresses online:
  • A-Line dresses are always going to look great because they will mirror your figure beautifully.
  • A narrow fitted dress, such as a pencil skirt bottom, will look great on you because it will emphasise your lovely balanced proportions.
  • Unlike many other women, you can get away with draping material as it will only further accentuate your figure.
  • You want to make sure that your clothes are nice and fitted to flatter and flaunt your figure (make sure they are fitted not tight).
 

Slender (banana) ladies – Small bust, small waist, and small hips. You really can buy most dresses online, but to make the most of your figure, review these tips below and try your best to follow them, but you’ll look good in almost anything!

  • When looking for dresses you want to try and find one that has lots of details such as ruffles and layers.
  • Pair your lovely dress with a chunky necklace; it will enlarge your bust.
  • Go for material that will drape over your figure and create curves.

What different materials are online dresses made from?

Dresses are made from a large variety of materials. When it comes to choosing a particular fabric it’s mostly about personal preference. But, if you’re looking for a cheap dress some materials cost less to manufacture than others, while some fabrics are easier to maintain.

Acrylic – Synthetically made material, typically manufactured in the Far East and South America. The material is lightweight and very soft to the touch and tends to be used as a cheaper alternative to cashmere or wool. The only thing you need to be aware of, is that acrylic isn’t as durable as more expensive alternatives. Garments made of acrylic tend to develop pills.

Chiffon – Thin meshed fabric, almost translucent in nature, that is a very popular fabric for evening wear. The most important factor to be aware of with chiffon is that it’s prone to fraying as it is very delicate. However, the likelihood of fraying can be reduced by hand washing.

Cotton – Natural fiber, largely grown and spun in Africa and India. The cotton industry can be exploitive, so many retailers now make their garments from fair trade cotton. If you’re passionate about human rights issues, be sure to check the label.

Denim – Thicker and rougher style of cotton. If you are looking to buy a denim dress, be aware that it’s likely to shrink a little after several washes. Denim is also prone to fading.

Elastane or spandex – Used for its elastic properties. If you are buying a dress that is largely made of elastane, keep in mind it’s not always the most durable material and will lose its elasticity over time.

Lace – Consists of patterns and open holes. Lace is seen as a very luxurious and elegant material and is often used as the top layer of a dress (over a less see through material). Lace can often be more expensive that other materials because there is a lot more work involved in the production process.

Leather – An expensive material if genuine and made from cattle hide. It is more commonly used to make accessories, such as bags and belts because it is durable and flexible.

Linen – Again very expensive since there is a lot of work involved in the production process. However, many people don’t mind spending more on linen garments because they’re known to keep you cool in hot climates since the fabric is very breathable.

Nylon – Often used as a cheaper alternative to silk. It is synthetically produced and was traditionally used to create women's stockings.

Polyester – Commonly used for clothing garments and household linens and is relatively cheap to manufacture.

Poplin – Cheaper alternative to cotton because it is usually a blend made of cotton and polyester. However if you are looking for a lightweight dress poplin will not be suitable, it tends to be heavier than other similar looking materials.

Rayon – Another cheaper alternative to silk, this material is often used on bright sheer garments.

Satin – Sheer fabric with a glossy finish. It can often look somewhat cheap and tacky, so be careful when buying satin dresses online.

Silk – Very expensive because it is made from the cocoons of silkworms resulting in a long and hard production process. Silk is largely produced in China. This material is very soft and has a luxurious appearance.

Suede – A type of leather with a soft finish. It is not a common choice of material for dresses because it tends to be more structured. This material can be expensive, unless you get faux suede that is not made from the underside of cattle.

I want to buy a dress online, but how do I know what size I will be? 

Sizing is an important factor to consider when buying a dress online because retailers can have slight differences in how they measure their sizes.

It is always best to check the size guides on the retailers’ websites for specific details. However, if you are traveling these conversion size guides should be useful. 

 

 

United States

United Kingdom Europe Australia
2 4 32 6
4 6 34 8
6 8 36 10
8 10 38 12
10 12 40 14
12 14 42 16
14 16 44 18
16 18 46 20

I need some help deciding what dress colors will be best for me when looking at dresses online?

Before you can know what colors are best for you, the first thing to figure out is whether your skin has a pink/red or yellow/golden undertone.

  • Pink/red undertones – You will look best in cooler shades. Examples of this are colors with a blue hint in them.
  • Yellow/ golden undertones – This coloring will look best in warmer colors. These colors will have a core hint of red.

When choosing colors for dresses, another key factor can be hair color:

  • Brunettes and red heads – Natural colors such as browns, dark greens, oranges, and reds will look great on you.
  • Blondes and light browns – Flowery colors will work well for you, such as peaches, pinks, purples, and blues.

How do I care for my new online dress that I have bought?

It is always best to read the care labels in your clothing. Often there will be care instructions online before you buy your dress. You need to be aware that some dresses will require dry cleaning. You also need to make sure you know whether you can iron your dress, what temperature to wash it at and finally if it is a strong color that will transfer.

For more details about different materials and any specific care instructions, please refer to the “What different materials are there?” section.

If I buy a dress online, how long will it take to arrive?

Delivery time will depend very much upon the retailer that you are purchasing your dress from. You do need to be aware that if you buy a dress from outside the US then the wait will be considerably increased as there will be a shipping process involved.

You also want to make sure you are aware of any additional costs for delivery. Most retailers will offer free delivery to the US when you spend over a certain amount. Make sure you check the delivery policy before you confirm your payment. Also if you’re in a hurry to receive an item you can almost always choose a faster delivery option but it will be more expensive. 

When I buy dresses online, what do I do if it isn’t right when it arrives?

When buying a dress online there will be some occasions when it’s just not right, whether it’s the wrong size or the wrong color. Most websites do offer free returns or exchanges but before buying check to see what the website's return policy is. This is important especially when buying an item like shoes because the fit is key. Read carefully, some websites will still require you to pay the shipping and handling if you return or exchange an item.

What do I do next?

Now you’ve got a better idea of the kind of dresses you’re looking for, why not check out price comparison tables where you will find the best deals and offers on all kinds of women’s dresses, from the cheapest dresses to the best fashion dresses. Whatever you are looking for you are sure to find a large selection of  online dresses.