From cocktail dresses to full-on ball growns, find the perfect formal dress with navabi At navabi we offer more than 10,000 styles in sizes 14+. Each is selected for style and quality by our expert buyers and designers, with knowledge learned from our 500,000 customers. Free delivery over £50 + free returns.
Chic, sophisticated and elegant. With each black tie invitation popping up in our inbox, we look forward to indulging in the newest designs of supremely luxe gowns that will turn every formal event into a lasting memory. When choosing the perfect plus size occasion dress, we search for exquisite tailoring in luxurious quality and cuts that accentuate our figure in the best way, to make us look and feel our most beautiful.
There is hardly any other vêtement that can compete with the evening dress’ feminine appeal, or the compliments it seems to magically attract. Some key questions need to be answered before you start the hunt for the perfect gown: Which dress is appropriate for event and dress code? Which dress best accentuates my body type? How do I accessorise my evening dress? And: What are these year’s most coveted cuts and designs?
Our fashion guide brings you answers to these and more questions, with many new looks and ideas to spark your inspiration.
How do I make out an evening dress? And which varieties are there? Of course, the dress should look chic and always be occasion-appropriate. Formal dresses often showcase intricate embellishments or embroidery and are crafted from luxe fabrics such as chiffon or silk. Plus, there is a large selection of cuts and designs to choose from.
A maxi dress is the high point of evening choices. The floor-length flatters any figure, is always elegant and the perfect choice for formal events. But not every maxi dress is an evening dress. Keeping an eye on the right fabrics is key: Chiffon, satin and silk are made for after-dark, while cotton and jersey are more of a daytime choice, for example for the next garden party. Colours and patterns allow for more freedom of choice, but the most popular picks come in unicolour: Black is a style perennial, as are midnight blue and ruby red. Long sleeves, sheer or in delicate lace, are as popular as off-the-shoulder or one-shoulder cuts, short sleeves or dainty straps. It is all up to your personal preference (and maybe the season). While floor-gracing gowns look best on tall women, high heels do the trick for those of us with shorter legs.
The glitz of glamorous parties, music to dance to, fizzy champagne and sparkling colours — this is where cocktail dresses take center stage. How to spot the perfect cocktail frock? Typically cut short or to knee-length, they are vibrant and more daring than their floor-gracing sisters. Making an entrance in shiny or sparkling fabrics, they tempt us to own the dance floor. A hard-to-resist combination of sparkling charm for any fashionista. Look for cunning detailing, such as sumptuous lace, sequins, pearls or striking embroidery that upgrade the mini dress. Minimalists keep an eye open for muted designs. Unicoloured and in clean lines, the cocktail dresses’ characteristically fitted cut leaves them nonetheless seductive. Cocktail dresses are elegant, but not as sophisticated as floor-length gowns, which makes them perfect for chic but not too formal events.
Empire evening dresses feature a dividing seam under the bust, allowing for the fabric to fall loosely over your mid-section, smoothing over both tummy and hips. The unique cut makes them the perfect choice for women with an oval body shape. The elegant versions of empire dresses are billowy and romantic, often showcasing intricate detailing at the upper body. Characteristically, empire dresses are sleeveless, thus smartly accentuating slim shoulders and arms.
The asymmetry that defines these evening dresses makes them interesting stand-out pieces. One-shoulder cuts upgrade simpler designs, because they accentuate collarbones and shoulders with a subtle display of femininity. You’ll find one-shoulder evening dresses in short versions as party or cocktail frocks, or in the more formal floor-length. A side-swept hairdo and single statement earring complete the modern look with a dose of cool, through maxing out the appeal of the asymmetric cut.
TREND EVENING DRESSES 2019
1. Va-va-voom velvet
The quintessential Nineties trend has made a powerful comeback as a complete must-have this season. In rich, luxuriously vibrant colours, velvet is a true fashion statement; from dark, long, gathered waist gowns, to short burnout fit-and-flare dresses and everything in between. Let designers like Gina Bacconi, Manon Baptiste or Junarose inspire you with their renditions.
2. Amazing lace
The playful contrast between sheer and opaque makes this luxurious material stay relevant and versatile through the years. Whether used in luscious overlays, flowing sleeves or demure cut-outs, this season has lace written all over it. Labels like Manon Baptiste, Mascara or Lola Jade present beautiful versions for any occasion.
3. Red alert
From deep burgundy to tangy tomato, red is spreading like wildfire. Breaking this season’s classic colour palette made up of cooler, darker tones, a red dress is a real it-piece. From a flirty polo neck dress to a dramatic maxi gown, designers like Baylis and May, Lauren Ralph Lauren Lauren and Zizzi present creative ways of embracing the most talked-about trend.
PLUS SIZE EVENING DRESSES
Our buying team at navabi travels the world to find the best plus size fashion. That’s why you’ll find evening dresses in plus sizes from more than 50 designer brands at navabi — along with our very own navabi label. Christine Shaw, designer of the navabi collection, lets us in on what she focusses on when designing plus size evening dresses:
“It is my passion to design fashion that really fits well. In my opinion, every woman looks better when she wears clothes that fit her properly. That is why I spend a lot of time with pattern cutters and textile technologists, to make sure my collection has the perfect fit. When choosing materials, I prefer fabrics that drape well along feminine curves — always making sure they do not appear too bulky. On top of that, I make sure I do not pick very heavy fabrics, which also add more volume to the silhouette. The most important part in designing plus size clothing is thus to be very picky in the selection of fabrics and to put the focus on fit and cut of the evening dresses.”
WHICH EVENING DRESS FITS MY BODY TYPE?
As diverse as the choice in evening dresses are the body types of women. No matter whether straight or curvy, full middle or strong thighs: Our guide reveals the most important features to look for when choosing an evening dress that fits your individual body type perfectly.
Most women are unhappy with their tummy. We think: Curves are beautiful and women with a fuller middle should be able to dress just as elegantly as women with a flat tummy. Luckily, there are many uniquely beautiful evening dresses that agree with us and will convince you too. Fluid fabrics that fall loosely down your silhouette are what you want to look for when dressing a fuller mid-section. Evening dresses in empire cuts, A-line or the contemporary cocoon cuts do the trick. Just make sure the dress is not too snug at the waist. Wrap dresses are true miracle workers. Wrapped in all the right places, they simply conceal a fuller tummy under the loosely draped fabric. But always remember: Your evening dress shouldn’t conceal, but showcase what you are proud of. Have stunning legs? Wear short frocks! Do you love your slender upper body? Accentuate it with colour. Your décolleté is where it’s at? Make sure you pick a neckline that does your cleavage justice.
Women with sturdier thighs and a pear-shaped body type can make use of a lot of tricks to let their silhouette appear more balanced. Direct the attention to your upper body, making use of colours, embroidery or accentuated shoulders. Floor-length plus size evening gowns are usually cut for a loose fit along hips and legs, making them the perfect choice for you. But there are also a lot of short dresses falling loosely around the thighs. Simply take to cuts that are flared from the waist down. If you are blessed with a slender waist, accentuate it. Slim belts and wrapped cuts are the ideal choice. If you have a fuller mid-section, opt for empire dresses. They do not just flatter your thighs, but also smooth over the tummy because they fall loosely from the bust down. On our blog, we reveal more tips on how to style strong thighs for other occasions.
A not-so-well-kept stylist’s secret for wide hips: Wear dark and slimming colours from the waist down and accentuate your upper body with patterns and striking colours. An obvious don’t: Trying to conceal your hips with flared or too billowy evening dresses — this often makes your hips appear even wider. Choose an evening dress with a close, but not too snug fit that falls loosely down your hips and derrière. If you prefer to balance your wider hips with a defined upper body, look for ruffles, asymmetric necklines or one-shoulder dresses. These direct the attention to the upper body and bring balance to your silhouette.
Short cocktail dresses suit you better than floor-length gowns, because short skirts give proportion to your silhouette and make your legs appear longer and leaner. If the invitation calls for maxi dresses, look for evening dresses in straight cuts and unicolour. High heels are the ideal choice to elongate your legs. If you prefer pairing tights with short dresses, we recommend picking tights in the same colour as your dress — a styling trick that easily makes your legs appear a few inches longer. Slim and plunging V-necks elongate your upper body and thereby your whole silhouette. Plus, they direct all the attention to your upper body and smartly distract from shorter legs. Empire evening dresses are especially suitable for you, because the higher waist gives the illusion of longer legs.
Your shoulders, hips and waist are all roughly the same width? This means you have a straight, boyish silhouette. When dressing your body type, avoid trying to create a slimmer waist. The only exception to that rule: Illusion dresses. These feature a combination of darker and lighter panels to create the optical illusion of an hourglass silhouette. Alternatively to these miracle workers, work your straight silhouette with matching straight cuts. Or simply move your waistline up with an empire dress. Curves can also be created at unexpected places; one-shoulder dresses are the perfect way to add a curvy element to your upper body.
Congratulations! Women everywhere envy your feminine curves. Be proud of your curves and always allow your slim waist to get the attention it deserves. Stick to wrap dresses, waist belts and bodycon cuts. Wrap dresses are a favourite for hourglass body types: The diagonal wrapped neckline perfectly frames your décolleté, underlines your narrow waist and smoothes over your curvy hips.
If you are blessed with a larger chest, be proud of your assets and do not try to conceal them. Evening dresses that are cut to your figure or draped at the neckline fit your body type best, never pick designs that restrict or flatten your bust. Elegant dresses with a V-neck elongate your upper body and neck and create a feminine and classy décolleté. If you are worried about your bust appearing too large, avoid ruffles, flounces or valanced detailing at the upper body. The wrap dress is your perfect choice. The ultra feminine cut is a true miracle worker for fuller chests: The V-neck elongates your upper body, puts the focus on your décolleté and streamlines your curves. Careful with empire dresses, babydolls or halter necks, they make your bosom appear even bigger.
You have a smaller chest? The right evening dress can make your bosom appear a little fuller. Stylists use light and bright colours and patterns at the upper body as a styling trick. Many evening dresses come gathered, ruffled, with valanced or sequin- and pearl-embroidered necklines. Take a closer look at these designs, ample detailing at the upper body adds volume to your chest. High necklines, such as bateau necklines or crew necks suit you especially well. Cowl necks are your ideal choice, their softly draped fabric creates volume at the décolleté and lets your bust appear fuller. Empire dresses are made for your body type, a smaller chest makes them appear even more whimsical. Would you like to discover more tips for a smaller chest?
Full Upper Arms
A lot of women do not want to show their upper arms in evening dresses. If this feels familiar to you, no reason to despair. More and more designers think up evening dresses with long sleeves. Cut from sumptuous lace, long sleeves are supremely elegant. But sleeves do not have to be full-on to make you feel more content. Short sleeves or cropped sleeves can be just as effective, simply make sure the sleeves do not end at the fullest part of your arms. Found your dream dress, but it only comes in sleeveless? Pick a matching bolero or stole to drape loosely around your arms.
HOW THE BLOGGERS WEAR IT
Caterina, the woman behind the successful blog Megabambi, relies on the perennial colour classic black for her night at the opera — and cuts a fantastic figure in the floor-length angel forever gown. Shoulders, décolleté and back are adorned in a sheer and intricately embroidered mesh, while heavy jersey with a subtle sheen falls beautifully down her silhouette. Caterina wears her blonde mane down to give the look just the right amount of effortless chic. Her lipstick choice is an all-time classic: Black-tie dress code and black robe call for ruby red lips.
HOW TO ACCESSORIZE AN EVENING DRESS?
Keeping Warm on the Evenings
When it gets cold on the evening, you will be grateful to have brought a stole along that matches your evening dress — or a fine silk shawl that is large enough to cover your shoulders and arms. Choose your scarf in the same colour as your dress or stick to the same colour scheme but play with different shades.
Phone and Lipstick at your Hand
The perfect companion to your evening dress? A clutch! Embroidered with lace, embellished with rhinestones or wrapped in satin — for your big entrance on the evening there cannot be too much shine or sparkle. A clutch in neutral hues, such as nude, rose or black matches most evening dresses. Especially glamorous are versions in gold or silver, just make sure your jewellery stays in the same tones.
Some invitations ask for specific headgear. A fascinator is the most royal of headwear, exuding British chic and gaining more and more popularity on the mainland. Open-air summer weddings love fascinators for daytime outfits. Align your headgear and your clutch in colour to create a sophisticated and harmonic look.
WHAT TO WEAR UNDERNEATH AN EVENING DRESS?
Even though seemingly invisible, what’s underneath your evening dress is important for it to develop its full appeal. Choosing the right underwear or shapewear is essential. There are some general rules for picking the right underwear for your dress: Leave the embroidery, lace or rhinestones. Opt for seamless or moulded bras instead, they stay invisible under fine fabrics. Bras with removable straps are the ideal choice, because you can adjust them individually to your dress, for example, wearing only one strap under a one-shoulder dress. Elomi are experts in bras that stay in position and provide support and shape even without straps. If you wear a close fitting dress that sits tightly around your curves, shapewear is the ideal helper to make you feel even more fabulous. Spanx set the bar with different versions that define and slim stomach, hips, thighs and upper body. Wear black under a black evening dress. For all other colours, nude shapewear is a better choice.
HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY EVENING DRESS?
To preserve your evening dress, you should let the professionals take care of it and stick to dry cleaning only. Most evening dresses are made of precious materials and lavish embroidery, demanding special attention and care when cleaning your dress. Carefully inspect the labels on your dress. If you own an easy to clean evening dress that does not have to be dry cleaned, hand wash it in lukewarm water and only use a minimum of mild detergent. After rinsing it well and wringing it out carefully, put it on a hanger to dry to avoid creasing.