Ever notice how you gravitate toward the same few dress styles every time? Pretty soon, you’re in a style rut. As much as we love a good shift or a figure-flattering wrap dress, there’s so much more out there. Leave no frock unturned, or unworn, with this list of 10 gorgeous dress styles that you’ve never thought about wearing. You may just find a whole new fashion frontier.
1. Slip dress
Indulge in the lingerie-as-outerwear look and bring the boudoir to the light of day by wearing a negligee-inspired slip dress. The beauty of this ensemble is in its ever-relevant versatility — not to mention its inherent sexiness. Layer a T-shirt underneath the slip itself if it is too minimal for your taste, or put a cool leather jacket on top to give some edge to the look.
2. Robe dress
While we’re on the subject of bringing bedroom wear into the light of day, we’d be remiss to not mention the beauty of the robe dress. Sure, you might have never thought about wearing this style of frock for its uncanny resemblance to that silk wrap-around ensemble hanging on the back of your bathroom door. But, don’t rule it out. The robe dress has a certain sort of seductive charm tied up in every flowy bit of it. Think of it as a wrap dress — except with a lingerie twist.
Still afraid you’ll look like you belong in the dressing room, not the dinner party? Wear the robe dress with a sleek pair of stilettos and finish it off with a sprinkle of sparkling statement jewels. Or, make it a more casual look by layering a shirt underneath and pairing it with boots for a streetwear-chic statement.
3. Kimono dress
You could perhaps call the kimono another form of a robe dress, but it stands on its own as a gorgeous dress style that you’ve probably never thought of donning. The silhouette of the dress alone is quite striking, from the long, draped sleeves to the obi belt sash. And the embroidery can be intricately beautiful, especially with the traditional cherry blossom pattern. However, you can always take a more minimal approach with a solid color kimono-inspired dress.
4. Shirt dress
You may think the shirt dress is much like wearing your boyfriend’s button-down — and you’d kind of be right. However, it can be incredibly cool (and comfortable, too). It’s all in the styling and accessories to ensure it looks as if you’re shirted outing is intentional.
Wear a jacket over the top and finish it with a pair of booties or over-the-knee boots. When it’s warmer weather and a jacket is overkill, you can also roll up and cuff the sleeves a bit, then pile on a statement necklace or two to get the look in top order.
5. Tuxedo dress
Ever since Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking sartorial statement in the 1960s, the tuxedo suit for women has held a sort of androgynous allure. The same goes for a tuxedo dress, which is a slightly more feminine take on the look — and one you may have never considered wearing. It has a sort of seductive mystery, as the look is much like wearing a tuxedo jacket — sans pants. And it doesn’t have to be black, either. Go for navy, or even white, for a further twist on the classic suiting piece.
6. Sheer dress
Sheer dresses are basically ubiquitous now in the fashion scene, with the look showing up everywhere from red carpet gowns to street-style statements. However, many still shy away from taking the see-through plunge. No more! Going sheer is altogether chic, and there are ways to wear these frocks without flaunting your panties for the world to see. For all-over sheer dresses, pair a short tank dress underneath for more coverage while still taking advantage of the peek-a-boo quality. Or, find a dress that highlights just a singular sheer element, such as a sleeve or the bottom half of the skirt.
7. Leather dress
Leather dresses don’t always get the credit they deserve. These chic frocks can actually be quite versatile, especially if you color outside the lines with a non-black version. We love the jewel-toned looks we’ve been seeing lately, such as rich emerald greens, rubies, and amethyst, which are thoroughly feminine and fun. Add more charming allure with cutouts and flouncy silhouettes.
8. Pleated dress
If you haven’t thought about pleats since your plaid uniform skirt from elementary school, it’s time to see those pleats in a whole new light. Plisse (pleated) dresses aren’t only charming, they’re quite gorgeous with their swingy movement and sweetly relaxed silhouettes. Both tea-length dresses and long gowns work well for the all-grown-up pleats that have graduated from school uniform to sophisticated outing. Just take note: Wearing a shorter, pleated dress or mini may translate as a bit more juvenile than you’d like.
9. Backless dress
The beautiful thing about backless dresses is they leave a lasting impression; they look just as good coming as they do going. So why don’t they make the cut more often? Some might say they feel too formal for day-to-day wear; others might fault the lack of appropriate undergarments. We say throw on a light blazer for situations when you don’t feel comfortable with a bare back, then invest in a good backless bra (they’re everywhere nowadays), and get set to turn your back in style.
Your go-to may be the LBD — the little black dress — but you may have not tried out its equally relevant counterpart, the LWD. The little white dress is a stunner, too, and can be just as versatile. (And, no, there is no need to observe the outdated fashion rule of no white after Labor Day.) If the white color feels too light or too precious, edge it up a bit with black accessories. Otherwise, enjoy your newly lightened-up fashion outlook.