Gone are the days of the dowdy dirndl skirt and white blouse. Thank heavens. What’s now considered professional clothing for women has made a dramatic transition, and I for one couldn’t be happier. I spent years in an environment where closed toed shoes and pantyhose were required, even under slacks. Business suits were de rigueur, as were all those cutesy little neckerchiefs. It was brutal on a hot day, filled with meetings and lots of walking from place to place. The evolution of women’s roles in the work world, and the fashions that go along with that, has been dramatic, but most especially with regard to what’s acceptable business wear. Not that a fashionable suit isn’t right for some occasions, but now you’ll see C-suite executives happily expressing their sense of self in stylish work dresses, slacks and even sandals without hose (gasp!) when the weather is right.
Today’s office dresses run the gamut from casual to formal, and they come in easy care fabrics, at prices that are so affordable it almost makes me blush. Basic black, while still an appropriate choice on any day, has been replaced with bold prints, gorgeous florals, and a rainbow of colors. Contemporary styles are overtaking traditional ones, and powerful women in business are free to wear what looks great on them, and feels comfortable too. These dresses for work run the gamut, from sheaths to shifts, to fit and flare styles and safari dresses. Along with standard sizes, it’s nice to see the plethora of stylish work dresses designed specifically for petite women and plus size women too.
Since the need to look and feel powerful in the workplace no longer usurps a woman’s choice to look beautiful, stylish and feminine, why not do it all? We’ve rounded up the latest styles, designs and color combinations to add to your work wear wardrobe now. Here are our Top 20 Best Work Dresses for Women.
Best Standard Size Work Dresses
1. Lark & Ro Women’s Pleated-Neckline Sheath Dress
1. Lark & Ro Women’s Pleated-Neckline Sheath Dress
This classic sheath dress gives you a closer fit and timeless style, with flattering details that make it more than just your standard work dress. The lovely pleated neckline adds an eye-catching element that draws attention to your face, while the fitted bodice and inset waistline give it impeccable shape. This cute sheath dress comes in both vivid red and black, and at this price, you might want to add both to your workwear wardrobe. While it may look a bit shorter than your average work dress, keep in mind that this model is 5′ 10″, so it’ll likely fall closer to the knee on you. It would look terrific on a warm fall day without a jacket, but a tailored suit jacket makes it absolutely boardroom worthy. A black cardigan is another dressy option. The sheer lace insets at the shoulders allow your vivid red dress to shine through. The Lark & Ro Women’s Sleeveless Fit and Flare Dress is another work dress basic that you can dress up or down with the right accessories, for a totally professional look.
2. Calvin Klein Women’s Fit-and-Flare Dress with Belted Waist
Black, white and beautiful, this fit and flare dress from Calvin Klein is the perfect professional dress to add to your collection. The sleeveless bodice features a scoop neckline and leads to a swingy pleated skirt with awning stripes at the hem. The slightly longer hemline is great for work, and the fit is pretty true to size. This adorable work dress includes a coordinating black belt but you could totally change up the look by switching to a red belt and matching red sling-back pumps. A bright yellow belt would also add a pop of color, especially if you added a coordinating pashmina shawl to the mix.
3. Ellen Tracy Women’s Bistretch Colorblock Dress
Color blocking is still a big trend this year, and this beautiful hot pink and black work dress by Ellen Tracy strikes the right balance between stylish and professional business wear. The keyhole neckline offers just a peep of skin, and is latched with a hardware detail that gives it a pop of shimmer and shine. The bodice features a knotted element that gives more shape to the top and naturally creates a ruched effect. This simple, fitted black skirt bottom looks great on any day. The office dress is even more perfect because it’s machine washable, so even though you’ll pay a bit more for it than some of your other dresses for work, you’ll save, save, save on the dry cleaning bills. You can also get this gorgeous work dress in a royal blue and black color block combo.
4. Anne Klein Women’s Sleeveless Vertical Stripe Knit Dress
As fall approaches and the weather gets a bit chillier, knit dresses like this cutie from Anne Klein make perfectly versatile work wear. This swingy sleeveless dress is cozy enough for chilly mornings with a coordinating black or cream jacket. By the warmer afternoon, you can shed the jacket and look cool as a cucumber. This dress features a knitted in waistline and a longer skirt that falls at the knees with a slightly asymmetrical looking hemline. The crew neckline is modest enough for the office, but you could really jazz it up with a great statement necklace in turquoise or red. Made of a viscose and nylon blend, the flowy fabric enhances the swing skirt. As the weather gets chillier, it would also look great with dressy boots and a cozy black cashmere shawl. The Calvin Klein Women’s Fit-and-Flare Textured Dress delivers similar style, but with long sleeves.
Price: $101.19 – $139.00 (Up to 23 percent off MSRP)
5. Maggy London Women’s Bateau Neck Midi Sheath
This classic sheath from Maggy London is an elegant work dress that’s both flattering and comfy. The fun birdseye print dress features a bateau style, wide neck and arc seamed shoulders and sleeves. The back features and invisible zipper and hook and eye closure at the top. The midi-length makes it the perfect business dress that’s is classic and simple. The Maggy London Women’s Dream Crepe Sheath offers intricate seaming to create a flattering fit. The elbow length sleeves make for a perfect transition between seasons. For a slightly looser profile, but still a flattering fit, the Maggy London Women’s Blossom Flower Printed Crepe Sheath also has a back slit to give it a bit more play, despite it’s more conservative styling. The Byzantine Shield Jersey Midi Sheath offers a bold graphic print that looks terrific with your solid color jackets and sweaters.
6. Kasper Women’s Zig Zag Swirl Print Ity Dress
You will definitely be dressed for success in this pretty printed work dress. The wrap bodice drapes to the side creating a slight ruched effect, adding extra shape around the waistline. The bold print gives you the perfect opportunity to pair it with one of Kasper’s solid color jackets for an overall sophisticated, edgy look. The longer length is great for both daytime and cocktail hour, so you can go from work to no worries, in a hurry.
7. Lark & Ro Women’s Flutter-Cuff Shift Dress
This dress for work is plum perfect. Well, the color is technically “pinot”, but who’s picking nits? This shift dress features a modest round collar and long sleeves with a dramatic flutter cuff. To give it added interest, it also has a slight high/low hemline. It’s easy care and easy wear because it’s machine washable, which makes it an even better office dress. It comes in pinot or black. Since the sleeves wouldn’t really accommodate a jacket, focus on adding some daring accessories to give it more punch. A brilliantly colored statement necklace, or printed silk scarf would add a lot of pop and make an already elegant look even more put together. Since this dress has a bit of a retro feel, why not wear an up do and some big dangle earrings for added interest?
8. Jessica Howard Women’s Butterfly Sleeve Sheath Dress
Nothing can perk up a dreary work day like slipping into a pretty flowered frock. This work dress from Jessica Howard is the perfect pick me up, when you’ve got a long day ahead. Fluttery short butterfly sleeves give it a bit of whimsical style, but classic cut and side ruched bodice give it the perfect fit that’s all business. The wider boat neckline is easily modest enough for work and doesn’t show too much shoulder. For a more formal, but still feminine look, the Jessica Howard Women’s Two Piece Framed Jacket Dress features a sweeping flared skirt and can be worn either with or without the jacket. The Drape Neck Fit and Flare Dress is especially lovely for summer and fall, with a sheer overlay and a drapey cowl neck that doesn’t fall too low.
Price: $41.81 – $79.00 (Up to 47 percent off MSRP)
9. Nine West Women’s Sleeveless Fit and Flare Belted Shirt Dress
The adorable Nine West workdress strikes a balance between prim and proper, and crisp and refreshing. The bright colors and 100 percent cotton fabric deliver a cool look and feel. The fun border print on the pleated skirt is an extra fun detail that gives this shirt dress lots of pizazz. With a fitted, button front bodice, complimented by a collar, this fit and flare dress also comes with a cute coordinated belt. A more casual tie belt gives the Nine West Women’s Umbrella Print Shirt Dress a fitted shape, and has pockets to boot. Another cotton cutie, the Nine West Pleated Fit and Flare Dress, features a pleat detailed, fitted bodice with a full skirt, and yes, it has pockets too.
Price: $39.50 (50 percent off MSRP)
10. Kasper Women’s Jewel Neck Crepe Contrast Detailed Dress
Pale pink and black make a dramatic contrast in this especially classic work dress that features contrast pink details to add shape and contour. This contemporary business dress has a slight scoop neck, and features a longer length (keep in mind, this model is at least 5′ 10″) so it’s great for your formal presentation or board meeting. This adorable work dress also comes in plus sizes up to 24W. It pairs perfectly with the Kasper Women’s Jewel Neck Flyaway with Contrast Trim in the same color combo. If you’re looking for more of that delicious pale pink on top, the Kasper Women’s Jacquard Jacket with Black Contrast Detailing is another color-matched separate that would add more flexibility to your wardrobe.
Price: $76.75 (14 percent off MSRP)
Best Petite Size Work Dresses
11. Best Buy: Ever Pretty Ruched Waist V-Neck Dress
11. Best Buy: Ever Pretty Ruched Waist V-Neck Dress
This swishy stretchy work dress is not only beautiful, but a total bargain too. It’s rare to find a business worthy dresses for under twenty bucks, but depending on the color and size, this one is a steal. It slips over your head and the pretty ruched waist leads to a drapey, longer A-line skirt. The wrap bodice isn’t too low cut for office wear, and the ruched 3/4 length sleeves are an extra pretty touch. What’s even more awesome is that this dress comes in sixteen different colors, and sizes from 4P to 16P. For a fun take on a faux wrap skirt style dress, the Ever Pretty Half Sleeve Ruched Waist Ruffles Stretchy Wear to Work Dress comes in nine different colors and is still a bargain at under thirty bucks.
Price: $17.99 – $38.49 (Up to 55 percent off MSRP)
12. Kasper Women’s Petite-Size V Neck Dress
This V-neck dress is the perfect combination of class and sophistication. The tailored lines create a perfect fitting work dress that makes a subtle power statement. The V-neck is cut just right, as are the shoulder straps. The zipper back comes high on the neck and the length is modest, without being frumpy. The grey and black finely textured print is good for every season of the year, and accessories here could make all the difference in your fashion statement. This great business dress comes in sizes from 2Petite-16Petite. For a more formal look, pair it with the coordinating Kasper Women’s Petite-Size Two Button Jacket, that offers cute stitched detailing and a shorter jacket length. And while I know we’re writing about work dresses here, this supremely flexible petite ensemble also includes the matching Kasper Women’s Petite-Size Kate Pant.
Price: $59.49 – $71.21 (Up to 25 percent off MSRP)
13. Lark & Ro Women’s Petite Sleeveless Printed Scuba Sheath
Who says a simple sheath dress has to be plain Jane? This cap-sleeve printed scuba sheath dress is the perfect option to wear to work. Its got added interest with the unique faux-leather trim at the neckline, and the exposed back zipper has a coordinated faux-leather pull. While it might seem shorter than many work dresses, keep in mind, the dress length measures 35.25″ from top of the shoulder to the bottom hem, which means it actually hits mid-knee if you’re 5’5″. Made of an easy care poly/spandex blend, this dress keeps its shape from dawn to cocktail hour. It comes in sizes from 2Petite-14Petite. If you’re looking for a petite work dress that isn’t sleeveless, Lark & Ro’s Petite Stretch Sheath has short sleeves and a crew neckline, for a bit more conservative look. It comes in vivid red or pale blue. Grab a contrasting or coordinating petite size blazer and you’re set for a day at the office.
14. Danny & Nicole Women’s Petite Polka Dot Jacket Dress
Polka dots make for a particularly precocious look in this cute Danny & Nicole work dress. The beauty here is that it comes, ready to wear, with its own coordinating short jacket. The dress by itself is work worthy for sure, with a taupe and black polka dot bodice and and a body slimming black skirt. The tank style dress features a scoop neck and zippered back. The elbow length sleeve jacket features contrasting polka dot prints top and bottom, along with black trim and a single button at the neck. It comes in sizes from 6Petite-14Petite. The Danny & Nicole Women’s Petite Lace Jacket Dress comes in sizes up to 16Petite and features a classic cream and black combo with black lace accents. If you’ve got a formal work function in the evening, the Jessica Howard Women’s Petite Lace Jacket Dress offers the perfect day dress and a shimmery topper for your special events.
Price: $66 (40 percent off MSRP)
15. Adrianna Papell Women’s Petite Pleated V-Neck Sheath Dress
It’s all in the details when it comes to this devilishely good looking petite dress from Adrianna Papell. This pretty pale blue sheath is the perfect dress for work, with its longer length and elegant styling. The modestly cut, tiered V-neck flows to a surplice pleated empire bodice. Side pleats at the hip five the skirt a tailored, but not too-tight fit, and the slight cap sleeves cover just enough shoulder. You can also get this sweet work dress in english rose or eggshell, and in sizes from 2Petite-14Petite. For a less modest look with lots of flair, the London Times Women’s Petite Crepe Dress with Shoulder Ruffles has an awesome flutter back that isn’t overly revealing for the office. The London Times Women’s Petite Asymetrical Hem Sheath Dress features ruched sides and a cleverly wrapped skirt with an especially trendy hemline.
Price: $40.13 – $98.00
Best Plus Size Work Dresses
16. Kiyonna Women’s Plus Size Whimsy Wrap Dress
16. Kiyonna Women’s Plus Size Whimsy Wrap Dress
This pretty plus size dress is the perfect play and work dress. It’s a bit flirty, with beautiful cascading flounces along the skirt’s front panels and bottom hem. This functional wrap dress is the creates a flattering silhouette for all curvy body types and the extra cinch feature at the waist accentuates your fabulous curves even more. The cross-over neckline is great for adjusting the wrap to your preferred office coverage and the fitted sleeves feature a little extra gathering on the cap for added detail. The chic and feminine style is a great office to after hours option, and it comes in sizes up to 5X Plus, and in an array of colors as well. For a fun alternative, the Kiyonna Women’s Plus Size Sweetheart Knit Wrap Dress is another wash and wear style that’s great addition to your work clothes wardrobe.
17. Best Buy: Chicwe Women’s NR Ponte Plus Size Sheath Dress with Jacquard Lace Top
When it comes to making a statement, this beautiful black dress from Chicwe say “wow” with subtle sophistication and style. This elegant sheath dress features a round neck with a pretty back keyhole and button. The hidden zipper looks classy as does the kick pleat, which allows for more comfortable movement. The shoulders and sleeves in polka dot jacquard lace ad an element of fancy, while the fitted black bottom and elbow length sleeves are all business. It comes in sizes from 14 to 26. At the terrific price of just $24.99 it’s our best buy in this category and gets great reviews from purchasers. For a more casual office day, the Chicwe Women’s Round Neck Printed Plus Size Dress comes in a colorful floral print with slimming side ruching and comfy short sleeves. Get it in a coral or brilliant blue. The Cashmere Touch Printed Plus Size Shift Dress features a bold black and white graphic print, with geometric print borders on the sleeves and hemline, and it also comes in a couple of different color combos that are extremely popular with wearers.
Price: $24.99 (28 percent off MSRP)
18. Roaman’s Women’s Plus Size Safari Dress
Safari style is hot this year, and this semi-casual plus size work dress is the perfect option for everyday wear. It’s an easy way to look effortlessly chic and feel super confident at the same time. This dress features a relaxed fit button front shirt collar and 3/4 length roll tab sleeves. The clever shirt tail hem is longer in the front and shorter at the sides, to give added interest to an already interesting office dress. This cute safari dress comes in four different colors and sizes up to 34 Plus. For a different take on the safari style, add a leather like collar and belt, and cinch into the Roaman’s Women’s Plus Size Faux Leather Safari Dress. If you’re looking for a killer deal on a great little work dress, Roaman’s has another faux leather trimmed sheath dress that’s on sale for just twenty bucks, a 73 percent savings off the regular price.
Price: $34.77 – $39.77 (Up to 22 percent off MSRP)
19. Woman Within Women’s Plus Size Cap Sleeve Surplice Dress
This beautiful surplice style is a work dress you can dress up. The surplice bodice is stylish without revealing too much cleavage, and the sweet a line drapey skirt is the perfect midi length. Half cap sleeves keep it simple and easy to slip on under a fun jacket or cardigan for the perfect business look. This sweet style comes in sizes 14w-24w, and is cut with a super flattering fit for a curvy woman. The Woman Within Plus Size Short Crepe Dress features a fun and flirty handkerchief hem and comes in four pretty floral prints, all perfect for the office. As the weather turns cooler, the Woman Within Plus Size Layered-Look A-Line Dress looks extra cool with tall boots and some bright accessories.
Price: $50.97 (46 percent off MSRP)
20. Calvin Klein Women’s Plus-Size Sleeveless Fit & Flare Dress
When it comes to work wear, thank goodness there’s no need to stick to basic black. And why would you when you can get this adorable Calvin Klein work dress in colors like watermelon, cerulean, byzantine and more? This sleeveless fit-and-flare dress features body shaping vertical bodice seaming that leads to a flared and flouncy pleated skirt. Wear it alone or with one of the many plus size Calvin Klein jackets. This great work dress comes in sizes up to 22 Plus. The Calvin Klein Women’s Plus-Size Shirt Dress features stylish gold hardware details at the waist, and comes in sizes up to 24 Plus. Another stylish Calvin Klein fit-and-flare dress is dolled up with cool zipper details that add a contemporary twist to work clothes for women.
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