Ever since fashion began people have tried to label and categorise different styles or fashions of clothing. It’s hard to get agreement because designers keep blurring the lines and leap-frogging the categories.

But here are the main dress styles you might hear mentioned.


No woman should be without a classic “little black dress”. And there are at least 7 types: read more in this post.


Narrow at the top, flaring towards a mid-length hem, the A-line dress is closely fitted at the waist. Works best with a pear or hour-glass body shape, or slim-petite.


The pinny has a bib front so it’s worn over a blouse. T or other top. Classically a young girls’s style, but it appears every so often in fashion shows. A loose, comfortable dress option.


The shift is a simple dress with no defined waist, that sits loosely on the body. Can be sleeved or not and varying lengths (if it’s full length it may be referred to as a caftan). A forgiving and comfortable dress style that’s usually for casual wear.

T-shirt dress

Just like the name says, a long t-shirt. Super casual and comfy.


Tulle is a net fabric that is usually heavily starched and often pleated. Originally tulle was used mostly for ballet dresses but now it’s common for party and fantasy dresses. Tulle gives a young look.

Tuxedo dress

Styled after men’s formal wear, with lapels and buttons. It looks like a blazer worn with a skirt, but generally is in one piece. Formal wear that might appear in a board room.

Shirt dress

Just like a long shirt, with buttons all down the front. Usually cotton, cut with a straight fall but often pinched in the waist. Good for casual events.

The “full” list

There’s always room for more, but here’s a list compiled by fashion site LooksGud:

  • Tube/Bandeau Dresses
  • Sheath Dresses
  • Blouson Dresses
  • Tunic Dresses
  • Pencil Dresses
  • Asymmetric Dresses
  • Trench Dresses
  • Bandage Dresses
  • High-Low Dresses
  • Empire Waist Dresses
  • Bodycon Dresses
  • Skater Dresses
  • Maxi/Long Dresses
  • Midi Dresses
  • Mini Dresses
  • Kaftan Dresses
  • Shirt Dresses
  • Off Shoulder Dresses
  • Sweater Dresses
  • Tie Detail Dresses
  • Peplum Dresses
  • Party Dresses
  • Backless Dresses
  • Fringe Detail Dresses
  • Pop over Dresses
  • Baby Doll Dresses
  • A-line Dresses
  • Layered Dresses
  • Lace-Up Detail Dresses
  • Denim Dresses
  • Dungaree/Pinafore Dresses
  • Cape Dresses
  • Fit & Flare Dresses
  • Shift Dresses
  • Slit Dresses
  • Spaghetti Dresses
  • T-shirt Dresses
  • Tulle Dresses
  • Tuxedo Dresses
  • Tweed Dresses
  • Wrap Dresses