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11 Quintessential Long Dress Styles for Your Closet

Woman wearing a long red dress

Long dresses are often associated with formal wear. you see them at weddings, on red carpets and at the fanciest events. But there are lots of different long dress styles out there and so many different ways you can wear long dresses. The right long dress can be super casual, super cute for date night, perfect for a day of shopping or worn at the fanciest place in town. You can do anything with long dresses once you know how to wear them. It’s time to learn a whole lot more about all the types of long dresses you should start wearing.

History of Long Dress Styles

Dresses are one of the oldest pieces of clothing ever created. Ancient artwork shows both men and women wearing dresses and skirts regularly. Long dresses were worn by the likes of Egyptian pharaohs and important historical figures through the ages. After all, what is a toga if not a type of long dress? Long robe-like tunics were worn extensively by men and women all over the ancient world.

Types of Long Dresses

The history of long dresses is just about as old as the history of humankind itself. But over the years, distinct styles of dresses have emerged and caught hold in the fashion world. Which types of long dresses have you worn…and which ones should you start wearing?

1. Ballgown

Ever-Pretty Womens Elegant Boat Neck Lace Chiffon Dress Party Dress Ball Gown Burgundy US8

Though many different types of long dress styles can be worn as a ball gown, the actual ball gown silhouette is distinct and iconic. This long style has a tight-fitting bodice that is usually sleeveless, though it may have straps or cap sleeves. It is fitted around the waist and then flares out from the hips in a wide skirt style. Often, petticoats and additional skirt layers are used to create a wide effect.

2. Bouffant dress

The bouffant style is a long, full ball gown dress with lots of ruffles. This can look similar to a tiered dress, which is made with several overlapping layers of ruffles. However, the bouffant gown is its own style. Often, the bouffant gown is made with a tight-fitting, sleeveless bodice. This strapless dress is all about the big, puffy skirt. The bouffant dress is a version of the ballgown.

3. Cami gown

Miss ord Women's Formal Double Strap Dress Sequin Floor-Length Mermaid Backless Cami Gown Blue

The cami gown is long and satiny or silky, often clinging to the body in a close but not tight fit. Cami dress styles are meant to look like long slips. They usually have spaghetti straps and they’re made in very lightweight designs that closely follow the lines and curves of the body.

4. Column dress

Adrianna Papell Women's Sleeveless Beaded Long Dress with Blouson and Column Skirt, Lead/Nude, 4

The column dress is designed to hang straight down the body, fitting close but not tightly. It fits around the body just above the bustline, across the chest, and hangs down the body in a straight drop from here. Usually, column dresses are floor-length. These are popular evening gown styles, particularly for women who want to hide a pregnancy belly or problem body areas they don’t want to showcase.

5. Debutante dress

Abaowedding Women's V Neck Long Sleeves Tea Length Short Wedding Dress US 2 Ivory

The debutant dress is not one specific style of dress. Many long dress styles can be debutant dress, which is characterized by its long length. These are all white dress styles and are often worn with gloves. Traditionally, the debutante dress was worn by young ladies at special debutante balls that served as their entrance into the dating scene in high society circles.

6. Harem dress

Verdusa Women's Boat Neck Batwing Sleeve Baggy Caftan Harem Oversized Maxi Dress Black XXXL

This harem dress is a long dress style with a full skirt and a loose fit all over. The skirt is slightly flared. Harem dresses are usually made with lightweight, flowing fabric. It’s an airy, lightweight and loose-fitting design.

7. Kaftan

Bsubseach Women's Blue Striped Bikini Swimsuit Cover Ups Plus Size Caftan Dresses Button Up Beach Kaftan Shirt Dress

The kaftan dress style is a very loose-fitting dress that is particularly wide on both sides. It’s made from a single piece of fabric in a very straight, wide style. The kaftan dress is usually ankle-length.

8. Maxi dress

Mommy Jennie Women's Summer Dresses Loose Floral Print Sleeveless Casual Maxi Dresses (XXL) Black

The maxi dress is a very popular long dress style. It fits loosely around the body and has a long, full skirt. Maxi dress styles are made to be airy and flowing. These dresses are made with many different neckline and sleeve styles, from long sleeve to short sleeve looks. Because of its airy, loose style, maxi dresses are worn often as casual wear. It’s also a favorite among those who favor a more bohemian type of style.

Maxi dresses are made with all sorts of different patterns and fabrics to create all kinds of different looks. Ankara long dress designs are often done in a maxi style. These dress styles make great party dresses. Summer maxi dresses are great for the beach.

See all maxi dress styles here.

9. Mermaid

Ever-Pretty Women's Sweetheart Mermaid Off-Shoulder Long Evening Dresses for Women 2021 White US10

The mermaid silhouette is a classic long dress style This is fitted through the bodice, waist and hips, hugging the figure much like a sheath dress style. Around the mid-thigh or the knee, however, the mermaid dress flares out at the bottom in a wide design. This creates a unique silhouette that has a lot of flair to it.

10. Midi dress

Verdusa Women's Elegant Ribbed Knit Bell Sleeve Fit and Flare Midi Dress Wine Red M

The midi dress is a long style by some standards. It typically ends around the calves, above the ankles but below the knees. This is why this is known as a midi-length because it’s not maxi length or mini length. Midi dresses have many different sleeve styles and necklines. This is a very versatile hem length that can be used for types of dress styles, including wrap dresses. You can get a sweater dress in midi length and many other types of casual dresses. You can even find a bandage dress that’s midi length.

11. Tea-length dress

Alex Evenings Women's Tea Length Sequin Mock Dress (Petite and Regular), ICY Orchid, 14P

Tea-length dresses have actually been popular since the early 1900s, when the dresses first came to popularity as casual wear while visiting friends during the daytime, often at teatime. The skirt is wide and ends at the mid-calf. The bodice can be made in a variety of ways with different necklines and sleeve styles, though often tea-length dress designs are more conservative styles. This was a popular dress length in the 1950s, so tea length dresses are considered to be traditional and even vintage today. This is a great party dress silhouette that remains popular for all sorts of casual to semi-formal looks. A tea-length dress is a beautiful dress for any occasion, whether it’s prom night or afternoon shopping.


There’s a lot to know about different types of long dresses and different ways to wear and style them. If you’ve still got questions, no worries. We’ve put together all the answers to the most frequently asked questions about different long dress styles.

Are long dresses in style?

Long dresses styles have been popular since dresses were first worn n the history of humankind, actually. People of both genders were wearing long dress styles back in the earliest days of civilization, though short dress styles were also commonly worn. Women were expected to wear long, ankle-length to floor-length skirts through a huge chunk of history. They are still the most commonly worn dress style for formal dress events of all types, prom dress looks and evening dress styles.

Long dresses continue to remain popular and trendy in style today. Maxi dresses are one of the most popular dress styles of all, with the world’s most fashionable people stepping out in various maxi dress looks frequently.

Which types of long dresses are business casual?

Unlike short dresses, long dresses have a way of looking more formal or semi-formal. If they aren’t styled the right way, long dresses can look too dressy or overdone for the office environment. Maxi dresses, midi cresses and tea length dresses can all be very office-appropriate if you style them with simple jewelry and accessories to strike a more professional look.

Which long dress styles can shorter people wear?

Shorter people can still wear long dresses, though it’s not always easy. Straight dress styles will tend to make you look even shorter than you are. Choose a dress that has a lot of structure and definition to it. Something with a defined waist, such as a wrap dress, will create a distinct separation between your top half and your lower half. This can make you look taller, or at least not make you look as short.

If you wear long dress styles, choose something that still allows your feet to show. Try not to go longer than ankle-length. This will help add a little lift to your look and create more separation, which can give you more of an illusion of height.

What are good long dress styles for weddings?

Long dress styles are very popular in bridal wear of all types. Wedding dresses are seen often in ball gown and bouffant dress silhouettes. Column dresses are worn by both brides and bridesmaids. Mermaid silhouettes are frequently seen in wedding dress designs. Midi dresses and tea length dress designs are popular bridesmaid style choices.

What types of long dresses have a slimming effect?

Some long dresses are more flattering than others. There are some types of long dresses that are styled to make you look slimmer than you are. The column dress, which hangs straight down the body, can make you look leaner. The loose-fitting harem dress, which has a flared skirt, obscures the curves to create a more slimming effect. The long, flowing lines of the maxi dress are also highly flattering, giving you an overall slenderizing effect, no matter your body type.

Which types of long dresses should every woman have?

It’s a good idea to keep a few good long dresses in your closet. A classic maxi dress that can be worn as casual or semi-formal fashion is always a great go-to. You’ll also want to have at least one evening gown, something that can be worn for formal occasions. You don’t need a full ball gown, but a sleek column style or mermaid gown will make a stunning impression.

Which long dresses look good with boots?

Maxi dresses were practically made to wear with boots. These dresses look great with boots in any size, from ankle-high to mid-calf to knee-high. Wearing combat boots with dresses is a 1990s-era trend that has since seen its day but now, the look is vintage. Try pairing combat boots with bohemian dresses like kaftans and harem dresses. The length of midi gowns can make it tricky to style them with boots but if you keep the height short, like ankle high boots, this can be a cute look.

Which body structure and shape can wear long dresses?

Anyone can wear long dresses…but you may not be able to wear every style of long dress there is. Some dresses look pretty great on just about anyone. A classic ball gown, for example, pretty much always works. However, it works really well on pear shaped bodies in particular. If you’re a little wider around the hips and rear end but narrower up top, this dress silhouette will suit you very well.

Hourglass figures are displayed especially well in mermaid gowns. The lines of the gown help to minimize your waist and make it look smaller. Straighter body types, those with a more rectangle shape, are well-displayed in a column gown.

What shoes do you wear with a maxi dress?

One of the reasons that maxi dresses are so popular is because it’s hard to go wrong with this dress style. Maxi dresses can be styled in lots of different ways and worn with lots of different types of shoes. Pair them with chunky boots, sleek strappy heels, pretty heeled sandals, even flip flops if you like. A maxi dress can be casual to formal, depending on the shoes you want to wear with it. If you’re looking for a soft cotton dress, a pretty chiffon number, a silk gown, then a maxi style is the perfect dress for you.

Which types of long dresses hide belly fat?

Maxi dresses, which fit loosely, are a good dress for hiding belly fat or pregnancy belly. You can also hide a somewhat bulging belly with a column dress, which also fits loosely. Kaftans, which are quite roomy, and airy harem dresses also help hide your belly.

How should you style a long dress?

Long dresses are fun to play with because you can style all kinds of different looks with them. Create a casual look by pairing wedges and a large straw handbag with a long dress. Top it off with a pair of sunglasses and you’re ready for all sorts of spring and summer fun. Make your look a little more semi-formal with strappy sandals, a pretty purse and some statement earrings. Pull off a totally glam and formal look with fierce high heels, a classy clutch and an updo that shows off a great necklace.

Have fun styling different long dress looks. Because fashion is supposed to be fun and creating a great style is all about ignoring rules and wearing what you like. So experiment and find your own personal style.


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