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11 Satin Dress Styles that Will Sheen Up Your Closet

Woman wearing satin dress

Satin dresses are the stuff of fashion legend. They’re the sexy but glamorous garment worn by former Queens of the silver screen, the gorgeous gals who batted heavy eyelashes at the likes of movie icons like Clark Cable and Sean Connery. They’re the slinky, hot little number worn by the singer that no one can take their eyes off of, the A-lister walking the red carpet who has managed to totally stop traffic, the fabulous woman walking into the restaurant who just literally caused a collision in the kitchen simply by showing up. What makes a satin dress so special? For that matter, what makes a satin dress a satin dress? Take a look at the different satin dress styles and learn more about which ones might look just amazing on you.

Two women in satin dresses

What is Satin?

What is satin, anyway? Silk is the stuff made by worms. Wool comes from sheep. Linen and cotton are made with fibers from plants. But satin? Where the heck does that come from?

Satin is actually not a type of fabric. It’s a type of weave. Just about any fabric that is created with a satin weave can be a satin fabric. Satin is made in a variety of weights, in fact, so sometimes this fabric is lightweight and sometimes it’s quite heavy. 

Originally, satin was made from silk. You can still find many dresses made with “silk satin.” Today, satin can be made with many other materials. Cotton woven with the satin weave is called sateen.

Satin is characterized by its smooth, shiny surface. 


In the middle ages, “satin” was a type of heavy silk also called samite. In fact, the word satin comes from the name of a port town in China. Throughout history, China has been famous for its silk. China also made satin, which became highly prized throughout the medieval world. Satin was especially loved in Europe, though the fabric was so expensive it was mostly only worn by royalty. 

Satin is used in everything from furniture to clothing. It’s used for ballerina slippers, dresses, jackets and all sorts of other items. It’s also a main component in many wedding day gowns. 

Why is Satin So Fabulous?

Satin’s beautiful glossy sheen clearly makes it a great fabric. But satin’s beauty is more than skin deep. Well…fabric deep? Anyway, you get it. There’s more to the material than that. Satin also has a beautiful draping to it. The material hangs very well, in other words. But this material is also pretty tough. It’s more resistant to wrinkles than many other types of fabric and it’s more durable than it looks. The only trouble with satin is that it can snag easily and it’s hard to alter and sew because the material is so slippery. 

Types of Satin

The is no one type of satin, though it can be really hard to tell the difference. There are many types of satin. Once you know a little more about them, you’ll know more about which types of satin you should be wearing.

Woman trying on satin dress in front of mirror


Antique satin is made with unevenly spun yarns. This creates a slightly textured finish. 


Baronet satin is made with rayon and cotton threads that create a very soft, rich finished satin that’s considered to be luxurious.


Canton silk is very heavy but also very soft. It has a slightly ribbed texture and a crepe finish on the backside of the fabric. 


Derived from a French word, charmeuse satin is very lightweight and shiny. It has exceptional drape and a somewhat clingy fit. This is a common dress satin because of these characteristics. 

Crepe Back

Crepe back satin has a crepe texture on the back and a satiny, shiny finish on the front.


Duchess satin is very heavy and somewhat stiffer than other types of satin. It also has a little less luster than other satins. Because of its stiffness, Duchess satin is often used in prom dresses, bridesmaid dress and bride dresses styles. 


Recognizable for its extreme shininess and light weight, messaline is made from rayon or silk.


Polysatin, as the name suggests, is satin-woven polyester fabric.


Slipper satin is best-known for being used in shoes, though it’s also used in accessories and clothing. 

Types of Satin Dresses

Because satin is made from all different fabrics and it’s made in different weights and levels of stiffness, many different types of dresses can be made in satin. However, there are several styles of dresses that can’t really be made with satin outside of small details or perhaps an inner lining. Sweater dresses, for example, are always made with a knit fabric. Bandage dresses, baby doll dresses and many other styles are rarely made in satin. But some styles are frequently made in satin material, and a few types of dresses are almost exclusively made with satin. Get to know more about satin dress styles and start building your wardrobe so you can wear them all. 

1. A line

Abaowedding Women's Wedding Dress for Bride Lace Applique Evening Dress V Neck Straps Ball Gowns White US 18 Plus


The A line is one of the most well-known dress silhouettes and one of the most flattering for all different body shapes. A line dresses have a skirt that flares out from the hips, getting wider as it reaches the hem. The bodice of the A line is typically fitted and can be made with a variety of necklines and sleeve styles. A line gowns are popular satin wedding dress designs. You also see this silhouette in lots of formal wear. Both these types of dresses are frequently made with satin. 

2. Ball gown

Prom Dress Ball Gown Quinceanera Dress Lace Formal Evening Gown Appliques Off Shoulder Prom Dresses Long Pink

The ball gown silhouette is one of the oldest dress styles still being worn today and one of the easiest to recognize. Ball gown styles have very wide skirts in a full-length design. This is why this design is so popular in wedding dresses and formal wear. It’s all there in the name: ball gown. This is the big, fancy dress you wear to a ball or another super formal event. Ball gowns typically have fitted bodices and they’re often made in strapless or spaghetti sleeve designs. 

3. Blouson

Adrianna Papell Women's Long Beaded Blouson Gown, Navy, 4

Blouson dresses work especially well in satin. These dresses are cinched at the waist with a slightly flaring, loose-fitting skirt. The bodice is also loose-fitting and somewhat blousy, pillowing out over the waist. This is a comfortable, flattering design that works well with multiple types of body size. 

4. Fit and flare

Tommy Hilfiger Women's Fit and Flare Dress, Marina Blue, 6

Fit and flare dresses fit around the bodice and waist, then flare quickly out from here in a wide, circle skirt design. This creates a wide, flaring skirt. This is why the fit and flare is usually a short dress style. This is a very flattering dress style for most all body shapes because it de-emphasizes the bottom half of the body while emphasizing the waist and the bust. In satin, fit and flare dresses are beautiful semi-formal or formal wear. 

5. Kimono

BABEYOND Women's Kimono Robe Long Robes with Peacock and Blossoms Printed Kimono Nightgown (Green)

The kimono is one of the most well-known dresses on the list and so popular in Japan, it is practically a symbol of the country. The kimono is over a thousand years old and was worn as everyday wear for centuries. Kimonos are dresses that wrap around the body in a specific way. They are finished with a sash that is tied around the body in a specific way. Kimonos are often made with silk but they are made with satin, too. These dresses are no longer everyday wear in Japan but they do still make an appearance at ceremonial events and they sometimes appear in Western culture, too. 

6. Maxi

OUGES Womens Long Sleeve V-Neck Wrap Waist Maxi Dress(Navy,L)

Maxi dresses are long, full-length dresses with airy, flowing skirts. The top of a maxi dress can be in nearly any style, though often these dresses are somewhat loose and airy everywhere. Maxi dresses are very popular in bohemian and casual looks. In silk, the maxi becomes a great formal look that is often seen as bridal party attire.

7. Mermaid

LALAGEN Women's Floral Lace Long Sleeve Off Shoulder Wedding Mermaid Dress Black XXL

Mermaid gowns are frequently seen at red carpets, on brides and formal events of all kinds. This dress style is form-fitting down most of the body, closely hugging every single curve from the bodice to the knees before it flares out dramatically at the bottom. Mermaid dresses can be made with any type of neckline or type of sleeves. 

8. Qipao

Women's Modern Cheongsam Maxi Dress Floral Print Short Sleeve Slim Fit Ankle Length Bodycon Qipao Tradtional Chinese Dress (Black, M)

The qipao is a centuries-old dress that appeared in China in the 1600s and it is still worn today. A pretty satin dress, the qipao is also called a cheongsam. This was a traditional, everyday dress in the 1600s and was worn through the centuries in China. The dress took on a more modern look in the 1920s and became much more widely worn in Western fashion. In traditional form, the qipao was a baggy dress with a high neck and a straight skirt. In this original version, this was a silk dress design.

Today, the qipao is a form-fitting dress with a slit on one or both sides. This dress often has short sleeves or a sleeveless design. They are commonly around knee-length. This dress continues to appear in modern fashion and in modern designs, it’s very commonly made in satin. 

9. Sheath

Calvin Klein Women's Scuba Crepe Sleeveless Princess Seam Sheath Dress, Black, 6

The sheath dress fits the body like a veritable glove, clinging to every curve and defining the waist. In silk, the sheath becomes even more clingy and sexy. This is a great night out dress for a semi-formal or formal occasion. Sheath styles make for great party dresses.

10. Slip

xxxiticat Women's Sleeveless Spaghetti Strap Satin Dress Cocktail Beach Evening Party Cowl Neck Dot Leopard Midi Dresses(GR,S)

The satin slip dress was everywhere in the 1990s, skimming down the bodies of all of Hollywood’s hot young celebs and recording industry artists. But this dress actually has its origins in 1934. It was a narrow, straight dress that fit close to the curves of the body…and it was made in slinky, shiny satin. In the 1930s, slip dresses were a long satin dress design, usually floor-length. The 1990s crave focused mainly on satin mini dress slip styles, though the dress is worn at all lengths. Slip dresses are always made in silk or satin and they’re usually made with spaghetti straps. That’s because these elegant gowns are meant to look like slips, the thing you wear under the dress. In black satin, this dress style is particularly sexy.

11. Wrap

Berydress Women's Elegant Draped V Neck Knee Length Sheath Wedding Party Night Out Work Black Wrap Dress with 3/4 Sleeves (L, 6083-Black)

Wrap dresses literally wrap around the body, crisscrossing in the front and cinching around the waist with a belt that is usually attached to the dress. This is a very simple style that’s also very elegant and suited to all occasions. Wrap dresses are known for being suited to almost any body type because they hug the curves and define the waist. The skirt is a little bit looser, creating a comfortable fit. In silk, wrap dresses really cling to those curves. Wrap designs can be any length, from mini to midi dress to even longer designs.


Looking at satin dresses and learning about the different styles is one thing. Now, how do you wear the right satin dresses and keep them looking great? There’s still a lot to learn about satin and we’ve got a lot of answers to the most commonly asked questions about dresses made from this beautiful fabric.

Groom and bride in white satin dress

What are the advantages and disadvantages of satin?

Satin is beautiful material that is soft and shiny. It hangs beautifully and it looks amazing. IT can be dyed any color. It looks amazing in dress designs. Satin has a very luxurious look to it, even though it can be made from affordable fabrics using relatively simple means. 

However, satin is hard to sew and difficult to work with. It also doesn’t take well to damage. Sating snags easily and shows needle holes easily. A single pulled thread and ruin the look of a satin garment. Most types of satin also aren’t machine washable, which can make it a real chore.

Are satin dresses in style?

Satin has been a highly prized material through the centuries and it has been popular in dressmaking for hundreds of years. But doesn’t that mean it’s super old-fashioned?

Satin is actually a timeless fabric that continues to appear in the most modern dress designs. Satin dresses continue to appear on runways, at weddings and on red carpets. To get a look at the latest satin dress styles, follow popular celebrities and fashion accounts on social media websites and stay up-to-date with red carpet coverage.                                                                                 

Are satin dresses flattering?

Satin dresses are definitely popular. They’re made in a lot of different styles. They’re seen at weddings, formal gatherings big events. They’re sexy at ladies’ night out and they’re tempting when on a date. But…they definitely are not flattering on all bodies all the time. The secret o wearing satin is to get a great fit. If you want a satin dress that looks flattering on your, start with finding the right type of dress to look flattering on your shape.

If you’re heavier around the hips and have more of a pear shape, look for dresses that cinch at the waist but have full skirts. A line dresses re a great option. A dress that adds more volume up top, such as a dress with a cowl neck or long sleeves, is a great look for pear-shaped bodies.

Women with rectangular bodies, more slender shapes without a lot of curves, a satin minidress will look amazing. A straight style, like a shift, will work well on you. Any dress style with a cinched waist will help you look curvier. Structured dresses work very well on rectangular body types.

Hourglass shapes look great in wrap dresses that show off those curves and later that hourglass shape. Maxi dresses help create a softer look if you don’t want to display every curve. 

Apple body shapes, women who are thicker in the waist area, benefit from dresses with higher waistlines. Fit and flare dresses that define the waist are also flattering on this shape.

Can satin dresses be altered?

Satin is a sleek, smooth material. This makes it very hard to sew and that makes alterations very tricky. Most of the time, hemlines on satin dresses can be altered. Seams can also be taken in to achieve a better fit. Sleeves can be shortened as well. However, other types of alternations may be very difficult or even impossible. Talk to a professional tailor about changes you want to make to find out if they’re possible.

What kind of sleeves and necklines do satin dresses have?

Satin dresses are made with all different neckline and sleeve styles. Because satin can be cut and styled into any shape, satin dresses can have all sorts of different designs. That includes everything from spaghetti strap to long sleeve designs with every type of neckline possible. Many types of dresses can be made in satin, and that includes dresses with all different sleeve and neck styles.

How do you style a satin dress?

Satin dresses can be worn in so many different ways. They can be casual, semi-formal or formal, depending on how you style them.  Add a leather jacket and boots to create an edgy vibe. Wear a denim jacket and cowboy boots, or flip flops, to create a casual country look. 

Wear a satin dress with high heels to look elegant and glamorous. Jewelry like a statement necklace or statement earrings can put a great final detail on this look. For a more semi-formal look, try a cropped jacket and strappy heels, sandals or flats with more delicate jewelry.

Can you iron a satin dress? How do you get wrinkles out of a satin dress?

Stin is very wrinkle-resistant when compared to other fabrics so it won’t need to be ironed often. But when it does, keep the temperature between 110 and 150 degrees F. Iron satin clothing with the ugly side up. Apply the heat on this sie, not on the pretty side of the fabric.                             

How do you care for satin clothes?

Caring for satin is a little tricky. If satin is made from synthetic fabrics or if it is sateen, satin made from cotton, you can wash this at home. Satin made from silk, however, should be dry cleaned only. 

If you’re going to wash your satin do it on the delicate cycle or do it by hand. Use cold water only. Do not hang or wring satin to dry because it can lose its shape very easily. You don’t want to put it in the dryer, either. Instead, lay it out flat on a clean towel.