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Dress Types: An A-Z Of The Different Styles Of Dresses

Let’s be honest – there are so many different styles of dresses in the world, that it’s hard knowing which style to go for when sewing a new project.

If you’re here because you need to know more about the various dress styles, you’ll learn a lot from this guide.

And if you’re here because you’re looking for inspiration for your next dress project, you’ll love the sewing patterns that I link to for each dress type too!

This in-depth guide into the different styles – with high quality photos as well! – will help you to know all there is about the different types and styles of dresses in 2021!

To that end, because of the high number of images, the page may take a little while to load – do be patient, it’s worth it! 😎

Please note that the images included in this guide are paid stock images and should not be downloaded, copied or used without a subscription to the paid stock photo site.

There are many more styles than included here, but I’ve created a list of almost 70 for now.

Each dress type is linked to a full description and dress sewing pattern suggestions further down so that you can jump to the dress style you’d like to learn more about – but I think the real joy is in reading through them all with a cup of coffee and a notebook to jot down any ideas that come to you for your own sewing projects!

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase at no further cost to you.

Remember that a dress is made up of a bodice front and back, and a skirt front and back – when these pattern blocks are connected and developed, they created dresses.

You too can create your own blocks to use as a starting point by working through my pattern drafting tutorials.

If you love learning more about the different types of garments I have some great guides for you:

A Brief History

Dresses have been around as a form of dress for women since the middle ages, but it is only since the early 20th century that we were given dress options with significantly more style and versatility!

A-Z – The Different Styles Of Dresses

styles of dresses

Alright.. let’s move onto a description of each dress style and a great photo too so that you can better visualise what each dress looks like!

Note that the links to sewing patterns in each section are a mix – to Esty, Amazon and of course Indie Pattern designers too!

And if any of the neckline types don’t make sense, do check out my guide to neckline types and styles!

A Line Dress

A line type of dress
© Canva Pro

An A-line dress is similar to an a-line skirt, with the silhouette flaring outwards from the armhole and not the hips as we’re used to for A line skirts – and the flare can be very subtle or quite dramatic, to make that typical ‘A’ shape.

This dress shape is particularly great for anyone who feels that they are bottom heavy in body shape, working particularly well for pear shaped figures.

The term A-Line was first used by the fashion designer Christian Dior in 1955 for the label of his spring collection and were a very popular style of dress throughout the 1950s and 1960s!

Popular A Line Dress Patterns:

Apron Dress

We all know an apron as something worn to protect our clothing when working in the kitchen, garden or any other type of workroom.

But, apron dresses are having a bit of a moment when designed and worn as though a dress – and I particularly love the Simplicity pattern I have linked to below!

Sleeveless and loose fitting, an apron dress like this one is perfect for summer months!

If you decided to draft and sew your own apron dress, do not be afraid to add on details like ruffles, pleats or other fabric manipulation techniques to make it a little more unique to you!

Popular Apron Dress Patterns:

Asymmetric Dress

An asymmetric style of dress
© Anton Oparin

Asymmetric dresses usually have an asymmetric hem or neckline, but anything that happens on just the one side of the garment can be considered asymmetric – one sleeve? One collar? You have an asymmetric dress!

This style of dress is usually more elaborate in haute couture and designer fashion shows, though that doesn’t stop mainstream brands from coming up with their own asymmetric dress versions!

Popular Asymmetric Dress Patterns:

Baby Doll Dress

Originally the baby doll was a nightgown, trimmed with lace, ruffles, bows and ribbons, and worn as a nighttime negligée.

It was designed by American designer Sylvia Pedlar, who it is said designed them back in 1942 when fabrics were in short supply due to the Second World War!

The baby doll dress as we know it today is a super short, loose fitting dress perfect for summer days and bare legs.

Back in the fall of 2019, the fashion shows had a fair few baby doll dresses ready for Spring Summer 2020!

Popular Baby Doll Dress Patterns:

Ball Gown

Hold one shouldered ballgown style of dress
© Evgeniia Litovchenko

I’m not sure there are many real life situations that any of us reading this would need a ballgown, but isn’t the one above just a sight?

Ballgowns have a fitted bodice and a very full gown that contracts starkly with the nipped in waist of the bodice.

If you are inclined to create a ballgown for yourself, here are some sewing pattern suggestions to get you started, but I really think that a ballgown dress is something to be drafted, draped and developed for something more unique and creative!

Popular Ballgown Dress Patterns:

Balloon Dress

The balloon dress is created by attaching the hem of the dress to a band of fabric making up the lining, which creates a balloon effect as the skirt puffs up and under to attach to the lining.

I couldn’t actually find any balloon dress sewing patterns for adults I’m afraid – if you know of any, do let me know in the comments and I’ll add them in!

Bandage Dress

A black bandage style of dress.
© Kateryna Govorushchenko

The original bandage dress was a body-con style of dress designed by fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa in the 1980s.

Hervé Leger then designed his own version of the bandage dress in the early 2000’s and these have been worn throughout the decades since by celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Victoria Beckham, Miranda Kerr, Jenifer Lopez and of course the Kardashians.

Bardot Dress

Different styles of dresses - a Bardot style dress!
© Canva Pro

The Bardot dress is a style of dress named after Brigitte Bardot, a sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, and is more about the neckline rather than the overall dress shape!

The sleeves of a Bardot dress fall off the shoulder, baring the collarbone area and shoulders.

Sleeves can be long or short, the dress length can also vary, but the Bardot dress is always the same – showing off your shoulders and collarbone with a wide open neckline!

Popular Bardot Dress Patterns:

Blazer Dress

Different styles of dresses - a blazer dress!
© Canva Pro

Blazers are smart, and so too are blazer dress styles!

Usually they’ll be double breasted like the example above, which helps to keep things decent.

You’ll also notice that blazer dresses are often quite tailored making them great for work, or if made from a more luxurious fabric, they’re great for evening wear with a bit of edge!

Popular Blazer Dress Patterns:

Bodycon Dress

Super close fitting – not unlike the bandage dress we looked at further up – the bodycon dress is a dress type usually worn by women who have a lot of confidence, because of the tightness of the dress.

It shows off any curves and not all women feel confident wearing these dresses.

A bodycon dress is a tight figure-hugging dress, often made from stretchy material.The name derives from “body confidence” or, originally, “body conscious”, transformed into Japanese in the 1980s as “bodikon”.


I’ve listed three sewing patterns for bodycon style dresses below, but there’s also this great bodycon dress tutorial from SewMag that will help you make your own version!

Popular Bodycon Dress Patterns:

Boho Dress

Boho dresses are very feminine in style, often made from light and floaty fabrics.

You may see boho dresses with flowing sleeves or lace, but the overall vibe of them is one of chilled out hippy-era!

I’ve found five boho style dress patterns for you below!

Popular Boho Dress Patterns:

Bouffant Gown

Diana, Princess of Wales - Illustration of the bouffant style dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel in 1981.
© Dictionary of Fashion & Fashion Designers

This is dress type that came about in mid-19th century, and after spending some decades out of favour, was then revived in the 1930s as an evening gown style!

It’s also said that the New Look collection of 1947 from Christian Dior helped to revive the bouffant style even further, while the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales was very much a bouffant style dress back in 1981!

Camisole Dress

Camisole dresses have thin, almost rouleau like straps and are mostly cut with v-neck or round neckline.

Often you’ll find that camisole dresses are cut on the bias in woven fabrics to remove the need for shaping with darts.

That said it is completely possible to create a camisole inspired dress like the Linnet version below!

Popular Camisole Dress Patterns:

Coat Dress

A coat dress is a dress type that looks a lot like a coat, with the modern day version emerging over 100 years ago in 1910, and then made more popular by Diana, Princess of Wales throughout the late 80s and 90s.

I’ve included just one link to a coat dress sewing pattern below, but any coat pattern could be developed into a dress style if you have a little confidence and make up a toile!

Popular Coat Dress Patterns:

Cocktail Dress

Ah, the cocktail dress! Who doesn’t love a cocktail dress for a night out on the town?

Back in the 1920s, cocktails – the drink invented in the US – became popular, which meant a new style of dress was needed for the ‘cocktail hour’.

Cocktail dresses in the 1920s were short, made from more luxurious fabrics and cute to show off the arms and shoulders.

The cocktail dress would later be known as a ‘little black dress’ when created from black fabrics!

Popular Cocktail Dress Patterns:

Cocoon Dress

A cocoon shaped dress is one which has an oval-like silhouette, much like a cocoon.

They’re a very comfy style of dress to wear, and often vary in length from just below the knee to floor length.

Popular Coccon Dress Patterns:

Corset Dress

The original corset was worn in the 19th century to create a small waist, which was viewed as very fashionable at the time.

It was of course worn under a dress rather than part of the dress, and were constructed with whale bone to hold the shape. The corset would then be laced up – either at the front or the back – to suck in the waist fo the wearer.

The corset was soon thrown out in the early 1900s by the designers Poiret, Lucile and Vionnet.

The corset saw many small comebacks over the decades that followed, but it was only in the 1990s that the corset was attached to a skirt and made popular as a corset dress.

Corset dresses of today are designed with a corset overlaid – or designed into – a dress and can have lacing working up the front or back of the dress.

Popular Corset Dress Patterns:

Debutante Dress

A debutante dress is worn by a debutante for her coming of age cotillion.

Debutante cotillions were traditional coming of age celebrations for eligible young ladies ready to be presented to society as ready for marriage.


Traditionally, a debutante dress would be white, and ballgown style. The dress would be worn with white gloves and pearls.

Denim Dress

Different styles of dresses - a denim style dress!
© Canva Pro

Denim, a woven fabric types using a twill weave structure, was invented more than a century and a half ago, becoming the go to fabric for workwear garments for it’s strength and durability – I’m talking back in 1873!

Since the 1940s however, it has been used as a design feature for many casual types of dresses, making it a dress style in it’s own right!

Whether a shirt style, pinafore style of even ballgown style, denim dresses have a very unique look!

Popular Denim Dress Patterns:

Dirndl Dress

Different styles of dresses - the dirndl dress!
© Roland Stollner

The dirndl dress is regarded as folk costume, and traditionally worn by women and girls in German speaking areas of the Alps, and neighbouring areas.

The dirndl dress has several parts:

  1. Blouse
  2. Bodice
  3. Skirt
  4. Apron

And they are put on the body in that order!

Popular Dirndl Dress Patterns:

Draped Dress

Draped dress type - Rodarte Spring / Summer 2010 collection
© Vogue Collections No.09

I recall an old university friend being ‘blown away’ by the draped dresses created by Rodarte for their SS2010 collection. He was so impressed that a piece he then when on to design for a draping project was almost a perfect replica for the Mulleavy sisters design.

Ancient Babylonia dresses are a draped style of dress - perhaps the first?
© Max Tilke Costume Pattern and Designs

Looking at the image above, we could say that the original draped dresses were created during the Ancient Babylonia period!

10A/B is a drawing of the front and back of a stature of priest-king Gudea in the Louvre museum in Paris. The prince is said to be depicted wearing a Sumerian mantle thrown over one shoulder – like a draped piece of fabric!

11 is an attempt to reconstruct the Sumeric cloak on a living model bu means of an Abyssinian Shama (1917BC).

Max Tilke, Costume Pattern and Designs

Clearly, the way draped dresses are created in the 21st century is very different!

Here are three sewing patterns for draped dresses to get you started!

Popular Draped Dress Patterns:

Empire Waist Dress

Different styles of dresses - an empire waist dress!
© Oleg Gekman

An empire line dress is a style of dress where the waistline has been moved significantly up the bodice, to within a hair’s width of the under-bust, and very fitted!

The rest of the dress then flows down from this fitted part.

The original style is from the late 18th century, but was made popular by Empress Josephine wearing the dress style during the Napoleonic Empire (1804-1814)!

While not the original style from the 18th century, you’ll see that in the dress example above, the waist seam has been raised to just below the bust and so highlights the style well.

Popular Empire Line Dress Patterns:

Evening Dress

An evening dress is also known as evening wear, and this term goes all the way back to the 15th century and the royal courts.

An evening dress is made from a luxurious fabric, making it a dress to be worn for special occasions rather than ever day.

The evening dress differs from a ballgown in that the latter is a fixed silhouette – close fitting bodice and large skirt – while evening dresses can be a variety of different styles and lengths!

And evening dress is usually worn in the 21st century to attend events such as charity balls, opera, black tie events and functions.

Popular Evening Dress Patterns:

Flapper Dress

Different styles of dresses - a flapper dress!
© Olena Zaskochenko

The flapper dress has been referred to as:

A fashion for boyish figures … tubular dress which de-emphasized waist, hips and breast…

Women & Fashion: A New Look (Evans & Thornton 1989, p. 113)

In fact, ‘flapper’ was a term used to describe any young woman in the early 1900s who had short hair, wore short skirts (knee length) with their stockings rolled at the knees – they were seen as being a ‘dizzy young thing’!

The flapper dress was an evolution of this look – straight down and loose fitting, there was nothing about the dress to accentuate a woman’s bust.

The flapper dress style saw a bit of a comeback after the success of The Great Gatsby film in 2013.

Popular Flapper Dress Patterns:

Halter-neck Dress

Different styles of dresses - a halter neck style dress!
© Canva Pro

Halterneck dresses have no sleeves nor much of a back bodice, instead having a front bodice section that is drawn up and either tied or secured with a fastening at the centre back neck.

The back and shoulders are left bare and the front can provide a lot of coverage, or very little.

Halterneck dresses are suitable for all times of the year as long as you have a coverup for the bag during those colder months!

The four halter neck dress sewing patterns below are all quite lovely!

Popular Halterneck Dress Patterns:

Handkerchief Dress

Madeleine Vionnet created a stunning handkerchief dress almost 100 years ago, in 1922. It was made of white crepe and cut on the bias – something she was famous for – and used bias cut rectangles and triangles which were then sewn together.

Nowadays when we think of a handkerchief dress we think of a dress that has a skirt with four points hanging lower than the remainder of the hemline.

Like a square handkerchief… imagine picking it up, right in the centre of the square. What you’ll see is the four corners hanging down, and the edges of the fabric connecting those corners sitting higher up.

This is in effect how a handkerchief dress (or skirt type for that matter) is created.

This is a super easy dress style to design and make from scratch at home, but for sewing beginners who would rather use a pattern, I’ve included several handkerchief dress patterns below!

Popular Handkerchief Dress Patterns:

High Low Dress

Different styles of dresses - a printed high low dress style!
© Juan Nel

High low dresses are a style of dress where the hem is not uniform all around, instead there is a hem that is higher at one point and lower at another.

Usually the front hem is shorter, and the back hem of the dress longer.

This hem style was originally made popular during the Victorian period!

Popular High-Low Dress Patterns:

Kaftan Dress

Different styles of dresses - a kaftan style dress!
© Canva Pro

Kaftans (also spelt as caftan) originate from the asiatic region, having been worn for thousands of years.

Historically, kaftans were worn by Moroccans in the 15th century, by Syrian Amirs and Bedouin Sheikhs in the 17th century and by the sultans of the Ottoman Empire too – meaning it has a very long history!

In the 21st century, the kaftan is a very loose fitting style of dress, similar in cut to a tunic, and more popular in the summer months when we long for something light and floaty in the hot days to throw on over our swimsuits!

Much like a kimono dress (see the next dress type on this list) the western idea of a kaftan is created by draping the fabric over the shoulders, and then stitching a seam at both sides up from the hem towards the underarm. This seam is straight, with no shaping!

Popular Kaftan Dress Patterns:

Kimono Dress

Different styles of dresses - a kimono style dress!
© Canva Pro

The Kimono has been a part of Japanese dress since the Heian period (794-1185) though the style of kimono we are familiar with today were first worn in the Momoyama era (1573-1603).

Kimonos are straight seamed garments, made from long lengths of cloth which drape over the shoulder down towards the floor.

I could talk a lot about kimonos but not everyone is as fascinated as me by this dress style, so I heartily recommend this amazing book about kimonos that I received several years ago as a gift.

Popular Kimono Dress Patterns:

Lace Dress

Different styles of dresses - a lace style dress!
© Canva Pro

Lace dresses are something to admire, whether as a beautiful wedding gown, or a simple crocheted lace dress for summer months.

That said, lace is often a feature of more casual dry dresses too, with lace being added in panels rather than used for the full garment.

If you’ve never worked with lace before, do check out my guide to lace fabrics here – the information will definitely help!

My graduate collection for my BA Fashion Design degree featured lots of lace, and whether you decide to sew a dress made fully of lace, strategically insert lace panels, or even hand crochet your own lace dress, I’m sure it will be beautiful!

These three patterns use lace in their own way and will be very inspiring I’m sure!

Popular Lace Dress Patterns:

Little Black Dress

Different styles of dresses - a little black dress!
© Yuliia Isaieva

Could any list of different types of dresses be complete without the LBD? 🤔

Of course not!

The little back dress has been around since the cocktail dress became fashionable, and is a versatile dress to keep in your wardrobe, working for us women during the day and the night!

Maxi Dress

A maxi dress is a dress style where the hem hits the ankle or floor!

The term is usually applied to more casual dress types, using fabrics that would not be used for evening gowns.

Cotton and polyester are often the fabric of choice, and a maxi dress can be designed with any number of necklines and sleeve styles!

Here’s a selection of different maxi dress sewing patterns for you to feast your eyes on!

Popular Maxi Dress Patterns:

Mermaid Dress

A mermaid dress is so called because of the shape this style of dress has; close fitting from the bodice down to below the knee where it flares out (often very dramatically!) creating a mermaid effect.

If you were planning to create a mermaid dress at home, you could start with a fitted woven pattern and then create gores which you would then add lots of flare too on the lower skirt section!

Popular Mermaid Dress Patterns:

Midi Dress

A midi-dress sits below the knee, usually at above mid calf, which is more flattering point – hence the name – midi!

Aside from the length, this type of dress can incorporate any style mentioned on this list, from Bardot through to sweater.

The key thing is that the hem sits around the mid calf point!

Popular Midi Dress Patterns:

Mini Dress

Who doesn’t love a mini dress? Granted, I may sometimes feel too old to wear one now, but this dress style falling to mid thigh length is a keeper!

Of course, the mini-skirt was made famous back in the 1960s by Mary Quant, but who invented the mini-dress?

Well… flapper dresses in the late 1920s were the first dress styles to really venture above the knee, but whether we would refer to those as mini-dresses is something to think about!

Popular Mini Dress Patterns:

Off The Shoulder Dress

Different styles of dresses - an off the shoulder dress!
© Ina Reviaka

Dresses that are off the shoulder have sleeves, but they do not cover the shoulder, rather the shoulders are bare and the sleeves sit lower down the arm.

Dresses can have full length sleeves down to the wrist or simple straps that sit on the upper arm.

This dress style shows off your shoulders and collarbone area.

Popular Off The Shoulder Dress Patterns:

One Shoulder Dress

A dress that covers only one shoulder is easily an asymmetric dress, but it’s also a dress style in its own right.

Whether your one shouldered dress is mini- midi- or maxi length, the one shouldered dress has history behind it!

Popular One Shoulder Dress Patterns:

Party Dress

The party dress is a dress style that is worn to any type of party, which makes this dress quite versatile!

It could be any of the dress types mentioned in this guide – but the little black dress is probably the most obvious.

Popular Party Dress Patterns:

Peasant Dress

When I was teenager, I loved a peasant dress. I used to wear the type that had an elasticated neckline, so I could push it down my shoulders and feel older than I was.

In fact, I have a peasant style top that I stole from my Ma back in the early 1990s and still wear to this day!

While not designed to sit off the shoulder, peasant dresses often do because of the elasticated or drawstring neckline (my top version has both).

Popular Peasant Dress Patterns:

Pencil Dress

The original pencil skirt has been popular since the 1940s, and is cut in one straight line from the hip to the hem.

The pencil dress however, can have a seam at the waist to connect the bodice and skirt sections, or be cut as one piece.

Because of the close fitting nature of a pencil dress, there is usually a need for a vent or slit to allow movement.

Popular Pencil Dress Patterns:

Peplum Dress

Peplum dresses have a frill – sometimes very dramatic, oftentimes quite minimal – added to the waist and falling over the hips.

They first became popular in the 19th century.

I’m personally not a fan of peplum style dresses, though in all honesty, I’ve never worn one, so they could be perfect for my body shape!

Popular Peplum Dress Patterns:

Pillowcase Dress

The pillowcase dress has been around for over 100 years now, and is traditionally made from pillowcases, sacks and anything that has the rectangular shape we know of pillowcases.

Easy to make, this is a style created for younger girls rather than women.

Pinafore Dress

Originating from around the 1940s, the pinafore dress is a 20th century dress worn over a shirt with either a scoop or square cut neckline!

Pinafor dresses have seen a comeback in the last few years, with almost every indie sewing pattern company creating their own version!

Popular Pinafore Dress Patterns:

Pouf Dress

The original pouf skirt was created by fashion designer Christian Lacroix.

In dress form, the skirt section is full, pouffy and short, and often tucked up at the back!

Princess Line Dress

The traditional princess line dress was a sleek fitting dress without a waist seam.

It was made famous in the 1870s by designer Charles Frederick Worth, and was considered one of the very first examples of a bodycon style dress!

I struggled to find any dress sewing patterns that were true princess line in style, so I’ve linked to dresses that use princess seams instead!

Popular Princess Seam Dress Patterns:

Prom Dress

We know prom to be a party event for high school students, and the dresses worn to a prom are often referred to as prom dresses!

The style of prom dress is usually more if an evening style dress.

Popular Prom Dress Patterns:

Qipao Dress

Different styles of dresses - a qipao style dress!
© Canva Pro

Also known as a Cheongsam, the Qipao dress is a figure hugging dress with a high neck – created with a separate collar piece – a side slit on the skirt and is traditionally made from silk.

During the 1920s and 19302 it was often referred as the Mandarin gown – the collar is in fact a mandarin collar! – though the reason for the reference was down to it being worn by upper class women in Shanghai.

Popular Qipao Dress Patterns:

Sari / Saree Dress

Indian woman wearing a Sari style of dress
© Zdenka Darula

A sari is not technically a dress, but a piece of fabric that is approximately 40 inches / 1m wide, and up to 7m in length.

It is usually a beautifully woven silk, in bright colours, and is draped over a blouse, and tucked and folded into the waist of a petticoat to create a skirt, before bring draped over shoulder to finish.

Popular Sari Dress Patterns:

Sheath Dress

Originating from ancient Egypt, the modern sheath dress is a figure hugging dress worn frequently by actresses in the 1930s which made the style very popular!

The most famous version of a sheath dress is of course the black Givenchy version worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at tiffany’s!

A sheath dress has dart shaping to create a fitted look, and the darts are often fish eye darts.

A sheath dress may or may not include a waist seam, but the dress itself usually sits at knee length and is either sleeveless or sewn with short sleeves only.

Popular Sheath Dress Patterns:

Shift Dress

The 19th century version of a shift dress was smocked at the shoulders and more of a chemise.

It then went on to be worn as a form of nightwear before finally becoming a very popular and simple style of dress in the 1950s and 1960s.

One of the most popular dress types, a shift dress is very simple, hanging from the shoulders – with or without sleeves – and with very little shaping, making it quite a straight dress style.

Popular Shift Dress Patterns:

Shirt Dress

Shirt dresses look much like a shirt, only lengthened to be worn as one piece – this removes the need for a separate lower body garment.

Much like a shirt, shirt dresses have many of the same parts of a shirt:

  • Shirt collar
  • Yoke
  • Button opening at centre front

It’s a casual style of dress.

Popular Shirt Dress Patterns:

Shirtwaister Dress

The shirtwaister dress of the 1940s was a knee length tailored dress with buttons down to the waist, sleeves and often added a belt to to keep it fitted.

Popular Shirtwaister Dress Patterns:

Skater Dress

The skater dress is a style of dress made popular by ice skaters in the 1980s.

It’s a short circle skirt, cut high on the waist and attached to a close fitting bodice.

Typically, a skater dress is made from lighter weight fabrics to allow for more movement.

Slip Dress

Who here used to have a slip that they wore as an undergarment? The slip dress is very similar to the slips of old, and have had many a fashion moment on the catwalks of Galliano, Dior and others!

The slip dress is usually cut on the bias to remove the need for darts and bust shaping.

Popular Slip Dress Patterns:

Smock Dress

Much like the smock we wore for art classes, the smock dress is just as big and loose fitting.

Popular Smock Dress Patterns:

Strapless Dress

A strapless dress is one that has no straps at all. There is nothing holding the dress up above the bust, leaving the upper chest area bare.

Popular Strapless Dress Patterns:


Different styles of dresses - a summer  sundress!
© Vadim Drobot

A sundress is one that bares the shoulders and fits at the waist, though straps can be spaghetti strap width like the StyleArc pattern below, or wider like the Fiona sundress from Closet Core Patterns.

Sundresses can come in different lengths, from just above the knee to full on maxi length!

Popular Sundress Dress Patterns:

Sweater Dress

Different styles of dresses - the sweater dress!
© Irina Gromovataya

While sweater dresses can be created from knit fabrics, if you plan to make a sweater dress for yourself, you may want to learn hand knitting and use a knitting pattern instead.

My friend Toni over at Blissfully Crafted has this free knitting course for beginners that is a great way to learn!

I love the look of a sweater dress in the winter, worn with nice thick tights and boots, it certainly helps me feel more feminine than the usual jeans jeans and jumpers!

Popular Sweater Dress Patterns:

Swing Dress

Introduced in the 1930s, the swing dress became crazily popular in the 1960s. Its knee length circular skirt was perfect for dancing in.

Now, the dress style is often recreated with home sewing patterns by sewists looking to add some retro styles dresses to their wardrobe!

Popular Swing Dress Patterns:

Tea Dress

This dress style originally came about as a type of dress worn by women in the 19th century when hosting in the home or having tea, and over the years, each decade has its own ‘style’ of tea dress.

Quite often we associate a tea style dress with 1940s version – polka dot, frills and a just above the knee hem – but it is a very classic dress style with a full circle skirt falling to around the mid calf point.

Popular Tea Dress Patterns:

T Shirt Dress

Different styles of dresses - a pink t-shirt style dress!
© Canva Pro

T Shirt dresses are a style of dress that looks like a lengthened tee.

Popular T-Shirt Dress Patterns:

Tent Dress

The original ‘tent’ shape was of course created by fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga who created a coat in 1951 that was a very wide, quite exaggerated A shape.

Much like the tent coat, tent dresses are made from a lot of fabric, which you only really notice when trying to iron one!

Popular Tent Dress Patterns:

Tube Dress

Worn by the likes of me and my friends as teenagers going clubbing in Stevenage, the tube dress is a piece of fabric made from knit fabrics and is cut to be super tight and clingy.

When you look at a tube dress off the body, it is simply a tube of fabric with either one seam at centre back, or two side seams.

There will be a strong stretch element to the fabric chosen, to make sure it ‘clings’ properly.

Tunic Dress

Originally worn by both the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans, the tunic dress was a short sleeveless dress style with a straight shape to it.

In the 20th century, the tunic became fashionable again in the 1960s, and is still popular now in the 21st century!

There are many tunic dress sewing patterns, but I pulled five that get great reviews!

Popular Tunic Dress Patterns:

Wedding Dress

Different styles of dresses - the wedding dress!
© Artur Verkhovetskiy

Worn by a bride on her wedding day, a wedding dress can be an elaborate dress with layers of lace and organza, or something more subtle. The type of dress worn also depends upon where in the world the bride might come from.

Here in the UK, it is usual for brides to wear more traditional white dresses, a tradition started in 1840 by Queen Victoria when she married her chap Albert of Saxe-Coburg, though this is being upended as the norm as younger generations marry.

Were I to marry, I’d most likely go for the dress above.

Popular Wedding Dress Patterns:

Wrap Dress

A white DVF wrap dress - an iconic style of dress
© Anton Oparin

The wrap dress above is a Diane Von Fürstenberg, the designer who made the wrap dress famous back in the early 1970s. She designed hers to always fall at the same point – knee length! – and they were usually made from jersey that clings to the body.

We could however claim that Elsa Schiaparelli was the real inventor of the wrap dress back in the 1930s.

I myself love a good wrap dress. They’re an easy to wear dress style, open at the front, and closed with the use of ties that wrap around the body.

Quite a few sewing pattern designers have created wrap dress sewing patterns, here’s a pick of the best!

Popular Wrap Dress Patterns:

Yoke Dress

A yoke dress (not yolk – that’s part of an egg!) means that there is a yoke section on the upper bodice part of a dress. It incorporates the neckline and part or all of the shoulder too, on the front and back pieces.

Using yokes on dresses can be a great way of pivoting darts into seamlines (a form of dart manipulation) but they are also found on skirts too, along the waistband area.

Popular Yoke Dress Patterns:

Different Dress Styles

Wow. What an epic guide to the different styles of dresses! Do you feel inspired to make one for yourself? Which dress style will you be cracking on with first?

I’ve linked in 198 different dress sewing patterns, so there is sure to be at least one that you’ll love!

Let me know in the comments – and do share this guide with anyone you know who might enjoy the read!

Share to Pinterest or Facebook below!


Sunday 20th of June 2021

Totally love the Simplicity 8769 Women's Medieval Cosplay and Ren Faire Costume Coat Sewing Pattern, Sizes 6-14 you recommended,but what? 6-14? Hello?

Eve Tokens

Sunday 20th of June 2021

Hi Susanne! Unfortunately it was the only one I could find available and in stock at the time - I try not to link to out of stock items to avoid disappointment! I am very aware that the size is TINY, but I decided at least people can bookmark and return to see of the bigger sizes were in stock in due course!


Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

That was so interesting! It was particularly nice to read about the history of certain dresses. Thank you for creating this!

Eve Tokens

Thursday 4th of February 2021

Ah, I'm so happy it was enjoyed Claudia! I do have more historical information on the dress styles to add in in due course. At the point of publishing, I'd been writing, adding photos and researching suitable dress sewing patterns the whole week! I was done! But I am so glad to know the work was appreciated! Thank you!

Valerie Hart

Saturday 30th of January 2021

Wow that was amazing. So much information about the different styles. I didn’t realise there are so many different styles of dresses. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into this. I need to read this again and take so much more time doing so.

Eve Tokens

Saturday 30th of January 2021

Ah, thanks so much for your lovely comment Valerie! I'm very happy to create such in-depth and helpful content when it's so appreciated!