We're Already Shopping for Spring Dresses—These Are Our Go-To Brands (2024)

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Amazon, Anthropologie, Aritzia—and that's just the beginning.

By

Emily Cieslak

We're Already Shopping for Spring Dresses—These Are Our Go-To Brands (1)

Emily Cieslak

Emily Cieslak is an associate commerce editor for Byrdie.

Byrdie's Editorial Guidelines

Updated on 10/24/23 12:00PM

Fact checked by

Erika Reals

We're Already Shopping for Spring Dresses—These Are Our Go-To Brands (2)

Fact checked byErika Reals

Erika is the Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce for Byrdie.

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It wasn’t too long ago when shopping for a dress meant spending hours at your local department store, sifting through racks and racks. Thanks to the internet, though, you can now shop for a dress for every occasion and aesthetic while in your sweats on the sofa.

And still, with endless options, the search for the perfect dress can be overwhelming. “Dresses in varying silhouettes, lengths, and fabrications can make it challenging to know what's right for you,” says Whitney Keefe, a stylist at Stitch Fix.

Besides the style of dress, the online shopping experience can have a big impact on your purchase. To help you find the best retailer for your next order, we surveyed more than 500 editors on where they love to shop for dresses online. We asked questions about the clothing quality, price point, and size selection, as well as shipping, returns, and overall customer service. After analyzing the responses, we narrowed down our list to the 13 best sites to buy dresses for any occasion.

Best Overall

Anthropologie

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Sometimes you know exactly what you're looking for when shopping online. Other times, you just want to browse and get inspired. Anthropologie makes both options easy for customers. We love this retailer for its variety and unique selection from many brands, including Farm Rio, Ciao Lucia, and Faithfull The Brand, to name a few. The site has also made efforts to offer more inclusive sizing, with a lot of dresses coming in plus or petite sizes. Whether we are looking for a casual sundress or silky number to wear to a wedding or perhaps a wedding dress itself (yep, Anthro has an entire bridal shop), we know we can find it online.

So many options can make shopping overwhelming, but the site lets you filter by occasion, size, length, neckline, and more. And we love how by hovering our mouse over the image of a dress, we can see it at another angle before clicking into it, which saves us a ton of time. We recommend creating an account, so that you can add dresses to your wishlist if you want to wait to buy something when it goes on sale. Anthro is known for its generous sales that often feature items up to 40 percent off.

Shipping is free when you spend $50, but thanks to the brand's wide network of stores, you can request free in-store pickup on many items. We also love how we can return online orders at the store for free or return it through the mail for a $6 fee. We found Anthropologie's return policy to be reasonable—it requests that merchandise purchased in-store be returned within 30 days. If returnedafter30 days, Anthropologie will issue a merchandise credit at the original selling price. For online orders, the 30-day window starts on the day of delivery.

Size Range: XXS–4X, plus petite and plus sizes | Shipping: Free shipping over $50 | Return Policy: Full refund within 30 days

Best Budget

Amazon

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While Amazon certainly offers some designer and higher-end options, it's the place to dress shop if you're wanting to get the best bang for your buck. Not only are there so many affordable options, but Amazon offers the most extensive reviews and star ratings, so you can get a fairly accurate reading of the product's quality and fit. And, of course, if you're an Amazon Prime member you get free two-day shipping, which beats most other retailers.

Amazon has saved us many times when we needed to get a dress at the last minute. We could order a few styles and sizes and easily return whatever didn't work out. Amazon Prime also has a newish offering aptly called "Try Before You Buy," which gives you a seven-day try-on period, so you can test out various sizes and colors and only get charged for what you keep (it also includes free returns). It's clear that Amazon is making fashion a higher priority on the site, with curated style stories that can help you shop for special occasions and seasons.

Size Range: Varies | Shipping: Free two-day shipping with Prime membership | Return Policy: Full refund within 30 days of delivery

Best Designer

Saks Fifth Avenue

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For those who want all the designer brands at their fingertips, we recommend Saks Fifth Avenue, which carries all the legacy designers like Alexander McQueen as well as the new breed. Saks does the hard work for us by sorting dresses by dress code (co*cktail vs evening) as well as curating fun shops like Revenge Dressing, It Girl's Closet, and It's a Date, to name a few.

One of our favorite pastimes is lying in bed, scrolling through the Saks app, and saving items that catch our eye, so we can buy them when they go on sale, which happens quite frequently. While the site has a higher shipping minimum than most, it's easy to meet when buying designer items. You technically have 30 days to return your order, but in order to receive a free shipping label, it has to be done within the first 14 days. And with the option to make returns in store or use a QR code at Fedex, you don't have to print the return label (yay!).

Size Range: 000-28 | Shipping: Free standard shipping on orders of $100+ | Return Policy: Free returns within 14 days of delivery, otherwise $10 fee for return label within 30 days of delivery

Best Perks

Nordstrom

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If you do a lot of online shopping like us, it's nice to be rewarded for your business, and Nordstrom treats its loyal customers quite well. By signing up for the site's free Nordy Club, you rack up points with every purchase that eventually lead to a discount. Dresses are especially easy to shop for online thanks to Nordstrom's curated selection of brands across several price points; however, you know even the lower price points are of good quality and value. Filter by occasion, size, and more to discover a host of options that fit your needs. Plus, with Nordstrom's price matching, you're guaranteed the best price for that particular item across major retailers. Yup, we've reached out to the customer service team after noticing a better price elsewhere and quickly received a refund.

Not to mention the return policy is very accommodating and flexible—so much so that they technically don't have one. According to Nordstrom, they "handle returns on a case-by-case basis with the ultimate goal of making customers happy." Whether you prefer to pick up in store, return in store, or return by mail, Nordstrom makes it easy.

And if the dress you ordered is generally what you were looking for but would be perfect with some adjustments, you can take it to your nearest Nordstrom for free alterations and tailoring, if you're a Nordy Club Member. You can also hit up sister brand Nordstrom Rack for discounted dresses from the same brands that sell on Nordstrom. And don't forget to mark your calendar for Nordstrom's sitewide sales that happen throughout the year.

Size Range: XXS–4X, plus petite and maternity sizing | Shipping: Free standard shipping | Return Policy: Flexible

Best Trendy

Revolve

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Sometimes we like to browse through Revolve just to see what's trending in the fashion world. Revolve carries a slew of trendy brands and dress styles but at more elevated price points, ideal for those occasions when you might be willing to splurge, such as for a fancy vacation or an elegant party. We've found some great dresses on sale though, so be sure to check out that section before checking out.

But it's also a great place to shop in a pinch, as they offer free two-day shipping in the United States. We've definitely had those moments when we thought we had the perfect dress for an event, only to realize it was dirty or not right for the dress code, and Revolve was the only site that could rescue us on time. We also love how we get free returns up to 60 days and the prepaid label is already included (who has a printer these days?). So, it really is a source of convenience all around.

Size Range: XXS–4X | Shipping: Free two-day shipping | Return Policy: Full refund within 60 days; exchanges up to 90 days

Best Sustainable

Reformation

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Reformation already caught our eyes with its gorgeous floral dresses and silk gowns made for garden parties, but add in the fact that they are a carbon-neutral company (meaning they achieve net-zero carbon emissions), and we’re officially in love. Since 2009, the Los Angeles-based brand has strived to merge sustainability with style by recycling scrap materials, focusing on local manufacturing, and reducing the chemicals used in production. But its conservative production doesn’t mean a limited selection; you can find anything from your next wedding gown to your next sundress. The brand focuses on a minimalist aesthetic with structural details like high slits, square necklines, and puff sleeves. Whenever we order a dress from the site, we know we are going to get a ton of compliments due to the timeless silhouettes and fabrics that feel and looks luxe. Case in point: when we wore a Reformation dress to a wedding, we were the talk of the town, after the bride's dress that is. Who said eco-friendliness couldn’t be stylish?

We've found the sizing to be consistent across styles, but you can always pop into a store if you want to try something on in-person. The one thing we don't like about the site is that they don't feature customer reviews, which could further help when we're between sizes. Reformation offers free shipping and returns within 30 days, but be sure to mark the return date in your calendar, because after the deadline, they won't give you any compensation.

Size Range: XS–3X, plus petite sizing | Shipping: Free U.S. shipping on all orders | Return Policy: Full refund within 30 days

Best Plus-Size

Torrid

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With sizes ranging from 10 to 30, Torrid has one of the most inclusive size ranges online. Most dresses fall under $200, allowing you to revamp your wardrobe without completely draining your bank account—though every time we shop there, we end up loving so many styles, we go past our budget anyway.

The site is easy to navigate, and we can narrow our selection by filtering the dresses on silhouette, fabric, length, color, and more. The styles range from party frocks to work staples to date night dresses, and they even have a selection of white gowns perfect for a casual wedding or bridal events. Shipping and returns come at a flat fee for $6, though you can ship to a store for free.

Size Range: 10–30 | Shipping: $6 for standard shipping | Return Policy: Returns within 60 days with a $6 shipping fee

Best for Wedding Guests

Lulus

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If you're at the point in your life where you have an onslaught of wedding invitations, Lulus can make your life so much easier. Between all the bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners, buying a new outfit for every event can quickly add up. That's why we love Lulus—they have dresses for nearly every occasion and most come under $100.

During those periods where we had a wedding event every other weekend, we used Lulus to quickly shop all the dresses we needed, plus nab some shoes and accessories to tie it all together. We even got a bridesmaid dress from the site, since we could easily filter by color, neckline, and shape. And for those brides looking for a gorgeous yet affordable wedding gown, Lulus has a entire shop dedicated to weddings. Most products have a ton of customer reviews, complete with photos and details about sizing. Meeting the $50 minimum for shipping is a breeze, and you have 30 days to make a return, though you have to pay for the return label if it's past 10 days since you received your order.

Size Range: XXS–3X | Shipping: Free standard shipping on orders of $50+ | Return Policy: Fully refund within 30 days of delivery

Best for Fast Shipping

Shopbop

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If you love to discover new and emerging designers and also appreciate an aesthetically pleasing e-commerce experience, Shopbop is made for you. The clean and editorial-forward site offers thoughtful collections from contemporary designers like Rhode, Rixo, Ulla Johnson, and La DoubleJ. Compared to other luxe retailers, Shopbop holds more sales on designer items, and you know we love a good steal. We also enjoy perusing the site's Fashion Finds: Under $200 to get the thrill of a fantastic fashion deal.

The best part? Shopbop is part of the Amazon family, so if you're a Prime member, those benefits stretch far—with free two-day shipping plus free returns.

Size Range: XXS–3XL | Shipping: Free two-day shipping with Prime membership | Return Policy: Free returns within 15 days; $10 label fee from 16–30 days

Best Size Range

ASOS

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No matter your body type, finding the right fit when shopping online can be a challenge. But Asos has never let us down. With its wide size range, as well as styles specifically made for petite, curvy, tall, and pregnant customers, it's the one site where we know we can find a dress that makes us looking and feel amazing. Most of the dresses feature a video of the model wearing the outfit, which is a game changer, since it gives us an even a better idea of the material and how the dress lays on the body. PSA to all other online retailers: please add videos to your product pages!

Besides the range of sizes, Asos also carries a wide range of brands from Topshop to Mango to its own label. They have styles for every occasion imaginable, and you can even shop wedding and bridesmaid dresses. We have noticed that once a style goes out of stock, it usually doesn't come back, so don't wait around if you find one you love. Shipping and returns are quick and easy, and if you struggle with package thieves, you can opt to have your package delivered to Nordstrom, so you can safely pick it up.

Size Range: 00–36 | Shipping: Free standard shipping on orders of $50+ | Return Policy: Free returns within 28 days of delivery

Best for Work

Boden

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We personally believe dresses make the best work outfits, because all you need is one piece to walk out the door, and they're surprisingly more comfortable than most pants and skirts. Of course, when shopping for workwear, you want a dress that's not too revealing or flashy, and Boden's designs fit the bill. Go to the site and you'll find a vast collection of knee-length and midi dresses in chic prints and colors that strike the right balance of unique yet professional. Most dresses feature the universally loved A-line silhouette and come in cozy knits and comfy jersey. Nearly every style comes in petite and tall sizing as well, because the right tailoring can make or break a work outfit.

Yet what really makes Boden stand out is its 365-day Quality Guarantee. Though you have 45 days since dispatch to make a return, if the dress doesn't meet your quality past that point, they will still replace, refund, or give you store credit. We constantly rewear our work dresses, so it's nice to know that in case anything rips, pops off, or fades, Boden has our back.

Size Range: 0–20/22 | Shipping: Free standard shipping on orders of $49+ | Return Policy: Free returns within 45 days of dispatch

Best Cottagecore

Christy Dawn

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Whenever we put on a Christy Dawn dress, we feel like we're fulfilling our cottagecore fantasy. The designs are exactly what we envision when we daydream about living in a secluded cottage: floral prints, flannel, lace, and a lot of smocking. Besides the aesthetic, the dresses feel extremely high quality. Most designs are made in Los Angeles from sustainable materials like organic or regenerative cotton, deadstock fabric, and organic dyes. You can even shop bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses that are made from regenerative silk and repurposed fabric for a more sustainable take on bridal fashion.

The site has dedicated extended sizing and petite sections to ensure everyone can enjoy their dreamy designs. Another aspect that makes shopping online at Christy Dawn a breeze is all the specific details on the product pages. The brand isn't afraid to inform us when we need to size up or that a dress requires a strapless bra. While we typically love surprises, the more information we can gather before making a purchase, the better.

The site offers standard shipping for a flat fee of $12, though if you spend $400, shipping is free. Considering that most dresses start at $200, it's not hard to meet the shipping minimum. While the dresses come at a higher price point, we find the high quality, sustainable practices, and timeless designs worth it.

Size Range: XS-3X | Shipping: $12 standard shipping or free on orders over $400 | Return Policy: Returns accepted within 14 days of delivery

Best Maternity

Motherhood

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While a lot of the sites on this list have maternity options (like Asos, Nordstrom, and Amazon), if you're looking for a brand specifically dedicated to maternity-wear, we can't recommend Motherhood enough. The brand offers an inclusive size range (XS-2X) and an affordable price point with most dresses under $100. Though you can often wear maternity dresses pre and post pregnancy, we understand if you rather not splurge on maternity clothes. And with dresses suitable for work, formal events, and casual outings, Motherhood can outfit your entire maternity wardrobe without breaking the bank. Not to mention that the site regularly runs sales and special promotions.

If convenience is what you're after, you'll love the fact that you can shop the brand on Amazon and enjoy free, quick shipping and low effort returns. And if you're ever between sizes and styles, the extensive reviews on Amazon can help you decide.

Size Range: XS-2X | Shipping: Free 2-day shipping through Amazon | Return Policy: Free returns through Amazon

How We Tested

To compile this list, we surveyed more than 500 editors and received 50 unique responses about the best places to buy dresses online. We asked respondents to rate each site on the clothing selection and quality as well as the online shopping experience, including ease of navigation, shipping, returns, and overall customer service. We then analyzed the responses and narrowed down our list to the top 13 sites based on the following attributes:

  • Selection of styles and brands
  • Inclusive sizing
  • Price point and quality
  • Website navigation
  • Shipping speed and fees
  • Return policy
  • Perks and rewards

What to Look for When Buying Dresses Online

  • Shipping Policy: The speed and price of shipping is one of the biggest factors when choosing what site to shop from online. If you need a dress asap, look for sites that offer free two-day shipping like Amazon and Revolve. If you have more time to spare, you may want to look for sites that offer free standard shipping when you spend a certain amount. And if you're worried about your package getting lost or stolen from your doorstep, consider shopping at a site that offers free in-store pickup, like Anthropologie or Asos.
  • Return Policy: Returns policies vary greatly from site to site, so it's important to read through the fine print before you place your order. Nordstrom, for example, is famous for its relaxed return policy, which is great news for those who drag their feet when it comes down to completing the chore. But generally speaking, larger stores are much more likely to take returns or offer up store credit if you miss the return deadline. Smaller brands tend to charge for the return label itself and keep to a tighter deadline. That's why it's best to try the dress on as soon as possible, in case you need to return it.
  • Material: Like with any piece of clothing, the material is a critical factor that sometimes is overlooked. Yet it impacts how hot or cold you’ll be in the dress, the likelihood of it getting wrinkled throughout the day, and how easy it will clean. If you are going to a summer wedding, you’ll want to look for materials like lyocell and cotton to promote breathability and prevent wrinkling as you sit through the entire ceremony. For colder temperatures, wool is a great breathable, wrinkle-resistant choice. On the other hand, if you are shopping for dresses you’ll regularly wear to work or around the house, you’ll want a fabric that won’t require dry-cleaning unless you are ready for expensive bills piling up.
  • Undergarments: Another factor that is easily forgotten when shopping for dresses online is what bras and underwear you’ll need to wear underneath. While backless and plunging necklines look amazing on the mannequin, you’ll likely need a special bra (or no bra) to make it work. Likewise, certain materials and silhouettes—like a silk slip dress—will need a seamless thong or shapewear. Nothing is worse than ordering your dream dress only to realize you don’t have the right undergarments to complete the look. So think ahead and consider adding an adhesive bra or boob tape to your cart.

FAQ

  • How can you find the right size online?

    When shopping for any type of clothing online, it's best to always check with the site-specific size guide and have a measuring tape handy, as each brand tends to vary in sizing. You can also look at the customer reviews and filter for those with a similar body type to get more insight if you should size up or down. We also love sites like Asos, that feature videos of most products, since they provide a better idea of how a dress fits. If you're still unsure, look for a site with a flexible return policy and consider ordering a couple sizes.

  • What silhouettes are best for office settings?

    Not every dress is made for an office setting, and it’s easy to go from looking professional to inappropriate.The key to finding work-appropriate dresses is all about fit. “For workwear, look for a dress that fits properly through the arms and shoulders, loosely skims through the body, and hits just above or below the knee at the hem,” says Keefe, who also notes that shift dresses and wrap dresses "tend to be foolproof options.”

    To make dresses with thin or no straps more professional, you can always throw on a blazer or sweater. Switching up jackets and accessories also makes your go-to office dress feel new.

  • How do you wear dresses in winter?

    Just because the temperature dips doesn’t mean you have to lock up all your dresses in storage. Rather, you can reach for a sweater dress that proves classic when you want to feel warm and swaddled. Adding a long wool coat, tights, and tall boots is a fabulous way to create a chic and cozy outfit.

    And there are clever ways to transform your spring and summer dresses into year-round pieces, too. “While adding layers over a dress is always a good idea, don't miss the opportunity to layer under a dress,” says Keefe. “I always have a fitted white T-shirt, a fitted black turtleneck, and a fitted crew neck sweater in my closet ready to layer under my sleeveless dresses when the temperatures drop.”

  • What is an A-line dress?

    If you ever went dress shopping or looked at dresses in a magazine, you’ve probably heard the term A-line. This classic shape is seen in a variety of dresses from strapless to puff sleeves.

    “An A-line dress mimics the shape of the letter ‘A,’” says Keefe. “It fits close to the body through the bust and waist and flows away from the body through the hips and thighs creating a timeless and universally flattering shape.”

Why Trust Byrdie

Emily Cieslak is an associate commerce editor, covering all things beauty and fashion. Assisting celebrity stylists and styling photoshoots has taught her how to shop for all different body types and aesthetics, especially online. When getting dressed, she chooses dresses over pants any day and has shopped from the majority of these retailers. In addition to analyzing the results of the survey, Cieslak interviewed Whitney Keefe, a stylist at Stitch Fix, about how to shop for dresses online.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any dress retailers from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

We're Already Shopping for Spring Dresses—These Are Our Go-To Brands (2024)

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