42 Stylish Dresses That Will Work for Any Upcoming Special Occasion

Do you know how some people swear by capsule wardrobes? Well, it could not be me. Not just because I own way too many pairs of shoes, but because I have a secret stash of special occasion dresses. Yes, you read that right, and before you judge me, hear me out. I am always prepared for any sudden invitation that may arise—no matter the dress code, I can pull out a full-length cutout Dion Lee dress or a hot-pink feather cocktail dress and be ready to go. Maybe that makes me a little unhinged, but for those who love the opportunity to dress up for a special occasion, investing in a piece we can pull out on a moment’s notice is worth the money (and closet space).

So if you have yet to find the perfect dress for that upcoming event, don’t fret—I’ve rounded up the 42 best special occasion dresses at every price point. Whether you’re attending a summer wedding, a gala, a baby shower, or are meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, these dresses will work wonders for you and impress everyone in the room.

Special Occasion Dresses Under $250

Norma Kamali’s gowns are the most flattering thing you can buy—trust me. 

I love the subtle cutouts on this dress. 

Who said you had to spend a fortune on a cute cocktail dress?

Pair this with the right accessories, and you’ll be serving a look. 

You’ll be the life of the party in this tulle minidress. 

This dress nails the perfect balance between casual and formal. 

Their parents will love you as much as they love this dress.

Classic and size-inclusive? Add this to the cart ASAP. 

I’m obsessed with the sleeves on this dress.

Pack this for that upcoming trip of yours.

This works for a more casual dress code.

Special Occasion Dresses Under $500

This stunning satin maxi dress is made-to-order so you can pick between over 30 colors and send your custom measurements. 

You’ll be the best-dressed person in the room in this dress.

Plissé will make you look polished every time.

They’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand if you wear this chocolate brown number.

Made from 100% linen, this dress is ideal for any upcoming wedding in a hot climate. 

And the award for the best-dressed guest goes to you when you wear this dress.

Is it just me, or does this look almost exactly like the dress in the rom-com film, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?

A moment of silence for the slit on this dress.

Special Occasion Dresses to Splurge On

Yes, those are sequins. No, I’m not okay.

Someone come to collect my jaw off the floor.

 I’d wear this to a baby shower.

The tiered fabric on this will look so great when you’re moving about that you’ll basically be in your own Cinderella montage.

Consider this the 2022 version of Princess Diana’s revenge dress.

 It was love at first sight for me.