Where We Stand
Our absolute favorite site to buy dresses is Anthropologie because it offers extensive sizing and dresses for every occasion, including weddings. The search engine allows you to narrow down options so specifically, you aren’t overwhelmed. For an even more cost-effective route, especially if you’re a Prime member, Amazon has plenty of options, reliable reviews, and a “Try Before You Buy” policy.
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.
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 email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.