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Updated September 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best mini dresses

Choosing the right dress length can make all the difference in how you look and how confident you feel. Fortunately, there is a foolproof option. Whether you’re tall or short, slim or curvy, a mini dress is a flattering choice when you want to show more skin.

A mini dress has a hem that ends above the knees, so it’s ideal for warmer weather. You can also wear these dresses in colder weather if you pair them with the right layers. Because the dress exposes so much of your legs, it can also make you look taller, so it’s a perfect length if you’re petite or have short legs. But these versatile dresses can flatter tall individuals too.

Are you looking for a fabulous mini dress to add to your wardrobe? Start by deciding on the best style or cut for your body. Next, consider the fabric, neckline, and sleeve style. A good shopping guide and product recommendations can help you narrow your options.

a woman wearing a yellow mini dress
Mini dresses and skirts became popular in the 1960s, when they were viewed as a rebellious fashion for teens and young adults.

How to buy the best mini dress

What is a mini dress?

This is the shortest type of dress you can find. They typically have a hem that hits several inches above the knees. Some hit mid-thigh, exposing a significant amount of skin.

Because they show so much of your legs, a mini dress can make you appear taller. That makes this an excellent style if you’re petite. These dresses also work well if you have short legs, making them appear longer.

Mini dress styles

Like dresses in other lengths, mini dresses are available in several cuts or styles that affect how they drape over or skim the body. The most common mini dress styles include the following:

Fit and flare: These dresses have a fitted top and flare out at the waist for a looser hemline. This style is flattering for all body types if you’re unsure which fit to choose.

Shift: These dresses fall straight from the shoulders to the hem, giving them a boxy silhouette. The roomy, relaxed fit skims the bust, waist, and hips and works particularly well for athletic and apple-shaped body types. It’s also an ideal style if you have extra weight around your midsection you want to conceal.

Sheath: These dresses also have a straight cut but are a bit more fitted than shift dresses. They nip in at the waist, but they don’t have a seam in that area. They’re especially flattering on hourglass and curvy body types.

Empire waist: These dresses have a top that is fitted around the bust instead of at the waist, with an obvious seam beneath the bust and flowing fabric to the hem. These dresses are flattering on all body types.

Bodycon: These dresses are usually stretchy and hug the body like a second skin. They can work well on many body types but require some confidence to wear.

Shirt: These dresses resemble traditional men’s dress shirts, so they typically have a collar, cuffed sleeves, and front buttons. Some also have a front pocket. Some styles include a tie belt, but other shirt dresses simply nip in at the waist for some definition.

Fabric

Mini dresses are available in several materials.

Cotton is an excellent option. It’s easy to care for because it’s machine washable. It breathes well, so it’s ideal for warm weather.

Polyester doesn’t breathe as well as cotton, but it’s less prone to wrinkling.

Cotton/polyester blends offer the best features of both fabrics.

You can also find mini dresses made of rayon, knits, linen, and wool. For special occasions, consider silk, satin, or lace dresses.

a woman wearing a white floral mini dress
DID YOU KNOW?
If you feel the proportions of your mini dress are off, add a belt. Cinching it can help define your waist.
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Features to look for in a mini dress

Neckline

Mini dresses come with several different necklines, which affect the look and comfort of the garments. Some common necklines for mini dresses include the following:

Crew necklines are rounded and end at the base of the neck, covering the collarbones. You can find both short- and long-sleeve dresses with this neckline. It works well for nearly any occasion but is ideal when you want a more polished look.

Round necklines are also rounded but end lower on the chest to expose the collarbones. These also work well for most occasions and can be found on sleeveless dresses and dresses with any length sleeves.

V-necks are usually cut deeper and come to a point in the center. You can choose either standard V-neck or deep V-neck dresses, depending on how much skin you’d like to expose.

Boat necklines have a wider cut that’s nearly straight and may reveal some of your shoulders. They don’t expose much cleavage and can be an excellent choice if you want to balance out wide hips.

Halter necklines are a sleeveless style that wraps around the back of the neck. Some tie at the back of the neck, while others simply pull over the head. These dresses often expose some skin at the top of the back too. They’re ideal if you want to showcase your shoulders and arms.

Strapless necklines are another sleeveless style cut right across the top of the bust. They leave your shoulders, upper chest, and arms bare and are often found on formal or special occasion dresses. Strapless necklines can be cut straight across or in a sweetheart style, where the shape of the neckline is rounded and looks something like the top edge of a heart.

Sleeve style

Mini dresses can have sleeves of any length or style.

Short sleeves are common and end somewhere above the elbow. They’re ideal for warm weather.

Elbow or three-quarter sleeves are a versatile choice for cool weather.

Long sleeves cover the arms to the wrists and are perfect for colder weather.

Sleeveless mini dresses include tank-top styles and dresses with spaghetti-straps. These styles are best worn in summer or when you want to layer a cardigan or jacket over your dress.

Colors and patterns

Mini dresses come in every color and pattern you can imagine. Solid-color dresses are the easiest to fit into your wardrobe because you can easily pair them with either solid or patterned layering pieces and accessories. A patterned dress can make a bold statement when you really want to stand out.

Pockets

Most dresses don’t have pockets, much to the regret of everyone who wears them. However, you can find some mini dresses with pockets, but you’ll likely have to shop around. It’s an extremely convenient feature in a dress, because you can keep your phone, money, keys, and other small items in the pockets rather than carry around a bag.

Some mini dresses can do double-duty as a long top or tunic. Pair the dress with shorts in the summer or skinny jeans in cool weather to create a new outfit.

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How do you accessorize a mini dress?

Stilettos

To further elongate the look of your legs, pair your mini dress with high heels. Stilettos are the highest heels you can find, and they can make your legs look even longer. However, they can be tricky to walk in if you’re new to wearing them.

Thigh-high boots

Because mini dresses expose so much of the legs, they’re the perfect dress to pair with thigh-high boots. These boots work especially well with a mini dress when you need a little extra warmth in the fall and winter.

Biker shorts

Some people are concerned that they might accidentally expose more than they want to in a mini dress. Wearing a pair of snug-fitting biker shorts under your dress can provide additional coverage without adding any bulk.

How much do mini dresses cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable mini dresses are lightweight cotton or polyester with few embellishments that work well for everyday wear. These dresses typically cost between $10 and $50.

Mid-range

These mini dresses are usually more structured styles made of heavier cotton, polyester, knits, rayon, or cotton/polyester blends. Many of these dresses are casual, but you’ll also find some cocktail dresses in this price range. These dresses generally cost $50 to $175.

Expensive

The most expensive mini dresses are typically made by designer brands and/or are meant for formal occasions. They feature more luxurious fabrics, such as silk, satin, or lace, and may include embellishments like beading. These dresses generally cost $175 to $450.

a woman wearing a mini dress by the beach
DID YOU KNOW?
Use a self-tanner or bronzer to give bare legs a healthy, sun-kissed glow and make them look more toned.
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Tips

  • Choose a comfortable length. While all mini dresses have a hemline that hits above the knees, some are shorter than others. When selecting a dress, a good rule of thumb is to stand with your arms at your sides and note where the tips of your fingers reach on your legs. That’s the length of dress to choose.
  • Keep the rest of your look understated. Since the dress showcases a lot of skin in your lower half, it’s best to be more modest with the rest of your outfit. Unless you’re headed out for the evening, you might feel more comfortable in a dress that doesn’t have a plunging neckline and back.
  • Think about posture. Any dress looks much better if you stand up straight and tall with your shoulders back and stomach pulled in.
  • Exfoliate and moisturize your legs. With so much skin exposed, you want to make sure it looks as smooth and healthy as possible. Use a body scrub to buff away dead, dry skin, and follow up with body cream or lotion to lock in the moisture.
a woman choosing between a red mini dress and a black mini dress
While mini dresses often have a casual look, you can find many styles that work well for more formal events.

FAQ

Q. Who can wear a mini dress?

A. A mini dress is appropriate for anyone who wants to wear one. No matter your height, body type, or age, there’s a mini dress out there that can flatter your figure and make you feel confident.

Q. What type of shoes should I pair with a mini dress?

A. A mini dress can work well with many shoe styles, so it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to wear a short dress with heels to help them look even taller. If you like a higher heel but don’t feel confident in stilettos, consider wedges, which are usually easier to balance in. Other people find that flats are better because it’s easier to walk in them if you’re worried about the shorter hemline exposing something it shouldn’t. Ballet flats, tennis shoes, and sandals are all excellent choices.

Q. Can I wear a mini dress in the fall and winter?

A. While a mini dress leaves your legs exposed, you can still wear one in cool or cold weather. Layer the dress over a pair of tights or leggings to stay warm. You can also pair your dress with a cardigan or jacket if it has short sleeves or is made of a thin fabric.

 

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