From casual dresses to formal dresses

The little black dress, or LBD, is a staple of most women's wardrobes. Functional and, ideally, comfortable, it comes out for weddings, funerals, office parties, and other special events. But there's no need to be limited to this all-purpose item, and sometimes, even the little black dress won't do.

From casual to formal, long to short, and sleeved to strapless, dresses come in all manner of styles, not to mention the variety of materials, colors, and patterns. The choices are virtually endless, making it almost certain that every woman will find just the dress she needs for whatever occasion she needs it -- or even just because.

Casual Dresses

There was a time when skirts and dresses were common and even expected attire for women, but these days, many women reserve them for formal occasions. However, there are many casual styles and comfortable materials that make dresses still great for everyday apparel.

Light and breathable, sundresses are a great alternative to shorts and t-shirts in the summer, and dressier versions are perfect for attending all those summer weddings.

Formal Dresses

Of course, dresses are most commonly worn to mark formal occasions, from cocktail dresses for office parties and fancy dinners to that most formal of all dresses, the wedding dress.

Every spring, teenage girls flock to malls, outlets, and specialty shops seeking the perfect prom dress. Somewhere between the semi-formal cocktail dress and the super-formal wedding dress, prom dresses are often young women's first formal attire and tend to carry great importance and meaning for them. The selection process can be extensive, and the end result expensive, especially when it comes to designer dresses.

Popular Dress Styles

No matter what type of dress or what the occasion, odds are you'll have many different styles to choose from.

Dresses are often identified by the length and type of their skirt, as well as by the style of their top. For example, tea-length dresses have skirts that reach mid-calf, while full-length dresses have skirts to the ankle. Similarly, sleeveless dresses cover the shoulder, while strapless dresses bare the shoulders and upper chest, and halter dresses tie behind the neck.

Different styles suit different body types, so the best bet is to try on a few different styles to see which fits best.