From A-line to sheath: 5 Dresses every woman needs

Dec 4, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. ET

Chances are your closet is crammed with dresses you never really want to wear, either because they're too old, too revealing or just plain unflattering, and you always manage to talk yourself out of putting them on. But if you keep these five dress styles on hand, you'll always have a piece to turn to!

a line dress

A classic A-line

As the name implies, an A-line dress is narrow at the top and then flares out slightly to the hem, causing it to resemble a capital letter "A." It's a classic look that suits virtually any body shape. The simple cut makes it easy to dress up for special events or dress down for the average workday. Not sure where to start? Check out this classy A-line jacquard dress (, $100).

jacob lace dress

A sweet fit-and-flare

Fit-and-flare dresses are the epitome of sweet and ladylike. They emphasize the narrowest part of your body (your waist) and then flare out to cover the area of the body most women are less comfortable with (the bum and thighs). This sleeveless lace dress will help you get into the role of hostess for years to come (, $89).

wrap dress

An infinitely useful wrap dress

A wrap dress has a tie that wraps around the body and ties up at the side. This creates a lovely hourglass shape, and the V-neck is also exceptionally flattering. This Jay Manuel belted wrap dress is simple yet stylish, which makes it perfect for practically any occasion (, $60). The right wrap dress can easily become your favourite go-to outfit.

chiffon empire waist dress

An elegant empire waist

The empire style has been around for centuries because of its simple, flattering shape. It cinches in just under the bust and then flows loosely along the body down to the hem. You don't have to worry about taking advantage of the buffet or the hors d'oeuvres spread in this one! It's a very popular style for evening wear and can also be a great casual look during the summer months. For the average cocktail party, this pleated chiffon dress with a sweetheart neckline is a glamorous option (, $165).

jacob sheath dressA sexy sheath

Sheath dresses fit close to the body from the chest to around knee height, which makes them the perfect combination of sexy and sophisticated. Whether you're dressing up for a cocktail party or a romantic date, the right sheath can have you feeling like an elegant bombshell. And if you get something along the lines of this sweetheart-neckline dress, it can also double as your little black dress (, $139).

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