The Hunt: Basic Sheath Dresses

sheath-dresses2018 Update: Check out our latest roundup of classic sheath dresses for work!

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t done a roundup of sheath dresses in almost a year (2014, 2013), so I thought we’d do one today. For my money, the best sheath dress for work has:

  • a work-appropriate hem length (with no slits to compromise that — test with the mirror trick!)
  • a high enough neckline and shoulder situation that you don’t need to give any extra thought to which bra to wear
  • a dark, neutral color like black, navy, or dark charcoal

And — for me at least — I think a sleeveless sheath dress is best because it looks best beneath blazers and cardigans.

Ladies, what do YOU look for in a great sheath dress? Have you bought any great ones recently, or worn any classics into the ground? 

Stylish, Work-Appropriate Sheath Dresses | CorporetteThe Limited has several of their Collection sheath dresses on sale today. I like the high neckline, work-appropriate length, and the interesting (but not too low) back V-neck. I also like that both of these Collection dresses are machine washable. The pictured dress is available in sizes 00-18, as well as petite and tall sizes, for $58.80 today (down from $98). Collection V-Back Sheath Dress
Stylish, Work-Appropriate Sheath Dresses | Corporette6pm has a good selection of Tahari dresses on sale today — the brand continually churns out solid workwear season after season.  The pictured dress is $71 (some sizes 6-16 still left); I also like this other one. Tahari by ASL Jane Dress
Stylish, Work-Appropriate Sheath Dresses | CorporetteWhile including links to the Hall of Famers, I was surprised to see that the J.Crew Origami dress seems to be no more — it had a such a long run. I like the look of this ladder stitch dress in cotton, which comes in a dark navy as well as this pretty mint, as well as coral and evergreen. Pockets, lining, nice high neckline, available in petite, tall, and regular sizes 00-16, huzzah. It’s $168. Ladder Stitch Dress in Bi-Stretch Cotton
Stylish, Work-Appropriate Sheath Dresses | CorporetteI always end up drooling over the Classiques Entier sheath dresses, and this one is no different — I like the square neck (with cool inset details), the wide straps, the work-appropriate length, and the forgiving ponte. It’s $228, available in black and red. Classiques Entier® Grosgrain Inset Ponte Sheath Dress
Stylish, Work-Appropriate Sheath Dresses | CorporetteI’ve been eyeing this nice Ted Baker dress for a while for a TPS report, but something less basic always seems to edge it out. I like it a lot though — again, nice square neck, cap sleeves, work-appropriate length — it differs from the dress above in that this one is a wool blend. It’s $275 at Nordstrom. Ted Baker London ‘Miakod’ Wool Blend Sheath Dress
Stylish, Work-Appropriate Sheath Dresses | CorporetteAs I mentioned recently, Hugo Boss has so.many.great.dresses out right now — it’s hard to pick one. I always like a V-neck, and this one is perfect for work; nice and high but still flattering. The wool-blend dress is $595 (lucky sizes only). BOSS HUGO BOSS BOSS ‘Desila’ Belted Sleeveless Sheath Dress

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!



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The Hunt: Basic Sheath Dresses


  1. NavyLawyer :

    I love them in principle because they’re so easy and can be changed up with a great necklace and the right heels, but they can be so much less forgiving! I’ve got much less poundage leeway than with A-line dresses, but they make me think about a 1950s housewife (which I know didn’t actually exist in that form) instead of business woman.

    • Does the fabric make a difference for the A-line dresses? I could see more of a 50s vibe with a brighter color/print, but think it would still read business women if in a suiting material.

  2. For anyone who misses the Jcrew Origami dress, this one from Tahari is pretty similar and actually a lot more flattering (on me anyway):

    Word of caution for the shorter among us though: I found it to be just a tad too big at the top for me. I’m on the cusp of petite and non-petite sizes and the neckline/shoulder area could have definitely been higher on me – I think the dress is best for someone with more space between their shoulder and armpit, if that makes sense.

  3. Diana Barry :

    I have a great J Crew super 120s v-neck sheath – plain with no “bow shoulder” like they have now – so watch for those plain ones, since they don’t always have them. I also just got one that is an Ann Taylor hand-me-down – I don’t have any matching pieces but can wear it with non-matching blazers for an easy outfit.

  4. I have a black ponte sheath that I got on sale at talbots for $19 and am dreading the day that it wears out. Great for travel. Wear to the office with a jacket or cardigan over. Dress up with sparkle bolero and jewelry for the opera or dinner out.

  5. Housecounsel :

    The bows on the new J.Crew sheath make me want to cry. Give me my nice plain dresses back!

  6. I love this grey sleeveless sheath dress from H&M, $35, lined, and length is work appropriate (longer than it looks on the website model).

  7. Anonymous :

    Mm lafleur Lydia and Etsuko (long sleeves and machine washable!)