Summer dresses signal the return of longer days and lighter layers. They put you in a vacation type of mood, regardless of whether you’re actually heading out of town. The best summer dresses are about capturing that relaxed state of mind, and then translating the feeling into easy-to-wear and effortless styles. When shopping to find those perfectly designed options, you’ll want to keep a few details in mind.
Length can vary a lot in summer dresses, from minis in flouncy fabrics to tiered maxis that graze your ankles. The most versatile length tends to be the midi, or styles that hit mid-way on your calf, since you can pair them with flats or strappy heels. In terms of fabrics, linen is a summer classic for casual days while silks and satins dress up your look a bit further. While it’s not hard to find dresses from a variety of fashion brands, certain ones really stand out for offering beautiful silhouettes that flatter the body, wrinkle-resistant fabrics, size-inclusive styles and prices that deliver excellent value.
Ahead, our recommendations for where to shop for the best summer dresses, organized by length—maxi, mini and midi. And for fancier events, here’s where to find the best wedding-guest dresses and mother-of-the-bride dresses.
Reformation: Body-Flattering Silhouettes
Reformation started in 2009 as a small vintage clothing shop in Los Angeles. It later expanded into making clothing, with a focus on sustainability and modern silhouettes that flatter a variety of figures. Reformation’s dresses, in particular, have a cult following for their body-skimming shapes, well constructed designs and elegant prints. You can shop by dress length (short to long), fabric (silk, linen) and style (vacation dresses, floral dresses) and they offer extended sizes as well. Prices range from $78 to $500, with most in the $200 range.
Lulus: Statement Styles To Fit Any Budget
Lulus Still the One Blush Pink Floral Print Satin Maxi Dress
If you can’t find the dress you’re looking for on Lulus, then it probably doesn’t exist or you’re not trying hard enough. The California-based label has a multitude of styles, which you can narrow down by sleeve and hem length, color and extended-sizing options. Also helpful: the detailed reviews with pictures so you can see how the dresses look in real life on a variety of body types. The prices are extremely affordable, with many styles under $50—just keep in mind that fabric quality differs depending on how much you’re willing to spend.
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ASTR: Gorgeous Prints And Cut-Outs
While ASTR carries many wardrobe essentials, the Los-Angeles-based label is best known for their dresses, which come in beautiful colors and vintage-inspired florals and are particularly great for special events. Silhouettes range from flowy maxis to sleek minis and you can shop by dress shades and sleeve type. The Gaia is their best-selling silk midi, with a gathered neckline that accentuates your form and skinny shoulder straps. All of the dresses are under $200, and most cost less than $100.
Anthropologie: Endless Styles For Every Fashion Look
For day-to-night dresses, with a bohemian-glamorous feel, Anthropologie is a go-to source. The retailer carries both smaller labels as well as their own in-house designs, which tend to be on the more affordable end of the fashion spectrum, with prices mostly under $200. Anthropologie also offers plus-sizes and petites, an entire section devoted to wedding-guest dresses and the ability to filter by style (formal, cocktail, little black dresses). Shipping is complimentary over $50 if you’re an AnthroPerks member (it’s free to sign up) and all returns are accepted in store, too.
Farm Rio: Standout Dresses In Punchy Colors
Founded by Katia Barros and Marcello Bastos, Farm Rio takes inspiration from the vivid colors and rich culture of Rio de Janeiro, where the brand originated. The dresses feature vibrant, tropical motifs that are all created in-house and emphasize easy, wearable silhouettes in a variety of lengths (mini, midi and maxi). Most dresses cost around $250, with $130 and $325 as the lowest and highest prices.
Significant Other: Influencer Favorite Styles
Australian label Significant Other’s dresses are popular among fashion influencers for their modern, relaxed designs and subtle, form-flattering details. Many of the styles feature cut-outs done in a sophisticated way, which makes these dresses great for formal occasions—think weddings—as well as casual cocktail hours and dinners. Most of the styles are under $400 and often sell out; Moda Operandi, however, gives you the option to pre-order new arrivals so you can be sure to get your size.
Love Bonito: Simple, Elegant Styles
For dresses that you can wear to work or on the weekends, without spending too much, Love Bonito is an excellent option. The accessible label has an impressive assortment of affordable-chic dresses that you can filter by pattern, style and length, all of which are less than $100. The Southeast-Asia-based, female-focused brand also makes stylish maternity dresses as well as looks for kids (think: adorable family photos).
Versatile Midi Dresses
Hill House Home: Great For Travel And Everyday
Hill House Home’s Nap Dresses have made the brand an Instagram hit. The silhouettes are breezy, easy to wear and flattering. This style comes in multiple colors and prints; this kaleidoscopic option is bright and fun for summer. The dress is finished with elasticated smocking, ruffled shoulders, a tiered midi skirt and pockets.
Dôen: California-Inspired Styles
Dôen’s collections are filled with romantic dresses with striking silhouettes and prints inspired by classic California from decades past. This Veredis dress is printed with a vintage-inspired floral motif and is comfortable to wear—it’s cut from airy cotton with a ruffled trim and breezy blouson sleeves. There’s also a belt you can tighten or leave loose to change the dress’s shape.
Athleta: Chic And Comfortable
Athleta excels in easy basics you can wear anywhere. The Presidio dress is a top-rated favorite, made from recycled stretch fabric that feels silky and light as air against your skin. It’s finished with pockets so you can carry your essentials on the go. The length is versatile, hitting at the mid-calf, to keep you cool but not overly exposed when you’re running errands or commuting to work.
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