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20 Summer Dresses I Can’t Stop Talking About

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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If you see me out and about between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there’s a 97 percent chance I’ll be wearing a light summer sundress. It’s the only article of clothing that won’t have me drenched in sweat the second I step outside, and the convenience of a one-piece outfit is irresistible. I could go on and on about my affinity for summer dresses — but all you really need to know is that now is the time to stock up on them.

Over the past few months, I’ve tried dozens of minis, midis, and maxis in a wide variety of trends, silhouettes, fabrics, and colors so you don’t have to. Below, you’ll find the best of the best summer dresses that earned a permanent spot in my wardrobe. And as professional shopper who hates being hot, I consider myself an expert on the topic.

From linen dresses that are essentials on the sweatiest of days and exercise dresses that will blend right in on your Instagram feed to sheer dresses you need for your next night out, knit dresses that are great for hanging by the pool, and printed dresses that’ll stand out at a cocktail party, there’s something for any and every occasion.

Best Linen Dresses

My mom has ingrained in me that linen is a superior fabric. It’s breezy, it’s comfortable, and it’s the one fabric in which wrinkles are welcome.

I’m normally a no-frills type of girl, but I was feeling a bit adventurous and decided to order this baby-doll dress. To my surprise, the bows and ruffles made me feel absolutely adorable.

Available in sizes 0–12.

An excellent option if you prefer loose-fitting pieces during the hot summer months. It’s complete with pockets in the front and an elastic panel in the back.

Available in sizes 2–12.

This lined linen dress can be styled with sandals for an everyday look or heels for a graduation ceremony.

Available in sizes 2–22.

A linen shift dress is my go-to for summer brunch or other daytime activities that require me to look somewhat put together. The button-front design makes this one from J.Crew extremely flattering. Plus it’s lightweight and breathable.

Available in sizes XXS–3X.

Best Sheer Dresses

If you liked last year’s cut-out trend, try the more current version of less-is-more-fashion: sheer dresses.

This maxi will be coming with me on my next tropical vacation, mark my words. From the open back and the side slit to the bright-green color and the subtle metallic sheen, it deserves to be seen on a boat or at a beach club.

Available in sizes S–XL.

Behold: Another summer dress that’s practically begging to come on vacation with you.

Available in sizes XS–L.

The sheer dress trend is not a nighttime exclusive — and the proof is in this swingy chiffon dress by Urban Outfitters. Style it with boots for a more low-key vibe.

Available in sizes XS–XL.

I’m guilty of rewearing my favorite black slip over and over again. So I’m swapping it out for this sheer Bec + Bridge number that has an effortlessly chic fit and cutout details.

Available in sizes 2–12.

Best Knit Dresses

Potential hot take coming up: Summer knits (especially in the form of a dress) are vastly superior to winter knits. Here are my top picks for beach days, dinner dates, and beyond.

I’m still thinking about the Mango x Simon Miller collaboration, specifically this yellow knit dress. The built-in lining means you’ll never have to worry about finding something to wear underneath.

Available in sizes 4–8.

Want a knit dress that feels a bit more elevated? Try this form-fitting and ecofriendly one.

Available in sizes XS–L.

I purchased this dress last summer and have gotten so much wear out of it in the months since. It’s one of the most flattering items in my closet. Plus it’s held up impressively well considering the price point.

Available in sizes XS–XL.

If you’re in the mood to splurge on something special, add this hand-crocheted design to your cart. Wear it alone or over a swimsuit.

Available in sizes XS–XL.

Best Sporty Dresses

Sure, exercise dresses are a bit overplayed. But sometimes you just need to throw on something comfortable and rush out the door — on days like that, they really deliver.

If you like the sporty look but you’re not actually … playing a sport, consider purchasing a polo dress like this one.

Available in sizes XXS–XL.

Out of all the exercise dresses on the market, this one is my favorite. It’s made from Alo’s signature Airlift fabric, which is compressive and form-fitting. The high neckline also offers plenty of coverage up top.

Available in sizes XXS–L.

This affordable option features built-in shorts with side pockets, adjustable straps, and padding inserts.

Available in sizes XXS–XL.

Made from a blend of spandex and recycled polyester, this pleated dress has a swimsuitlike feel that’s ideal for summer. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have a built-in bra or built-in shorts, so stick to low-impact activities when wearing it.

Available in sizes XS–XL.

Best Printed Dresses

My style usually consist of neutrals and versatile basics. But in the summer, I love to play with bright colors and bold prints like the ones below.

This scarf dress is a testament to the fact that no one does prints quite like Farm Rio. I knew it would become a summer staple after wearing it on a bachelorette trip last week.

Available in sizes XXS–XL.

I plan on wearing this to one of the many summer weddings I have looming over my calendar. It’s fun and festive without feeling over the top, plus the midi length works for a wide variety of formalities.

Available in sizes 4–16.

Favorite Daughter is quickly becoming one of my favorite brands for staple pieces that look way more expensive than they are. This printed dress features cute front ruching, an adjustable tie detail, and a smocked back for maximum comfort.

Available in sizes 0–14.

Wedding-guest shopping can be extremely time consuming and overwhelming. If you want a one-stop-shop for nuptial-appropriate dresses, try A.L.C.

Available in sizes 00–14.

20 Summer Dresses I Can’t Stop Talking About