Great summer dresses and how to wear them
There is no easier way to reconcile getting dressed to look put together with as little effort as possible as wearing a dress. In the summer, this proposition is particularly seductive because it’s also hot as hell, and a one-and-done dress might well be the most efficient way to stay as cool as possible.
The exception to this rule is an in-between concoction of tank shorts and button down/boxer set but I sense a shift coming in how well want to convey ourselves through clothes in the coming months — a bit less laid back, more done up/thought through, even if we don’t want the mental effort to change.
But the thing with a dress is that it says so much, leaves so room to convey your sense of personal style lest you style it up with layers and stuff, which no when it’s this hot. Don’t underestimate what a pair of sunglasses or necklace or a bag and especially, specifically, a pair of shoes can do. Below, some great dresses (most on sale) and the shoe styles you could pair them with to achieve the highly desirable state of looking nice with a rough edge.
Why it’s good: Primarily because it’s a naked dress that actually does a decent job of covering you up. The print is ditzy and subtle enough to warrant wear by even those among of us who refuse them. I’d probably just hem it slightly so you could see more of my ankle.
How to wear it: A pair of unexpected sunglasses like these and either closed-toe shoes like these or ballet flats (to make it feel less beach-y if you’re in a city. If you’re not, enjoy your flip flops!)
Why it’s good: The most efficient solution to summer heat by a landslide. Slight enough to weather and even soften sticky skin, an interesting case study in what you can do under it as opposed to over it and of course, because in-between dressing is in.
How to wear it: Anything goes with this one — I like mine with a pair of mocassins or ballet flats and these sunglasses. When I do this, I usually hold a straw basket. If I’m going the way of sandal (closed-back flat or wedge mule), I like a leather bag to anchor the look/make it seem more intentional than just me house-clothes.
Why it’s good: The way my closet is structured (so much denim and suede, lots of button-down shirts, flat shoes, tons of play jewelry), it’s easier to dress down a garment than it is to dress it up. This doesn’t work with all silhouettes — the shape of the garment you’re dressing down has to be amendable to styling, which a slip dress is. So that makes it fun to style with and around, and also a (distinctly) strong enough contender for main event.
How to wear it: For now, with plain closed-back sandals and a shacket. Or I’d wear it solo with black loafers, white socks and a suede jacket or something army green in the fall. Will be nice with black tights and black platforms (suede ideally)/a blazer for the holiday season. Also a loose-enough fit that it could be good with the right cotton pants underneath.
Why it’s good: Because you literally don’t have to do a thing other than lift your arms to get this one and look like you’re put together. The print is tasteful, the fabric’s luxurious and depending on what kind of shoes you pick, you can wear it all day or out to dinner.
Why it’s good: Mostly because it seems like exactly the kind of easy dress one desires to wear to work in the summer but also because I’d absolutely wear it, and don’t work in an office. That means there’s good overlap on the Venn diagram of style and practical purpose!
How to wear it: White socks, black loafers (or sneakers) —the way Olympia (creative director at J. Crew) did with a blazer. Knee-high black flat boots or cowboy boots in the fall, sheer socks, and black patent slingbacks then too.
Why it’s good: It’s a more structured slip dress with a lot of personality, and falls into the category I mentioned above re: something easier to dress down than up. With this dress, it’s substantial enough to hold its own — like truly does not need to be messed with. Just wear the right shoes (denim or suede flats for day, a slingback sandal for night with a necklace on a cord like this or this)
How to wear it: See above! You might want to add a basket bag too.
Why it’s good:
Why it’s good: Originally it was this jumpsuit that made it to the list because nothing is easier, actually, than one small but roomy piece of fabric that covers your body in all the right places. It wears well with a pair of clogs and some kind of tote you would use for a farmer’s market, but when I saw the dress I figured, +1 for it being easier to go to the bathroom in it too. And I think the dark denim makes it a more versatile option —you can carry it into the next season and it will look right at home with like, a brown suede bomber.'
How to wear it: I keep messing this up by putting the styling notes in the Why but for now, in addition to clogs (or any kind of low-heel platform) how about with these? I also love it as shown with a low-heel open-toe mule.
Why it’s good: It has pockets, a bib, is a faint and delectable shade of blue stripe and is not too long to style under a pair of pants, or too shirt to wear on its own.
How to wear it: I’m looking forward to wearing it with knee-high boots and a crewneck open-hem sweater next fall, and until then, it’s mostly pants like these with flip flops.
Why it’s good: I would be remiss to leave my collab dress out, which is good because: completely exposed upper back in the most flattering way for even a woman like me with low-grade scoliosis and a statement unto itself in a pleasantly precious way (takes pressure off everything else you wear with it) and it was made by a group of seamstresses who are currently incarcerated but members of Coopertiva Alice, an organization that furthers the pursuit of rehabilitation for women in the Sant Vittore prisons of Milan by teaching its members how to sew so they can earn a wage for their work.
How to wear it: Flip flops, loafers, fisherman shoes!
But that concludes this edit. Have a good one!