The 12 Best Beach Dresses

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by Kori Perten
Jeremy Moeller / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

With resort wear’s recent swing toward elevated casual, it’s never been a better time to dress for the beach. And whether your day takes you from a seaside picnic to late night drinks or simply starts and ends on the sand, the best beach dresses are all about versatility and ease — which means they feature a loose, lounge-worthy silhouette that still brings it when it comes to style. While beach-ready daytime dresses are all but de rigueur this summer, you’ll want to keep an eye out for vibrant colors and laid-back hues to achieve a decidedly current look that works both on and off the beach.

Summer dresses come in all kinds of shapes, but when you’re headed to the beach, you’ll want to skip the tighter styles and opt for something that will fit easily over a swimsuit. Breathability is also key at the beach, so look out for airy fabrics (think cotton, linen, and rayon), strategic slits, short hemlines, or strappy necklines to keep yourself cool. If your seaside style is all about coverage, you might seek out breezy summer maxi dresses, ultra-glam caftans, or dresses designed specifically to block UV rays. Short or elbow-length sleeves might also appeal, though of course no dress is a substitute for sunscreen. If covering up isn’t a priority, you can lean into super summery styles with sundresses, off-the-shoulder dresses, and mini or midi lengths that won’t drag in the sand or water. You can also look for a two-piece dress if you want extra versatility to wear the pieces separately and don’t care about covering your stomach.

Because a good beach dress isn’t fussy, look to the fabric itself to communicate your personal style. Sweet florals, bold graphic prints, and vibrant solid or color-blocked hues express this season’s optimistic point of view. Tie-dye prints provide a twist on the recent loungewear trend, while white or neutral colors are completely timeless.

Ready to hit the beach? Throw on one of these easy, breezy dresses and you’re good to go.


An Off-The-Shoulder Maxi Dress In A Sweet Floral Print

This versatile maxi dress is the perfect beach trip companion. Wear it over your swimsuit, or dress it up for a trip to a beachside restaurant — it’s truly the perfect transitional piece to take you between the beach and dry land. Its stretchy rayon fabric is super light and airy, and a long side slit makes it easy to move in while keeping your legs from getting too hot under the dress. And because the dress sits off-the-shoulder, it can show off the straps of your swimsuit, or interfere less with tan lines on your shoulders, if that’s something you care about. It comes in a bunch of colors featuring a dainty floral print to suit your style.

  • Available colors & patterns: 23
  • Available sizes: X-Small — 3X-Large Plus


A Laid-Back Shirt Dress That Functions As A Great Coverup

If you prefer a super-casual, relaxed approach to beach-going, this shirt dress has an oversized menswear vibe, though the asymmetrical hem and side slits add a little extra style. A deep neckline and sleeves that can be rolled and buttoned to keep them off your forearms make sure you stay cool, as does the dress’s lightweight, breathable rayon fabric with a touch of spandex for stretch. Choose from a ton of solid colors or patterns, including tie dye, leopard, and floral.

  • Available colors & patterns: 37
  • Available sizes: Small — 3X-Large


A Casual-Chic T-Shirt Dress In A Fun, Tropical Print

Keep your sun-scorched shoulders covered with this MINKPINK T-shirt dress, which has a loose, easy fit without any extra fabric to get tangled in. It’s made from lightweight polyester that won’t weigh you down on a hot day, with traditional T-shirt details like a scooped neckline and short sleeves. The tropical floral print ensures beachy vibes, but it’s so easy to wear that you could hardly be blamed for throwing it on during any casual summer outing.

  • Available colors & patterns: 1
  • Available sizes: X-Small — Large


A Tiered Sundress With A Relaxed Fit & Roomy Pockets

When you’re going to the beach, you want something easy and breezy. This viscose dress is exactly that, with thick, comfortable straps, side pockets and a zip closure on the side to make it simple to take on and off. The tiered design draws the dress in at your natural waist, with the third tier flaring slightly at the bottom. The midi length is short enough that you won’t trip on it, but long enough to cover your legs when you’ve had just enough sun. The dress comes in a handful of colors and prints, including the sweet blue pinstripes, pictured.

  • Available colors & patterns: 8
  • Available sizes: X-Small — XX-Large


An Oversized Kaftan That’s Sold In Dozens Of Bold Prints

A kaftan is the ultimate in beachside glam, and this one is no exception. The oversized, billowy silhouette keeps you cool when the sun is hot, and it looks super chic, too. It has high slits on the sides, and depending on which style and print you choose (there are a bunch of options), you might enjoy some other interesting details, like a keyhole neckline or a drawstring to cinch the waist. No matter which style you choose, the kaftan is made from a rayon fabric that won’t absorb water and dries super quickly, so feel free to throw it on over your wet swimsuit.

  • Available colors & patterns: 40
  • Available sizes: One size only


A Tie-Dye Sundress Made Of Super-Soft Jersey

The beach can be a messy place, with sand, sea, and sunscreen, so it pays to wear a dress that you simply don’t need to worry about when you’re relaxing. This dress from Z SUPPLY is a perfect choice, since it features a tie-dye print, which means any stains or wet spots will simply blend right in (don’t worry, it can be machine-washed in cold water, too). Made of 100% cotton jersey that flows from a high gathered waist to a maxi-length hemline, the dress also has a looser fit that lets in the breeze and can fit easily over a swimsuit. Thin straps and a V-shaped neckline polish off the look. Choose between a taupe or pale pink print, style with a pair of strappy sandals, and hit the beach — it literally couldn’t be easier.

  • Available colors & patterns: 2
  • Available sizes: X-Small — X-Large


A Hippie-Chic Beach Dress That Would Also Work In Other Seasons

With quarter-length sleeves, a loose, swingy shape, and a floral print around the edges, this Romwe beach dress has serious hippie-chic vibes. The lightweight rayon dress hits just above the knees, so it’s super easy to throw on for a beach excursion — but you could style it with comfortable leather sandals or espadrilles and wear it literally anywhere (or, try it with tights and booties in the fall). If this color, style, or print isn’t quite to your liking, the dress also comes in a number of different variations.

  • Available colors & patterns: 18
  • Available sizes: Large Plus — 4X-Large Plus


A Cool T-Shirt Dress Made Of Sheer Mesh

If you want to add some edge to your beach look, style a black bathing suit under this black mesh dress. The T-shirt dress is made from super-breathable polyester mesh, and you can opt for a plain, star-printed, or vertical-striped version, or even a longer tiered style. It’s unlikely to offer much in the way of sun protection, but Amazon reviewers note that it’s surprisingly soft and looks just as good over a bodysuit as it does over swimwear.

  • Available colors & patterns: 4
  • Available sizes: X-Small — 4X-Large


A Linen-Blend Dress With Cute Flutter Sleeves

Amazon reviewers describe this dress from Goodthreads as “perfect for hot summer days,” and it’s easy to see why. The lightweight fabric is made from a blend of linen and cotton, which makes it super breathable and, consequentially, ideal for summer. It has a loose, easy fit that lends itself to wearing over a bathing suit, and the flutter-style sleeves provide some texture to help disguise the shape of straps beneath the fabric, so you can look put together even if the beach isn’t your only outing. As a thoughtful bonus, the dress also has pockets on the sides for small essentials, plus a zip closure in the back for straightforward on and off. Best of all, you don’t need to pack this dress away when summer comes to a close; reviewers suggest that even though the dress is lightweight, it can also be styled with a denim jacket for colder weather wear.

  • Available colors & patterns: 12
  • Available sizes: X-Small — XX-Large


An Elegant Sheath Dress That Offers UPF 50+ Sun Protection

There’s more than meets the eye with this Coolibar sheath dress. The light, silky, and stretchy dress is made from a breathable polyester fabric that also blocks 98% of UV radiation. The sleeveless design has a relaxed fit with breezy side slits and is intended to hit at ankle length, while the back of the dress features a keyhole closure. It comes in a turquoise print or solid black color.

  • Available colors & patterns: 2
  • Available sizes: XX-Small — 3X


A 2-Piece Maxi Dress That’s Sold In Lots Of Beachy Prints

This two-piece maxi dress offers a super flexible approach to beachwear, since the pieces can be worn separately or together. Throw just the skirt over a bikini if you’d like, or wear both parts and look totally put together on and off the beach. The polyester set actually comes in two different styles — a cami-style top paired with a skirt that has two side slits, or a short-sleeve top paired with a skirt with a single slit. It’s up to you depending on how much coverage you’re looking for. The sets also come in a ton of different prints, most of which are floral.

  • Available colors & patterns: 26
  • Available sizes: Small — XX-Large


A Colorblocked Sundress With An Open, Strappy Back

This STAUD dress is fun, bright, and breezy — perfect for wearing at the beach, to the ice cream shop, or literally anywhere that screams summer fun. It has a tiered design and thin straps that cross and tie in the back, which is low and open, and it’s made from stretchy poplin that’s 98% cotton for maximum breathability. Also, the punchy colorblocking isn’t just cute — it’ll also make you easy to spot across the beach, so your friends won’t lose you in the crowd.

  • Available colors & patterns: 2
  • Available sizes: Small — X-Large