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The Dreamy Dress Trend I’m Wearing From Summer Into Fall

Styles to whisk you away.

Rebecca Iloulian

I’ve always had a hard time pinpointing my personal style — it just doesn’t fit the mold of just one specific aesthetic. Some days I gravitate toward loud colors and maximalist styles, while other days you’ll find me in a polished, preppy ensemble — which is to say, my look is constantly evolving. I have, however, noticed one common thread throughout the years: I’m always a sucker for all things romantic, from soft ruffles, to sweetheart necklines, to rosy florals. In particular, I adore long, romantic dresses.

While fanciful flowy dresses have been a longtime mainstay in fashion, it has particularly picked up over the past few years dominating both on and off the runways, with TV shows like Bridgerton and The Gilded Age contributing to its growing popularity. There is a multitude of styles within the world of romantic dressing (think puff-sleeves, corseted waists, and smocked bodices), all of which exude an effortless, ultra-feminine appeal. When frolicking around in one of these silhouettes I feel beautiful... ethereal, even!

Although the romantic dress has historically been associated with the formal and elaborate designs worn throughout the Regency Era, the 2022 version has a modern sensibility that provides the perfect balance of elegance and ease. There are so many styles that embody romanticism while still being comfortably casual for day-to-day wear. These days, delicate, voluminous dresses are juxtaposed with sporty sneakers and structured blazers to create a balanced and contemporary vibe. (That said, personally, I prefer committing to the ladylike effect, and complete the trend with strappy heeled sandals and delicate knit cardigans.)

Sweeping romantic dresses are not only beautiful, but also a style that can conveniently be worn all year round. Currently, with the long and balmy days of late summer ahead, its breezy fit is the ultimate choice for staying both stylish and cool. It offers airiness and volume — a comfort that pants or denim shorts do not! Yet, as we’re on the brink of August, I also can’t help but start to think about the inevitable end of summer, and impending fall months. If I’m purchasing a piece now, I want to make sure it will be an autumn wardrobe investment as well. So I’ll be choosing midi and floor-length hemlines that will work for the chillier months by layering knits on top, and combat or tall slouchy boots on bottom — the ultimate fall uniform.

To wit, the romantic dress trend is one that will stand the test of time and make a versatile addition to your wardrobe no matter the season. It’s an anti-trend, trend, if you will. And while the dreamy style comes in many forms, shop my edit of the few I’m coveting right now.

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Delicate Ruffles

Ruffles are one of the simplest ways to inject a bit of glamour into your wardrobe. A traditionally feminine detail, and a nostalgic one at that, they create that whimsical feel the romantic dress trend aims for. With options spanning from dramatic tiered ruffles to delicate detailing along collars or hems, there is a charming option that will work for maximalists and minimalists alike.

Corset Waistlines

Rebecca Iloulian

We tend to associate corset-style clothing with over-the-top boudoir dressing. However, 2022 has presented us with corset waist dresses that feel more soft and sweet than overtly sexy, appropriate styles you can easily wear from desk to dinner. Corset dresses also provide a subtle hourglass shape that looks amazing on everyone. Top: If you’re already all in on the corset dress, please meet the basque waistline — the corset’s cooler older sister, fated to be the next it-girl silhouette taking over 2022.

Full Skirts

The full skirt is the most swoon-worthy option, with its dramatic, structured shape. A capital L Look that demands attention, I always feel incredibly ladylike in this style. The voluminous fit combined with a cinched-in bodice makes for a sleek look that truly works for everyone, and will make any night out feel infinitely more special.

Sweet Smocking

Smocked dresses may be the easiest style to slip into, thanks to stretchy fabric that’s both comfortable and unfussy. Fitted to the body, you can go braless without fear and your dress won’t budge. The smallest details can make the biggest impact, which is exactly the case with these simple but gorgeous ruched silhouettes.