Planning A Summer Outfit? There’s A White Dress For That

Here’s an option for every occasion.

by Jess Ferguson
White dress
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Few things have the dependability of a white dress in the summer — save, perhaps, for the glass of chilled rosé you might drink while wearing it. The light color is ideal for steamy temperatures and looks fresh and polished in even the sweatiest of conditions. And while, sure, it can be fun to experiment with bright colors or pastels in warm, sunny weather, these are not likely options one reaches for several times in a row. A crisp silhouette in an optic milk shade, however, is a blank slate you can reinvent every day (until you need to wash it, that is).

Also, there’s a white dress option for every imaginable occasion: a ruffled shift for date night, a sheer lace maxi to party in, a crochet cover-up you’ll wear at the beach. Whatever route you take, the look is easy to transform with your choice of accessories. For an effortlessly breezy vibe, try wearing your silhouette of choice with flat sandals and a colorful claw clip; or, for an after-hours affair, perhaps you might enhance it via heels and red lipstick. Thanks to the timeless and adaptable color scheme, the style always offers a myriad of outfit potential.

Celebrities (or at least their stylists) also understand the power of the white dress, and it shows on the red carpet. This spring, stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have all worn some version of the look. Their different interpretations — one-shoulder cuts, ruched floral adornments, high-leg slits — prove just how many directions you can take it. The Spring/Summer 2023 runways are full of inspiration as well: consider Ferragamo’s elegantly draped options, Loewe’s sculpted micro-minis, and effortless numbers at Isabel Marant, dripping with a sense of Left Bank cool.

Of course, deciding to buy a LWD (aka, a Little White Dress) is only half the equation — there are so many variations on the theme to choose from: easy and breezy, sleek and polished, and everything in-between. Ahead, shop the best picks for every possible category.


Popularized by Kate Moss and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in the ‘90s, a sleek and simple LWD is basically fashion canon at this point. To channel their look, wear an understated number with simple slide mules during the day — and the highest strappy heels at night.


Nothing matches the dreaminess of a floaty little number in ecru — just look at the mystifying Lisbon sisters from The Virgin Suicides, for example. What to look for? Anything with off-the-shoulder sleeves, halter necklines, ruffles, and tiered bodices. Lean further into the aesthetic with subtle hints of color (pastel shoes or accessories are good ways to go) and keep your jewelry delicate.


Country club-chic styles are undeniably in full swing during the spring and summer months. To tap into the pristine and sporty vibe, look no further than a traditional shirt dress or a polo collar piece — both would look superb with matching clean new kicks.


If you want to take your LWD out on the town, here’s what to look for: sultrier elements like skirt slits, sheer fabric, and cutouts — you want to show off some skin, but in a strategic way. Play to the going-out energy by adding in ankle-wrap stilettos, statement earrings, and a clutch that carries little more than your phone and favorite lipstick.


Crochet and netted knit designs are dominating fashion this summer, and there’s no easier way to jump on the trend than with a white dress. You can wear an open-weave knit or airy, oversized linen number as a beach cover-up or to a music festival to be cute and comfortable — just be sure to add a playful cord necklace and sandals you can walk in all day.