At times like these, there's one thing fashion should be, and that's easy. With plenty of other stressors to consider, keep getting dressed as relaxing an experience as you can. Sweats work for that, sure, but the coming summer's best dresses can also fill the void. The effortless, one-and-done piece looks elevated thrown on with sandals, sneakers, or even bare feet (if you're working from home).
This year the season's best styles stick to simple daytime silhouettes, reimagined with puff sleeves, bright colors, and new on-trend prints. Whether your style is bohemian or minimalist, adding a few key dress styles to your closet can reinvigorate your personal wardrobe, even if you're getting dressed up to sit and work at your kitchen table. Ahead, hear from some of the industry's most stylish insiders on which summer dress trends they're endorsing and why you should consider slipping one on in the next few months.
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The Best Summer Dresses: Puff Piece
Voluminous frocks are an easy way to exude effortlessness during the warmer months of the year. “Dresses with puffy skirts, the ones we wore when we were little girls, are the cutest," Designer Naya Rea tells TZR. "You put it on and it instantly brings you into the happy moments of summer magic."
The Best Summer Dresses: The Easy, Casual Dress
"We're all about versatility with our pieces," Designer Christy Dawn tells TZR. Her pick for the perfect versatile summer dress is an easy, casual wrap dress. "The midweight, sustainable fabric [on our Augusta dress] offers breathability and beautiful movement as you move about your day, no matter what that might look like. Morning meeting? Lunch plans? Fancy night out or perhaps even a fancy Zoom meeting?"
The Best Summer Dresses: Tie Dye
Florals are ubiquitous for spring and summer, but another reliably cheerful pattern is tie dye. Sea Founder and Creative Director Monica Paolini created a dip dye fabric for this year's warm season. "The dip dye is a subtle way to wear pattern. Each piece is unique as it’s hand dyed by a women’s collective in India," she explains. "In the slip dress silhouette, the dip dye can read both playful and elegant."
The Best Summer Dresses: Strong Colors
"Summer is the perfect time for a unique silhouette in a strong color, STAUD Co-founder and Creative Director Sarah Staudinger tells TZR. "More than anything, we see dresses with a lightness and romance [becoming the trend.] Weightless fabrics like our organza, recycled nylon, and embroidered tulle make these drama dresses dreamy and wearable."
The Best Summer Dresses: Wrap Dress
"My favorite type of dress is a classic wrap dress," Rouje Founder and Creative Director Jeanne Damas tells TZR. "I like the ability to get ready in five minutes or less." The Parisian label is also celebrating the return of its iconic Laura midi dress "with a strong waist, soft neckline, and bows on each sleeve."
The Best Summer Dresses: Throw-On Dress
Inspired by a lifelong obsession with collecting vintage slips and nightgowns, "my focus has always been to make easy to throw on dresses that are wearable anywhere," Lacausa Founder Rebecca Grenell tells TZR. "Now more than ever, we all need pieces that transition effortlessly from inside and outside of the home."
The Best Summer Dresses: Handcrafted
“After an early spring of isolation and distancing, I think homemade, handcrafted details will be a huge dress trend this spring," Coco Shop Founder Taylor Simmons explains to TZR. "I am particularly in love with embroidery and, as a long-time needle-pointer, have been trying to teach myself how to embroider during this time at home ... it's difficult!"
The Best Summer Dresses: Midi Hemlines
"It's always the most chic length to wear," Designer Lia Cohen tells TZR of the calf-height hem. "I think more than a type or style of dress, women are going to be searching for a mood. After these very stressful times we are living, women are going to be looking for things that make them feel free, confident, and beautiful."
The Best Summer Dresses: Romantic Mood
Warm months call for romantic separates, especially breezy dresses. Vince Creative Director Caroline Belhumeur references the romantic feeling that comes from wearing sheer silk fabric. "Where once women may have been intimidated by sheer garments, now it’s much more commonplace," she explains. "In fact, many women are embracing sheer and forgoing a slip altogether, choosing to wear simple undergarments instead. To us, this feels fresh and fun and, indeed, romantic."
The Best Summer Dresses: Slip Dress
"What’s old is new again, and the classic slip dress is a must-have this season," Golden Edit Co-founder Elise Labau Topaloglu tells TZR. "Whether in a breezy linen, delicate silk, or lightweight cotton, an effortless slip is always my go-to." She suggests updating this wardrobe staple for summer by layering it under an oversized blazer and accessorizing it with a woven bag.
The Best Summer Dresses: House Dress
“It’s so funny that many months ago when we were designing Spring/Summer we were so drawn to the old-fashioned allure of the house dress and in this current climate the house dress is more poignant than ever," LoveShackFancy Founder and Creative Director Rebecca Hessel shares with TZR. "What you wear can be a huge mood enhancer, so ditching the yoga pants for a vintage-inspired dresses can make you feel more productive. And no shoes necessary, they are the perfect length to wear barefoot."