10 Best Summer Dresses for Women

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The sartorial equivalent of an ice-cold drink on a warm summer day is a sunshine-ready summer dress. The lightweight one-and-done style solution makes getting dressed a lot faster and easier for any occasion, especially for key investment-worthy women’s dress styles that have the versatility to go from office hours to cocktail hours. Thankfully, the best summer dresses this season are available in a range of price points and silhouettes to flatter your figure on any budget.

Consider this season’s lot of slinky slip dresses, strapless cocktail dresses, lace dresses, chic shirt dresses, and even tennis dresses as simple and elevated capsule wardrobe staples. Contemporary brands like Banana Republic, Quince, Free People, and Alo Yoga present a wealth of summer dress options to suit your style, whether you’re embracing Euro-summer style trends in floral-printed linens and puff sleeves, or you have an affinity for easy ’90s minimalism with square necklines and flowing trapeze skirts.

In the dog days of summer, stylist Micaela Erlanger, who’s dressed A-listers from Lupita Nyong’o to Meryl Streep, recommends shopping for soft, breathable materials for the best summer dresses, like cotton or linen. “The beauty of linen is it can host a wrinkle — it’s supposed to have that look, so it’s not too precious, and I love that for travel to warm destinations,” she says. “You also want to consider more neutral or earthier palettes because it is an organic material, so it’s going to get better with washing and aging, which responds better with more natural dyes.”

Below, discover the best summer dresses of 2024 from trending brands. Then, keep scrolling for insider tips on what to look for when you’re shopping, plus insight on of-the-moment trends and editor-curated summer dress outfit inspiration.

Top Summer Dresses of 2024

Editor’s Choice: Top 3 Summer Dresses of 2024

What’s sunny season without a winning arsenal of feminine summer dresses? These easy-breezy pieces come in a variety of silhouettes, from slip dresses to shirt dresses with maxi and mini hems, and practically everything in between. Since the fashion category covers so much ground, we’ve highlighted our top three summer dress recommendations for the season that hit various style preferences, price points, and are friendly for a range of occasions. We’ve rated our standouts based on essential criteria, including versatility, comfort, trend appeal, and durability that’ll last many summers to come.

  • Skims Soft Lounge Long Slip Dress: This viral sensation is worth every bit of the hype it receives. This ankle-skimming maxi slip dress is not only thin and breathable for high temps, but also expertly flatters curves of all sizes and comes in sleek solid colorways for boundless styling possibilities. Plus, it easily transitions to cool nights or chilly seasons with a trusty sweater or leather jacket. For those looking to embody ’90s supermodel style this season, this Skims summer dress has the clean neckline for a sexy minimalist look, but for the woman who likes to go glam, this dress can be viewed as a blank canvas to accessorize with chunky earrings, tennis bracelets, statement heels, and so much more. If you’re traveling this summer, don’t forget to pack this wrinkle-resistant modal summer dress that can be worn as a casual number or a cocktail dress based on how it’s styled, allowing you to save space in your luggage for other wardrobe essentials.
  • Reformation Aubree Linen Dress: One editor keeps the Aubree Linen Dress on repeat throughout the sunny season. This lightweight and adjustable frock comes in a chic mini, square-neck cut, with a comfortable relaxed fit and cute tie straps. Pack the sweet and simple statement away on vacay, or style it atop a cotton tee for the office. The best thing about summer linen dresses is that light wrinkles are expected from the fabric, so you can rest easy knowing this casual summer dress requires little maintenance to look its best. This top dress style for summer also can be worn as a tunic with lightweight pants for a fashion-forward look, especially when styled with a silk scarf and designer sunglasses for a ‘Euro Summer’ vibe — just add a classic straw bag to embody Jane Birkin’s style on all your summer adventures. Consider this summer linen dress essential for effortlessly cool style this season.
  • Banana Republic Ava Linen Midi Dress: This summer dress from Banana Republic is equal parts elegant and modern, with airy linen fabrication and lust-worthy functional features like side pockets. The simple fabrication provides comfort while the cut of the dress packs a punch of quiet luxury style with a deep-plunging neckline. Like other best summer dresses highlighted in this shopping guide, its versatility for different body types and occasions made it to the top of our summer wish list. Dress it up with statement jewelry for a swanky outdoor summer soirée or pair it with trendy flip-flop sandals for casual summer brunches and daytime excursions. It comes in butter yellow and white colorways — both of which are trending colors this season.

Skims summer dress

Editor’s Choice

Skims Soft Lounge Long Slip Dress

Size range: XXS to 4XL
Colorways: Onyx, Heather Gray, Bone, Camel, Cherry Blossom, Sugar Plum, and more
Materials: 91% modal, 9% spandex

The Skims Soft Lounge Slip Dress put the shapewear brand’s clothing pieces on the map — and this casual, cool summer dress has racked up a whopping 109 million views and searches on TikTok. Its ribbed, modal fabrication is exceptionally soft and breathable for hot weather, while its stretchy, snatching material is renowned for its flattering and transformative fit that even forgoes the need for shapewear. A maxi hem makes it versatile for more formal occasions, though you can also throw it on to run errands or stay comfy while catching a flight.

Editor testing and review notes: “I own three Skims slip dresses, and you can find me wearing one of them nearly any day I’m working from home and on the weekends under a lightweight sweater or a leather jacket. They’re supremely stretchy and form-fitting in a flattering way, and they don’t pill or fade with multiple wash and dry cycles.”

Price upon publish date of this article: $80

Reformation summer dress

Editor’s Choice

Reformation Aubree Linen Dress

Size range: XS to XL
Colorways: Vineyard, Slate Check, Sundried Tomato, Rose Petals, Parmesan, and Black
Materials: 100% linen

$98

$98


Buy Now at Saks Fifth Avenue

$98

Linen is a stellar summer dress fabrication to prioritize on your shopping spree, and this Aubree style from Reformation serves as a sweet and simple solution from the office to a hot European getaway. Its fits snug at the bust then drapes to a relaxed fit, with the option to adjust the hemline with hand-tied straps you can fasten as bows. The style’s comfortable fit also won’t cling to the torso, which means you’re free to frolic down the coast or slurp up all the spaghetti on your “Roman holiday.”

Editor testing and review notes: “I’m officially on my second summer fling with the Aubrey and it remains my favorite sundress in my wardrobe. It is so lightweight and comfortable and easy to style for a variety of occasions, be it a dinner date or an engagement party. The tie straps are adorable and make adjusting the hem a breeze, and its square neckline looks so chic — I find it beautifully flatters the décolletage while providing tasteful coverage.”

Price upon publish date of this article: $98

Banana Republic summer dress

Editor’s Choice

Banana Republic Ava Linen Midi Dress

Size range: XXS to XXL
Colorways: Butter Yellow and White
Materials: 100% linen; 100% cotton lining

$109.99

$140

21% off


Buy Now at banana republic

Banana Republic’s trapeze-style European linen dress features a flowy fit with a tasteful V-neckline and handy side pockets. Its “swing fit” hem falls just above the knee, offering a conservative silhouette for the office or formal summer events, while its minimalist feel bodes well for styling with cute summer sandals, pumps, or layers upon layers of gleaming jewelry. The skirt is fully lined with cotton, so you don’t have to sweat any sheerness whether you choose this trendy butter yellow hue or the crisp white colorway.

Price upon publish date of this article: $109.99

Free people summer dress

Free People Liza Drop-Waist Midi Dress

Size range: XS to XL
Colorways: Black, Off White, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue
Materials: 97% cotton, 3% spandex

Drop waist dresses are all the rage for summer from street style to the runways. The chic square-neck bodice on this Liza midi dress from Free People has a flattering slim-fit that’s ruched down to the waistline, flowing out to a trendy bubble skirt that falls at the mid-calf. It features adjustable tie straps and an overall stretchy feel, so you can rest-assured it’ll fit you like a glove.

What testers say: “I love the drop waist and how the material feels. It’s not a super fancy dres,s but a more so a cute casual vibe. The sizing is pretty true and fits tighter around the body which gives you a nice shape!”

Price upon publish date of this article: $78

Abercrombie summer dress

Abercrombie Tie-Front Textured Maxi Dress

Size range: XXS to XL
Colorways: White, French Blue, Pastel Yellow, and Black
Materials: 97% polyester, 3% elastane

No summer capsule wardrobe is complete without a flouncy white dress. Our editors have heart-eyes for this pick from Abercrombie that falls at a maxi hem, with puff sleeves and seersucker texturing. It also has built-in pockets and waist-cinching smocking that you’ll love from Sunday brunch to happy hour and beyond.

Price upon publish date of this article: $96

Quince summer dress

Quince 100% Washable Silk Slip Dress

Size range: XS to XL
Colorways: Moss Green, Grey Lilac, Ethereal Blue, Ruby Noir, Champagne, Black, and more
Materials: 100% mulberry silk

Silky slip dresses are minimal and classic, but they can often run you a pretty penny. This luxuriously smooth and shiny frock from Quince rings in below $80, which is a true steal considering that it’s made with high-quality mulberry silk. It comes in over a dozen color options to match your summer wardrobe, with an easy midi hem, slight V-neckline, and shiny satin finish. Team it with pumps and a shawl, and this easy piece transforms into a great cocktail dress.

Editor testing and review notes: “I practically live in slip dresses during the summer, so I’m always looking for affordable options to wear when I don’t want to worry about staining my more expensive options. Here’s the thing about Quince’s slip dress: It feels as luxurious as slip dresses in my closet that cost triple the price. Besides snipping a few loose threads after wearing it a dozen times, I have zero complaints. It’s chic, simple, and has a flattering fit.”

Price upon publish date of this article: $79.90

Zimmermann summer dress

Zimmermann Lightburst Puff Midi Dress

Size range: 4 to 12
Colorways: Red Floral
Materials: 100% cotton

This Nordstrom-exclusive number exemplifies everything you need in a standout summer dress: Free-flowing comfort, cotton breathability, and a sweet feminine floral print we’ve seen trending from designer handbags to footwear. Its voluminous fit won’t leave you feeling frumpy, thanks to its gathered bodice and slim strapping. We rate it as a top wedding guest dress, but it’s equally cool under a denim jacket for a day at the vineyard.

Price upon publish date of this article: $795

Alo summer dress

Alo Yoga Alosoft Courtside Tennis Dress

Size range: XXS to L
Colorways: Navy, Botanical Green, Lilac Blue, Black, and White
Materials: 87% polyester, 13% elastane

Alo Yoga’s bestselling tennis dress will keep you looking and feeling cool on and off the court. This stretchy, soft dress that features a snug bodice, A-line skirt, and a built-in shelf bra and shorts for added comfort and security. Its sweetheart neckline brings a subtle dose of feminine flair, while the simple silhouette acts as a blank canvas for all kinds of tenniscore-inspired styling.

Editor testing and review notes: “I ordered this dress for a pickleball party two summers ago, thinking I’d wear it once in a blue moon when I need athletic gear that doesn’t read overly sporty. In the time since, I’ve found myself gravitating towards it as a cute base for weekend outfits — it has the look of a miniskirt when I layer an oversized button down or sweater on top. The fabric is unbelievably soft, and the thin straps add a feminine touch.”

Price upon publish date of this article: $118

Madewell summer dress

Madewell Seamed Denim Mini Shirt Dress

Size range: 00 to 16
Colorways: Palermo Wash
Materials: 76% cotton, 21% hemp, 3% elastane.

Madewell’s on-trend denim dress won’t weigh you down in the sweltering heat. Its stretchy cotton fabrication keeps it from feeling stiff, while short sleeves and functional buttons avoid stuffy discomfort. Although it’s described as a mini shirtdress, its hem falls just above the knee, so you can pull it off at the office as a work dress, too.

What testers say: “I can’t believe how many compliments I got when I wore this dress! It looks great with sneakers, flats or cute espadrille sandals. It’s so comfy and has a bit of stretch so it fits perfectly.”

Price upon publish date of this article: $118

banana republic summer dress

Banana Republic Odile One-Shoulder Knit Dress

Size range: XXS to XXL
Colorways: White, Navy Blue, and Black
Materials: 100% cotton

$180


Buy Now at banana Republic

For a dress that reads formal but is secretly super comfy, look to Banana Republic’s Odile One-Shoulder Knit Dress. This elegant and clean-cut number flashes a bare shoulder in breezy jersey fabric that’s ideal for cool summer date nights or dressy occasions. It has a flowing trapeze cut that falls below the knee, with a hidden cotton poplin hem lining that brings weight to its swinging shape.

Price upon publish date of this article: $180

What to Consider When Shopping for a Summer Dress

  • Material: “Natural fabrics are best for the warmer weather,” explains Nikki Campbell and Sophie Coote, founders of the Australian label Sir. “For example, linen and cotton are perfect for layering with swimwear, ideal since they feature open weaves that keep you cool and dry.” Silk is another summer-friendly fabric because it feels cool to the touch, can help regulate your body temperature, and even has moisture-wicking properties.
  • Silhouette and cut: When deciding what type of summer dress you want, consider the event you’ll be wearing it to. For example, midi and maxi dresses are usually more appropriate for formal occasions, though they can also play quite casual for a summery date night depending on the styling. Mini summer dresses and short hems are most ideal for off-duty activities from day to night. Once you’ve decided on the cut, find a silhouette that suits your taste. For example, if you’re a maximalist dresser, experiment with fun puff sleeves or a halter neck to add flair to the standard summer dress. Strategically placed cutouts are also great design elements to seek since they will enhance your figure and add breathability to your outfit. 
  • Versatility: If ease is your goal, you’ll want to invest in a style that can easily be worn for a daytime beach visit or a fancier occasion, simply depending on how you style it. “We always have in mind the versatility of a piece so that the dress alone can work both ways,” says Monica Paolini, the designer of Sea New York. “The right jewelry and shoe pairing can help shift the look into day or night. For the minidress, I like a barely-there shoe such as a thin strap sandal so it’s like you’re running around barefoot.”
  • Color: When shopping for a new summer dress, consider muted hues that can play as a neutral. Organic fabrications like linen tend to come in beachy neutrals that pair beautifully with tonal tote bags or wedge sandals, while crisp whites not only look fresh and feminine, but also lend themselves to all the colorful accessories you’ve been stocking up for the summer season. Colors like butter yellow, sage green, deep reds, and sky blue are trending — all of which can play as soft backdrops for timeless, juicy summer hues like sunset orange and cherry red.

Cute Summer Dress Trends for 2024

From left to right: Summer dresses seen on spring 2024 runways at Sandy Liang, Khaite, Gucci, The Row, and Louis Vuitton.

If you’re looking for the ideal summer silhouette to embrace, look to this season’s runway trends for inspiration.

  • Denim dresses: Denim summer dresses are hot right now, as seen on celebrities like Kelly Rowland, Rita Ora, and Jennifer Garner in recent street style looks. Denim dresses are functional since they come in all types of silhouettes, from mini shirt dresses to floor-skimming smocked styles. Plus, they’re versatile enough to be dressed up or down. When layered over a crisp blouse or shirt, a denim dress is just the thing to slot into your rotation of office attire. For the weekend, go with a denim bustier dress and kitten heels.
  • Slip dresses: The classic ’90s slip dress silhouette is always in style for summer, as it serves as a nearly-naked fabrication that’s cool to the touch and bodes well for layering well into the fall. Glossy silk sheaths — which lean right into this season’s reflective trends — shined on the runways at Schiaparelli and Louis Vuitton, while sheer lace panelling flowed through the spring collections at Gucci and Altuzzara.
  • Drop waist dresses: Flattering and chic, drop waist summer dresses are seeing a resurgence across top contemporary labels this season. On the runways, designers like Khaite and Sandy Liang presented sweetly sophisticated frocks with waistlines below the belly button, often in tight bodices that fan out to a full, swinging skirt.
  • Shirt dresses: A summer shirt dress is a no-brainer capsule wardrobe staple that can take you from the office to weekend errands and on a vacay in style. The one-and-done silhouette can play either masculine as a button-down shirt dress or comfortably casual in cotton as a t-shirt dress. Labels like Louis Vuitton, The Row, Max Mara, Staud, and Altuzarra embraced shirt dress silhouettes in their recent collections.
  • Tennis dresses: Blame it on Zendaya’s block-busting red carpet style for the “Challengers” film, or the enduring “quiet luxury” and “old money” style trends — tennis dresses have never been more mainstream. They serve as a functional fashion piece that can quite literally take you from a workout to brunch in serious style, and happen to come with exceptional comfort features like sweat-wicking fabrication and built-in bras.

How to Wear the Best Summer Dresses

Summer Dress Outfit for Weddings and Formal Occasions

Skims Soft Lounge Long Slip Dress

Shown with: Cult Gaia Puffer Clutch ($398), Ana Luisa Frida Pearl Huggie Hoop Earrings ($58.50), Bottega Veneta Stretch Leather Strappy Thong Sandals ($990)

Summer Dress Outfit for Beach Days and Casual Brunches

Reformation Aubree Linen Dress

Shown with: Gucci GG Logo Metal Cat-Eye Sunglasses ($495), Loewe Paseo Small Leather-Trimmed Raffia Tote ($2,500), See By Chloé Glyn Leather Flatform Espadrille Sandals ($325)

Weekend Whimsy

Banana Republic Ava Linen Midi Dress

Shown with: Mejuri Dôme Hoops ($78), Urban Expressions White Fiji Bag ($80), Saint Laurent Tribute Leather Slides ($725)

How We Selected the Best Summer Dresses

Since 1910, WWD — often referred to as “the fashion bible” — has been the leading industry voice of authority for senior executives in the global women’s and men’s fashion, retail, and beauty communities, while also informing the consumer media that cover the market. Today, WWD’s breaking news and trend coverage continues to be a trustworthy resource for both fashion insiders and consumers alike. Our shopping editors continue to uphold WWD’s editorial standards and values with quality, expert-backed product selections.

In order to curate this guide to the best summer dresses, we interviewed three fashion industry experts for product selections and style recommendations, as well as key knowledge on dress styling, fabrication, popular trends for summer 2024, and various occasion functionality. We chose the best summer dresses for women that reflect current and emerging trends, fabric and material innovation, durability, convertibility, and traditional design applications. We also compared customer review quotes, employed research across the designer dress market, and considered our own editor product testing. Learn more about us here.

Meet the Experts

Micaela Erlanger

Micaela Erlanger is a celebrity fashion stylist based in New York. Named one of the “Most Powerful Stylists,” by The Hollywood Reporter, her A-list clients include Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Common, Diane Kruger, Sigourney Weaver, Lucy Hale, Amanda Hearst, and Shailene Woodley.

Nikki Campbell & Sophie Coote are the founders of the Australian label, Sir. They established Sir in 2014 when both were only 24. Since then, their strength of vision has catapulted the brand into international recognition for its singular, uncompromising aesthetic. Maintaining an aspirational yet inclusive appeal centered on Australian culture has been paramount to Sir’s development, values that continue to guide its evolution as Campbell and Coote push the brand to new heights. Evolving its minimal core aesthetic into a louder voice, Sir has cemented their place in the industry with collections that never fail to capture international demand, nimbly balancing a chase for new customers with honoring its growing, loyal fan base.

Monica Paolini is the designer of Sea New York. In 2009, Monica, whose history includes nine years as Design Director at Betsey Johnson and three years at Jill Stuart as Head Design Assistant, joined her partner Sean to launch Sea New York. The two work together to find the theme of each collection, select fabrics and prints, detail designs, merchandise collections, style look books, manage the sales and brand strategy and oversee the production and delivery.

Meet the Authors

Aemilia Madden is a writer, editor, and brand consultant who has worked in the fashion industry for over eight years. She’s an Oakland, California native and Brooklyn resident. When she’s not writing about the latest trends, Aemilia is running in prospect park, testing new recipes on her friends, and trying to keep up with her New Yorker subscription. Madden wrote the original version of this summer dress story for 2022.

Olivia Cigliano is a Commerce Writer & Producer at Footwear News and WWD where she writes and edits shopping content across fashion, beauty, footwear, TikTok style trends, and more. Cigliano received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Emerson College, and her byline can be found in publications including Elite Daily and CR Fashion Book. She is currently based in New York City. Cigliano updated this summer dress shopping guide for 2024 with retailer new releases, editor’s choice recommendations, and fresh trends for summer.


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