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Summer dresses fall into the "more is more" category of clothing. They're the one-and-done answer to "what do I wear today?!" from May through September—just add shoes (and maybe a strategic underlayer) and you're out the door. Below, find the very best designers for every category of summer dresses, from office-going to beach-hitting to drink-getting.
With ateliers in Stockholm and Paris, and the muscle of H&M Group behind it, & Other Stories turns out a solid array of stylish, inexpensive dresses season after season. You'll find plenty of interesting, artsy prints in the mix, much of which is totally work-appropriate, too.
Tucked inside of Need Supply Co., one of our go-to indie online shops, is Farrow, an affordable, casual line that mixes relaxed silhouettes with an easy-to-style palette of off-white, crisp black, and every denim rinse. Find versatile day dresses here, mostly priced from $58 to $88.
This Aritzia brand has perfected the art of the breezy, flirty day dress, taking straightforward versions of summertime classics—tank dresses, babydoll dresses, slip dresses—and adding little design tweaks to make them more exciting, like strappy back ties and tiny pom poms.
This designer first gained attention for her shredded vintage tees, recycled from the Los Angeles County Prison System, but it's the brand's stripey tie-dye effect that has us transfixed this summer. We're not the only ones captivated: The line's effortless tank dresses, caftans, and maxi styles are stocked everywhere from massive stores like Shopbop to boutiques like The Dreslyn.
For florals as far as the eye can see, look no further than this dreamy, Jaipur, India-based brand. Flattering wrap dresses, pretty halter styles, and tasteful strapless dresses all in gauzy, breathable fabrics are the highlights of the collection, which is in good supply at Barneys.
Stripes, plaids, and oversize gingham are the bread and butter of this textile-obsessed brand. The Brooklyn-based line exclusively crafts its seasonless dresses from its own yarn-dyed, woven cotton, turning out an array that's colorful, textural, and totally comfortable.
Interesting at the Office
Add seasonal florals, stripes, and even a little lace to your summer work dress repertoire with the help of this Copenhagen-based brand. Ganni has a handful of stores in Denmark, Norway, and Germany, if your summer travels take you there, but you can also find the label on ASOS, Shopbop, and Need Supply.
Yet another Scandinavian brand with silhouettes that are covered-up enough for the office, but in a cool, creative professional way, not a stuffy, sad way. Strong solids like kelly green, blush pink, and lemon yellow will brighten up Monday through Friday, though there are tons of black options as well.
This New York designer gets a lot of love for her footwear, but she makes slam-dunk dresses, too. There are smart A-lines, relaxed shirt dresses, and plenty of midi-length versions, available anywhere cool girls shop (like La Garçonne, Totokaelo, or Steven Alan).
This British brand does the prettiest hide-and-reveal dresses, using lace, embroidery, and sheer check fabric for sexy but sophisticated, show-stealing styles. The collection launched in 2013 and has racked up a healthy list of retailers in its short lifetime, including Revolve, Bergdorf Goodman, and ASOS.
Sustainably-focused Reformation has a dedicated weddings and parties section for nearly no-brainer shopping, but do check out its regular selection of dresses, too, which start around $100 for more casual styles and rise to $200+ for fancy occasion options.
Nasty Gal never tires of a good cut-out detail, making for a deep selection of sexy going-out options. The quantity of $68 to $88 mini dresses is near endless, with styles ranging from hippie to sporty.
Australians are the best at making clothes that ooze sex appeal while somehow retaining a wink of "who, me?" Or maybe that's just Bec & Bridge. Ab-revealing cut outs feature prominently, as do asymmetric hems that hit at mid-thigh and body-concious midi styles. Shop them stateside at Bloomingdale's and Saks.
This California-based brand proves that vintage-inspired boho can be sexy as hell. Maxi styles are slit high, bell-sleeved minis are cut low, and no one does off-the-shoulder quite as well. See for yourself at Free People or Revolve.