IT’S TOO darn hot (or it soon will be) for sweats or leggings. Is there a better replacement for those lounge-y clothes than a dress—when the temperature skyrockets? It’s a one-and-done piece of clothing, a total outfit, so you look put together, minimal thought and effort required. No need to obsess about what to wear with it except which pair of sandals or sneakers you prefer. Just stumble out of bed in the morning and throw it on.
The keys to the style: loose-fitting, forgiving and comfortable. As for fabric, lightweight and sturdy ones like linen, cotton and silk work best. The dress may be throw on but you won’t want to toss it. The ideal summer frock should last for several seasons.
We’ve been browsing for perfectly comfy—and pretty—warm-weather dresses. Scroll down for some of our favorite ones. And when you find one you like, don’t dawdle. They’re selling out quickly.
LEFT: It may be 101 degrees in the shade, but imagine how cool you’ll look when you slip into Ayr’s crisp linen-blend Sunset Dress ($325, Shopbop) with its tidy, nautical stripes. Feel the breeze through the maxi dress’s side slits. Pair with sandals and a stack of bracelets. CENTER: When, like now, the world is too much with you, try some whimsical relief —Marni’s loose, midi Brush Stroke Dress ($245, reduced from $490, Farfetch)— to lighten the day. RIGHT: Kule’s preppy, cream-and-navy Tank Dress ($168, Shopbop) in cotton jersey is comfy and care-free. Wear with everything from summer slides to sneakers. Don’t forget—wash it in cold water.
LEFT: Cos Stores is known for their basic, utilitarian clothing. But besides being practical (yay, pockets), this Belted Organic Cotton Denim Dress ($125) has a stylish edge with its waist-defining belt, slight A-line fit and perky, pointed collar. Plus, it’s tailored enough for a work-related Zoom. RIGHT: An unexpected but welcome departure from Eileen Fisher’s New York City-psychologist style, this relaxed Brushstroke Silk & Cotton Midi shift ($278, Saks Fifth Avenue) looks dreamy. Availability limited, sigh.
LEFT: We love the swingy tiered design of Roberta Roller Rabbit’s Valley Floral Pamela Dress ($138). Whether you’re beach- or street-bound, this lightweight cotton chemise will keep you comfortable through the simmer of summer days. CENTER: We’re betting this Frilled Belt Dress ($69.99, Mango) will sell out when it becomes available: it’s “estimated to ship in eight days,” according to Mango’s website. It’s no-fuss but with a ruffle of fun. (It will also be available in red.) RIGHT: A small, family-owned business, Emerson Fry focuses on the limited production of its pieces, such as this Francina Caftan ($178), which reminds me of the “house dress,” although a reinvented one—with gold lurex stripes. For a more fitted look, tighten the hidden interior waist tie.
ABOVE: CP Shades clothing epitomizes laid-back California style. Although the company ships everywhere, their only standalone stores are in the northern and southern parts of the state. Made for the hottest, sweatiest days, this mid-calf length Tasha V-neck Tank Dress ($260) in textured linen is available in white and marine. NB: The white looks as if it might be more see-through.
LEFT: For those who like more coverage for either sun protection or camouflage, BB Dakota’s midi Floral Dress ($110, Carabella) offers lots to like—an elastic waist, elbow-length sleeves and pockets. RIGHT: I’m not sure why but I’m a sucker for the billowy styles that populated spring 2020 runways. They just look as if they’d be so blessedly airy on a hot day. Co’s Tiered Cotton Dress ($595, also available in neutral beige, Moda Operandi) appeals for that reason. I also like that it’s narrower on top and then poufs out so you won’t look like a tent when you wear it.
LEFT: Xirena’s sunny Cate Dress ($285, Shopbop) is unfortunately out of stock. Made from breathable (and easily packable if you happen to be leaving town) gauze, with an adjustable belt and twirlable length. The similar Caylin dress ($286) in white is available on the Xirena site. CENTER: This Alice Pocket Shirt Dress ($549, Shopbop) by Australian designer Lee Mathews, looks much like one of the fab Dior dresses Tilda Swinton wore in the hot Mediterranean setting of the film “A Bigger Splash.” Oversize, made of stretchy cotton and in sky blue, I feel the cool just looking at it. RIGHT: You could wear this silky cotton Joni Dress ($386, Shopbop), another from Xirena, all day, and say you were going to a restaurant (well, maybe) for dinner, the only thing you might want to change would be from your flat slides to a strappy heel.