It’s that time of year again – the weather is warming up, the nights are getting longer, there are plenty of Bank Holidays on the horizon and we’ve even cracked out the fake tan. Yep, summer is on the way and that means we’re back on the hunt for the perfect summer dress.
When it comes to finding the perfect summer dress, there are a few key things to consider. You’ll be thinking about the style and shape to suit you, maybe looking for a bright, bold summer colour and a lightweight fabric to keep you cool on balmy summer days.
But what about versatility? Do you want something you can wear at the office and to a BBQ? And then there’s length – super short or midaxi? Sleeveless or short sleeve? Added details or sleek and simple? So much to consider!
To help, we’ve pulled together the ultimate guide to your perfect summer dress. Take a look and do your research before you start scrolling – trust us, it makes all the difference!
Choosing your perfect summer dress
Before you jump headfirst into the summer collections, have a think about what’s most important to you when it comes to summer dressing. Do you want to make a statement with a juicy colour pop? Are you looking for natural materials like cotton or linen? Do you need your summer dress to work all week long, whatever the occasion?
We’ve put these considerations into categories so you can make a little list of must-haves. Use your decisions from each category to filter down your summer dress search results and you’ll have a winner in no time.
Choosing the right colour summer dress
We’re all for simple shades like black and white, but there’s nothing quite like a bright, bold, beautiful summer dress. So we say ditch the monochrome and reach for the rainbow this summer – choose a shade that really makes you happy.
We love this short and strappy summer dress in juicy orange, while this yellow midi dress is sunshine perfection.
For more advice, read our blog post on colourful outfit ideas that can boost your mood.
Choosing the right style summer dress
Summer is the perfect time to experiment with a ruffle here, a statement sleeve there. We love eye-catching silhouettes and playful details – when the sun’s shining, anything goes!
Ruffles in particular are having a real moment this season – this blue ruffle dress will look banging with simple leather sandals and gold hoops on a hot day. For a 2022 update on a classic, a simple white linen dress is totally elevated by the ruffle detail around the neckline. Gorgeous.
Other styles we’re digging this summer – a touch of asymmetry, as seen in this cute floral one-sleeve dress, structured tailoring, like this cami dress with collar and buttons and tiers, demonstrated perfectly in this hot pink beauty.
Choosing the right material for your summer dress
When the days are hot and you’re wearing the same clothing for hours on end, the last thing you want is sticky, sweaty material that doesn’t let your body breathe. Ugh!
In the height of summer – even here in the UK where temperatures aren’t too stifling – natural materials wick sweat away from your body and keep air flowing, helping you regulate your temperature and stay cool even in the hottest situations… like on your daily commute. Look for pure cotton pieces, even better if they’re organic.
For smarter styles, linen is a great option – a linen/viscose mix, like this pretty floral dress will keep creases at bay while still being breathable. And it might not be an obvious choice, but denim is another top choice for summer dresses – a sleeveless style is light and airy enough for hot days.
Choosing the right length summer dress
We love a leggy look for summer days, but your perfect summer dress doesn’t have to be super short. It’s all about comfort – if you like a short, swingy dress to keep you cool then go for it, but midi, maxi and midaxi styles are all great options, too.
This short printed dress with ruffle detail is fun and fresh for hot days, while an elegant knee length style is perfect for the office.
If you fancy a midi length, we love this timeless black broderie dress and if you’re going full length, a wrap over maxi dress oozes old school glam.
Choosing a versatile summer dress
Summer dresses can be totally versatile – with clever layering and well-placed accessories, your summer dress will take you from work to play, day to night, even through the seasons.
What to wear over a summer dress
Choosing what to wear over a summer dress can be a tricky prospect. Try a lightweight denim shirt – either fling it over your shoulders and wear it unbuttoned, or take the two tail ends and tie them at your waist.
A blazer will add instant professional cool to any summer dress – we love this cotton/linen blazer in monochrome gingham for a smart, sleek summer look.
And if you want to add a casual air to an evening summer dress, try layering with a simple white or black t-shirt.
All these tips can be used to extend the life of your dresses past the summer season too - for more inspiration, discover our blog post on styling your dresses in winter.
The summer dress for your shape
Above all else, your perfect summer dress should make you feel absolutely fantastic. It could be short and sleeveless, long and dramatic, bright or neutral, trendy or classic – it really doesn’t matter, as long as you feel good.
Finding a summer dress to suit your shape is more about confidence than anything else. If you’re worrying about how to dress thinner for summer, try to let that go and concentrate on what makes you happy.
A flattering fit can be a huge confidence booster. Find your body shape below to get inspiration on how to dress for your shape.
What dress to wear for the rectangle shape
Athletic rectangle shapes should look for ways to create curves, considering ruffles or tier detail to add volume. Choose round necklines, prints and textures that create interest, and use a dark belt to define the waist.
For style inspiration, Kate Middleton is a great example of how to dress for your shape. Classic yet stylish, Kate often wears tailored dresses with a fit and flare style.
What dress to wear for the pear shape
Pear shapes should go for scooped necklines, choosing dresses that draw the eye to the upper half of the body. Alternatively, a strapless dress will help balance out your figure, sending the eye to your shoulders.
Beyonce has a beautiful pear shaped figure, she often wears dresses with puffed sleeves, adding volume to her shoulders.
What dress to wear for the apple shape
For apple figures, choose a v-neckline and a-line or empire style dresses to skim over your hips.
With apple figures, get inspiration from Titanic star Kate Winslet. She leans towards v-neck dresses that accentuate her bust, taking the attention away from her hips.
What dress to wear for the hourglass shape
For an hourglass shape, consider dresses that cinch in the waist to accentuate your curves. We love a wrap dress for hourglasses, lighter fabrics and higher necklines.
Marilyn Monroe is hourglass perfection, wearing wiggle dresses and tea dresses with piping to emphasise her gorgeous curves.
Whatever summer dress you go for, make your choice based on what you love, what you want and what makes you feel great. Discover more tips on feeling confident in the summer in our blog post, and happy shopping!