11 Chic Must-Have Summer Dresses

Courtesy Cult Gaia

Versatile and stylish, these dresses are great for a day at the beach or a night out with friends. 

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Whatever plans you have this summer, you'll need the perfect dress to match. We picked 10 dresses that represent the key trends of the season for your summertime shopping list. From bold and colorful prints to oversized shoulders and frills, these dresses are not only chic but incredibly versatile. 

Posse Jude Mini Dress

Andrew C Mcdonald/Courtesy Posse

Simple, understated, and timeless, this airy, all-linen sundress from Australian label Posse will be your go-to for lounging outside with a book, taking long garden walks, and picking flowers with little ones. We especially love the feminine detail of the frill sleeves.

To buy: $167, theposse.com.au

Mara Hoffman Leila Dress

Courtesy Shopbop

Talk about showstopper! Mara Hoffman’s dreamy Leila dress features an eye catching watercolor print, plunging v-neck, and dramatic shoulders—a key trend for spring 20. “This summer, we’re seeing modest dresses reinvented with high-volume—think oversized balloon sleeves and tented silhouettes,” says Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop.

To buy: $895; shopbop.com

Self Portrait Poplin Maxi Dress

Courtesy Shopbop

Wedding season will be here before you know it and repeat after us, “You will not wear a black dress for any outdoor summer soiree!” This bold fuchsia maxi transforms every-day poplin into a voluminous couture-like creation. It’s easy and stunning and perfect for dancing the night away.

To buy: $450; shopbop.com

Cult Gaia Thera Dress in Yellow Multi

Courtesy Cult Gaia

You can thank J.Lo for all the sexy, tropical print dresses we’ll be seeing this summer. The superstar closed Versace’s spring runway show in an updated version of the iconic (and racy!) jungle print dress she wore to the Grammy’s 20 years ago—and we’re obsessed all over again. Expect to stop traffic in Cult Gaia’s gorgeous Grecian gown with it’s many flirty cut-outs.

To buy: $798; cultgaia.com

Christopher Esber Twisted Cutout Cotton-Poplin Shirtdress

Courtesy Moda Operandi

Men’s shirting and white dresses are big trends this season. This elegant and breezy number, with sexy side cutouts and handsome button cuffs, combines both looks for a wardrobe favorite that’s perfect for work and the weekends.

To buy: $580; modaoperandi.com

Zimmermann Peggy Tie-Detailed Paisley-Print Linen Dress

Courtesy Net-A-Porter

There’s nothing new about floral prints for spring but this season designers turned to the ’60s and ’70s for psychedelic prints and retro-inspired blooms. Zimmermann’s feminine minidress in paisley gets a modern update with dainty decorative ties.

To buy: $750; netaporter.com

Alessandra Rich Embellished Polka-Dot Silk Midi Dress 

Courtesy Moda Operandi

Polka dots are back! Expect to see the classic, lady-like print—whether in micro spots or oversized graphic dots, and in a variety of colors—everywhere this summer. Call us purists. We’re loving the trend in classic black and white demure looks like this polished dress by Alessandra Rich featuring a high neck and elegant draping.

To buy: $1645; modaoperandi.com

Cecilie Bahnsen Kelly Tiered Silk-Blend Maxi Dress 

Courtesy Net-A-Porter

If you don’t know her name by now, take note. Copenhagen-based designer Cecile Bahnsen is blowing up. Her romantic and voluminous dresses—which are all structure in the front and party in the back thanks to skin-exposing tie-backs—are all over our Instagram feed. Pair her ethereal marigold dress with chunky black sandals for a more casual vibe.

To buy: $2940; netaporter.com

De La Vali Christabel Belted Ruffled Cotton-Blend Mini Dress  

Courtesy Net-A-Porter

Whether you prefer a voluminous babydoll or fitted LBD, get ready to show off your legs—the mini dress is back. “This was our biggest dress investment for the season, with over 300 styles coming,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-Porter. 

To buy: $305; netaporter.com

Jil Sander Raffia-Fringe Knitted Dress 

Courtesy Matches Fashion

Have you seen a more elegant dress than this ivory column with an understated chic raffia fringe? It screams luxurious vacation, or even just a walk under the sun, which is exactly what we need right now.

To buy: $2,450; matchesfashion.com

Simon Miller Rib Matomi Dress

Courtesy Shopbop

We can’t shake the ’90s, and honestly who wants to? Channel Kate Moss this season in a laid-back minimalist strappy dress. Bonus: Simon Miller’s ribbed jersey number comes in lime green, another key trend of the season.

To buy: $190; shopbop.com