16 Perfect Summer Dresses to Buy Right Now

Photo via Urban Outfitters. 

Leandra and Haley have both written at length about the pitfalls of dresses: they’re too girly, too done-up, too convicted about who they are. When you put on a dress, you are giving it permission to speak for your entire look — simply by nature of its construction.

Well call me the devil’s personal advocate because these are the precise reasons why I love dresses so much, especially during June, July and August when it’s too hot to fall back on my usual Greek chorus of wardrobe components. Once temperatures surge above 85 degrees and I start to sweat as soon as I walk outside, there is nothing more blissful than taking a summer vacation from conducting outfit symphonies. I just want to drop my arms and let a single item of clothing make all the noise.

Dresses are perfectly equipped to take on this responsibility. They have so much to say! All I have to do is plug in the microphone. The cost-per-wear potential is also so enticing. Add a slew of gangbuster seasonal sales to this equation and you’ve got the optimal setup for purchasing and enjoying your perfect summer dress.

I don’t hand out that title lightly, though. There are certain qualities I always look for — qualities that, in my opinion, separate the chaff from the wheat (a.k.a. the regular summer dresses from the perfect summer dresses):

+ Day-to-night flexible (if I can wear it to work and dinner, give or take some big earrings and a pair of fun high heels, we’re in business)
+ Breathable (extra points if it’s 100% cotton or linen, but I’ll make exceptions)
+ Easily washable (“dry clean only” is an automatic disqualifier)
+ Easily packable (for impromptu trips to the beach!)
+ Comfortable (Let me feel the breeze between my thighs, please)
+ Distinctive (Just because I’m wearing it all the time doesn’t mean it has to be boring)

After combing the Internet with these stipulations in mind, I have concluded my annual search with a panoply of attractive options. There are way too many for me to buy (I only need one), so I’m sharing my research in hopes that each perfect dress may find its perfect owner. Here they are, broken down by price point for your shopping pleasure:

Under $100

Under $250

Under $500

Under $1,000

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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