Sunshine. Lemonade. Watermelon. Ice cream. There’s a lot to appreciate in the summer months. Top among the gifts of summer? Sundresses, plain and simple. After three quarters of the year spent assembling complex layered looks—pants, top, sweater, blazer, jacket—summer unlocks the easiest outfits in your closet: summer dresses.
A summer dress is a one-and-done way to stay cool, look polished and get out the door quickly—all the better to enjoy all the fun the season has to offer. Worn solo, and a breezy summer dress can look beach-party cool; add the right accessories, and suddenly you’re off to a black-tie-optional wedding. There are some rules that apply to all summer dresses, starting with color. Now’s the time to go all in with the brightest, flashiest tones. Citron yellow. Bubblegum pink. Blaze orange. Groovy turquoise. In the summer months, there’s no such thing as too vibrant. And the same goes for prints and patterns. Always wanted to try tropical florals? Get after it. Been thinking of dipping your toe into the colorblocking waters? Dive in, head first. Of course, your eye may need a cleanse after all the activity, so a stock of little black and white dresses will come in handy, too.
Ahead, our complete guide to summer dresses, plus how to wear them, plain and simple or spiffed-up and fancy.