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Five Essential Summer Dresses and How to Wear Them

BY: Ashley Hamer | Jun 3, 2016

Five Essential Summer Dresses Hero

Warmer weather calls for bare legs and twirlable skirts, so summer is the perfect season to break out last year’s dresses—or splurge on a new one. To get the most wear out of your summer dresses, check out our guide to accessorizing the season’s most popular silhouettes.

Fit-and-Flare Dress

With a silhouette that’s fitted at the waist and then flares out to a wider skirt, the fit-and-flare style flatters the figure without constricting your movement. Pair this dress with pieces that accentuate its feminine feel.

Summer Dresses Fit-and-Flare Dresses Casual

Casual

A short cardigan and skinny belt work well together to show off the style’s narrow waist, and ballet flats add a sweet and classic element.

Summer Dresses Fit-and-Flare Dresses Formal

Dressy

Whether your fit-and-flare dress is in a print or solid hue, it’s safe to let its hourglass shape do the talking by pairing it with simple accessories, such as a delicate necklace and strappy heels.

Drop-Waist Dress

Defined by its lowered waistline, which hits around hip level, this flapper-inspired silhouette is unique enough to be worn as a statement by itself. One caveat: its usually unadorned midsection can make it a tricky style for pear- and apple-shaped bodies to pull off.

Summer Dresses Drop-Waist Dresses Casual

Casual

Since the dress itself harks back to the roaring 20s, it’s a good idea to choose accessories that bring it into the new millennium, such as high, chunky heels and simple, streamlined jewelry.

Summer Dresses Drop-Waist Dresses Formal

Dressy

When it’s time to take a drop-waist dress out on the town, keep it simple: choose a strappy stiletto and a complementary clutch to make the unique silhouette stand out.

Maxi Dress

This loose and flowing head-to-toe silhouette is known for being super-comfortable. The trade off? All that fabric usually removes all semblance of a figure, so figure-flattering accessories and outerwear are the name of the game.

Summer Dresses Maxi Dresses Casual

Casual

A skinny or ultra-wide belt can help delineate the waist, and a jean jacket—preferably cropped at waist height—can help even more. Shoes will barely peek out from beneath the hemline, making it a great opportunity to rock some strappy flats. A small cluster of bangles on a wrist complement the style’s flowing nature.

Summer Dresses Maxi Dresses Formal

Dressy

Cocktail- and evening-appropriate maxi dresses most often make their own statement, so this is a good time to keep accessories subdued. Statement earrings can add balance, and a simple clutch will avoid distraction.

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T-Shirt Dress

Inspired by the look of an oversized men’s tee, the T-shirt dress is the pinnacle of comfort. The style most often comes in a thin jersey-knit fabric, so solid, structured accessories can balance the look nicely.

Summer Dresses T-Shirt Dresses Casual

Casual

To delineate the waist without detracting from the style’s coziness, try tying a flannel shirt or sweater around your waist. Pair this with knee-high socks and combat boots to complete the grunge-chic vibe.

Summer Dresses T-Shirt Dresses Formal

Dressy

The short hemline of the T-shirt dress makes it perfect for footwear that highlights the legs, such as the flash of metallic gladiator sandals. A long, chunky statement necklace both matches the drape of the dress and contrasts with its delicate construction.

Bodycon Dress

Form-fitting by its very definition—”bodycon” is a shortened version of “body conscious”—this silhouette is best for the nightlife. Still, its sexier elements can be toned down for daytime with the right accessories.

Summer Dresses Bodycon Dresses Casual

Casual

Go ahead, wear a bodycon dress to the office. When matched with a structured blazer and work-appropriate pumps, the style can exude the same streamlined, professional vibe as the best pencil skirts.

Summer Dresses Bodycon Dresses Formal

Dressy

Even when showing your curves is the goal, it’s smart to pair this style with a moto jacket or other outwear that balances out the skin-tight fit. A pair of booties add gravity, balancing the silhouette nicely.