The Best Vacation-Worthy Beach Dresses

From barely-there to playful fringe.

beach dresses spring summer 2024
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I’ve got a serious craving for a beach getaway—so much so that I can practically hear the melody of crashing waves, smell the aroma of briny sea air, and feel the warmth of the sizzling sun. As I impatiently wait for my next warm-weather vacation, I’m on a mission to find the best beach dresses to layer over my bikinis during the day and pair with a chic set of strappy sandals by night.

For the past few years, I’ve been cycling through the same rotation of beach dresses, and my vacation outfits have become, dare I say it, predictable, but with spring on the horizon, there are tons of new styles that practically scream, “take me to the beach.” On the Spring 2024 runways, Ulla Johnson showcased her signature dresses in slinky silks that match a sunset shade of red; Victoria Beckham delivered the ultimate crochet cover-up; and Isabel Marant (the queen of elevated beach fashions) sent short, summery shift dresses down the runway. Designers like Hermès are championing the return of the longstanding cut-out trend, while long, lightweight, fluttering hems are taking cues from the fringe trend in beach-appropriate fabrics and summery colors.

Ahead, Marie Claire found the best 18 beach dresses for lounging in the sand all day or heading out for a night of coastal fun.

Beach Dresses in Sunset Hues

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Spring 2024 runway dresses: Fendi, Chloé, and Ulla Johnson.

On the runways of Fendi, Chloé, and Ulla Johnson, radiant shades took center stage.

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There's an embrace of distinct vibrant color palettes this season. Fendi went the bodycon route, Chloé dabbled in drapery, and Ulla Johnson experimented with tiny textured ruffles. Whether you choose to wear orange, yellow, or red, you’ll shine just as brightly as a sunset by the sea. Style your bold beach dress with a pair of neutral-toned sandals to balance out your outfit.

Barely-There Beach Dresses

Spring 2024 runway dresses: Victoria Beckham, Gabriela Hearst, and Chloé.

According to Victoria Beckham, Gabriela Hearst, and Chloé, less is in fact more.

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For those beach days when you’re looking to cover up—just enough—slip on a naked dress that shows off your swimwear. Look to Victoria Beckham and Chloé for inspiration and select a barely-there dress crafted from gauzy fabrics, or take style notes from Gabriela Hearst and invest in a beautifully crafted crochet piece. To elevate your look, go monochromatic and match your bikini to the shade of your beach dress.

Abbreviated Beach Dresses

Spring 2024 runway dresses: Isabel Marant, Valentino, and Staud.

How high can a hemline go? Isabel Marant, Valentino, and Staud all answer this very question.

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Although lengthy maxi dresses graced countless Spring 2024 runways, mini dresses had their fair share of fun, too, and practically speaking, this makes total sense as temperatures rise. Thigh-grazing hemlines present the perfect opportunity to stay nice and cool. Isabel Marant, Valentino, and Staud are proving the best way to beat the heat is to slip on a breezy tunic-like dress and grab a cool, tropical drink.

Cut-Out Beach Dresses

Spring 2024 runway dresses: Hermès, Valentino, and Gabriela Hearst.

There are several ways to wear cut-outs, but Hermès, Valentino, and Gabriela Hearst seem to prefer exposed sides.

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The contemporary wave of cut-out dresses notably began in the fall of 2021 when Gucci and Marques’ Almeida gave them the designer treatment Spring 2022 collections. Fast forward two years later, and you’ll find the style has proven its longevity (just look to Hermès, Valentino, and Gabriela Hearst for proof). Test the waters with a skin-baring beach dress and elevate it with strategic side cut-outs.

Fringe Beach Dresses

Spring 2024 runway dresses: Akris, Feben, and Isabel Marant.

Akris, Feben, and Isabel Marant all put their own spin on the reigning fringe trend.

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This past February, Marie Claire reported that fringed pieces—from skirts to jackets— dominated the New York Fashion Week street style scene. We predict trendsetters will likely take fringe from the streets to the shore with beach dresses adorned with dangling pieces of floating fabric this spring and summer. If you’re partial to fringe, but need some inspiration, look no further than Akris, Feben, and Isabel Marant to influence your warm-weather moodboard.

Little Black Beach Dress

Spring 2024 runway dresses: COS, Valentino, and Balmain.

COS, Valentino, and Balmain all say yes to wearing black during the warmer months.

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During the Spring 2024 Fashion Week circuit, designers like COS, Balmain, and Valentino reminded us all that we can always rely on a straightforward black dress to deliver a polished look. Opting for an uncomplicated beach dress means you’ll also have a go-to piece for many vacations to come. Stick to a simple beach dress with a collared trimmed style, or zhuzh up your look with a formal thigh-high slit in a lightweight sheer material.

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren K. Tappan is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes engaging stories ranging from shopping pieces to trend reports. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren covered fashion and beauty for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor, with a specific focus on e-commerce. She also held editorial roles at Town & CountryInto The Gloss, and Philadelphia Style Magazine. Lauren earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with a minor in Journalism, from the University of Pennsylvania. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.