Fashion’s Fallen in Love With the Drop-Waist Dress Trend

As temperatures rise, this airy summer style is everywhere.

woman wearing drop-waist dress
(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Several summers ago, I fell for the drop-waist dress trend when New York-based label Khaite introduced the “Lynette” dress as part of its Resort 2022 collection. Its full billowing bell-shaped skirt captivated me, which almost gave the illusion of being layered over a crinoline skirt. At the time, the low-slung waist was an unconventional cut amidst a sea of A-line and mini dresses, and I admittedly assumed the silhouette would be short-lived.

But over the past few months, and two years after my first spotting, my Instagram feed has been flooded with posts of the fashion set and celebrities taking the drop waist dress trend for a spin. Back in March, Sofia Richie Grainge wore a color block drop-waist dress she created in collaboration with Solid & Striped. A month later, Zendaya gave the drop-waist style a sporty treatment with a custom Loewe tennis dress (designed for the Challengers global press tour). And most recently. Kendall Jenner dazzled in an archival Givenchy drop-waist number for the 2024 Met Gala afterparty.

Sandy Liang Spring 2024, Ferragamo Spring 2024, Jil Sander Spring 2024

Drop-waist dresses graced the Spring 2024 runways of Sandy Liang, Ferragamo, and Jil Sander.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Drop-waist dresses also took center stage at several Spring 2024 runway shows. Sandy Liang had a floral appliqué version adorned with sharp pleats, and Ferragamo championed nostalgia with a drop-waist dress that embraced retro '50s design codes. Meanwhile, Jil Sander put a modern twist on the style with a knitted slung bodice sewn into a flowy hemline sweeping skirt.

I've seen enough to know that this style isn't letting up this summer, and rightly so. A midi or ankle-length drop-waist dress can function as the perfect wedding guest dress styled alongside elevated sandals. If you've got a full day of outdoor activities, a laid-back cotton or linen style paired with ballet flats or a jelly sandal can take you from a rooftop brunch to an al fresco dinner. For a day in the office, team a drop-waist dress with sophisticated kitten heels and your go-to laptop bag.

In time for the warm months ahead, I've crafted an edit of the best drop-waist dresses to add to your summer capsule wardrobe, from bubble hemlines to smocked fabric styles to the drop-waist dress version of your favorite button-downs.

Shop the Drop-Waist Dress Trend

The Minimalist Drop-Waist Dress

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woman wearing a minimalist drop-waist dress

Test the waters of the drop-waist dress trend with a look that embodies minimalism.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For a streamlined summer outfit, look no further than a white maxi dress designed with a subtle low-slung waistline. Thanks to its neutral hue and uncomplicated shape, plenty of styling routes exist. Consider anchoring your look with statement pumps and a glossy designer handbag. To show skin, look toward Khaite and Lovers and Friends for revealing silhouettes. While Reformation and Cecilie Bahnsen offer styles with a bit more coverage.

The Bubble Hem Drop-Waist Dress

woman wearing bubble drop-waist dress

Double down on trying out trends with a bubble hem drop-waist dress.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Bubble hemlines are swiftly rising as one of the most whimsical trends of the summer season. Play into this look with a voluminous drop-waist dress enhanced with folds of gathered fabric. For those moments when you want to make heads turn, slip into this puffy style and prepare to receive endless compliments. Mare Mare’s dress showcases a flattering mid-length design, but if you prefer a thigh-skimming fit, try out barely-there styles from Shona Joy, Proenza Schouler, and Amanda Uprichard. Opt for subdued accessories so that your bubble dress of choice can have a moment in the spotlight.

The Drop-Waist Shirtdress

woman wearing drop-waist shirtdress

If staying cool and comfortable is your main priority, pull on a roomy drop-waist dress that will provide ample airflow.

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A drop-waist shirtdress is perhaps the most practical choice for summer. Pick this billowing style over tightly fitted drop-waist dresses when you’re aiming to keep cool while lounging by the shore or enjoying a picnic in the park. Aside from boasting a spacious construction, drop-waist shirtdresses are often crafted from breathable fabrics that will fend off sizzling temperatures. Note how the selections below from J.Crew, Victoria Beckham, Simkhai, and La DoubleJ are all crafted from gauzy blends of cotton and poplin. Style these pieces with your favorite woven beach bag to amplify that summery vacay feel.

The Color Block Drop-Waist Dress

woman wearing color block drop-waist dress

A color block drop waist dress will undoubtedly give your summer wardrobe an edge of juxtaposition.

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You can always count on a color block pattern that toes the line between neutrals and prints. This two-tone design will also emphasize the drop waistline of your dress for a more dramatic look. Lean into saturated colors with a vibrant drop-waist dress from Never Fully Dressed, or take a neutral approach with a more subdued version from Free People. Another option is to adhere to the timeless black top and white skirt outfit formula with styles from Line & Dot and Staud. Depending on your mood, top off your color block dress with relaxed chunky sneakers or take things to greater heights with heeled strappy sandals.

The Textured Drop-Waist Dress

woman wearing textured drop-waist dress

As if a drop-waist dress isn't already a sight to behold, an additional layer of gathered fabric will make it even more eye-catching.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

If you're searching for an effortless way to enliven your dress collection—try a textured drop-waist dress. L'Academie and Sea Juni beautifully master the smocking technique, while Matteau and Agua by Agua Bendita demonstrate how gathered pieces of fabric can effortlessly create dimension. These drop-waist dresses are so intricate that they don’t need to be embellished much—a simple pair of wedge sandals and a classic clutch bag will suffice,

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes trend reports, shopping pieces, and celebrity news stories. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren worked for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor with a specific focus on seasonal styles and coveted products. She also worked for Town & Country, where she developed a robust portfolio of fashion roundups and designer profiles.

Lauren graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in journalism. While attending Penn, Lauren contributed to the university's fashion magazine, The Walk, while also interning for Philadelphia Style Magazine and EveryStylishGirl.

When she’s not exploring the world of fashion, you can find Lauren sharpening her skills as DJ, discovering new restaurants in New York City (she’s a foodie), and spending quality time with friends and family. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.