Summer Dresses Are Street Styles' Easiest One-And-Done Outfit

The hero piece is the backbone of any hassle-free wardrobe, from maxi-length florals to airy cotton minis.

A guest wears sunglasses, an orange short gathered dress, pink shoes, a blue bag, outside Rabanne, during the Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 as part of Paris Fashion Week on September 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Getting dressed in the summer should be considered an extreme sport. For many of us, it's the busiest time of the year when we're juggling vacations, (multiple) weddings, weekend rooftop gatherings, al fresco happy hours, and work. Once you factor in the sweltering heat, putting together presentable, cute summer outfits can get complicated. But adding a few of the best summer dresses into your rotation can make warm-weather dressing much easier—offering a one-and-done solution.

Whether it's a summer wedding guest dress or an airy cotton number for everyday errands, the best dresses stand out on their own. All you need is a matching handbag and a pair of your favorite summer shoes—from trendy sneakers for casual looks to strappy sandals for dressier occasions.

The right pieces offer an infallible outfit formula followed by fashion insiders that you can turn to throughout the summer, from breezy billowing styles to mini LBDs. Here, Marie Claire's curated edit of the best summer dresses to invest in for every occasion, plus the accessories to match.

For Casual Occasions

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Split image of women wearing white and pale pink voluminous cotton dresses and flat shoes for summer

Airy, voluminous dresses can add a bit of reprieve from sweltering summer heat.

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Whether heading to a brunch, shopping, or exploring your city, you need an easy outfit that's both comfortable and cool (in the literal sense). The fashion crowd has recently opted for voluminous dresses in breathable cotton, poplin, and linen to beat the summer heat. Keep the comfort maxed out with sneakers or chunky sandals.

For Formal Occasions

Split image of women wearing long floral flowy dresses with heels street style

The Spring 2024 runways and street style prove long floral dresses will be a continued favorite throughout the summer months.

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There's a reason florals resurface amongst fashion insiders every spring and summer—they best fit the feel of a new season. Blooms were seen all over during Spring 2024 runways, at 3.1 Philip Lim, Givenchy, and Stella McCartney. A flowing floral number can be extremely versatile—from rooftop parties to garden soirees to outdoor weddings. Throw on a pair of strappy-heeled sandals and grab a clutch to complete the look.

For the Office

Split image of women wearing stripe and white shirtdresses and flat shoes street style

Shirtdresses are perfect summer office attire: easy to style, comfortable, and professional.

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Nailing down your summer work outfits isn't always simple, considering your commuting needs, office dress codes, and the heat. Shirt dresses, a favorite of the fashion set, make for the easiest, most comfortable office outfits. They're innately professional, modeled off of classic button-downs, and come in the same breezy fabrics. Pair the style with loafers and, of course, a chic work tote bag.

For Vacation

Split image of women wearing bright orange and green mini dresses and heel sandals street style

A brightly colored minidress matches the fun energy of vacation.

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Summer vacations are about having as much fun as possible; your wardrobe should reflect that sentiment. Let a new location and the OOO spirit inspire a fun new color palette in a bold mini dress paired with a monochromatic bag and shoes. Play around with details like ruffles, fringe, and ruching to master the art of dopamine dressing.

For a Night Out

Split image of women wearing black halterneck dresses and heels street style

An LBD is an age-old, full-proof going-out look, and halter necklines give a fresh take on the style.

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The best little black dresses are a staple, and the right styles ooze elegance, making them ideal for nighttime outings—even in summer. While LBDs are nothing new, fashion insiders have been opting for LBDs with sophisticated halter necklines. The design is timeless and omits the need for a statement necklace.

Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she specializes in crafting shopping stories—from sales content to buying guides that span every vertical on the site. She also oversees holiday coverage with an emphasis on gifting guides as well as Power Pick, our monthly column on the items that power the lives of MC’s editors. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.