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Every time warmer weather rolls around, I get the sudden urge to find the best summer dresses on the market. Which can take me weeks, because I spend so much time sifting through the spring and summer 2022 fashion trends to find the ones that are going to prove timeless rather than just being a flash in the pan. This year, though, I turned to the experts to decipher exactly which sundresses I should be investing in this year, and my finds are truly second to none. And, luckily, many of them fall in line with the trends that have already been dominating the runways (and the streets) this season.
What dress trends do we need to know about for summer 2022?
"As the weather gets warmer, clothing pieces are getting shorter. Cut-outs and Y2K nostalgia are continuing their reign over trends this season,” says Andrew Gelwicks, a celebrity stylist and writer who has worked with stars like Dixie D’Amelio, Uzo Aduba, and Chrishell Stause recently. “Slim dresses with cut-outs are following the nostalgia trend we saw on runways.” This makes sense, given the fact that cut-out dresses popped up on the red carpet most recently on the Met Gala red carpet on celebrities like Kaia Gerber and Kacey Musgraves. Gelwicks recommends that shoppers look for dresses that feature "chic cut-outs to add to your closet this summer."
Early 2000s-inspired fashion trends, however, have been more prevalent with the street style crowd on celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo. Rodrigo has leaned heavily into the nostalgia trend on her Sour concert tour, where she has styled a mix of vintage Betsey Johnson, fishnet tights, and micro mini skirts.
What colors are trending for summer 2022?
Along with the early aughts energy and slinky cutout inspiration, Gelwicks was quick to mention a few colors he’s been seeing everywhere lately. “Bold colors are holding their place in this upcoming season's trends,” Gelwicks says. “Daytime or nighttime, mixing up staple neutral colors with a colorful dress will fit perfectly into the vibe of summer 2022.” He called out “bright reds and yellows” in particular. To his point, Gelwicks recently styled Stause in a dramatic red one-shoulder gown by Gaurav Gupdta for the Selling Sunset reunion.
Are there any brands to look out for?
What makes a brand stand out to a stylist with access to everything? Bright colors and show-stopping silhouettes. “Into The Night has amazing dresses and sets in fun, bold colors,” he says. “They are flirty, chic, and great for all body shapes and sizes."
Keep reading to shop out summer 2022’s most in-demand dress trends, straight from the expert who dresses some of team Marie Claire's favorite leading ladies. If you’re looking for the next best linen dress to add into your rotation or are hoping to pick up a classic white sundress, there are a few of those on this list, too.
Sleek Cut-Out Dresses
There's no denying how popular cut-out dresses have been lately. This summer, follow Gelwicks' advice and opt for a slightly longer one that features cut-outs across your midriff for a look that's at once and elevated and sexy. Or, play with cut-outs across your back or on your ribcage to test out the trend for yourself.
This simple, affordable option from H&M is a great option if you want to try out the cut-out dress trend this summer without going too far out of the box. Available in sizes up to a 4X, it's a super simple way to test out the trend this summer.
Cult Gaia became an internet sensation last summer when the brand dropped the now-infamous Serita cut-out dress. This similar version breathes new life into the look courtesy of a stunning blue hue and a casual, knot-front design.
& Other Stories also dropped this Cut-Out Midi Dress in black, but this soft brown hue feels much more summer-appropriate.
If it's an edgier cut-out look that you're after, consider investing in this slinky pick from Marika Vera. It's made from an airy bamboo-blend jersey, so you'll stay comfortable all day (or night) long.
I love experimenting with color in my summer wardrobe, so this pastel lavender dress from JONATHAN SIMKHAI STANDARD is on my to-buy list this summer. The cut-outs feel more subtle than others on this list, and the hue is to die for.
Found: your next favorite vacation dress. This simple-looking white number actually features a few hidden cut-outs across the lower back for a surprisingly sexy twist.
Travel back in time this summer by way of a few vintage-inspired frocks. Think: oversized hibiscus prints that you might have styled on a family vacation, slinky halter dresses, swirled prints and pieces with bedazzled elements that will shine in the summer sun.
I'm almost positive that you had a dress in this very print back in the early aughts. I'm also happy to report that the fun floral print is very much on-trend for summer 2022.
Y2K-inspired frocks often are covered in a butterfly print like this one from Kim Shui is. The romantic silhouette is offset by the bold pattern and mini hemline.
How fun is the mini bedazzled heart on this otherwise simple black halter dress from H&M? It's the perfect way to test out a Y2K-inspired 'fit without looking like you're wearing a costume.
This very dress was worn by Y2K cool-girl Devon Lee Carlson recently, and perfectly matches the retro and over-the-top theme courtesy of the cheetah print and beaded details.
Marble-printed designs have been around for some time, but this midi-length pick from Fourteenth Place breathes new life into the trend courtesy of this stunning baby blue colorway.
Another major 2000s fashion trend that we can't forget about in 2022? Crochet! This brightly colored patchwork dress is the ideal beach-to-restaurant option.
Gone are the days of exclusively wearing neutrals in the summer months. Stop traffic in one of these bright red frocks from brands like & Other Stories and La Femme Apero. Choose from a solid slip dress or a printed silky version to make more of a statement.
Designed to be thrown on in a minute, this bright red slip dress from Treasure & Bond retails for less than $50, is available to shop in sizes 1X through 3X, and also comes in seven other colors.
The best summer dresses are the ones you can wear without having to think about them too much. This one from Blue Tassel comes in sizes XXS through 3X and is made from a light-as-air cotton material.
The best-selling Apero dress from French-inspired ethical brand La Femme Apero is a summer dream. It's made from 100% recycled polyester and works for day or nighttime wear.
If you want to wear red this summer without opting for a ulta-bright shade, consider this sweet checkered option from Find Me Now.
The buttons down the front of this maxi dress from Urban Outfitters let you customize your look in a snap. Shop it in bright red or white now.
Just like red, bright shades of yellow are trending. Recently spotted on celebrities that Gelwicks has styled like Uzo Aduba, the sunny hue is everywhere this season. Shop flowy picks from Reformation, Mango and more, below.
You can't go wrong with a silky midi dress in the summer, especially one that comes in a shade this sunny and is designed by the internet's favorite dress brand, Reformation.
The draped cowl neck on this midi option from Mango is so romantic. Style it with a pair of brightly-colored sandal heels for a perfect summer wedding guest look.
If you're into wearing exclusively mini dresses in the summertime, consider this collared wrap dress from ELOQUII.
For a softer take on the color, try this floral-printed maxi dress from Coco Shop. It's made from a silky cotton material, so it feels as luxe as it looks.
Whether you're dressing for your graduation, an casual wedding, or getting ready for a summer date night, this flutter-sleeved wrap dress from Lulus (which retails for less $60!) is the way to go.
Checked prints are everywhere this summer, a remnant of the cottagecore-inspired looks from the last few years. This sweet midi dress from Sister Jane falls right into the theme.
I can't possibly talk about summer dresses without mentioning a few all-white options. A classic in any summer-weather-lover's wardrobe, my favorite picks for this season include a lacey options from Topshop and Urban Outfitters and romantic casual frocks from TORRID and Hill House Home.
This lacey frock is made for classic summertime styling. I love an exaggerated collar moment no matter the season, and this one is one of my favorites that I've seen lately.
Hill House Home's iconic Ellie Nap Dress is a wardrobe staple at this point. The classic white version is ideal for lazy summertime dressing because it's so dang comfortable.
Lisa Says Gah! can do no wrong in my mind when it comes to classic summer frocks, and this Lux Dress is no exception. It's made from a linen blend and is made in Los Angeles to boot.
Fans of easy summertime layering, meet your new favorite piece! This lace midi dress works as the best cover-up over a bikini or over a matching slip dress.
Brides, I've found the perfect wedding shower dress. This romantic off-the-shoulder option from TORRID is also great for brides looking for something a little more casual.
This classic midi dress from Cuyana was made in Portugal from 96% organic cotton. It comes in two other neutral colors, but my favorite of the three is this white version.
Just like white frocks, the best linen dresses are my go-to when the weather heats up. The famously lightweight fabric was basically designed to be worn when scorching temperatures roll in. But, they needn't all be white, as evidenced by a few picks from COS, MagicLinen, and Posse.
Deiji Studios makes some of my favorite linen pieces on the market, including this easy midi dress. It's made from stonewashed French linen and is one of my all-time favorite summer dresses on this list.
While you might already love MagicLinen for their bedding, this is my official call to not overlook the brand's ready-to-wear selection. This loose-fitting frock from the range comes in this sunburnt berry shade that is to die for.
Not all linen dresses have to be casual! This option from Australian brand Posse is proof that the summery fabric works just as well on evening wear.
If you want a linen dress in your closet that feels dramatic rather than overly-simplified, consider this pick from Eliza Faulkner. The collar! The bow-front design! The voluminous shape! I love it all.
Behold the easiest-ever dress. This navy blue option from COS hangs off the body in the chicest way thanks to its straight up-and-down silhouette. Oh, and it also comes in lilac and white!