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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Naomi May

30 best summer dresses of 2023 to buy for every budget

We live in dress-obsessed times.

From floral to stripe, and minis to maxis, the catwalks have been awash with all manner of frocks in recent years. Those who believe the Hemline Index may well believe the maxim’s core theory, which suggests that our hemlines become increasingly vertiginous as the economy booms, but the case has been made for every tier of dress hemline during the most recent fashion month.

At Nensi Dojaka, the barely-there naked dress has continued to reign supreme, while at Glenn Marten’s autumn/winter 2023 collection for Diesel, frocks were form-fitting and tongue-in-cheek. In London, there was frothy romanticism at Simone Rocha and Molly Goddard, while Chet Lo continued its long-standing rule over the humble popcorn dress.

In short, it’s the era of the stand-out frock. And if ever there was a time to refresh your dress arsenal, surely the time is now with so many different styles available, there’s something for both the minimalists and the maximalists alike.

The appeal of the one-piece cannot be understated, easing sartorial stresses each morning as you only have one piece to think about and giving you more time to snooze your persisting alarm.

We’ve scoured the virtual rails to find the best dresses to buy for this spring – and every sunny season thereafter (you’re welcome).

Rixo Lolita dress

Searching for the perfect summer mini? Look no further, the search is over. Rixo’s 70s-inspired mini Lolita dress is the ultimate warm weather plus-one. Pair with delicate strappy sandals and a retro pair of shades for optimal style points.

Buy now £225.00, Rixo

Reformation Zenni dress

Forget everything you thought you knew – LBDs don’t just shine in winter, they’re perfect for summer too. Pair this silky black mini courtesy of earth-first label Reformation with patent kitten-heeled pumps for an al fresco soirée or with chunky flip flops for a summer’s day in the city.

Buy now £285.00, Reformation

Mango satin dress

For when the occasion arrives, there are few dresses more chic and refined than Mango’s creamy satin midi, which comes complete with a statement-making slit, too. Should your workplace not look too favourably upon slits, then slip it on over a pair of wide-leg creamy trousers for a perfect summer office ensemble.

Buy now £149.99, Mango

Asos Design Curve popcorn dress

If last summer is anything to go by, the popcorn dresses’ reign looks set to continue into this year’s warmer months too. Invest in a pared-back mini and wear with chunky statement sandals for an easy and effortless desk-to-dusk look.

Buy now £16.80, ASOS

Pleats Please Issey Miyake pleated midi dress

Investment dresses don’t come better than they do in Issey Miyake’s best-selling Pleats Please collection. Not only do they require minimal styling intervention, but they’re easy to wear year-round, while also being catnip for compliments (and really, what’s better than that?).

Buy now £550.00, MatchesFashion

Arket lace-detail dress

The trick to making dresses in the summertime work for you is to ensure that their silhouette is bright and breezy. Slip dresses are a dream to size up in; keep them oversized and loose, and they’ll keep you looking – and feeling – cool.

Buy now £65.00, Arket

Selkie Powder Puff dress

Whether trainers, flip-flops or sandals are your summer footwear of choice, there’s no style of shoe that this ethereal, meringue-esque mini won’t work to compliment. Add a bold pink lip if you want to add a burst of colour.

Buy now £228.00, Free People

Rouje Amel dress

There’s very little else this pared-back, lace-trimmed mini dress needs to be ready to debut this summer. A colourful basket bag, a fun manicure and a statement pair of sandals can add personality, if you want to elevate it.

Buy now £150.00, Rouje

Charo Ruiz lace dress

Should you make the right choice, the beauty of summer dresses is that you needn’t bulk buy them year after year. Instead, make considered purchases that will stand the test of time. Enter Ibizan label Charo Ruiz, whose lace-voiled mini is worthy of a spot in every summer wardrobe.

Buy now £400.00, MatchesFashion

Omnes Nova dress

There is no summer dress more hard-working than a black slip dress. Whether you size up or down for a more fitted silhouette, this is a dress that will do all of the talking for you. Simply slip – pardon the pun – into it, and let it do the rest of the work.

Buy now £85.00, Omnes

Whistles Rina oversized dress

Denim dresses ought not to be reserved wholly for winter. Whistles’ breezy collared-style will work just as well for the warmer months when paired with a chunky statement pair of sandals.

Buy now £127.20, Whistles

Topshop ruched satin dress

Don’t let social media fool you - there is a world in which people embrace colour in their dresses. Enter Topshop’s satin ankle-grazing slip dress in this bright burst of blue as proof.

Buy now £45.00, ASOS

Boteh Celil paisley dress

Once you’ve got yourself a solid pair of black summer sandals, all you need is a loud and statement-making dress to accompany them. Boteh’s offering of mini, midis and maxis is perfect for pairing with simpler accessories.

Buy now £380.00, Browns Fashion

H&M puff-sleeved dress

The easiest way to stylistically ride out the summer months? By snapping up a grab-and-go dress to simplify the art of getting dressed in the mornings.

Buy now £19.99, H&M

Vero Moda racer maxi dress

Size up in this camel-coloured maxi dress, which will hide a multitude of Pimm’s-related sins come the summertime. Just add XXL sunnies for an effortless, but no less stylish, way to blend in.

Buy now £28.00, ASOS

Albaray woven T-shirt dress

Albaray is the minimal brand that fashion editors love, and for good reason too. Its dresses are perfect for keeping summer style slick, simple and effortless.

Buy now £69.00, Albaray

Ganni cotton poplin smock dress

What screams “Summer!” more than a pair of cowboy boots and a floaty mini smock dress? Absolutely nothing, which is why this Ganni mini is top of our lists.

Buy now £145.00, Ganni

Anine Bing Lisette dress

All this mini slip dress needs is a pair of simple strappy sandals and an XXL pair of sunglasses for a look that could’ve stepped straight out of 2004 in all of the best ways.

Buy now £270.00, Net-A-Porter

Emory Park ditsy floral smock dress

Florals are a year-round perennial, that much we know, but in the form of a breezy mini, there really is nothing more summer-ready. Keep accessories boho-inspired and minimal to let the dress do all of the talking for you.

Buy now £39.00, ASOS

Weekday Bella mini dress

Summer doesn’t always mean sunny rays and blue skies (particularly not if you’re UK-based), which is why a long-sleeved mini ought to always be incorporated into your summertime dress arsenal, too.

Buy now £49.00, Weekday

Rat & Boa Dali dress

What Rat & Boa doesn’t know about summer dresses isn’t worth knowing. This tequila sunrise-toned mini will look just as good for a sandy beach walk as it will with a pair of towering platforms for a night on the tiles.

Buy now £165.00, Rat & Boa

& Other Stories crinkled corset dress

Similarly to last summer, this year looks set to be dominated by the corset once again. & Other Stories’ midi dress looks more expensive than its modest price tag and for that alone, it’s worthy of adding to the corset arsenal.

Buy now £135.00, & Other Stories

Faithfull The Brand Bisetta maxi dress

In the pantheon of resortwear brands, few do it better than Faithfull The Brand. Its kiwi-coloured maxi dress is the ultimate throw-on-and-go dress for when the sun really puts its hat back on.

Buy now £239.00, Faithfull The Brand

Never Fully Dressed Tayte slip dress

Pink looks set to hit the big time once again this summer, which means that, should you be missing a pink dress from your sartorial line-up, now’s the time to invest.

Buy now £79.00, Never Fully Dressed

Veronica Beard Perrin dress

Nautical-inspired dresses are a fashion faithful during the warmer months. Pair with crisp white accessories and beachy tousled hair for maximum style points.

Buy now £448.00, Veronica Beard

Cult Gaia Saida tassel dress

If Cult Gaia’s dresses aren’t on your radar, they really ought to be. Add personality to this crisp white midi dress by injecting fun and spirited accessories and textures.

Buy now £415.00, Selfridges

Ghost Palm satin dress

A best-seller for a reason, Ghost’s satin midi dress can be worn throughout the year, but it shines best in summer. Just add your favourite seasonal accessories for an effortless get-up.

Buy now £129.00, Ghost

Abercrombie & Fitch Traveller mini dress

Activewear dresses make the most sense for any summer activities that require even the slightest bit more effort than pouring and drinking Aperols. With built-in shorts under their hem, they’re fun, flirty and comfortable.

Buy now £59.00, Abercrombie & Fitch

Cos striped mini shirt dress

If you plan on heading straight from the office to the bar on most summer evenings, then a crisp shirt mini dress ought to be added to your basket bella pronto.

Buy now £79.00, Cos

Louisa Ballou Floral-print cotton-muslin kaftan

A versatile number that will take you from the beach to the bar with ease, you could throw Louisa Ballou’s kaftan over a swimsuit during the day or wear it with heels for an elegant evening look.

Buy now £1010.00, MatchesFashion

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