How to choose a simple summer dress

How to choose a simple summer dress

After spending the long winter months in thick heavy fabrics I feel that I want to turn from a chrysalis into a butterfly and to dress in lighter, brighter colours and fabrics. I am longing to get out into the sunshine and wear a dress. A simple summer dress is a great addition to any wardrobe. It can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. A dress is one of the simplest garments to pop on. You don’t need to consider coordination just add a few simple accessories and you are ready to go. Most of my favourite brands are offering a wide range of styles and colours. I have spent many hours researching styles and colours that I think you will like. So let’s get started on how to choose a simple summer dress.

Details of above:

Pink purse JL&P | Blue linen dress with pink sash NRBY at JL&P | Pink&blue straw hat Boden | Pink lipgloss LookFabulourForever | Pink cashmere blanket wrap Etsy | Blue frame sunglasses Boden | Pink sandals Fitflop.

How to choose a simple summer dress

Details of above:

Yellow handbag MarksandSpencer | Red print dress Hush | cream straw hat JL&P | cinnamon lip gloss LookFabulourForever | Cream shawl MarksandSpencer | Sunglasses MarksandSpencer | Wedge Sandals by Hobbs at MarksandSpencer.

Let’s look at what criteria are important when choosing a summer dress.

The occasion. Now that we are able to meet up with friends and family outside and hopefully inside (depending on where you live) our dresses need to be practical. That means if necessary we can add layers. This might take the form of a vest or tee worn underneath or a cardigan/waistcoat/jacket on top. I don’t think that I am ready for sleeveless yet. I only wear sleeveless dresses in a very warm climate.

Integrate into your existing wardrobe. Whenever you buy a new item it is always important to make sure that it integrates well into our existing wardrobes. Now that many of us have switched to buying online this makes this aspect much easier. Whenever I buy a new item of clothing as soon as it arrives I have a try-on session to make sure that I can create multiple outfits using the clothes that I already own. This can be a time-consuming and messy process. It takes me ages to tidy up my bedroom afterward. However it is well worth it.

Fabric choice: This will depend on where you live. Personally, I prefer linens and cotton. Viscose can also be a good choice as viscose has improved greatly in the last few years. It is also more sustainable than a lot of fabrics on offer. I am not a fan of polyester. I know that many brands are using recycled polyester these days but I still find it not very breathable in hot weather.

Flattering shape and colour: By now most of us have an awareness of what colours suit us best. Personally, I like to wear bright cool colours in the summer or alternatively white and navy. I prefer a simple shape with some waist emphasis. However we are all different so I have put a variety of colours and shapes in my selection below.

This is the summer dress I bought two years ago and I will be wearing it again this year.

Summer dresses:


  1. Carolyn R
    3rd May 2021 / 16:50

    Thank You Josephine for all your research. So happy to see so many great styles & colours! I love dresses and often find them hard to fit a pear shape, so I am hoping to find something to my liking from all the choices.

    • 4th May 2021 / 09:12

      Hello Carolyn
      I am also pear-shaped so need loose or aline styles and no clingy material around the hips.

  2. Nancy Dynes
    3rd May 2021 / 17:10

    Thank you for the summer dress inspiration, Josephine. Summer is always difficult for me style-wise as I have an extremely fair complexion and red hair (mom was Irish). I l don’t like completely bare arms or too short of skirts because I am ridiculously fair to the point that it stands out. I’ve had people ask me if I’d been ill—ugghhh! The longer dresses you’ve shown would work well for me. I must wear cool, bright colors since many pastels wash me out. Navy and white or black and white are always go-to for me as well. I like that each collection you’ve curated includes a pop of contrasting color in the form of accessories. Wishing you a lovely week!

  3. PatB
    3rd May 2021 / 17:11

    Josephine, Thank you, so helpful. I love dresses and my focus this year is every day wear for local walks, shopping in my city, lunch on patios (I hope, we are still under lockdown). Especially appreciate your research and the availability of dresses with sleeves.

  4. Julia
    3rd May 2021 / 17:28

    À very judicious choice of dresses Josephine. Easy, comfortable chic styles, no clingy horrors.

    • 4th May 2021 / 09:10

      I can’t stand clingy dresses especially if it is hot.

  5. 3rd May 2021 / 21:46

    One of the very many good things about being a girl, albeit an “older” girl, is dresses. I’ve always loved them. So many pretty, romantic styles are out in graceful lengths, with swishy skirts. Also love simple knee-length fit and flare sheaths with short or 3/4 sleeves and an open neck (V or scoop). I’m fine with polyester as I love how it stays fresh looking all day and is lightweight. Also love a polyester with a bit of spandex – the stretch is so comfy but not clingy (the kiss of death IMO). The styles you show are lovely for women of all ages, including 1950s vintage like me!

    • 4th May 2021 / 09:09

      Hello Kathleen
      I agree. As I now have a granddaughter after three grandsons it is a delight to buy her pretty dresses. I have just bought two pink frilly ones for her.

  6. Mary Graham
    3rd May 2021 / 22:58

    Dresses are challenging because so few have pockets!

    • 4th May 2021 / 09:08

      Hello Mary
      I had never thought of that before. I think a few of mine have pockets however I rarely use them as it can cause a bulge in the line of the dress, maybe the odd tissue.

  7. Francesca B.
    4th May 2021 / 00:42

    Thank you Josephine for the wonderful post so many lovely dresses and I know and love so many of these labels.
    Thank you for the wonderful post I know a number of these labels and they are all stellar! I recently bought two hush dresses and I love them.

I love to hear from you please leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for new posts

And don’t worry, you can unsubscribe at anytime.

Disclaimer: Products featured on Chicatanyage sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that a small referral commission may be paid to the retailer (at no extra cost to you). This contributes to the cost of maintaining this blog including Hosting fees etc. Chicatanyage could not exist without these small payments so thank you for your contribution.