Beautiful summer dresses to buy now

Zoe Gunn

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24 June 2022

Long, sunny days are here – it’s time you invested in a wardrobe to match

24 June 2022 Zoe Gunn | If you purchase something via our website, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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t may still be early summer but the UK is already experiencing its first heat wave and, with the promise of a season finally spent holidaying, entertaining and living la dolce vita, it’s high time our wardrobes reflected this optimistic mood. It seems designers are feeling positive too, with the SS22 collections bursting with bright colour palettes and cheery prints that are lightyears away from the leggings and loungewear that have been mainstays of the past year.

From floaty maxi dresses perfect for summer picnics to chic tailored numbers ideal for weddings and work days, here are the best summer dresses to buy now.

The best mini dresses for summer

Cecile Bahnsen puff-sleeve flared dress, £830, farfetch.com; Zimmermann silk wrap dress, £495, harveynichols.com; Agua by Agua Bendita Rosa floral minidress, £218, mytheresa.com

If the term ‘mini dress’ brings to mind the kind of thigh-skimming skirt you haven’t considered wearing since your teens, it’s time to reframe your thinking. The new mini rises just a few inches above the knee and is best worn loose, oversized and, ideally, with a pleat or two for good measure. Agua Bendita’s tiered floral design is the perfect match for smart sneakers and a denim jacket while Cecile Bahnsen and Zimmermann offer versatile styles that work for everything from dress down Friday to Sunday lunch.

 
 

The best midi dresses for summer

Roksanda Adriana silk-satin dress, £1,695, matchesfashion.com; Three Graces London Sage linen dress, £470, net-a-porter.com; Burberry sash-detail dress, £1,490, harrods.com

Once considered dowdy and unflattering, the midi dress – which typically hits at mid-calf – has been gaining momentum over the past decade to become one of the most stylish lengths around. If you’re heading to Ascot, the polo or a wedding this season, this should be your go-to. Roksanda and Three Graces make a statement in bold block colours while Burberry's tailoring-inspired draped version makes for a sophisticated option for the office.

 
 

The best maxi dresses for summer

Self-Portrait shirt dress, £390, farfetch.com; Rixo Cannes cotton dress, £285, net-a-porter.com; Anouki crystal-embellished silk gown, £1,175, brownsfashion.com

Maxi dresses aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but, styled correctly, they needn’t be overwhelming or unwieldy to wear. Self-Portrait's Broderie Anglaise shirtdress, for example, works with both heels and trainers, depending on the occasion, while Rixo's daintily embroidered design can be paired with sandals and a wide-brimmed hat for a summer stroll. The exception to the rule is Anouki's crystal-embellished silk gown. With voluminous cape detailing, it oozes Elizabeth Taylor-style Sixties glamour and deserves to be worn at the most special of occasions.

 
 

The best floral dresses for summer

Reformation Esther mini dress, £200, farfetch.com; Emporio Sirenuse Azzurra maxi dress, £435, matchesfashion.com; Nink by Eponine Tweet cotton dress, £360, eponinelondon.com

Florals for summer? We know. Groundbreaking. There is, however, no denying the appeal of a cascade of delicate petals as the weather warms. If all-over flowers aren’t your thing, Emporio Sirenuse's darkly romantic dress exchanges bold blooms for a palm print in an easy-to-wear option. Reformation's uber-feminine painterly florals, meanwhile, offer vintage appeal while Nink by Eponine turns things up to 11 with an eye-popping midi style. Wear it with sandals now and knee-high boots come autumn.

 
 

The best beach dresses for summer

Kori Rhombus embroidered mini dress, £140, libertylondon.com; Max Mara Beachwear, £210, harveynichols.com; Honorine Mimi cotton dress, £270, brownsfashion.com

Okay, we may be being optimistic here, but even if you’re hitting the beach in Margate rather than the Maldives, there’s no excuse not to look your best. The best beach dresses are light, floaty and can be slipped on to take you straight to the bar. Kori’s graphic embroidered bracelet-sleeve dress, Max Mara's bright and breezy maxi dress and Honorine's ruffle tie-shoulder pastel peach number tick all the boxes.

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