summer dresses

Beautiful summer dresses to buy now

26 Mar 2024 | |By Zoe Gunn

Long, sunny days are (almost) here – it's time you invested in a wardrobe to match

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It may still be spring but the UK is already experiencing its first glimmers of sunshine and, with the promise of a season spent holidaying, entertaining and living la dolce vita around the corner, it’s high time our wardrobes reflected this optimistic mood. It seems designers are feeling positive too, with the SS24 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 few years. 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

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. Farm Rio’s linen floral design is the perfect match for smart sneakers and a denim jacket while Cecilie Bahnsen and Veronica Beard offer versatile styles that work for everything from dress-down Friday to Sunday lunch.

Farm Rio Forest Soul linen mini dress

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Cecilie Bahnsen Vermont dress

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Veronica Beard Ravena jacquard dress

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Caravana Charki leather-trimmed dress

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The best midi dresses for summer

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. JW Anderson and Ferragamo make a statement in bold block colours while Prada and Ralph Lauren's tailoring-inspired versions make for sophisticated options for the office.

JW Anderson layered dress

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Ferragamo cotton-poplin midi dress

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Prada printed midi dress

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Ralph Lauren belted shirtdress

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The best maxi dresses for summer

Maxi dresses aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but, styled correctly, they needn’t be overwhelming or unwieldy to wear. The minimal silhouette on Reformation's printed dress, for example, works with both heels and trainers, depending on the occasion, while boldly patterned designs from Rixo and Aspiga can be paired with sandals and a wide-brimmed hat for a summer stroll. The exception to the rule is Valentino's show-stopping Cady gown. With a dramatically flowing cape-like construction, it oozes Elizabeth Taylor-style Hollywood glamour and deserves to be worn at the most special of occasions.

Reformation Frankie maxi dress

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Aspiga Tabitha maxi dress

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Valentino Cady couture dress

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The best floral dresses for summer

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, Etro's darkly romantic dress features one abstract bold bloom in an easy-to-wear option. Reformation and Needle & Thread's uber-feminine painterly florals, meanwhile, offer vintage appeal while Erdem turns things up to 11 with an eye-popping midi style. Wear it with sandals now and knee-high boots come autumn.

Erdem floral print dress

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Reformation Juliette dress

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Etro floral mini dress

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Needle & Thread Dancing Daisies mini dress

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The best beach dresses for summer

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. Missoni’s graphic embroidered tiered dress, Melissa Odabash's bright and breezy shirtdress, Escvdo's crocheted style and Johanna Ortiz's intricately detailed kaftan number tick all the boxes.

ESCVDO Marea crocheted dress

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Missoni Zigzag maxi dress

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Johanna Ortiz Ocean Clan dress

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Melissa Odabash Everly embroidered dress

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