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The Critics Agree: 19 Dresses You Can Live In All Summer

Throughout our intrepid summer-shopping research, we’ve discovered that right now, all we want to wear is dresses. With a new normal that dictates sticking close to home, a breathable dress is our go-to uniform for everything — including (but not limited to) lounging around the house, running errands, meeting friends in the park, and looking cute on Zoom. So, we crafted a guide to the easiest and breeziest styles worth living in for the rest of this hot-hot season. In order to suss out the styles that everyone is currently carting, we headed straight for the review sections of our favorite sites. Ahead, click through everything from an extra-long lightweight gown (that seemingly flatters all shapes and sizes) to a sunny gingham mini (that’s worthy of the chicest socially distant picnic) — or, just to peep what made the reviewers’ cut in Summer’s Best-Frocked List.Welcome to Hype Machine, our hit-list of the top reviewed products across the web — according to a crowd of die-hard shoppers. Call this your 4-star & up only club, with entry granted by our devoted-to-the-goods shop editors.At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.Linen-Blend Alexandra Button-Front Mini DressThe Most HopefulWe can all agree that 2020 was a rough year — for us, and for our wardrobes. For anyone who’s daunted at the notion of getting dressed to go outside for the first time in 12 months, may we suggest Madewell’s crocus-colored linen frock? Reviewer found that it offered comfort, style, and most-importantly, a much-needed dose of optimism.The Hype: 4.4 out of 5 stars; 134 reviews on Madewell.comWhat They’re Saying: “Warning: emotional review ahead. I, like many of us, have struggled during 2020. Sitting at home, I’ve become consigned to old leggings and sweatshirts. As summer (and hope!!) looms closer, I’ve started to get excited about getting dressed again. However I soon realized that none of my clothes fit. None. My body and size being unrecognizable, putting on all of my spring/summer clothes has either prompted tears or “Oh God get it off right now.” BUT this dress came in the mail. I put it on. I recognized my figure again. I thought about getting dressed and accessorizing again. It’s roomy on the bottom (I’m a 10 – 12 pants and a M was not even close to being too small/is just right). I’m a 36C on top and the top of this dress is fitted. If nothing else, I can wear this dress everyday of the summer.” — sd1786, reviewerShop MadewellMadewell Linen-Blend Alexandra Button-Front Mini Dress, $, available at MadewellFP One Adella SlipThe Most MagicalThis isn’t the first time that Free People’s “Adella” silhouette has made it into a Hype Machine — the bodice-only iteration of this top-selling dress can be found in our roundup of comfortable cotton bras. (We were skeptical, but the reviews don’t lie.) For such a delicate-looking confection, reviewers from size XS to XL claim the Adella Slip well-fitting, and supportive creation — clearly there’s some magic at play. (And don’t forget about the maxi version of this style — at 4.6 stars and 190 reviews, it’s hot on its predecessor’s heels.)The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars; 261 reviews on FreePeople.comWhat They’re Saying: “I bought this dress late last fall; I wish I’d bought the maxi as well. Since then this beautiful number and I have adventured, laughed, cried, slayed, over shared, and all the while she is just as luxurious as the day we met. The lace the adorns her bodice was at first something I thought I’d have to overcome. I can say with certainty that the lace isn’t simply lace, but somehow armor as protective as it is sexy. Amazingly enough, the skirt is fit for a queen, soft and somehow workable. <3” — LunaAnthony, reviewerShop Free PeopleFP One Adella Maxi Slip, $, available at Free PeopleH&M Calf-length DressThe Most Likely To Sell OutH&M’s greatest hits are known to vanish from the brand’s website in a puff of smoke the moment its savvy customer base catches wind of a must-have. This sweeping long-sleeved number is just the silhouette we’re looking for this spring — which means that are a lot of other shoppers are, too. Grab it before the womp-womp “Out of Stock” notification is all that’s left on the drop-down menu. The Hype: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 11 reviews on HM.comWhat They’re Saying: “Lovely dress. I feel like a witch whenever I wear this but it is a nice dress to throw on whenever I feel lazy.” — Reviewer on HM.comShop H&MH&M Calf-length Dress, $, available at H&MEloquii Wrap Maxi DressThe ShowstopperWomen size 12 and up sing the praises of Eloquii’s classic and perfectly calibrated wrap dress, citing a fabric weight suited for year-round wear and expert, flattering tailoring.The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars; 497 reviews on Eloquii.comWhat They’re Saying: “I have been on the hunt for a beautiful long dress that I could wear with my platform combat boots or dressy shoes. These mock wrap dresses are no-fuss: no-slip needed and the belt is easy to tie. The material hangs nicely without emphasizing anything about my figure that I don’t like. I ended up getting the dress in three patterns. I was wearing the print for the first time when a man stopped me at the store, raised his hands up and down at me and said, ‘This is excellent!’ I had been concerned that head to toe print would be too much, but the feedback I’ve received has been a resounding ‘Yes’ to this dress!” — Reviewer on Eloquii.comShop EloquiiEloquii Wrap Maxi Dress, $, available at EloquiiLinen Fox Nida DressThe Freewheelin’ FrockThe forgiving silhouette and convertible belt of this easy linen dress means it can be styled to the wearer’s specifications. Reviewers love that it could be tight or loose, depending on their mood.The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars; 149 reviews on Etsy.comWhat They’re Saying: “The fabric is gorgeous, with a beautiful drape. It’s a very simple shape with a lot of fabric; the belt is what gives it shape and you can fuss with the fabric to make it lay right so it flatters your particular shape. This means it will be comfortable on bloaty days or if you gain a few pounds. The quality is excellent and I’m sure it will last a very long time. I have a feeling I’m going to be living in this dress for a while. I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.” — Gavagirl, reviewerShop Linenfox on EtsyLinenfox Nida Dress, $, available at EtsyLululemon All Yours Tank Maxi DressThe SuperwomanWith a floaty, a-line silhouette and a pima cotton and lyocell fabrication, this unassuming tank dresses appears to give wearers style superpowers — even in the most challenging fashion-challenged situations. The Hype: 4.4 out of 5 stars; 34 reviews on Lululemon.comWhat They’re Saying: “After 10+ washes and accidentally including in the dryer multiple times, dress has yet to pill or change shape. Can dress up or throw over swimsuit and with a toddler in tow, I feel polished in this dress and even with little hands wiping hands on me, easily able to brush away crumbs. I am broad and am between size 4 and 6 in Lululemon. While 4 fit snug, I sized up to a 6 as it laid flat on back and did not pull across the shoulders.” — Anonymous, reviewerShop LululemonLululemon All Yours Tank Maxi Dress, $, available at LululemonUrban Outfitters Anne Smocked Waist Midi DressThe TikTok-ApprovedDo you know the difference between angelcore and goblincore? What about dark academia and light academia? If you’re curious about the world of internet “aesthetics” — which are tirelessly catalogued on Tumblr, TikTok, and this user-generated Wiki — we suggest trying this dress on for size. We think it will fall into more than one category. The Hype: 4.8 out of 5 stars; 29 reviews on UrbanOutfitters.comWhat They’re Saying: “So cottagecore. I feel like a fairy!” — Reviewer on UrbanOutfitters.comShop Urban OutfittersUrban Outfitters Anne Smocked Waist Midi Dress, $, available at Urban OutfittersLove Stitch V-Neck Sleeveless Maxi DressThe Best-Kept SecretSummer after summer, we watch this lightweight, stylish dress sell out on Nordstrom Rack, and the reviews continue to pile up. Savvy shoppers know that this under-$30 hidden gem is worth buying up in multiples — it’s the kind of frock you’ll wear all summer long.The Hype: 4.2 out of 5 stars; 3,278 reviews on NordstromRack.comWhat They’re Saying: “Summer dress VIP. I own this dress in roughly 20 different colors/patterns. The BEST for the summer.” — Christinadreams08, reviewerShop Nordstrom RackLove Stitch V-Neck Sleeveless Maxi Dress, $, available at Nordstrom RackUniversal Standard Geneva DressThe SleeperUniversal Standard’s now-iconic Geneva Dress may look simple, but it’s engineered to provide both comfort and supreme elegance. Listen to the reviewers: don’t underestimate the power of tailored, expertly-draped Peruvian cotton.The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars; 59 reviews on“I felt silly after buying this dress on a bit of an impulse, because I was worried I just spent over $100 on a long t-shirt, but after having it for a couple of weeks now I have no regrets. It’s comfortable like a t-shirt or pajamas, but the tailoring and fabric quality are exceptional. I have worn it with tights and flats for the office, and I’ve worn it around the house on a day when I was feeling under the weather. It’s easy to care for and the color is beautiful. I’m a size 22 and I bought the large, which fits perfectly.” — Maggie S., reviewerShop Universal StandardUniversal Standard Geneva Dress, $, available at Universal StandardToad&Co Sunkissed Maxi DressThe Travel CompanionWhile this simple black maxi dress may not immediately jump off the page, it boasts scores of glowing reviews that praise the frock for its high-performance, sweat-wicking, and rumple-proof qualities. With UPF fabric that provides excellent sun protection, a quick-drying, anti-wrinkle nylon fabrication, this durable and flattering dress is a stylish option for travel and outdoor activity.The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 86 reviews on ToadandCo.comWhat They’re Saying: “Love this dress. The fabric is so lightweight and comfortable. I have worn it on vacation at the beach as well as traveling on the plane and walking around in NOLA when it was 100 degrees. At first, I thought it was going to be very wrinkly based on how it looked when I received it, but after hanging up for a few hours the wrinkles were gone which also makes it a perfect travel dress. Always receive compliments when I wear it.” — Linsay S., reviewerShop Toad&CoToad&Co Sunkissed Maxi Dress, $, available at Toad&CoScoop Printed Midi Slip DressThe SurpriseFriends: don’t sleep on Scoop. The in-house Walmart brand — which recently tapped designer Brandon Maxwell as a creative director — offers unexpectedly high-end style paired with good, old-fashioned rollback pricing.The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars; 7 reviews on Walmart.comWhat They’re Saying: “For $16, I cant believe how nice this dress is! I normally don’t buy clothes at Walmart but I decided to take a chance for $16. Glad I did. It’s 100% polyester but it feels like silk.” — Elizabeth, reviewerShop Scoop at WalmartScoop Printed Midi Slip Dress, $, available at WalmartAnthropologie Somerset Maxi DressThe Crowd-PleaserThis straight-A student Anthropologie stunner converted many a pants-wearer to the frock lifestyle, thanks to its flattering cut and lightweight, summer-ready fabrication.The Hype: 4.7 out of 5 stars; 147 reviews on Anthropologie.comWhat They’re Saying: “Want a dress that feels like your favorite pair of jeans? This is it. I don’t want to take it off. The fit is perfect, if not a bit giving. The fabric is great quality, perfect transitional weather weight. I also wear with a jean jacket and it goes everywhere. My new fave, bought it in two colors and I’m not even a dress wearer.” — Heike, reviewerShop AnthropologieAnthropologie Somerset Maxi Dress, $, available at AnthropologieEverlane Parklet ShirtdressThe ChameleonIt’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s — the most deceptively perfect dress than Everlane has ever produced? With a dead simple silhouette and slightly menswear-ish details, reviewers find that this loose, easy frock can go high, low, vintage, new, and everything in between. The Hype: 4.58 out of 5 stars; 36 reviews on Everlane.comWhat They’re Saying: “I love how this dress looks — if I leave it as is it looks very modern and grungy, especially with Dr. Martens boots. If I roll the sleeves up a bit and put a belt on, it looks like a very cute classical ’50s summer dress. I got the one in black and smallest size and it fits me perfectly. Very happy with the purchase!” — Kris R., reviewerShop EverlaneEverlane The Parklet Shirtdress, $, available at EverlaneLunya Washable Silk SlipdressThe Barely-ThereEnthusiasts of ’90s minimalism should add this restrained silk slip dress to their carts ASAP. Loose and forgiving while still possessing an impossible chic, this is the perfect dress for rolling out of bed and hitting the streets on a sweltering Saturday morning. (We choose to show you the back because we’re especially obsessed with the adjustable “T” strap detail.)The Hype: 4.7 out of 5 stars; 304 reviews on Lunya.comWhat They’re Saying: “I received my silk slip dress and it was more lovely than I could have hoped. It fits like a dream and feels amazing. I am also delighted with the pockets, that not only fit my phone, but are hidden in the flow of the dress, so the silhouette is not ruined when you stuff them full. It’s my new go-to for an easy and sophisticated outfit.” — Shelby D., reviewerShop LunyaLunya Washable Silk Slip Dress, $, available at LunyaPact Fit and Flare Midi DressThe EnvironmentalistFor those looking for the best eco-friendly summer dress out there, Pact has your best bet in earth-friendly organic cotton. It doesn’t hurt that this universally flattering style has a built-in bra and pocket for extra comfort and utility.The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars; 491 reviews on What They’re Saying: “Built-in bra, pockets, four-way stretch — it’s my favorite dress. I have it in black and blue with a pink one on the way. Dear Pact, please make this dress in red and yellow and navy. I will absolutely buy one of each. I consider this my uniform.” — cdmf, reviewerShop PactPACT Fit and Flare Strappy Midi Dress, $, available at PACTYESNO Floral Print Maxi DressThe ComfiestThe soft fabrication and accommodating silhouette of this pajama-like Amazon number earned it glowing reviews from comfort-seeking customers.The Hype: 4 out of 5 stars; 9,237 reviews on Amazon.comWhat They’re Saying: “I read all the reviews before purchasing. I am 5’ 3” and very top heavy. I bought the large and it fits well, it is a tiny bit tight across the very top edge but actually works well for me because often times if I order larger there is too much of a gap under my armpits. My bra band size is smallish: 34. Yes, the fabric is thin as suggested in other reviews but I did not find it scratchy or too thin. It flows and the pattern is adorable. For me, this is the perfect dress for hot weather, for lounging at the house, watering outside and I am sure it will look adorable in cooler weather with a cardigan or jacket. I am buying my second one now” — Colleen Marie Taylor, reviewerShop YESNO on AmazonYESNO Floral Print Maxi Dress, $, available at AmazonTreasure & Bond Side-ruched Bodycon DressThe Miracle-WorkerEvery body is a work of art, but we’ve all struggled to see the beauty in our own forms, especially as women. This simple t-shirt dress boasts strategically-placed ruching that helped to restore a reviewer’s confidence in herself — and that is truly a beautiful thing.The Hype: 4.4 out of 5 stars; 292 reviews on Nordstrom.comWhat They’re Saying: “I’m not a dressy person and have always wanted to try a t-shirt dress. Most dresses are either too boxy or the body-con are too revealing for my taste. I’m middle aged with children, so body has many, many imperfections. I had no expectations for this dress when I purchased. I was greatly surprised at how forgiving it really is. The ruched side really helps to hide those imperfections. I wear with tennis shoes or sandals and throw a jean jacket on to keep it casual looking. I really love this. I’ll be buying more of these types of dresses, ruched of course. I’m 5’ 8” and 155 lbs. I bought a large and it fits perfectly. I wish they had more colors. I’ll definitely be looking for more of this type of dress in the future.” — Gandymac, reviewerShop Treasure & Bond at NordstromTreasure & Bond Side Ruched Body-Con Dress, $, available at NordstromMonki Torborg Floral Mini DressThe Florals-For-Spring-Groundbreaking DressSometimes, when warm weather rolls around, you just want a pretty, swingy dress in a print that reminds you (and everyone around you) that spring has SPRUNG. Monki’s verdantly-patterned frock is your one-way ticket to a season full of bike rides, picnics, and lazy long weekends.The Hype: 4 out of 5 stars, 17 reviews on ASOS.comWhat They’re Saying: “Love the pattern on this dress, it’s floaty and the material is nice and light, it also has pockets! It does come up quite big though.” — Reviewer on ASOS.comShop ASOSMonki Torborg Floral Mini Dress, $, available at ASOSA New Day Long Sleeve Tiered DressThe Go Big Or Go HomeCare to waft around your neighborhood this summer in a cloud of style, romance, and lightweight, minty-green fabric? If so, Target has the dress for you — reviewers praised this frock’s easy fit, soft handfeel, and flattering drape.The Hype: 4 out of 5 stars; 173 reviews on Target.comWhat They’re Saying: “I absolutely LOVE THIS DRESS!!! It’s got such a feminine quality to it and the billowy sleeves … very romantic looking. If you’re looking for a form fitting body con type dress …. THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. This dress though it’s a bit oversized, it’s flattering on all sizes and shapes. I’d only recommend ordering smaller than your usual size because it does run big. I’m 5’ 5, 110 lbs, and the XS was perfect. So pretty on, and for those who like a more cinched waist just add a belt! I love how it hangs and love the softness and comfort of this dress, and pockets too!! It’s a keeper for me.” — D., reviewerShop TargetA New Day Long Sleeve Tiered Dress, $, available at TargetAmazon Essentials Surplice Maxi DressThe … Well, The EssentialWhile this ultra-simple dress isn’t winning any design awards, it is winning rave reviews from over a thousand highly satisfied customers. Reviewers say it’s the type of frock that can be transformed into almost any look with the right accessories, and wears with the utmost elegance and ease.The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars; 1,223 reviews on Amazon.comWhat They’re Saying: “This dress is everything I wanted and nothing I don’t. Simple, drapes well. The material is your standard summer maxi stretchy matte cotton. The v isn’t so deep that you need a cami to cover cleavage at work. The sleeves are long enough to not be sleeveless but close enough to be cool. The arm holes are blessedly normal-sized and not gaping. I’m a 40” bust and 16 – 18 in clothes, and the XL fits me really well. The top might be a tad loose, the L would probably fit as well, but I like it, it’s comfortable. Might buy a few more in other colors!” — edoug, reviewerAmazon Essentials Surplice Maxi Dress, $, available at AmazonModCloth Fabulous Fit and Flare ShirtdressThe ThrowbackVintage enthusiasts, rejoice — this nostalgic frock has reviewers raving over its picture-perfect 1950s tailoring and candy-colored hue.The Hype: 4 out of 5 stars; 56 reviews on ModCloth.comWhat They’re Saying: “I call this my Sandra Dee dress, and I feel like a fabulous lemon cupcake in it! I purchased this on a whim just to try on, and as soon as I did I knew I was keeping it. The color is the perfect springtime yellow. It’s not neon, not sunshine, not mustard. It’s a soft yellow, closer to pastel yellow but just a teensy bit brighter. It’s a happy color, and I felt fantastic wearing it and received tons of compliments!” — Barbarella, reviewerModCloth Fabulous Fit and Flare Shirt Dress, $, available at ModClothAerie Floral Print Midi Slip DressThe Perfect 10Reviewers were evangelical in their praise for this ditsy-floral Aerie creation. It gets straight As in all subjects, from from pattern and fit to price and curb appeal.The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 29 reviews on AE.comWhat They’re Saying: “10-star dress, cut and style. Just beautiful. AE just nailed everything about this dress. Fit perfect, love the color and cut, and the price was right. Can’t wait to wear it with sneakers all summer. Need more vibrant colors.” — Jewel, reviewerAE Floral Print Midi Slip Dress, $, available at American Eagle OutfittersAerie One-Shoulder Shift DressThe OffbeatThis loosely-fitted, swingy Aerie frock has all the comfort of a house dress — but, thanks to a unique, asymmetrical hemline, still feels fresh and elegant.The Hype: 4.5 stars; 39 reviews on AE.comWhat They’re Saying: “I love this dress!! So comfortable. I wore it without a bra and it kept everything in place due to the multilayer lining. You can really wear it casual or dress up with heels. I usually wear a medium, but bought a large and it did not slip down.” — Mari2122, reviewerAE One Shoulder Shift Dress, $, available at American Eagle OutfittersKemi Telford Modupe Garden DressThe OptimistThis unanimously top-rated cocoon dress had customers lighting up at its festive floral print — it brings a much-needed dose of joy, along with a chic and forgiving silhouette and a cool cotton weight that’s perfect for summer.The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars; 4 reviews on KemiTelford.comWhat They’re Saying: “When the sun is really shining I love wearing this dress as its cool cotton and colorful flowers really remind me of the joy of life and I’m comfortable all day long. When it gets a little chilly I throw on some leggings under and a cardigan on top. The wider neckline is flattering and I don’t worry about my feminine lumps and bumps as it’s roomy in all the right places.” — Nicci, reviewerKemi Telford Modupe Garden Dress, $, available at Kemi TelfordLike what you see? 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