The best summer dresses for staying cool and comfy

We've found some stylish and flattering summer dresses for you to wear from dawn until dusk.

Women in summer dresses

by Eleanor Weaver |

Summer is on the horizon, and we're well and truly here for it! After dreary spells of wind and rain, we're looking forward to relaxing in the garden, taking trips to the seaside (with ice cream in hand, of course), and having delicious barbecues with friends and family.

And under the beaming summer sun, you'll need the perfect summer dress to help you radiate confidence and stay as cool and comfortable as possible.

What is the best dress to wear in summer?

The top priorities for a great summer dress are to be stylish and functional, and fortunately, that's a trend most brands are hopping on board with this year. There are plenty of dresses with flattering relaxed, comfortable fits - think floaty sleeves and hemlines - that are easy to throw on. After a couple of years spent in comfy loungewear, you can forgive us for not wanting to go back to more restrictive clothing!

Related: The most flattering dresses for mature women

If you're looking to stay cool, opting for breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen will keep you cool and sweat-free.

And in terms of style? That's completely up to you! There are plenty of summer dresses that can be dressed up and down for day outings and enjoying the lighter, balmy evenings. We've found some of the best summer dresses to buy now with a range of lengths, designs, fits, and sleeve lengths to make sure you feel your absolute best.

Best summer dresses for 2022

Cotton Rich Animal Print Mini Tiered Dress

Cotton Rich Animal Print Mini Tiered Dress

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Made of pure cotton, this mini dress is an easy-to-wear summer staple with its lightweight puff sleeves, flattering tiered shape, and elegant back-tie finish. With its bold animal print, this is a great one for hitting the beach or styling with sandals. Sizes: 6-24 in short, regular, and longer fits.

Retro Floral Print Button Through Puff Sleeve Tea Midi Dress

Retro Floral Print Button Through Puff Sleeve Tea Midi Dress

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Designed in this super cute retro print, this tea-style midi dress gives effortless summer style. Featuring puff sleeves and a flattering V neckline, you can easily dress it up or down for any occasion. Sizes: 10-32

Olivia Midi Dress

Olivia Midi Dress

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Available in ivory, black, green, red, or navy (we'll take one of each colour please!), this summer dress is effortlessly elegant with its midi length, flattering fitted waist with tie belt, and slightly puffed sleeve. It's made of Lenzing Ecovero, an eco-responsible fibre that's lightweight and breathable. Sizes: 4-18

Emilie Kaftan Shirt Dress

Emilie Kaftan Shirt Dress

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Perfect for packing on your holidays, the maxi-length Emilie Kaftan Shirt Dress is made of lightweight viscose with airy kaftan sleeves, an adjustable drawstring waist, and a vibrant hand-drawn zebra print that will add an instant pop of colour. Available in green or pink. Sizes: 6-20

Sailor Dress

Sailor Dress

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This laidback summer dress is ideal for relaxed evenings and weekends in the sunshine. The relaxed fit skims the body and is made from soft and breathable organic cotton - that will keep you lovely and cool. It falls just below the knee and even comes with pockets! Sizes: 8-28

Linen-Look Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

Linen-Look Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

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This midi dress is already a favourite now the warmer weather has hit. Available in bright orange, pink, white, or black, it has a flattering fit-and-flare design with short puff sleeves and a square neckline. Made of viscose, cotton, and linen, it'll keep you sweat-free and is a versatile choice for dressing up and down. Sizes: 6-18

Blue Shirred Linen Midi Dress

Blue Shirred Linen Midi Dress

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This midi summer dress creates a flattering silhouette whilst still being comfortable. The bodice and straps are fully shirred for stretch and support around the bust and shoulders. Pair with trainers or sandals for a cool and comfortable daytime look. Sizes: 10-32

100% Linen Shirty Dress

100% Linen Shirty Dress

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Made of 100 per cent linen, you know this dress will keep you cool and comfortable all summer long. Described as sleeveless - the shirt style gives a slight capped sleeve effect along with the shirt style collar and straight design. You can cinch at the waist with the tie belt or remove it for a more relaxed fit. Sizes: 4-16, 4-26 in the orange.

Hush Fifi Zig Zag Print Mini Dress

Hush Fifi Zig Zag Print Mini Dress

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An ultimate in day-to-night dressing, the easy-wear Hush Fifi Zig Zag Print Mini Dress is lined with 100 per cent viscose with an A-line silhouette. As well as having a striking, playful geometric pattern, it has a flattering v-neckline and floaty short sleeves. Sizes: 4-18

Sleeveless Linen Tiered Hem Wrap Dress

Sleeveless Linen Tiered Hem Wrap Dress

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With a baked navy stripe, this dress instantly transports us to the seaside and perfectly pairs with sandals. A showstopping summer piece, this lightweight linen and cotton wrap maxi dress has a modest wrap front, tie waist, and gently tiered hem. Sizes: 10-32

Denim Frill Sleeve Sun Dress

Denim Frill Sleeve Sun Dress

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We'd wear denim all year round if we could, but sometimes, it's just a little too heavy for summer dressing. Luckily, our dreams have come true in this sundress from Monsoon made from breathable sustainable cotton. Perfect for brunches and barbecues, we love the ruffle detailing and knee-length that'll look lovely paired with bright white trainers. Sizes: S-XXL

Floral Sweetheart Midi Dress

Floral Sweetheart Midi Dress

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New for 2022 is this midi floral number with a sweetheart necklace, flattering puff sleeves, and a small slit on the hem. Style with trainers and a denim jacket (if it's cool enough) for an effortless look. Sizes: 8-22

Red Floral Button Mini Smock Dress

Red Floral Button Mini Smock Dress

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If you want to avoid feeling at all restricted, a smock dress like this in an oversized fit gives you plenty of room to breathe! It's a mini length with short frill sleeves and is covered in red, mood-lifting florals that'll no doubt brighten your day. Size: 6-18

Linen Rich V-Neck Short Sleeve Shift Dress

Linen Rich V-Neck Short Sleeve Shift Dress

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If you're looking for the same levels of comfort but don't want such an oversized fit, this linen-rich shift dress will help you stay easy-breezy with a regular fit that falls to the knee. Made of sustainably sourced viscose, it's an easy wardrobe staple that you can wear with sandals, heels, or trainers. Available in a cream mix (pictured), green, or royal blue. Sizes: 6-24

V-Neck Chiffon Dress

V-Neck Chiffon Dress

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Made of polyester, this dress may not be as breathable but it makes up for it with its mini length, softly draping chiffon and skirt, short raglan butterfly sleeves, and flattering v-neck design. We love this light grey/patterned design for summer, but there are other colours available. Sizes: XS-XXL

Hush Wrey Floral Print Maxi Dress

Hush Wrey Floral Print Maxi Dress

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Give your summer evening wardrobe a refresh with this maxi 'Spring Blossom Red' dress from Hush. It has a flattering fit-and-flare silhouette, a simple v-neckline, and floaty three-quarter length sleeves for excellent movement. Sizes: 6-18

Amelie Button Up Dress

Amelie Button Up Dress

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If you want to have some fun with your wardrobe this summer, this pretty mid-maxi length Amelie dress has darling details you'll love. It has short frill gathered sleeves, a tiered skirt, and a fun contrasting stripe waist tie for a feminine silhouette. They also have a coral stripe version of this dress that we're also tempted to add to our basket! Sizes: 6-20

Imogen Halterneck Maxi Dress

Imogen Halterneck Maxi Dress

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Got a garden party to attend this summer? This halterneck dress from Boden is the ideal outfit. It is a floaty maxi length with an elasticated waist for comfort. The bright and vibrant colours featured in the pattern are perfect for this time of year. Sizes: 6-22

AND/OR Bernie Cotton Jersey Dress

AND/OR Bernie Cotton Jersey Dress

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Made of 100 per cent cotton, this midi dress offers a soft and breathable fit all day long. We love the subtle details of the turned-up sleeves and the way the tired fabric gathers and drapes down. Available in this beautiful mid-pink colour, as well as khaki and black. Sizes: 6-20

Where to buy summer dresses online

If you haven't quite found the summer dress of your dreams, you can count on these retailers to have wonderful dresses available with more options becoming available the closer to summer we get. We can't wait!

Seasalt Cornwall: Stocks UK sizes 6-20

H&M: Stocks UK sizes 4-26

Wallis: Stocks UK sizes 8-18

New Look: Stocks UK sizes 4-32

Joules: Stocks UK sizes 6-26

John Lewis: Stocks UK sizes 4-28

Marks and Spencer: Stocks UK sizes 6-24

Boden: Stocks UK sizes 6-22

Monsoon: Stocks UK sizes 8-22

M&Co: Stocks UK sizes 6-28

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