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The 18 Best Sundresses in 2023

Feb 17, 2024

We dare you to choose just one.

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InStyle / Alli Waataja

In the thick of summer, temperatures can rise so dramatically that everything feels sticky on the skin. We can’t promise that feeling will go away (sorry), but may we offer you the sundress, which might make things a bit better? They can help keep you cool on sweltering days, on top of being some of the easiest pieces to throw on and wear, regardless of which length you opt for — mini, midi, or maxi. And lucky for you, there’s no such thing as too many sundresses, which is why we compiled the best of the best for you to pick from (and we won’t judge you if it’s more than one) with the help of stylists and fashion experts. Keep reading for what we recommend.

Hill House Home

What We Love: This summer classic flatters all figures and comes in multiple colors, patterns and fabric types.

What We Don’t Love: The most popular fabric, cotton, requires ironing and is prone to wrinkles.

The Nap Dress, invented by the preppy DTC brand Hill House Home, has become a summer classic in just a few short years. “At under $200 and with 20 colorways and options, it’s easy to see why there are so many Nap Dress stans,” says Boston-based fashion expert Bethenny Everett-Ratcliffe, who selected the versatile and incredibly comfortable Ellie style as her top overall pick.

Unlike other trendier styles, the ruffle-sleeved, ruched bodice, and flared skirt midi has proved to be timeless, with the brand unveiling new colors, patterns and styles annually. Wear it solo or add a belt, a cardigan, or even a matching headband — the styling options are limitless. And when it comes to comfort, “This dress is the best thing since the mumu, but way cuter,” she adds. It is called a nap dress, afterall, getting its name from the idea that it’s comfortable enough for all day and night wear.

While we love Ellie in crisp cotton, the light material requires ironing. Luckily the dress comes in a few wrinkle-resistant crepe options.

Price at time of publish: $150

Size: XXS—XXL | Material: Cotton, wrinkle-resistant crepe, or velvet | Colors: 20


What We Love: Nobody will ever suspect you paid under $90 for this beautifully tailored floral maxi.

What We Don’t Love: Unfortunately, you can’t throw this in the washing machine.

You don’t need to drop hundreds in order to look like a million. This Lulus Lija floral print maxi has become plus-size stylist Michaela Leitz-Aslaksen’s budget-friendly favorite. Despite the elegant design and the generous skirt gracing the floor, the whimsical dress retails for less than $90. Those turning their heads to see you would never be the wiser, however, given how sophisticated it looks. The modified halter neckline, fitted waistline, and flared maxi skirt result in a “beautifully tailored fit,” while “the vibrant colors bring the floral print to life,” she said. And, even without accessories, the dress will create a statement on its own as it “effortlessly elevates any occasion with its enchanting design and elegant style,” she says.

The only major downfall of the dress? Like most finicky fabrics, the Lija is hand wash- and line-dry only.

Price at time of publish: $86

Size: XS—XL | Material: Polyester | Colors: 1

Bergdorf Goodman

What We Love: This gorgeous, dreamy paisley off-the-shoulder stunner is statement-making to say the least. The off-the-shoulder details ensure you won't get any awkward spaghetti strap tan lines.

What We Don’t Love: Taller girls might find the hemline a little short.

If you’re going to splurge on a piece, make sure it’s something that stands out and can’t easily be replaced. You’re not going to regret getting this dreamy paisley dress from Caroline Constas. With its big balloon sleeves, open shoulders, and cinched-in waist, it’s basically a harbinger of festivities and good vibes. And Detroit-based stylist Clare Pollard thinks “fun flirty mini is especially great for a summer party,” and can be worn with a flat sandal or a heel. “The off-the-shoulder design makes for a great opportunity to wear those big earrings in your jewelry box,” she adds. You can add a belt or wear the dress as-is.

And yes, the dress has pockets (!!), so you can store your phone away and keep your hands free to raise the roof. The only drawback? Super tall gals might find the hemline a tad short.

Price at time of publish: $198

Size: XS—XL | Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Colors: 1


What We Love: The straps are adjustable.

What We Don’t Love: It’s tighter on the chest and might not fit larger busts too comfortably.

Shopping for cute dresses on Amazon might feel like a hit or miss at times, but Everett-Ratcliff swears on The Drop, as it “offers affordable wardrobe staples, without sacrificing the quality.” While she refuses “to waste any amount of money on something I can’t wear more than once,” this 100 percent tencel lyocell dress is not only soft to the touch but also durable enough to last through many summers to come. The tiered maxi A-line skirt is universally flattering for a variety of body types (and goes up to a 5XL size) but those with larger busts do find the dress to run a bit small on time — we recommend sizing up just in case. But it does come with adjustable straps to customize the fit a touch, as well as hidden side pockets and 18 trending colors, ranging from neutrals to brights.

Price at time of publish: $60

Size: XXS—5XL | Material: Tencell Lyocel | Colors: 18


What We Love: Even though it only comes in one print, gingham is the one to have this summer.

What We Don’t Love: This flirty mini only comes in one pattern option.

Gingham is basically the unofficial pattern of summer and a J.Crew staple since the 1980s, so even though this dress comes in just one print, we think it’s still a keeper. Everett-Ratcliffe warns that it runs on the shorter side, making it a perfect fit for anyone with a petite build or who wants to showcase their long legs. “The fitted skirting with ruffled trim gives it a fun, feminine look that shows off leg, while at the same time drawing attention upwards toward the matching neckline,” she says about the fit. We also love the wide size range that makes it accessible for lots of body types.

Price at time of publish: $128

Size: 00—24 | Material: Cotton poplin | Colors: 1

Banana Republic

What We Love: It has pockets.

What We Don’t Love: It runs big, so size down.

We can always rely on Banana Republic to offer cute styles in extended sizings. On those extra hot and sunny days, opt for an airy piece like this. With no definition around the waist, this dress shoots straight down in an A-line flare, giving you maximum airflow and no tight or sticky feeling. Two hard-to-miss details include the spaghetti straps that tie together in the back in an endearing little bow, and the pockets on each side of the dress. It’s available in a 47 inch inseam for petites (as well as 49 inch for regulars and 51 inch for tall), but many reviewers comment that it runs quite large. We advise sizing down when you make this purchase.

Price at time of publish: $170

Size: XXS—XXL| Material: Cotton | Colors: 3

Dia & Co

What We Love: Despite the long sleeves, the drapey linen will keep you cool and well ventilated.

What We Don’t Love: The linen will likely crinkle, so hang dry in a cool place after washing.

Leitz-Aslaksen dubs this little above-the-knee number her go-to dress for plus-size women, noting its elegant wide and flowy kimono sleeves and flattering fit. “The luxurious linen-viscose fabric blend and the rich chutney color create a perfect combination of style and comfort, making it a must-have addition to any plus-size wardrobe,” she says. The material and the cut will also keep things very airy and cool, while simultaneously shading you from the harsh sun. The front features a drapey detail that sets it apart from other average sun dresses, making it suitable for more elegant soirées as well.

Another plus? You can throw it in the washer on a cold, gentle cycle with like colors and tumble dry low. Just make sure to hang it in a closet rather than folded in a drawer, as linen is prone to wrinkling.

Price at time of publish: $130

Size: 14—28 | Material: Viscose, linen | Colors: 1


What We Love: The mulberry silk is not only ridiculously soft and luxurious, but it’s machine-washable as well.

What We Don’t Love: You cannot machine dry it.

Quince, the price-transparent direct-to-consumer brand known for their $50 cashmere sweaters, also makes the best slip dress, according to the InStyle team and Everett-Ratcliffe, who calls this “a dressier option, that you can also dress down.” The midi length and bias cut paired with adjustable straps makes the wardrobe staple flattering for a variety of figures. We also love the color run, ranging from champagne, copper and black — for the wardrobe staples — to rich hues like burgundy and aubergine — for more of a statement piece. (It also comes in a mini version.)

A final note: Keep in mind that machine washable silk isn’t necessarily machine dryable silk. The brand recommends machine washing inside out on a cold cycle or hand washing and then hanging on a line to dry.

Price at time of publish: $80

Size: XS—XL | Material: Mulberry silk | Colors: 8


What We Love: You can adjust the straps by tying them to your desired length.

What We Don’t Love: It runs a little large, so size down for a more fitted look.

Not only does this Parisian-inspired midi from Lulus feature a trending silhouette, complete with a sweetheart neckline, ruched bodice, side slit, and tying tank straps, but it comes in two playful colors — you won’t be disappointed whether you order the sage green or orange pattern. “What’s not to love about the dress?” asks Everett-Ratcliffe. It’s flirty, airy, and eye-catching, which are all quintessential details for a top-notch sun dress.

The biggest complaint most shoppers have is that the dress runs a little on the large side, so you might want to consider ordering down.

Price at time of publish: $55

Size: XS—XL | Material: Polyester | Colors: 2

Moda Operandi

What We Love: The spaghetti straps, short hem, and linen fabric work together to give you an extra airy dress for those unforgivingly hot days.

What We Don’t Love: It’s very short, particularly for taller women.

Black isn’t the most summery color, but we’re well aware that many of you refuse to wear anything else so this option is for you.This LBD has what it takes to keep you looking hot while staying extra cool for the summer — an ultra mini length to keep your legs from overheating,, spaghetti straps for minimal shoulder coverage, and luscious, washed linen fabric offering serious breathability. Thanks to the hidden back zipper, you don’t have to awkwardly shimmy your body through the piece either.

“The effortless style that can be accessorized a thousand different ways for almost any summer occasion,” says Pollard. Although those that lean on the taller side (think five foot eight and higher) might find the hem almost too short.

Price at time of publish: $230

Size: XS—XL | Material: Linen | Colors: 1

Lilly Pulitzer

What We Love: The UPF protected dress can be worn from brunch to the golf course.

What We Don’t Love: It comes with complicated wash instructions.

Whether hitting the golf course or grabbing lunch with friends, Leitz-Aslaksen loves this Lilly Pulitzer “Luxletic” dress, which gives off some serious White Lotus vibes while also offering sun protection.

The material is a unique nylon pique, a super soft and subtly textured blend with moisture-wicking capabilities. “Its flattering cut and unique SPF50+ functionality make it my favorite mini summer dress for stylish and worry-free sunny days,” she says. Available in two, brightly-hued very Lilly Pulitzer tropical patterns, the dress is definitely a statement of its own and perhaps reserved for the more low-intensity sports, such as golf or polo. . When you’re done with the day, the brand recommends washing in cold on a low cycle, then hanging to dry, so not to harm the fabric.

Price at time of publish: $188

Size: XXS—XL | Material: Meryl nylon, spandex | Colors: 2


What We Love: The double lining around the bust gives you the option to go bra-free.

What We Don’t Love: The Australian label is known to run large, so size down.

Need something sophisticated to wear to that all-white party? This gorgeous maxi dress is made out of non-stretch linen, and is perfectly opaque to keep you breezy but not sleazy. The A-line skirt grazes the ankles in an effortless drop, while the double-lined breast pockets give you the option to go bra-less. The straps are also adjustable, so you can find the right snugness around the shoulders.

Linen always comes with complicated wash instructions. Dissh recommends hand washing cold and then line-drying in a cool place. While it does require a little more TLC, from our experience with the brand, we can confirm the superior construction and feel is well worth it. We also recommend sizing down, and the Australian label is known to run a little large.

Price at time of publish: $180

Size: 2–12 | Material: Linen, rayon | Colors: 1


What We Love: Balloon sleeves elevate this perfect summer linen mini dress.

What We Don’t Love: The two color options it comes in differ in price.

Yes, we have more linen options for you, because nothing beats this summer-staple that’s incredibly breathable, lightweight, and elegant. Madewell’s Maisie Mini Dress offers a little more structure to your look, with big balloon sleeves, contrasting top-stitching details, and ruched sides in the back for added stretch. It’s the kind of mini dress you can even wear to the office or a corporate summer party, thanks to its modest appeal.

And yes, you’ll find pockets on each side for added convenience. The dress comes in an extensive size run and two summery hues, although for some reason, the orange version is far more affordable than the purple version.

Price at time of publish: $128

Size: 00—16 | Material: Linen | Colors: 2


What We Love: This silk charmeuse stunner is strapless, bra friendly, and roomy.

What We Don’t Love: Avoid in high temperatures – silk can get sweaty.

This perfect silk charmeuse strapless dress from Reformation has “captured my heart,” says Leitz-Aslaksen. At the intersection of “comfort and class,” the open-shoulder detail adds a touch of elegance. And don’t worry, you can still wear a strapless bra underneath, as the roomier fit won't give away to any bra seams. The silky fabric and beautiful color options make it fantastic for special occasions – just pair it with strappy sandals or heels. The dress does run large, so size down. The only con? Silk doesn’t pair well with high temperatures, as sweat is hyper-visible on the fabric.

Price at time of publish: $278

Size: XS—XL | Material: Silk charmeuse | Colors: 5


What We Love: The elastic bodice keeps the dress from sliding down.

What We Don’t Love: It’s only offered in one size.

For over a decade, the Hollie maxi dress has been a best-selling style for Tiare Hawaii for a number of reasons, the main one being it’s the perfect off-the-shoulder dress that never goes out of style.

The dress is only offered in one size, which surely does not fit all. However, the elastic bodice does expand and adds a little stretch to the dress, to (somewhat) make up for the lack fo size options ---I even wore mine when I was 7 months pregnant! The two leg slits keep the dress flowing beautifully in the wind, while keeping the ventilation going. It also comes in a short version and in children’s sizes. Available in a bunch of patterns and tie-dye options, with new ones added every year.

Price at time of publish: $113

Size: OS | Material: Rayon | Colors: 14


What We Love: The braided belt can be tied wherever you desire, from the back to the side to the front.

What We Don’t Love: The dress is offered in limited size options.

While sleeved dresses generally don’t fall under the “sundress” category, Everett-Ratcliffe makes an exception for one of Rhode’s most popular styles, the Ella. “Even though it’s long-sleeved, it’s giving legs for days,” she says, adding that you can dress it up with heels, down with sneakers, “and if you wear it with sandals you can easily go from day to night without having to change a thing.” And mind you, evenings can have a chilly bite to them, so the long sleeves are actually a plus.

It also comes in a whopping 16 color options, ranging from black and bright pink to Rhode’s trademark bold patterns. The only major disappointment about the stylish dress is the limited standard size options.

Price at time of publish: $435

Size: XS—XL | Material: Cotton | Colors: 16


What We Love: A gorgeous, bold and colorful print paired with a generous but flattering silhouette immediately transports us to the tropics.

What We Don’t Love: Due to the beautiful saturated colors, laundering requires a little extra care: Plan on washing this dress in cold water separately from the rest of your laundry and hanging dry.

This palm print tie shoulder dress, appropriately named Sangria Palm, is reminiscent of tropical vacations and beachside lie-downs. The nantucket-born label Tuckernuck embodies escapism in their designs, bringing a little bit of paradise to wherever you are.

Due to the generous fit, adjustable shoulder straps and extended size range, the maxi dress flatters a variety of body types. The biggest con? Bold, saturated colors come with a laundering price: wash separately from your other colored clothes and hang to dry. Otherwise, throw the elevated caftan on over your swimsuit for a chic coverup or glam it up with big gold jewelry and strappy sandals for a night out.

Price at time of publish: $158

Size: XS—XXXL | Material: Rayon | Colors: 1

Vineyard Vines

What We Love: It also serves as a fun and flowy coverup to take you from the beach to lunch.

What We Don’t Love: The various colorways are priced differently.

For days spent on the beach or at the pool, having a chic dress to throw on over your swimsuit will come in handy when it’s time to hop over to the lunch spot. This flowy gauze Vineyard Vines number is perfect for keeping cool but covered up after swim and sun sessions, so you can walk around without feeling underdressed. A drop waist and ruffled skirt paired with an adjustable cross-strap back offer a loose and relaxed but refined fit. While it’s available in three fun colors, they’re all priced at different price points, which we find a little strange

Price at time of publish: $138

Size: XXS—XL | Material: Cotton | Colors: 3

Everett-Ratcliffe stresses the importance of investing in high-quality materials. “When looking for a sundress, quality is important since it’s such a closet staple that you should feel comfortable wearing over and over again throughout the season,” she explains. Because sundress season correlates with high temperatures, she suggests looking for “breathable and washable” fabrics that are easier to maintain at home.

Cotton, “known for its breathability and durability” is an excellent choice for sundresses, says Leitz-Aslaksen. “It's easy to care for and can often be machine washed and tumble dried,” she says. You can find it in the Caroline Constas Charli Dress, J.Crew Ruffle-Trim Stretch Cotton Poplin Mini Dress, and Rhode Ella Dress. Of course, linen is another summer-favorite fabric. Found in the Dia & Co Draped Linen Dress, Posse Maggie Linen Mini Dress, and Madewell Maisie Mini Dress, the material is well known for its strong breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities. “However, it may require more careful handling, as it can wrinkle easily,” says Leitz-Aslaksen. To care for linen, hand wash or use a gentle machine cycle, and air dry or tumble dry on low heat. Another great option is rayon and viscose, which “are lightweight and drape well,” she says, “making them suitable for more flowy sundresses.” You can find it in the Z Supply Cora Midi Dress and Tiare Hawaii Hollie Maxi Dress. These also come with complicated wash instructions, and you should opt to hand wash or dry clean,as well as lie flat to dry. “For a more luxurious feel, silk is a beautiful and lightweight option,” she says, but keep in mind that it typically requires professional dry cleaning and careful storage to maintain its quality and appearance and tends to show sweat stains easier. Lucky for you, the Quince 100% Washable Silk Slip Dress gives you luxury and ease, as this options is machine-washable.

Because of how versatile sundresses are, , they work for most occasions ranging from casual to fancy. “It really does in a large part, come down to styling,” says Everett-Ratcliffe. For example, you can elevate a sundress with a third piece “like a blazer or cardigan” for more formal occasions, she points out. For more formal occasions “opt for a sleek, longer dress,” like the Reformation Joana Silk Dress, or something that covers the shoulders and arms, like the Rhode Ella Dress. The same dress can be paired with a jean or leather jacket and nice sneakers (“I tend to go with Golden Goose,” she says) to keep it more casual, but still elevated.

In general, Leitz-Aslaksen suggests optic for more structured dresses with “sophisticated details, such as lace accents, unique necklines, or tailored silhouettes” and in elegant or slinky fabrics like silk and chiffon for dressier events and sticking to more relaxed styles and material like cotton or linen for a more casual look.

Several styles fall under the definition of a sundress, explains Everett-Ratcliffe, which is generally “a light, loose dress that is typically sleeveless and usually requires some extra SPF.” Or in the case of Lilly Pulitzer UPF 50+ Luxletic Silvia Dress, already comes with UPF built in.

Gailliot adds that they are “easy and breezy,” and “perfect for everything from running around town to relaxing on a beach vacation.” How many sundresses do you need? At least “two or three,” suggests Everett-Ratcliffe.

Kim prefers keeping it simple when it comes to styling a sundress. “I believe in an effortless approach to style filled with timeless pieces that make you feel confident,” she says. “I look for simple silhouettes that are refreshingly unfussy and uncomplicated. I love to throw my favorite oversized denim jacket or even a classic button down over top and an elevated flat sandal to complete the look.” If you’re nodding your head in agreement, then opt for a dress like the Quince 100% Washable Silk Slip Dress or the Posse Maggie Linen Mini Dress.

One of the great things about sundresses is their versatility, says Gailliot. “Make them funky with strappy sandals or sneakers, or make them more elegant with block heels and big jewelry,” she says. “A fun sunhat is always an easy accessory,” she adds. “My favorite way to style a sundress is with sandals, and a delicate necklace or two. That said, my go-to summer look is a sundress, denim jacket and sneakers,” says Everett-Ratcliffe

Most sundress styles come back annually – including off-the-shoulder, strapless, maxis and minis. For this summer’s most sought-after sundresses, think “bold, saturated colors,” says Jocelyn Gailliot, co-founder and CEO of Tuckernuck. “Whether it’s a beautiful material like an eyelet or a linen or a stretch jersey, bright beautiful colors that make a statement are in.”

You may also be aware that nostalgic styles are coming back in again, as we see many 90’s and early 2000’s silhouettes making a return to the scene. If you’re not sure where to start and simply want something cute yet safe, the Posse Maggie Linen Mini Dress is a fantastic option.

Leah Groth is a commerce writer and former style and beauty editor. She spends all summer (and most of the spring and fall) wearing sundresses almost every single day. She also consulted a curated selection of stylists (Michaela Leitz-Aslaksen, Bethenny Everett-Ratcliffe and Clare Pollard) a Tuckernuck brand founder,Jocelyn Gailliot, and Madewell creative director, Joyce Lee, for further insights on how to style and what’s trending currently in the market.

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