6 Ways to Choose The Right Summer Party Dress

If there's one thing I love about summer, it's that dressing for the day takes very little effort and very few layers. Sandals? Dress? Done! It's pretty convenient that this strategy becomes possible at a time of year packed with parties: cook-outs, swim parties, rooftop parties, backyard parties, beach parties — you get the idea. All you need is a bunch of dresses. So the real question is: which party dresses should you choose? Here are six tips for choosing the right summer dress for your next party.


First thing's first: to withstand summer's unforgiving weather conditions, you need to stock up on dresses made with natural fabrics. "I recommend a cotton, linen, or bamboo for lightness and breathability," says Jeanie Cheek, a New York-based wardrobe stylist and costume designer. "Natural fabrics tend to be less troublesome when it comes to showing any perspiration."

Cotton Halters and Shirt Dresses Are Perfect for The Casual BBQ

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Whether it's a rooftop BBQ or a round of drinks under paper lanterns in a backyard, you want a no-fuss approach to your attire. Think about it: hot dogs, burgers, ketchup, the pungent coal smell? You definitely don't want to deal with rushing a dress to the dry cleaners. A cotton halter dress or a shirt dress is a great choice for the occasion. Go for fun colors and prints instead of embellishments to "keep the look fun," according to Cheek. For the casual cool with a bit of print, pair this Gap floral shirtdress with a pair of leather rope sandals.

Moving to the Music? Get A Dress That Moves With You

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You can't escape them: music festivals are in every corner of the world. Break loose in vibrant colors, and choose a number that you can swing your hips in — think the girls of Glastonbury. "Go for something that lets you move to the music like a boho chic flow-y number or an easy embroidered cotton dress," says Cheek. When the atmosphere is so positive and music offerings so eclectic, you have a great opportunity to go a little wild with prints and cuts.

Keep It Lightweight and Breezy on The Beach

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The beach is a great way to escape the heat, but if you aren't in the mood to wear a swimsuit in public — or you want something to wear over said swimsuit — opt for a dress. "You want to make sure you keep it lightweight and breezy by the ocean," suggests Cheek. For a beach party, a simple slip dress, like this Free People crochet dress, or maxi dress will hold up against the wind and sand.

When it's formal, consider Lace or Vibrant Colors

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For summer cocktail soirees and outdoor wedding receptions, consider a true party dress in a light material and bright hue. Cheek loves a structured lace dress like this Alexia Admore beaded lace dress for an elegant approach to showing skin. Not too keen on lace? A vibrant color will add a little light to the night and definitely turn heads your way. If you're wearing a dress with sleeves and are self-conscious about leaving a sweat stain, pad the area with an underarm sweat guard.

going from day to night? the maxi dress is your friend

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No time to run home between the office and your fete? The maxi dress is a great way to transition to evening without a wardrobe change. It's also a style that, according to Cheek, "looks great on every body type." To take the dress from a weekend stroll to a ladies' night out, layer on some accessories and a light jean jacket when the temperature drops. "As a stylist who often has to meet up with clients for dinner meetings after a shoot," notes Cheek, "you'll definitely be seeing me rocking maxis all summer long."