7 Casual Dresses to Keep You Looking and Feeling Cool This Summer

With every summer comes the opportunity to experiment with fun fashion trends and new outfit ideas without the burden of all the extra layers. However, after a year of mostly staying indoors and wearing sweats, we’re wondering if we even know how to dress for the real world anymore. Add that to the need to stay dry and cool in the heat, and dressing for the summertime is starting to sound pretty complicated. Don’t worry, though because we’ve thought of the perfect solution: casual summer dresses. Instead of going through the fuss of putting together an entire outfit, we’re planning to reach for low-effort (but still cute) dresses instead. We’re talking about dresses with lightweight fabrics, nonrestrictive silhouettes, and playful designs. 

We rounded up seven casual dresses that fit these categories and are perfect for tackling this summer with style and ease. Shop your new go-to summer dress (or dresses) below. 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Madewell

Madewell Lightspun Easy Midi Dress

This midi dress is the perfect embodiment of “easy breezy.” It’s loose-fitting and made with a soft double gauze material that is so lightweight, you might forget you’re wearing anything at all. Plus, it comes in the prettiest periwinkle color that we want to cover ourselves in all summer long.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Imysty Polka Dot Button Down Ruffles Dress

Forget itsy bitsy polka dot bikinis—we want this polka dot sundress in our summer wardrobes instead. This button-down dress offers a casual, short-sleeve silhouette and a ruffle detail at the bottom to add a feminine touch. It also comes in four other polka dot colorways—bright blue, green, navy blue, and rust—so you can choose your favorite or buy multiple to have one for every day of the week.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Universal Standard

Universal Standard Halie T-Shirt Dress

A classic T-shirt dress is a summer must and this pick from Universal Standard is a great investment. Made from the brand’s premium Peruvian cotton, this dress is ultrasoft and comfy, and it comes in a wide range of sizes, from 4XS to 4XL. We love the statement-making red for a brighter pop of color, but you can also snag the dress in black, forest green, and blue. To style, just throw on your comfiest pair of sneakers or sandals and you’ll be good to go.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Farm Rio

Farm Rio Rainbow Macaw Mini Dress

Casual doesn’t have to mean boring. The bright and bold print of this Farm Rio dress will make you feel like you’re taking a tropical vacation as soon as you throw it on. Even better, the brand will donate a tree for every purchase, so buying this nature-inspired dress will give back to the earth while also inspiring you to spend more time outside.

Photo credit: Courtesy of J.Crew

J. Crew Button Back Linen Shift Dress

Whether you’re meeting friends for lunch or headed to the beach, a shift dress is a versatile and classic summer staple. This pick from J. Crew comes in breathable linen, has side pockets, and is available in sizes XXXS to 3X with classic, petite, and tall sizing options. Shop it in the neutral beige color shown above, or choose from classic black, light pink, or a soft salmon shade.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Nordstrom

ASTR The Label Tiered Short Sleeve Dress

This dress falls right in line with the viral nap dress trend, and we want to slip into it ASAP. The breezy, gauze-like material is as cozy as bed linens, while the silhouette is simple and chic enough to dress up or down depending on the occasion. So, whether you’re headed to the farmer’s market, or your couch for a midday snooze, this dress will keep you cool, comfy, and looking cute.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress

Finally, this cult-favorite exercise dress has to be one of the best casual summer dresses out there. Both fashionable and functional, this dress has a figure-flattering silhouette, built-in shorts, two pockets, and is made with breathable fabric. Just throw on some sneakers and you’ll be ready to take on any outdoor activity that you’re presented with—whether that’s a picnic in the park or a spontaneous game of tennis.