10 of the Best Cotton Dresses for Summer (And How to Style Them)

Best Cotton Dresses for Summer

Most of my summer wardrobe is filled with lightweight cotton pieces. It’s the ultimate warm weather fabric, both inherently cool and elegant in the heat. One-and-done cotton summer dresses are my favorite for effortless styling. From slinky slip dresses to floaty maxis, there are so many to choose from and most are versatile, working just as well with flat sandals and a raffia tote for day as they do with elegant gold jewelry and heeled mules for an event.

I figured it was time to round up 10 cotton summer dresses, many of which I personally own, along with some inspiration for how to style a cotton dress this season. If you’re all about keeping it light and breezy, these dresses will help you do just that!

The Best Cotton Summer Dresses

La Ligne Andie Dress

Chic and easy, the La Ligne ‘Andie’ comes in sleeveless and short sleeve options. Both have a crew neck and a slim tie waist belt to cinch the shape. This is the kind of style you’ll live in all summer, and it has pockets. I took my true size.

Xirena Cate Dress

Xirena is a treasure trove for dresses that beat the heat. Most are cut from airy cotton-gauze that has a naturally crinkled texture. The Cate midi dress (true to size) is a personal favorite in my collection of casual dresses (see it on me in my black summer dress try on), but the Caylin, Leia v-neck, and Boden shirt dress are other best sellers.

Staud Vincent Dress

If you’re looking for crisp cotton poplin, you can’t go wrong with the STAUD Vincent cotton maxi dress. It’s a modern spin on a classic shirt dress with balloon sleeves, pockets, and a relaxed fit. It looks great cinched with a belt or worn on its own. I wear size S.

Jenni Kayne Cove Dress

This is one of my favorite pieces from Jenni Kayne’s summer collection. It’s the perfect summer party dress. The cotton fabric is substantial but not hot, and the weight doesn’t take away from its flowy feel. I love how it looks with simple flat sandals but it dresses up easily with heels. Order one size down if between sizes (unless you are busty).

Rhode Pia Dress

A cotton vacation dress is a must have, and the Rhode Pia is hands down one of my favorites for the beach or a resort. It’s a mini dress with side ruching, puff sleeves, and draped fabric at the front. What’s magical about this dress is that it can read very casual with flat sandals and simple accessories but dresses up like a dream with heels and a clutch. I wear size 6.

Everlane Tee Dresses

T-shirt dresses are some of my favorites. Everlane does them especially well in sleeveless midi and short sleeve mini styles. I like to style mine with sneakers, a baseball cap, and a roomy tote.

DÔEN Ischia Dress

If you like feminine, Californian style, DÔEN dresses will be right up your alley. The Ischia maxi dress is a style that was released in 2021 that they bring back annually. It’s made from cotton-voile, so it has a soft, lightweight feel and delicate details like puffed long sleeves, shirred panels, and a tie at the bust. The perfect cotton dress for capturing a romantic spirit.

Free People Oasis Midi Dress

This dress strikes a nice mix boho and feminine. I love to have a long sleeve dress on hand for cool summer evenings and the A/C, and this one’s perfect to dress up and down. It’s flowy and flattering for all day wear, and it can be worn on or off the shoulders.

Anthropologie Somerset Dress

This is probably the most beloved dress at Anthropologie—so much so that they have an entire collection of “Somersets” (minis, eyelet styles, maxis, lace styles). The main quality that keeps people coming back to this dress is its forgiving and flattering fit. I’ve tried it on in store and while it didn’t come home with me (different color than I wanted), it’s a goodie for under $200.

How to Style Cotton Summer Dresses

The best part about cotton dresses is that they’re simple to style. Quality dresses do all the work for you and look great with neutrals or a pop of color, styled for the office or for vacation; there are so many ways to wear a cotton summer dress that can work with your style and wardrobe. Below are some outfit ideas to get you started!

Everyday Casual

My go-to formula for styling a cotton dress for weekday errands, the Farmer’s Market, brunch—really anything casual—is with a natural tote, classic leather sandals, sunglasses, and a sun hat. I never get tired of this combination, and it looks especially chic with solid dresses and neutral accessories.

For City Days

If you have a day of walking ahead of you, try a sleeveless cotton dress with comfortable sneakers, a crossbody bag, and a baseball cap. I love how the dress makes it inherently feminine while the accessories keep things practical for a day spent exploring a new place. I like to bring a sweater or cardigan along just in case we pop indoors and it’s chilly.

For a Summer Wedding

If the wedding you’re attending calls for attire on the casual side, try styling up a cotton dress you already own with heeled mules, a small evening bag, and statement jewelry. Complete the look with dressy makeup. I love a smokey eye and a soft nude lip.

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