Retro Sundresses

While miniskirts are routinely a go-to choice for scorching summer days, this season the fashion pack is using one of fall's key silhouettesÂ--the swingy mid-calf skirtÂ--to transition through the hottest months. Style-minded ladies like Kate Bosworth and Helena Christensen have already started incorporating this fifties redux look into their wardrobes, and are turning to retro-inspired sundresses for their daily wear. We think this style is just swell, too! Light and airy, these printed frocks are ideal for a sweltering summer day, while the sweetly bold patterns lend them an ingénue appeal that's hard not to swoon over!

But before we delve into how our leading ladies have updated this classic frock, let's examine the inception of this trend! We first spotted this vintage-flavored style on the Bottega Veneta S/S 10 runway, when designer Thomas Maier sent models down the catwalk in simple knee-skimming day dresses, focusing on a tennis-whites palette with accents of fuschia, yellow, and green. He finished off the ensembles with thick, white headbands and woven espadrilles for a flawless Roman Holiday-inspired look.

While a retro look can seem daunting to pull off without looking dated, as the ladies above so aptly demonstrate, a modern interpretation is easy as pie! Take for example, Danish darling Helena Christensen who won our hearts with the vibrant floral print dress she wore while strolling about New York City in April. The sweet print is given a hint of sex appeal with a deep V neckline, while a fitted waist further accents her famous figure. Additionally, we love how she rounded out her outfit with green flats to pick up the verdure in her summery dress. A second floral-minded take on this trend comes to us via another supermodel stunner, Elle Macpherson. Dropping off her brood at school earlier this month, this yummy mummy-turned-intimates designer stepped out in Lisa Ho's Botanical Floral Dress from the S/S 2004 collection. The Australian designer's vintage floral print spiked with neon blossoms invokes a boho-chic spirit that renders it a fresh choice, particularly when paired with Macpherson's tribal DVF sandals and minty green toes!

If you're not sure a floral print is right for you, but you'd still like to try out this cinched-waist-meets-full-skirt framework, take some outfit inspiration from Jennifer Lopez. Spotted shopping around St. Tropez with hubby Marc Anthony in May, Lopez impressed us by breathing new life into a tie-dye, pleated dress from Prada's iconic S/S 04 collection. Paired with Lanvin's Embroidered Leather Ballerina Flats ($390) and some oversized sunnies, Lopez looked très French Riviera chic and every bit the major celebrity she is. Of course, we can always look to preternaturally polished Kate Bosworth when sleuthing out an ideal manner in which to wield a new trend. Like Lopez, Bosworth also selected a graphic Prada frockÂ--the Popeline Dress ($750) from the S/S 10 collectionÂ--for a Soho-bound shopping trip in May. The limited edition dress was made from vintage violet argyle print fabric from the Prada archives, and we love how Bosworth made this retro print her own with a tan leather belt, Celine Natural Calfskin Sandals ($630), and Loewe's Ida 26 Bag ($1225).

While archived designer prints will take some financial investment, we did discover some more wallet-friendly options to help you snag our starring ladies lovely looks without breaking the bank! If you're really feeling as swept up as we are with the Pleasantville vibe, we'd recommend either the Cookout Queen Dress ($100) or the Scavenger Hunt Dress ($55), both from ModCloth. Alternatively, if you'd prefer a subtler approach, try Rebecca Minkoff's Ilaria Dress ($345) in Multi Floral or White House Black Market's Vintage Floral Print Tank Dress ($158), both of which could be dressed up with heels for a lovely summer evening dining au dehors. If, however, you're in the market for more graphic-minded sundresses in the vein of Bosworth and Lopez, we sought out some stellar versions for you, too! Maggy London's Floral Stretch Cotton Dress ($118) or Dorothy Perkins' Black/White Print Sundress ($49) are ideal for the neutral-leaning set, while Tucker's Cross Front Flowy Dress ($425) and Neil Couture's June, July, August Dress ($158) are perfect if you prefer your prints infused with a dose of color.Â--Liza Kaplan

Photos of Elle Macpherson and Jennifer Lopez, courtesy of Bauer Griffin; photo of Helena Christensen, courtesy of Pacific Coast News; photo of Kate Bosworth, courtesy of INF.

EXPLORE: Beauty, Elle Macpherson, Helena Christensen, Kate Bosworth, Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, Prada


See More Stories