I Want To Simplify My Summer Wardrobe—These 7 Throw-On Dresses Are Making It Easy

As we finally get into the swing of the summer months (and the weather starts to actually be seasonably appropriate), staying cool and comfortable becomes a top priority. The focus on layering that dominated the cooler months is replaced by an innate desire to keep things simple—and what's simpler than a really great dress?

In my opinion, the key to a great dress is its versatility. Whether I'm going for a high street or designer piece, I want to know my summer dresses can be worn on rotation throughout the season and, with just a swap of sandals for trainers, a raffia tote for a sleek shoulder bag, can still feel fresh and new.

@brittanybathgate wearing a long pleated dress

(Image credit: @brittanybathgate)

When you're looking for an easy, throw-on summer dress, my advice is to focus on classic shapes and light, breathable fabrics. Cotton and linen are summer essentials, as they're lightweight enough to be comfortable even on the stickiest days and somehow manage to always look understatedly refined. And when it comes to silhouettes, you'll find that a classic shift, simple slip or midi dress with voluminous sleeves will always serve you well, this summer and for many summers to come.

With so many tempting new options up for grabs, I've done some digging to find the seven staple dress styles that tick the boxes of being effortless, versatile and undeniably chic. Happy shopping.

The Best Throw-On Dresses For Summer:

1. Slips

@abimarvel wearing a sunset tone slip dress

(Image credit: @abimarvel)

Style Notes: A slip dress is such a versatile style—pair it with trainers and sunglasses for an easy day look, or dress it up with jewellery and heeled sandals for a summer party outfit. This season, it looks like everyone is embracing more colours, so take the opportunity to explore the rainbow of options available.

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2. The Breezy White Dress

@oliviamarcus wearing a white embroidered dress

(Image credit: @oliviamarcus)

Style Notes: Does anything say "summer" more than a white dress? Even if you already own a go-to white dress, there are so many variations that I'm sure you could be convinced to invest in another...This season, I recommend leaning into the breezy, voluminous style, whether it's a poplin dress with a voluminous skirt, or a more bohemian embroidered maxi.

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3. Long Linen Dress

@monikh wearing a black linen dress

(Image credit: @monikh)

Style Notes: Linen is a must-have summer fabric that looks effortlessly cool enough to work in so many situations, from the office to your next holiday. This year, I'm embracing the longer silhouettes, from midi-length shift styles to ankle-grazing maxis. Dress up or down as you need with just a couple of accessory switches.

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4. Colourful Maxi

@_jessicaskye wearing a green maxi dress

(Image credit: @_jessicaskye)

Style Notes: I tend to see myself as a minimalist, but in the summer months I'm more tempted to embrace colour. If you're also in the mood to brighten up your summer wardrobe, the easiest place to start is with a colourful maxi that does all the work for you, and will see you through warm weather at home or abroad on your next holiday,.

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5. Structured Mini Dress

@chrissyford wearing a red linen mini

(Image credit: @chrissyford)

Style Notes: As the temperature rises, so do our hemlines. Keep you mini dress feeling effortless yet polished by opting for a more structured silhouette, whether that means opting for a cleverly tailored dress that cinches the waist, or a thoughtfully ruched design.

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6. Puff-Sleeved Midi

@aniyahmorinia wearing a puff-sleeved midi dress

(Image credit: @aniyahmorinia)

Style Notes: The voluminous sleeve midi dress has firmly become a summer staple over the past few years, and this season is no different. With a subtly romantic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, the silhouette feels particularly timeless—and thanks to its popularity, is available in a wide range of colours and patterns.

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7. Light Knit

@francescasaffari wearing a light cream knit dress

(Image credit: @francescasaffari)

Style Notes: Listen, sometimes the weather just will not cooperate. But even if it's more of a grey sky day than blue, that doesn't mean you have to give up your dresses. A light knit style will be perfect for those slightly cooler days, and can also be a great holiday piece for layering over swimsuits when the sun suddenly sets.

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Freelance Fashion Editor

Jess Kelham-Hohler is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist. She has been a contributor for Who What Wear UK since 2023. Currently based in London following six years in Washington D.C. and New York, she was previously the Digital Editor for Soho House & Co, an international group of private members’ clubs for creatives. She has interviewed a range of artists, creators and more, including Alighieri founder Rosh Mahtani, photographer Misan Harriman and fashion editor Lindsay Peoples Wagner. Today, she writes primarily about fashion, travel and culture for various publications, and has worked as a copywriter and content strategist for brands such as Belstaff, Olivela and Equinox.