I'm an Editor With Classic Taste—5 Anti-Trend Dress Styles I Come Back to Every Single Summer

I've said it before and I'll say it again: dresses and I haven't always been the greatest of friends. Maybe it's because my mum took great pleasure in dressing me up in 1950s-style dresses with huge skirts and frilly Peter-Pan collars when I was a child, and I'm still recovering from the horror. Or maybe it's because I spent my teenage years trying to buy into the trends that, it being the early 2000s, were, frankly, all designed for very petite frames, and I was inevitably disappointed that they didn't suit me.

Whatever the reason, for most of my 20s I turned away from dresses and relied on outfit formulas that usually involved jeans or trousers instead. Why bother putting in the work to find a dress that suited me when my trusty straight-leg jeans would never let me down?

But inevitably, there are times when dresses really are essential, and after finding a few styles for special occasions that I was surprised I actually liked, I decided to dip my toe back into the world of dresses. After all, summer is on the way, and styles have moved on from the days of my youth—there are plenty more brands and silhouettes to choose from.

@cocobassey wearing a satin bandeau dress

(Image credit: @cocobassey)

This summer, I'm not going to repeat the mistakes of my younger years. Instead of buying into trends, I'm focusing on the classics, which, ironically enough, happen to be particularly on trend this season. After extensive research, I've boiled it down to five key dress styles that are broad enough to suit all body types, personal aesthetics and summer plans.

Do you gravitate towards understated neutral colour palettes? Maybe this is the summer you explore linen midi dresses. Are the months ahead already booked up with weddings and summer parties? Consider finding your ideal slip dress, which will see you through all these events and still be on hand to style with sandals and a cardigan for late Sunday afternoons in the pub with friends.

Here, discover the five key dress styles I think you'll love this summer and for many more to come.

1. Bandeau


(Image credit: @thandimaq)

Style Notes: Strapless styles have quickly become an influencer staple over the past few years, and now the bandeau dress is a true summer fashion essential. Minimalists may gravitate towards understated jersey or slinky styles in neutrals, browns or black, but you could also go the vintage route and seek out boldly patterned dresses. Keep things casual by styling with flats or lean into the '90s-party vibe with strappy heels.

Shop Bandeau Dresses:

2. White

@abimarvel wearing a white dress

(Image credit: @abimarvel)

Style Notes: You don't need to be a bride to wear white this season; white dresses are practically synonymous with summer, meaning you can expect plenty of fresh new styles to choose from every year. Your best bet is to opt for timeless silhouettes and fabrics, whether a lightly knitted maxi or a linen mini (more on this later.)

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3. Linen

@smythsisters wearing a linen dress

(Image credit: @smythsisters)

Style Notes: Linen is one of those fabrics that just always looks effortlessly elevated. Polished yet understated, this breathable, summer-ready fabric has been used to create plenty of tempting styles. My tip? Embrace the organic texture of the fabric and opt for neutral, earthy tones. Add black or brown sandals, slick sunglasses and some earrings, and you're good to go.

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4. Stripes

@monikh wearing a striped dress

(Image credit: @monikh)

Style Notes: Vertical or horizontal, stripes always manage to look understatedly chic. Find the style that suits you best, whether that's a Breton-style tank dress or a delicate pinstripe linen number like Monikh Dale's, pictured above.

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5. Slip

@_jeanettemadsen_ wearing a slip dress and denim jacket

(Image credit: @_jeanettemadsen_)

Style Notes: If you haven't got a slip dress in your wardrobe yet, now is the time. Not only are these styles a brilliant option to have on hand for occasion dressing, whether you're headed out to drinks or need a wedding guest outfit, but they're also versatile enough to easily dress down for daytime wear. Just swap the heels for flat sandals or trainers and you're set.

Shop Slip Dresses:

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.