I'm Looking for a Summer Dress That Prompts Compliments—These 6 Brands Are Up to the Task

After months of waiting, it finally feels like I can declare that summer has (nearly!) arrived. Whilst the British weather will never be fully reliable, we’ve been blessed with a smattering of 20-degree-and-over days, calling for one summer hero in particular: dresses.

As soon as the sunshine arrives, most of us find ourselves reaching for easy, throw-on styles that require less time spent in front of our wardrobes figuring out an outfit and more time soaking up the sun. Alongside the everyday dress callings, we’re well into wedding season, and with various other occasions along the way, we simply have to celebrate the best summer dress brands around.

Woman in white dress sitting on bench

As soon as the sunshine arrives my outfits tend to rotate between pretty dresses and linen trousers. Both excel in their easy appeal, though dresses often win out for the fact that they simply call for accessories to complete the look. But with hundreds—if not thousands—of dresses on the market, finding a place to start when expanding your forever summer wardrobe can feel like a huge task. Thankfully, I'm all about doing the hard work for you.

There are a few details I look for to ensure any addition to my wardrobe is the best that it can be. Elegant detailing from shirring to cut can be the difference between a good and a great dress, and a striking neckline can add an elegant touch to a simple piece. For me, silhouette is a big factor when the temperature rises, leading me to look to straight or looser styles rather than a more fitted silhouette.

As you'll see, each brand featured below has something different to offer. Take Rixo, for example, which has an array of playful prints, whilst others like Matteau are all about understated design details. Some excel in dressier frocks whilst others are ideal for everyday dresses that will take you from picnic to work meeting to dinner out. One thing all these brands have in common is that their dresses are undeniably chic.

Keep scrolling to explore the six best summer dress brands.

1. Dôen

Woman on beach wears green dress, sandals and basket bag

(Image credit: @styleidealist)

Style Notes: Dôen masters pretty dresses and the latest collection is one of my favourites yet. With soft ruching, delicate bows and pared-back colour palettes, the brand's dresses are incredibly easy to fall for.

2. Nobody's Child

Woman in coffee shop wearing gingham dress and white shoes

(Image credit: @sofiiamanousha)

Style Notes: Taking a peek at any one of these dresses, you might be surprised to find out that they're from the high street. With most styles coming in at under £100, Nobody's Child takes great dresses seriously, meaning there's a style for everyone and every occasion.

3. Rixo

Woman wearing dress

(Image credit: @abimarvel)

Style Notes: London-born Rixo does all things dresses very well, from elegant occasion styles to instant everyday outfits, with many pieces ready to be dressed up or down at will. The brand is a standout when it comes to bold prints and playful shades.

4. Free People

Woman in white dress sitting on bench

(Image credit: @emmanuellek_)

Style Notes: Bringing a sense of bohemia to the proceedings, Free People's dresses embody the laid-back vibes we're all looking forward to this summer. The attention to detail of each style always stands out, along with the array of shades that its best styles are available in.

5. Reformation

Woman on street wears white dress, white cardigan, white socks, black shoes

(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

Style Notes: It's hard to pin down one category that Reformation does the best, as it really is that good, but a special mention is deserved for its dresses. Mixing contemporary cuts with a sweet edge, Reformation manages to create It dress after It dress, and continues to re-issue the very best.

6. Matteau

Woman wears black dress, sandals and basket bag

(Image credit: @_loissterling)

Style Notes: Matteau knows that subtlety can make waves. Taking neutral colour schemes, the brand's designs are impactful through design details like texture and cut.

Florrie Alexander
Acting Affiliates Editor

Florrie embarked on her fashion journey while studying French and History at university. Whilst studying in Aix-en-Provence, she began to write her dissertation on the history of fashion and the influence of Haute Couture, and landed her first role at Harper’s Bazaar. Following this, she interned for various publications including Elle, Grazia and Marie Claire before joining the fashion team at Conde Nast Traveller. There, she contributed to international photoshoots, styled pages and covers, and produced engaging digital content.

During a freelance period, Florrie honed her skills in editorial work in various digital and print publications including Vogue Italy and Departures magazine, as well as styling e-commerce photoshoots and personal shopping. Florrie actively pursues an in-depth understanding of fashion and jewellery, and after styling a jewellery cover shoot at Conde Nast Traveller chose to complete the De Beers Diamond Foundation course. Florrie first joined Who What Wear UK as a freelancer before becoming the Commerce Writer, blending both editorial and commercial content. Now, as the Acting Affiliates Editor, she monitors current trends, new-in styles, wardrobe heroes and how best to style them. In her downtime, Florrie can be found in her hometown of London, usually with a coffee in hand.