6 Controversial Summer Dress Trends That Are Just Wow

For many, this is around the time each year when we stow away the winter coats and fleece things and start shopping for new summer dresses. Since we didn't really have anywhere to wear dresses last summer, many are predicting that revenge dressing and the subsequent return to dressing up will be the norm this summer. This explains why there have been more than a few dresses popping up on my Instagram feed, many of which are pretty risqué. 

These controversial dress micro-trends may not be for the faint of heart, but they will get plenty of likes on Instagram (until they can actually be worn for a fun night out). Disclaimer: If skin-exposing dresses aren't your thing, these dresses may not be your thing. But if they are, you've come to the right place. Read on to find out which controversial dress trends are heating up for summer and to shop chic options for each style.



(Image credit: @ali_tate_cutler)

If it seems like sheer dresses are a thing every summer, you're certainly not wrong. Something as beautiful and breathable as a sheer dress is tailor-made for warm summer nights. Of note this summer, in particular, are sheer ruched dresses. Consider it a micro micro-trend.

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(Image credit: @devonleecarlson)

In case you haven't noticed, Y2K everything is everywhere right now, from jewelry to prints to jeans. When it comes to dresses, look out for butterflies, cowl necks, extreme cutouts, and bandage styles.

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(Image credit: @annelauremais)

The peekaboo styles that are trending may not be bar-friendly or underwear-friendly, but they're very popular right now nonetheless. Every single one that I come across is nearly sold out.

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Lingerie Inspired


(Image credit: @champagnemani)

Given the popularity of bustiers and corsets, you may have noticed that lingerie-inspired clothing that's meant to be worn outdoors is having a moment. Just be sure to wear your dress with substantial accessories so that it isn't mistaken for actual lingerie.

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(Image credit: @salome.mory)

The S/S 21 runways clued us into the fact that mini lengths would be the 2021 hemline of choice. After a year spent in sweatpants, we can't really be surprised about this one.

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Low Back


(Image credit: @camillecharriere)

The low-back dress is certainly one of the most beautiful of the controversial dress trends, and there are tons of options to choose from. I narrowed it down as best I could…

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Next: I Just Got Rid of These 6 Summer Dresses for a Much Chicer Replacement

Allyson Payer
Senior Editor

Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.