I'm on the Hunt for the Perfect Black Summer Dress—Here Are 23 Contenders

Woman on street wears black halterneck dress

(Image credit: @daniellejinadu)

Much like a pair of jeans, or a crisp shirt, a black dress is a fashion piece that keeps on giving. It’s become the hero garment for year-round dressing and both luxury and high-street brands are forever in a bid to create the perfect black dress, whether that's a show-stopping maxi or holiday-ready mini.

The classic LBD cemented its place as a fashion staple many moons ago. Although the origin of the LBD is ascribed to eveningwear, the versatility of a black dress is something that’s been carried throughout the decades. Now, black dresses—little or oversized, short or long—are a staple in every fashion person's wardrobe. The current offerings are aplenty, so you’ll most definitely find something in keeping with your taste.

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(Image credit: @monikh)

A black dress is the one item that I can pull out for most eventualities—whether that’s a much-needed injection of confidence, time-sensitive dressing, or simply a contender for the unreliable British forecast. When searching for transitional black dresses, I have a few elements that I look out for—length and fabric. My preference is for midi-length dresses with the addition of sleeves. The Baserange Shaw Kaftan and Another Tomorrow dress, for example, are exemplary. Comprised of natural fibres, both allow for comfort and coverage and the sweeping lengths are appropriate for most weather conditions. Midi and maxi-length dresses ensure breathability in humid conditions, yet they look equally chic with trainers or knee-high boots now.

Woman on street wears black dress, holds black clutch bag

(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

As we’re becoming increasingly discerning about our clothing purchases and wardrobe capacities, our need for hard-working pieces is surpassing trend-led designs. This is why the black dress shines—classic, understated and sultry (if desired). Here's my edit of 23 stand-out black dresses. Layer up, or down as appropriate but keep it close by and you’ll be guaranteed low cost per wear.

Shop My Edit of the Best Black Dresses:

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Freelance Fashion Editor

Avalon Afriyie is a freelance writer and storyteller based in London. She specialises in sustainable fashion, health and the narratives of marginalised communities. She has a background in fashion show production and styling, having previously worked on The Clothes Show and with the Lyst Group. Since graduating in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in English and contemporary media, she’s worked as a feature writer for an independent publication and a contributor for Quill’s creator network. She now marries her passion for words and style, writing for some of the most esteemed fashion and lifestyle publications, Who What Wear UK and Stylist. Avalon also provides copywriting services, creative consultancy, and visual media for independent businesses, including travel guides, interviews, press releases and blog posts. Her work has been featured on Lush, Contiki, Youswim and Ohne. She spends her days writing to her heart’s content for business and pleasure, shooting on film and dreaming of residing a stone’s throw away from the ocean with her love and a pup (clad in a sweeping frock, of course). She’s currently penning ideas for a book of personal essays and free verse poetry on love, life and the stages in between.