The search for the perfect summer dress usually starts at the first peak of sun or first invitation to a summer event. Garden parties, beer gardens, weddings, music events and holidays start to fill up the calendar, and so the search intensifies. Summer dresses don’t need to be one off items, forgotten at the back of the wardrobe next summer. This kind of dress should be timeless and versatile, easily dressed up or down. Yet also, they should be bright! White, floral, fun patterns, rich colours are essential to brighten up your wardrobe in summer. Is it possible to find such a dress without breaking the bank or the planet? Why, of course! I’ve done some of the heavy work and rounded up a selection of summer dresses that are stylish, multifunctional, environmentally responsible, and affordable. Are you a midi, mini or maxi wearer? Fan of florals or classic whites? Take your pick, they’re all here.
The White Dress: A breath of fresh fabric
This dreamy maxi dress is responsibly made in London by ALYDA, a brand that specialises in sustainable fashion for petite women under 5ft 4in.
It’s made of organic cotton and linen and is free from harmful chemical dyes.
The simple design includes a waist cut out, upper back fastening and lower back zip, so it sites perfectly on your body. You can dress down with some sandals for a holiday stroll or pair with some wedge heels for dinner by the beach. Sizes 6-14. Price: £140
(Image and information from alyda.co.uk)
If you fancy a fun and flirty white dress for beach days, summer festivals and beach parties, then this is the dress for you.
This LWD (little white dress) has an asymmetrical, toga style draped hem and shirred waist that’s elasticated for free movement and comfort.
The neck and back are a symmetrical deep V cut, with a self-tie neck. Also, it’s made of 100% recycled polyester and will be delivered in equally recyclable packaging. Sizes S-L. Price: £80.
(Image and information from josephineandme.co.uk)
A simple A-line white dress with a pop of colour. Here’s another cut out waist for you, but this time with an orange cotton rope to create the illusion of a cinched waist. Made of cotton that fits the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) standards, this dress is better for farmers, crafters, and wearers. It’s also elasticated, so you can just pop it one before a walk in the park or scouting out of tourist attractions abroad. ExtraAF was founded in 2019 under the belief that you shouldn’t need to compromise between stylishness for sustainability, so buy away! Sizes 6-16. Price: £69.
(Image and information from extraaf.com)
This sophisticated midi dress is made of organic cotton and lyocell, creating a soft jersey fabric that is sourced and crafted in Portugal by a climate positive workforce.
COSSAC launched in 2014 to produce refined wardrobe basics that never go out of style and drop their collections in small quantities to lessen waste. A true day to night dress, you can wear this over your swimsuit for a beach day before making your way to dinner in the evening. Sizes S-L. Price: £125.
(Image and information from cossac.co)
The Floral Dress: Summer’s in bloom
Now this gorgeous dress would be an absolute staple in your wardrobe, fit for dressy events or casual days out. There’s a front slit to show a little leg and break up the pattern, a comfortable elasticated back and adjustable straps so dress truly fits your body.
On the website, there are icons that show the ethical and environmental benefits of this garment. It ticks a lot of boxes, vegan, use of deadstock, biodegradable, and ethical treatment of crafters in the Bulgarian factory where this dress is made. Additionally, blonde gone rogue offset CO2 emissions created by shipping and refuse to send items to landfill. So, anything that’s in the warehouse is online until that stock has run out. A beautiful dress from a beautiful company. Sizes XXS-XL. Price: £128.
(Image and information from blondegonerogue.com)
A floral dress with a thistle twist! The lovely blue fabric is cut to a romantic design, with ruffled shoulders, blouson sleeves, knee high slit and square neck.
The thistle print is hand painted but rest assured, no harmful chemicals were used in the making or dying of the fabric. But what is this fabric, LENZING™ ECOVERO™? It’s a sustainable and biodegradable viscose alternative, sourced from renewable wood! Even the label and packaging are recycled and recyclable. OMNES also offset shipping carbon emissions and use this to invest in a reforestation project in the Peruvian Amazon. A good choice for you and for the planet. Sizes 6-20. Price: £65.
(Image and information from omnes.com)
This is THE dress to wear to a wedding or garden party. It features a self-tie belt to cinch the waist and a ruffled asymmetric hem. The print is dreamy, with abstract blue petals scatted around points of orange. The design looks almost like a painted watercolour. Paisie formed in 2010 under the hand of two Central Saint Martin alumni, and they’ve continued to design their collections in London, in close connection to their makers in China. They also run a Depop page for preloved Paisie items! Sizes 6-16. Price: £98.
(Image and information from paisie.com)
A cute and casual knee length dress to wear down with a denim jacket and trainers, or for an even with some wedge heels.
The design features a round neck and low open back that you can self-tie. There’s a shirred, elasticated bodice, short sleeves, and flowing skirt. The fabric is dark navy with paint like dabs of white that look like falling petals printed all over. This vegan dress uses a TENCEL™ fibre component which is carbon zero. Sizes XS-XL. Price: €83.95/£72.26
(Image and information from armedangels.com)
The fun dress: To Spice up the wardrobe
A summer dress you can wear to work and to the beer garden straight after? Yes please. The African inspired design is offered a modern twist in this shirt dress.
It features a self-tie belt you can use to articulate your waist or leave off to create a more casual look. The buttons are made from Tagua palm, which is 100% renewable. Items are made in Kenya and inspired by the regions in and around it, with local artisans trained via the In Our Name’s 100% Initiative which also sees profits from artisan goods circle back into the community. IN OUR NAME are also powering through sustainability too, with their products made in factories supplied by green energy and using eco-printing tech to reduce water and CO2. Sizes 8-16. Price: £89.
(Image and information from in-our-name.com)
Now this is a statement piece. The print derives from a hand painted design that has been layered digitally to create the overall pattern. The silhouette is simple, to allow the design to tale centre stage, with two side slits, a round neck and sleeveless body skimming form.
Interestingly, the dress has been designed to be permanently hitched just below the hip. Fabric has been sourced from the UK and Europe, but the dress itself is made in the UK. It’s babmboo elastane, which ME & Thee have chosen because it absorbs more CO2 than hardwood trees and requires half as much land as cotton to grow, yet still produce the same amount of fibre. This casual maxi dress can be worn around town during the summer months or, due to the lightness of the fabric, be you standout piece for you holiday. It’s also on sale right now so you can grab it for half the original price of £120! Sizes 1-5 (8-16). Price £60.
(Image and information from meandthee.co.uk)
This knee length wrap dress is kind to the planet and kind to sensitive skin. In production, the linen does not undergo treatment from harmful chemical, but instead plant-based dyes are used to create this gorgeous burnt red colour.
The linen is breathable and allergy safe, so no need to worry about it irritating your skin. The wrap design with the self-tie waist means you can wear the dress however you find comfortable. And it has pockets! Perfect to throw over the swimsuit if you need a quick change into town. Sizes XS-XL. Price: £93.