Say Yes to the Dress

Want to update your summer wardrobe? Invest in a dress. Whether you’re petite or plus size, these dresses will keep you looking fresh, stylish and cool.

By Stacia Friedman


Meghan Markle wearing a coat and dress by Amanda Wakeley, Ralph Lauren shirtdress, and Monica Bellucci walking the runway for Dolce & Gabbana.
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White Days

White in summer has always been a thing, but Meghan Markle has made it official: To make a royal entrance, wear white! Keep it casual with platform sneakers, espadrilles or strappy sandals.

You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this Romily Tee Midi Dress in cotton/spandex blend with a V-neck, short sleeves and flared skirt. You can wear this deceptively basic, machine-washable dress from lunch in midtown to evening in Paris by adding colorful accessories, including a filmy silk shawl. Just $78 at Article in Brooklyn.

If you don’t already own a linen dress, this is the one: The Madalene Wrap Dress in a Tencel-linen blend has short sleeves, a deep V-neck and a gently flared skirt that hits mid-calf. When you sit, the skirt opens to show off those legs you’ve been toning at Pilates. $168 in white or Amaretto at Aritzia Hudson Yards.

Want to cover your arms? We get it. Try this Tavin Dress in linen-blend, with three-quarter, dolman sleeves, back keyhole closure, wide belt, deep pockets and swingy midi-length skirt. In white or Bright Moss, $168 at Aritzia Hudson Yards.
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Black Nights

Going to an art opening? Turn heads and hearts in this elegant Asymmetrical Cape-Dress with hidden pockets, knit fabric and back zipper. Wear it with booties and bling! $268 at The Eight Senses in SoHo.

Ruffles are hot this summer and the Kendall Dress in 100% cotton gauze has ruffles to spare, dripping from its three-quarter sleeves and empire waist. Compliments all figure types. Front button closure and pockets. $286 at BOCNYC on the Upper West Side. (Not available, but check BOCNYC for other great dresses.)

Few designers understand women 50 plus better than Eileen Fisher. You can forget your Spanx with Fisher’s loose fitting V-Neck Shift Dress in soft, sustainably produced Tencel/Lyocell. This basic shift packs easily for weekend getaways. Add a white linen blazer and hoop earrings, wear heels and you can dine at the Four Seasons. $178.
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Dots Right

If you follow runway fashion, you know that designers from New York to Milan went dotty this season. Case in point: Rebecca de Ravenel’s Polka Dot Cotton-Silk Wrap Dress, $1,295 at Barney’s. Macy’s offers its own version with a Polka Dot Midi Wrap Dress in black with white polka dots. $89.

Zara, a Spanish chain that knocks off couture while Heidi and Gigi are still strutting the catwalk, interprets the same look with a vintage style Red Polka Dot Dress with a V-Neck, front covered-button closure and elasticized waist. This sweet and sassy midi dress has a deep hem ruffle and sexy front slit. At just $70, you can afford to go crazy on shoes, bag and bling.
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Classic Shirt Dresses

Shirt dresses have always been the epitome of chic. They conjure up images of Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Diane Keaton looking crisp and classy. Wear them belted or loose, unbuttoned as low as you dare. We love a Striped Linen Shirt Dress in navy and white with concealed front placket, deep cuffed sleeves and self-belt. The A-line midi skirt has side slits. $160 at Massimo Dutti.

If Lauren Ralph Lauren sounds repetitive that’s because it’s worth saying twice. The label’s take on a Denim Twill Shirt Dress is unbeatable. The Lyocell fabric looks like denim, but feels like a dream. Button front, shirt tail hem, straight fit, three-quarter sleeves, angled pockets and self-belt. $155 at Macy’s.

Want to draw attention away from your waistline and down to your shapely legs? We suggest you try ECI’s High-Low Hem Shirt Dress. This cotton/nylon blend has elbow-length tie sleeves, a front placket and a hemline that hits above the knee in front and below in back, $98. Macy’s.
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Romantic Florals

Polyester used to be taboo. But when it’s spun into an airy, loose fitting, long sleeved Floral Print Dress with an empire waist, blooming with over-sized flowers in pink, blue, yellow and green, who can say no? $89.90 at Zara.

Delicate flowers bloom on an A-line, Calf-Length Dress with V-neck and short, ruched sleeves. In light yellow or light green floral. 100% Viscose. $35 at H&M.

Bring your own sunshine wearing this breezy, Ikat Floral Puff-Sleeve Wrap Midi Dress by Madewell. Top wraps and ties to waist, then flares to midi hem. Sizes up to XXL, $138.
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Ethnic Prints

Nothing feels better than a 100% pima cotton jersey knit dress, especially when it comes in a henna and teal floral print. This Javanese Batik Dress has a flattering scoop neck, short sleeves, empire waist and softly gathered skirt that hits just below the knee. Wear it with a straw tote and cork wedgies. $99 at Peruvian Connection on the Upper West Side.

There’s something hypnotic about a hand-painted, asymmetrical print. We love this Monserrato Dress in desert hues of sandstone, terra cotta, ochre and turquoise. Viscose and elastane jersey. Elbow-length sleeves, angled front slit, sweeping hemline. Pair with silver hoop earrings and platform sandals. $179 at Peruvian Connection.

Zara shows this exotic jade green paisley Printed Dress with matching palazzo pants. We say skip the pants, unless you’re going to Coachella with your grandchildren. V-Neck, three-quarter sleeves, loose tunic fit. Comes with rope belt. Wear it to the beach or Sunday brunch. $49.90 at Zara.
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What’s Knot to Like?

Can a knot in your stomach feel good? We think so, looking at these three beauties from Zara, which feature a strategically placed knot. The linen blend sleeveless Knotted Dress in Bottle Green has an engagingly pretty V-neck and flirty front slit. $70. Try same concept in Fuschia with elbow length sleeves and plunging V-neck—with a camisole underneath if you don’t dare.

Need more coverage? Zara’s Knotted Rustic Dress in Lime polyester has long narrow sleeves, a loose fit and an intriguing asymmetrical drape from one shoulder that ties center front. $50.

The must have accessories for all of the above? UV sunglasses, PF50 sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat by day. By night? An over-sized white or black linen blazer and tortoise shell bangles.
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Stacia Friedman is an award-winning freelance journalist who writes for regional and national publications.

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