How to Find a Dress You Can Wear in Multiple Settings + 8 Dress Options

Dresses are a way of life in the summer, am I right?  When it’s hot and you don’t want clothes touching your body, dresses are the way to go!

I get asked often how to style dresses in different ways during the summer when it’s too hot to keep your jackets, cardigans, and vests on.  I agree it can be difficult to create looks that are very distinct when you can’t layer.  It’s not impossible, just harder depending on the dress and your style.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that a piece is not only versatile if you can style it distinctly.  Another way a piece can be versatile is if you can wear it in multiple scenarios, like hanging out with friends or to a beach wedding.  Even if you can’t create super distinct looks, you can still get good use out of the item because you can wear it to a variety of occasions!

Since I’ve been showing a lot of jersey knit “pajama dresses” lately, as I like to call them, let’s depart from those and talk about adding dressier options that are still versatile.  Today’s post is in partnership with Nordstrom, who has TONS of semi-dressy options that can easily be worn for different occasions.  (Also, these dresses are NOT part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, so anyone can shop these right now–no need to have a Nordstrom card.)

How to Find a Dress You Can Use in Multiple Settings

Today I’ve put together 3 looks with this pretty yellow dress: one for hanging out with friends, one for going to a bridal/baby shower or party, and one for an outdoor summer wedding.

Within each of the 3 looks, I’ll also share a tip for choosing or styling a dress like this to help you add more versatile dresses to your wardrobe!

DRESS INFO: I’m 5’6″ and normally size S/M or 6/8.  I wear this dress in size S.  It runs pretty large and there was a lot of extra material in medium.  Also, the color in person is a bit more of a muted mustard.

Here are the looks and the tips!

yellow floral print dress + denim jacket + tan sandals
Tip #1: Pay attention to the material.
This dress is made of polyester, and while it doesn’t feel super luxurious, overall it’s a step up from the jersey knit dresses.  Because it’s not a luxurious fabric, it still works in casual settings, yet it can also work in dressier settings.  
I’d wear this look to go out to lunch with friends, go to church, or any other event where I’d want to feel a little more put together except it’s still a casual setting.  I’ve got on my favorite flat sandals of the summer which have such soft leather and a cushioned footbed.  Sooo comfy!  (Find them HERE.)
Shop for the Look:
Dress: Nordstrom (exact–wearing size S)
Jacket: Old Navy (similar)
Shoes: Born (exact)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact)
Hat: Old Navy (similar)
Strapless Bra: Nordstrom (exactsimilar)

yellow floral print dress + floppy hat + blush pink
yellow floral print dress + floppy hat + blush bag + wedges

Tip #2: Look for a dress with special details.
Rather than a solid, plain, cotton dress, in addition to a non-jersey material, this dress has a few details that take it up a notch.  It’s got a smocked bust that gives it some texture, a beautiful print for more visual interest, and a cool wrapped bottom with a hi-low hem.  All of those things elevate the dress and make it work for dressier settings.

This look is not a far cry from the first outfit, but it’s a little more boho thanks to accessories with tassels (which you can’t see on my necklace from these pics!)  The look is taken up a tiny step up with a wedge shoe and is cute for a bridal or baby shower, or any type of daytime party, really.

Fun fact: I intended to wear my cutout lace up block heels (THESE) but somehow only brought one of them to the photoshoot.  I suppose I could have gotten away with just wearing that ONE shoe since in these pictures you can only see one of my feet anyway!  Haha!  😛

If a light layer was needed, I’d totally pair this with my green cardigan (like THIS) or purple cardigan (like THIS).  Either of those combos are ADORABLE together and really make things pop!

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Nordstrom (exact–wearing size S)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact)
Shoes: Nordstrom (similar)
Bag: c/o Sole Society (exact)
Hat: Old Navy (similar)
Strapless Bra: Nordstrom (exactsimilar)

Summer Wedding Guest Outfit: yellow floral print dress + teal statement necklace + nude heels
Summer Wedding Guest Outfit: yellow floral print dress + teal statement necklace
Tip #3: Change your accessories or your hair.
I WISH I had worn my hair in a ponytail, a low bun, or a loose braid for one of these looks.  But guess what?  In addition to forgetting one of my shoes, I also forgot to bring a hair tie for this photoshoot.  Whomp whomp.  Would you help a sister out and imagine the first look with a low ponytail or the second look with a loose braid?  Thanks.  🙂
Nonetheless, with a colorful statement necklace, some sleek heels, and a clutch, this dress is now fit for an outdoor summer wedding!  You could pair it with accessories in any color from the print, like pink, purple, green, or white.  I chose none of those and instead wore a turquoise statement necklace which contrasts the yellow.   Just by switching out your pendant and flat sandals from the last outfit to a statement necklace and basically the same shoes just with heels, you’re ready to attend a wedding! 

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Nordstrom (exact–wearing size S)
Necklace: Nordstrom
Bag: DSW
Shoes: Amazon (similar)
Strapless Bra: Nordstrom (exactsimilar)

There you have it!  To recap, if you need to dress up for anything this summer yet want a dress that you can get more mileage out of, pay attention to its material, look for details that elevate the dress from a plain one, and make sure you can wear it with at least both a simple necklace or earrings and a statement necklace or earrings.
Below are 8 dresses that that could work in all three scenarios that I described above!

Links to Shop:
one  |  two  |  three  |  four
five  |  six  |  seven  |  eight

For more posts like these, check out my One Piece Many Ways tab!

Created in partnership with Nordstrom
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