My Five Must-Have Summer Dress Staples

While there are a million cute summer dresses out there to choose from, today I want to focus on some staples.  I’ve said before that I feel the most satisfied with my wardrobe when I have a solid set of basics or staples that are mixed with just a few statement pieces.  Today’s dresses are my must-have dresses for this summer.  They are simple in style and shape, which I find very easy to remix.  It’s easy to layer different completer pieces over them, and it’s easy to pair them with all different kinds of jewelry.  Also, these are all incredibly comfortable which means that, unlike a statement piece sundress, I actually wear them regularly in my casual, everyday life!

My personal favorite kind of dresses are what I call “pajama dresses.”  They are dresses made of soft, super stretchy material that feels like you’re wearing pajamas.  These are incredibly comfortable for running errands, going out to lunch with friends, or even for chasing kids.  They’re easy to move around in!  Almost all of today’s dresses are pajama dresses, but yours don’t have to be!  😛  Also, one thing to keep in mind is that though many of the pajama dresses I’m showing today don’t have a lot of shape, you can find dresses in this material with seams that help provide more definition.

When I set out to build my summer dress collection, these are the staples I had on my list.  So far they have not disappointed, and I’ve already worn each of them several times!



striped t-shirt dress + denim vest + white sneakers

Striped T-Shirt Dress
For some reason it seems so difficult to find a great striped t-shirt dress, especially at an affordable price.  I was so lucky to find this one from Target last year.  It’s no longer available, but fortunately there’s a really, really good one at H&M for under $18 HERE!  I haven’t tried it first-hand so I can’t speak to sizing.  However, some ladies in the PMT Style Challenge group tried it and recommended sizing up at least one, if not two sizes.

See more of my outfits with a striped t-shirt dress HERE.

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Target (similar)
Vest: J.Crew c/o thredUP (similar)
Shoes: Zappos (similarsimilar)
Necklace: c/o Dear Mushka (exactsimilar)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (exact
Cuff: c/o Nickel & Suede (exact)
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters (exact)



striped dress + cognac accessories

Striped Tank Dress (Option 2)
The short sleeves on the t-shirt dress make it great for all the other seasons and many days in the summer, but sometimes when it’s super duper hot and humid I just want a sleeveless dress.  I scored this striped tank swing dress from Old Navy recently and totally love it!  There are other sleeveless dresses out there with more seaming and shape.  But, if you’re interested in this particular dress yet are worried about it being shapeless, you can add a belt around the waist to provide definition.

I’m wearing size M.  Find the dress HERE.  (See image of this kind of dress with a belt HERE.)

Other styling tips:  I’m looking forward to pairing this with all the colorful accessories like teal and red, and if I had green I’d do that too!

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Old Navy (exact–size M)
Shoes: Nordstrom (similar)
Bag: Nordstrom (exact)
Necklace: c/o Dear Mushka (exact)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (exact–size M)



black maxi dress + tan accessories + leopard print sandals

Maxi Dress – Solid or Printed
While on very hot summer days I’m actually too warm in this maxi dress, I still consider it necessary in my summer wardrobe.  It’s my go-to piece for times when I’ll be out of the house all day.  Where I live, temps can swing from 80 degrees during the day to 60 at night, and this dress is perfect for that transition.  When it’s 80 degrees during the day, this maxi dress leaves me a little warm but still much more comfortable than if I were wearing jeans, and when it dips to 60 degrees I’m warm enough with a lighter layer.  It’s also great for days with a lot of activity because I feel comfortable crouching down, bending over, or doing any kind of movement necessary, and I don’t feel self-conscious about flashing someone like with a shorter dress.

This is my favorite maxi dress!  It’s the comfy pajama dress, the drape is great, and it’s not super duper thin like many maxi dresses can be.  I wear this in size S, and you can find it in several colors HERE.  And no, I do not dry clean this like it says to!  I hand wash and air dry.  I also wear THIS strapless bra.  If you want a similar maxi dress with thicker straps, try THIS one.

See more of my outfits with a black maxi dress HERE.

Other styling ideas:  I can’t wait to wear this with turquoise accessories instead of tan and gold ones!

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Nordstrom (exact–I wear S)
Strapless Bra: Nordstrom (exact)
Necklace: c/o Dear Mushka (exact)
Sandals: Old Navy (exact)
Bag: c/o Sole Society (exact)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (exact–size M)



olive swing dress + gold necklace + blush

Solid Neutral or Solid Colored Dress
I specifically hunted for an olive green tank or t-shirt dress, and I’m really pleased with this one!  There are many like it on Amazon, but this was the only one I found that was 37″ long, whereas the others were around 33″ and too short for my taste.  This one also has pockets, which is always a plus in my book!  Any neutral colored dress can be paired with all different accessories.  Here I’m showing it with tan accessories, but it can also be paired with turquoise, yellow, and blush necklaces, just to name a few!

I’m wearing size M, and you can find the dress HERE in 13 colors!

If I were bolder, I’d go for the yellow version of this dress too.  Well, heck, I might do it anyway, but I’d consider it a statement dress instead–for myself, at least.  I’d be more timid wearing it everywhere, whereas olive or another neutral is something I wouldn’t hesitate to wear anywhere, and that for me counts as a staple.  However, if you are bold and never hesitate to wear bright colors, then a really bright colored dress could be considered a staple for you.  😉

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Amazon (exact, similar)
Necklace: Nordstrom (similar, similar)
Shoes: UGG via Nordstrom (similar–extremely comfy)
Bag: c/o Sole Society (exact–back in stock!)
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters (exact)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (exact–wearing size large)
neutral printed dress + utility vest + tan sandals

Neutral Based Printed Dress
This is the only one of my staples that’s not a pajama dress, but it’s almost equally as comfy.  This dress is very lightweight and nice for warmer days.  I talked more in depth about how the combination of the neutral background with a print actually make this dress easy to style.  Read it all HERE.

Find this dress in 11 prints and 2 solid colors, in regular, tall, and petite sizing HERE.  I wear it in Medium Regular sizing.  If it shrinks on you with washing (I’d hand wash it and air dry though!), it can be restored by steaming or probably ironing with a little water.  Read about that HERE.

Since this dress has thin camisole straps, I wear it with THIS strapless bra.

See it styled with a denim jacket and white sneakers HERE.

Shop for the Look:
Dress: Old Navy c/o thredUP (similar, similar)
Vest: Old Navy (similar, similarsimilar)
Sandals: Zappos (exact–wearing size 9)
Necklace: c/o Dear Mushka (exactsimilar)
Earrings: c/o Nickel & Suede (exact
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters (exact)
Bag: Lily Jade (exact)



Here are tons more dresses in similar styles but varying colors, and all at very good price points!



What are your absolute must-have summer dress staples?


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