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The perfect summer dress

June 11, 2019
last modified: June 11, 2019

... I already own. (to me, obvs)

Let me tell you why I love it:

1. It is long and yet does not have a 5' slit up the side

2. it is a cool, light fabric but is not see through or clingy

3. It is comfortable but not voluminous and shapeless

4. It has sleeves! but they are short sleeves; long sleeves seem odd to me on a summer dress

5. It is casual but does not look like a robe or oversized T shirt.

6. It is washable, did not shrink or wrinkle terribly

The print... well, it would not really have been my first choice but I have come to like it. At least it is summery without looking like a beach cover up , tie dye (not a fan) or embroidered head to toe (meh).

Can you find me another summer dress like this, that fits criteria 1-6?

Comments (62)

  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

    I found this one at Anthropologie, but am thinking you probably checked there already. I like that it's a shirtdress, but I am not keen on black summer day dresses- maybe some great turquoise jewelry could brighten it up.


  • rubyclaire

    Rita, that Anthropologie dress is very cute! I rather like black in the summer - I think it looks good with a tan, straw accessories, etc. I'd be tempted by that one if I was not 5'2" and a size 8 :(.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked rubyclaire
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  • Sueb20

    I have such a hard time finding flattering summer dresses! So many are clingy jersey fabric, not flattering for my lumpy pear shaped body. I do like the Rosemary dress from Toad & Co., which is jersey but somehow not so clingy.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Sueb20
  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)

    I like your dress, mtn. On me though, it would probably be dreadful-too voluminous above the waist and on the sleeves. I am too short and small,I fear.

    i like Amour Vert a lot. This is one that works for me and I like a lot of their sleeveless summer dresses, too (as long as I don't anticipate vigorous waving good-byes to anyone-flappy arms are not terribly cute and even my weight exercises don't help that much-ha).

    I like this for just running around:

    Everything I have bought from them has been high quality. Prices and fabrics vary-love one dress, but it is recycled polyester, so not sure about that since I am trying so hard to avoid plastics these days. Anyway, here is a link:

    Sigh-when I posted the photos disappeared. Oh well.

    Amour Vert

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
  • Annie Deighnaugh

    eld, the ones I have are from a couple of years ago....I have one like this in solid black and another like it, though sleeveless in a solid navy. They're knee length though. (I took the pic for here in the lighter color so you can see the waist detail...very flattering on my curvy figure.)

    Bean currently carries one in a longer length in the solid black.

    They are perfect for travel as you can roll them up and the wrinkles fall out, and depending on how you accessorize, they can be casual daywear or good for dinner and a show. And very cool and comfy...like wearing a house dress.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Annie Deighnaugh
  • grapefruit1_ar

    These are all from Next. It seems that belted dresses are in this year. I do not think that they are flattering on everyone.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked grapefruit1_ar
  • tannatonk23

    Linen! I’m in Florida and have a few summer dresses in linen. Love them. Here’s an example but I know nothing about the seller.


    edited to say I have that llbean dress posted above by Annie and also really like it. It’s a bit long on me But I wear it anyway. I’m 5’4”

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  • jojoco

    Maybe this one?

    Tried to link but failed. Amazon, under "Maxi dress for women" Highest ratings, prime, under $50.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked jojoco
  • DLM2000-GW

    oooh jojoco that is really pretty!

  • OutsidePlaying

    Right, grapefruit, what is it with all the belted dresses? For one I think they are hot. And for another, they never seem to look right, on me anyway. I always feel like there is too much fabric bunched up around me under the belt. Not a smooth look. And most of the time the loops put the belt under my boobs, not at my waist!

  • salonva

    I am paying attention because I happen to love longer dresses AND think that dresses are the most comfy in the summer and for vacation. ( so why do I keep wearing the same denim skinny capris).

    I am puzzled because quite a few of the dresses posted look like they have a deep V neck and although V necks are flattering, I am not comfortable in one that is so open. Do you wear something else under it or is this not a problem for you? I feel like I would be tugging at the opening.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked salonva
  • jakabedy

    Check out Sundance. There was a recent catalog that had an insert section for special occasion dresses. Some were dressier than others.I’d tell you which catalog, but I’m pretty sure I get one almost weekly, and they all start to blend together at this point.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked jakabedy
  • mtnrdredux_gw thanked cawaps
  • arkansas girl

    The first dress in the OP makes me think of Dynasty, the old show from the 80's. I thought of Joan Collins.

  • jojoco

    Salonva, for some of us v-necks are very flattering. It’s all about proportion and balancing a rather generous upper body.

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    jojo...love the print on that dress!

  • daisychain01

    Have a look at Emerson Frye's India Collection. The prints make me swoon.

    Emerson Fry India Collection

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  • mtnrdredux_gw

    daisychain -- only have a second but love love love!

  • rubyclaire

    Second the Emerson Fry suggestions - great style in their small but well edited collection!

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked rubyclaire
  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Yes, TBH Emerson Fry is just about the only fashionable option i saw... but it is all "sold out" or must be "pre ordered". Bizarre.

    Some sites seem promising ... then you read about every poor quality, 20 working days shipping, etc etc. On some, you see crooked appliques and seams in the model's photo!

    I have also concluded that most maxis are one of 3 things I do not want.

    Most maxis are 1)knit, 2)have a high slit, or are 3)billowy and oversized ...because otherwise the fit has to be perfect for you to be able to walk. It is hard to buy knit online, because if it is the wrong weight or just a scooch too small it looks very bad. So i tend not to choose it. High slits defeat the purpose of a maxi for me. Billowy only looks good on willowy IMHO. I know hippy people who always choose full skirts and TBH i think it looks so much worse. They may think it hides hips,but I think it makes people look short and dowdy.

    Arkansas, too funny. I think in part it is the huge belt, which is actually not part of the dress. I dont belt it or use a narrower one; not sure where you'd even get that belt. I think the "thunderbolts" looks like a Lichtenstein.

    AS far as V-necks, yes mine is a pretty deep V. I would not wear a V that deep to the office for example, or the PTA. I think a number of these assume you are wearing a bathing suit underneath.

    A lot of the inventory of maxi dresses are dowdy, or cheap, and a disproportionate amount of it is maternity/plus size. It reminds me of the time years ago when I was on a quest to replace my broken Vuarnet tortoise aviators. After searching everywhere, it dawned on me ... don't bother ...you cannot find it because they are sooooo "out!"

  • Sueb20

    Two more possible resources: Peruvian Connection, or Novica?

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Sueb20
  • pennydesign

    I've never owned a summer dress... I'm mostly a slob (if I could get away with pajamas all day then that's what I would wear).

    But this thread is making me re-think a longer dress. I'm gravitating toward maternity dresses and wonder if there's a reason not to, like are they strange in the front if you're not pregnant? I think the fit would work otherwise (empire waist--very flowy--not to fitted)...

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked pennydesign
  • gsciencechick

    Just got an email promo code from JJill 30% off with SUMMER19. Free shipping over $125.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked gsciencechick
  • rubyclaire

    mtn - Tuckernuck also sells items from Emerson Fry so check their site for stock.


    mtnrdredux_gw thanked rubyclaire
  • OutsidePlaying

    Mtn, IMO your assessment is pretty much spot on. Except I am fairly ‘willowy’ and don’t like the billowy look in me. I guess because I’ve always preferred a more tailored look.

    Another pet peeve of mine is that every clothier assumes a summer dress much be sleeveless. Have they not worked in a frigid over-air-conditioned office where you need a heater and a couple of sweaters to get through the day?

    Another couple of thoughts, but I haven’t looked at the websites recently. Patagonia and Athleta both have summer dresses. I ordered one from Patagonia in a cute print. It is cotton but stretches a bit though. I don’t shop there because the sizing is sort of off for me, but Talbots could be an option and JJill as gscience just mentioned.

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  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    I found it annoying too that EF was mostly sold out.

  • Feathers11

    This is why I can't shop online and must try on clothes before I buy them. (I know, I could always return online purchases, but I have a plethora of stores near me.) Summer dresses have become like jeans--it depends upon the body type and the cut of the dress.

    I still have toned arms and can wear sleeveless dresses. My chest is on the smaller side, too, and I like v-necks. I'm not sure how much longer this will last, so I will enjoy sleeveless and v-necks as long as possible.

    But even though I'm tall, billowy and prints don't work for me. I'm one of those who needs to wear the dress, and not vice versa. I don't have the personality to balance a strong print.

  • Feathers11

    Adding... Pennydesign, go try on some dresses! And unless you're pregnant, you don't need maternity dresses. There are so many options out there. Dresses are easy to wear and I bet you can find a few styles that you'll enjoy wearing.

  • daisychain01

    Oh no. I didn't notice that it's only the shorter dresses that are available. I've had mixed success going on EFs waiting list. Once, I was notified fairly quickly and got the item. Then next time, IIRC, it took forever and I was no longer interested.

    I have only bought three items from EF, but they were of the old school well-made variety with linings and fastenings that seemed to be sewn on by hand.

    I was kind of hoping you'd get one of those dresses so I could live vicariously thru you. They are out of my reach with the current state of the CDN $.

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  • maddielee

    Soft Surroundings has some that may work.

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  • Sueb20

    Sahalie (which has recently merged with some other co., but you can still find it by googling Sahalie) has a great dress called the Bella Coola dress. It is jersey, but it has short sleeves, a flattering cut (for me anyway), and some cute prints. Also quite inexpensive -- I just checked and a lot of the prints in petite sizes were in the $35 range. I wash mine in the machine and toss them in the dryer too. Super easy throw-on dress.

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Sueb20
  • grapefruit1_ar

    I love the fabric of the EF dresses but the style not so much. They remind me of bathing suit coverups. That bouffant style is not flattering IMO. I, too, am more willowy and prefer things that are more tapered.

  • Funkyart

    I also love maxis for the summer -- and I too have a list of must haves for the perfect dress. I think the hardest thing is finding one with sleeves that doesn't look dowdy... or one that isn't that ridiculous high-low style. I haven't found a single one this season yet-- and I am willing to bend on the sleeveless requirement.

    It takes a specific type venue-- but have you looked at lilly pullitzer? It is a specific vibe/style, no doubt-- but if your coloring is anything like mine (and I think it may be), these colors should look great on you!

    Also, how do you feel about jumpsuits? I was certain I couldn't wear them as I am very long waisted/short legged and I carry extra weight in my torso/butt but I have found a few that work for me and I find them comfortable and easy to wear!

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Funkyart
  • mdln

    Thought of your criteria #1 when I saw this.

  • Funkyart

    Or how do you feel about Johnny Was? I love the look but it is very firmly boho (and above your limit-- but there are often sales at Johnny Was and Neiman Marcus)

    I also love the back

  • blfenton

    I like funkyarts dress. I suspect that we have very different tastes but I really like this dress from Anthropologie - I would wear it and the back is smocked.


    mtnrdredux_gw thanked blfenton
  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)

    Funky, love love love Johnny Was. Also blfenton, the Anthro dress is so fun!

  • maire_cate

    Love those Lilly dresses with the sleeves - thanks for including them Funky.

  • Sharon

    Hi, mtn, where is the dress from your original post from?

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Dear all, thx so much for the ideas! I did track down every one. Still very hard to find things that fit all of my criteria. Some of the most promising leads I was wary of ... sites I have never heard of with very very long shipping times and poor reviews, dirt cheap clothes. Sigh...

    Hi Sharon, it is from Floryday. (which actually kind of fits my description above of sites id never heard of) Note, it does not include a belt, in case you liked that element. https://www.floryday.com/Short-Sleeve-Maxi-X-Line-Dress-m1027178?utm_campaign=mail_order If you look at other items on there, watch the reviews. "My" dress is 5 stars, but when I bought it I also ordered one for one DD and we did not like it at all.

    BL, i love the shirtwaist style and the print is pretty (tho i dont wear red). The skirt is a tad too full i think but i'd have to see it. SO many fo the shirtwaist I saw were button down with big slits.

    Mdln, But she looks great!

    Hi Funky,

    Hey, how are you!?

    I have a Johnny Was that reminds me of that a bit of that one, but it is more navy. My family tells me i look like Pocahontas in it. haha

    I had seen the Lily Pulitzer dresses, but the patterns are just too Miami for me. I just can't do that bubble gum pink, IDK. I like the brand and my girls have a few of their dresses, the only thing I have from Lily is this... a white fringed sweater!

    However, I took your advice and, when I was out yesterday I tried on a jumpsuit, Found one I just love. And I'm not the only one, it gets very high reviews and most people buy it in multiple colors (tho it is sold out on line). Odd thing it, it is a knit which I'd never thing is a good idea. But it it quite loose in the hips and has wide legs (another thing I think is a bad idea). Here is where one learns that internet shopping goes only so far. I never would have ordered it, but when I tried it on it was love. The sleeves are perfect and the scoop neck very flattering. I paired it with a chunky summer choker. Plus, it totally feels like PJs. And is darn cheap. Reviewers say it packs well and no wrinkles.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the only other thing I have found that i like is a DVF wrap maxi. I have always admired these. It was not exactly what i was looking for; it may be too warm late June dinners in Greece, for one. It is sold out online but I have one on hold I am going to try on.

    I love the off the shoulder Lily, but I have a few dresses in that style. And a true bra not a strapless is just much better on me.

    Where is the Pucci-esque jumpsuit from? That one is fun!

    Daisy, I love love the EF, and I did already look at the other site to track one down --- no luck yet!

  • Funkyart

    Hi Mtn!

    I had the exact same experience with jumpsuits-- the "right" one can definitely be flattering even when it breaks my rules! I have one in crepe that I can even wear to the office.

    I totally get what you are saying about Lilly-- I have a few friends who totally rock the look but they're not patterns I'd feel comfortable in.

    The pucci-esque jumpsuit is from Nordstrom. I think it's fun for a vacation spot or a backyard party-- the only thing I will point out is that there's a little hole at the mid drift that isn't obvious in the photo. I think it would be fine for the venues where I'd wear it-- but it isn't for everyone. It is fun and unique and for that reason, I think it could be worth trying.

    (I am doing ok! Thanks for asking-- I am very busy lately and have been limiting my time online.)

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Funkyart
  • Annie Deighnaugh

    Only thing about jumpsuits, however flattering, is the restroom issue...

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked Annie Deighnaugh
  • catticusmockingbird

    I saw a familiar dress on the Floryday site. Same dress at Soft Surroundings is twice as expensive. The pics were obviously snagged from Soft Surroundings.



  • Feathers11

    OK I may look into jumpsuits now, especially since they are everywhere.

    But Annie's concern is a valid one for me, since one of the perks of wearing a regular summer dress is (ahem) easy-pee-sy. ;-) I'd have to be very calculating when wearing a jumpsuit.

    ETA Mtn, the West Kei jumper you found looks wonderful... easy to dress up or down. I also love the neckline. Did you find it in store at Nordstrom Rack (that's what pops up on my google search).

  • mtnrdredux_gw thanked bbstx
  • cran

    I have been looking for the perfect summer dress for my daughters wedding in August. It will be a very small and casual wedding. Takes place at the only house on a small island in New England. The house is very large but rustic and getting to and fro is done only by boat. I was looking at jumpsuits but it seems the ones I like are black. I wanted sleeves and I usually wear blue. I ordered Mtn dress from Floryday! I have seen their ads but wasn't sure it was a trust worthy company. I am very excited and hope I love it as much as Mtn. does. Always something to learn here at the conversations side :-))

    mtnrdredux_gw thanked cran
  • bbstx

    cran, have you looked at Lilly Pulitzer? https://www.lillypulitzer.com/dresses/maxi-midi-dresses/

  • cran

    Yes, actually I have a Maxi Lily similar to the one Funk posted, its off the shoulder, long and blue. I thought perhaps my daughter might have wanted it for a wedding dress, but it was too full for her frame. She ended up with a white lace sun dress that actually is better. I happened to get the Lily at Marshalls!! I have seen them in Tj Maxx and Marshalls here often. I am sure it was last years model but still very cute. But I have it as a back up if anyone wants it. I really should have sleeves!

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Hi Cran, I do hope you like it; you will have to let me know. If I'd known you were ordering I'd have told you to go down a size; it is generous.

    BBstx - I love the one you posted. I can just see it with a slouchy belt. I just ordered it in blue! It's so funny, I tried on a dress in a very similar style today and realized I really like the shirtdress look on me (figures, since I love button down shirts). I made a note to look for some (the particular one I tried was a tad too short when I sat down, it showed my scarred knee). Too funny to come home and see your post. Thx

    Catticus - Yes, i don't get these companies, they seem to be aggregators of some sort. They often show the same dress on diff models in diff spots. Next (someone mentioned above) was the same way.

    Feathers, Yes, Nordstrom Rack. It is essentially sold out on line. And not a ton in stores. I just bought a second, grey one, in another Rack I visited today. It was the only one I saw. I love these things. And it is very very easy to get on and off. No zippers buttons or hooks. Note; they run quite big. ONe thing, the grey is kinda blah, i'm now on the hunt for a wide belt.

    Good to know Funky; my midriff-bearing days are done!

  • cran

    Thanks mtn good hear about the sizing as I read the reviews and ordered a smaller size (XS) but then had second thoughts wondering if that was a good idea. I have a feeling its going to be too much dress for me, but Ill let you know. :-))

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