It’s easy for a go-to going-out dress rotation to get monotonous. But summer demands more from its going-out dresses. Because summer isn’t just about finding the sweatiest club with the cheapest drinks—it’s about sipping sangria when it’s 5:00 somewhere, or finding a rooftop bar that has yet to be discovered by the rest of the population, or post-gaming dinner with hours of dancing to who-knows-what. During the summer, our going-out activities are far more varied than they are during any other season—and our summer going-out dresses should be just as varied, accordingly.
I’ve written a handful of going-out clothes stories in my time as a fashion editor, and none have been as fun to curate as this one. Because during the fall, we wear figure-hugging little black dresses. In the winter, we wear figure-hugging little black dresses. And in the spring (which is always almost-surprisingly cold), we wear figure-hugging little black dresses. In the summer, we sport the occasional LBD, but we also bust out our favorite colors and our boldest prints. We dip our toes in the pool of summer sequins—which feels slightly transgressive, because sparkles are supposed to be reserved for New Year’s Eves and New Year’s Eves only, right?
As we take full advantage of the summer sun and the delicious heat that accompanies it, our sartorial brains open up. No longer forced to dress exclusively for practicality, we have room to explore, to play, to create. And we have room to do something other than sit inside, bundled in a pile of fuzzy blankets, too. Summer nights—weekdays and weekends, alike—are filled with fun, with spontaneity, with escape. And while the same little black dress certainly could get us through all of it, there’s no reason it has to.
1. Limited Edition Sequin Dress, $89.90 at Zara
Sport it all summer long—then whip it out next New Year’s Eve.
2. Say No More Satin Off-the-Shoulder Dress, $35 at Nasty Gal
The aughts fashion resurrection has brought with it a handful of regrettable styles—but this dress is so veritably chic I’m becoming convinced it was all worth it.
3. Do Tail Leopard Midi Dress, $30 at Nasty Gal
The slinky slip dress isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
4. We Square Midi Dress, $10 at Nasty Gal
A classic is a classic. And this comfy day-to-night LBD wants to take you everywhere this summer.
5. Mimi Mesh Bodycon Mini Dress, $24.99 at Urban Outfitters
It’s summer—why shouldn’t you up the saturation on one of 2019’s trendiest prints?
6. Tee BT Belted Midi Dress, $20 at Nasty Gal
A dress that’ll take you from the office to the bar—and back.
7. Cut-Out Dress, $39.90 at Zara
Who said your go-to mini had to be black?
8. Evonna Dress, $348 at Free People
A dress that could actually take you from running errands to sipping margs—that’s versatility.
9. Sequin Dress, $49.90 at Zara
More summer sequins, please.
10. Polka Dot Dress, $39.90 at Zara
When polka dots are this low-key hot (and high-key adorable), who can pass them up?
11. Posies Mini Dress, $128 at Free People
Long-sleeves are oft underrated during the summer, and this subtly sexy mini just wants to rectify that.
12. Walk This Way Midi Dress, $78 at Free People
Introducing: your new favorite date night dress.
13. River Island Mini Dress, $73 at ASOS
In case you prefer your slip dresses form-fitting AF.
14. Sweet Tooth Linen Mini Dress, $69 at Urban Outfitters
Fit for parties, birthday dinners and nights at the club, alike.
15. Lovers + Friends Carson Mini Dress, $198 at Revolve
Outdoor party? No problem.
16. Motel Maxine Flocked Animal Print Midi Slip Dress, $39.99 at Urban Outfitters
The aughts at their edgiest.
17. All on Broderie Cut-Out Mini Dress, $50 at Nasty Gal
Never underestimate the power of a good cutout. Even when it’s adorned with flowers. And frills.
18. Tularosa Rayo Dress, $178 at Revolve
Your favorite sexy summer tank top, rendered in midi dress form.
19. L’Academie the Bianco Mini Dress, $198 at Revolve
Who said a puffy-sleeve dress wasn’t fit for summer bar wear? (Sport it to an outdoor biergarten and prove ’em wrong.)
20. Sabrina Gauze Smocked Mini Dress, $39 at Urban Outfitters
As comfy as it is cute—and it’s all kinds of cute.
21. Adidas 3-Stripe Side-Slit Maxi Dress, $70 at Urban Outfitters
Throw on your favorite slides and layered on your favorite necklaces, and you’ll be in low-key cute business in no time.
22. L’Academie the Annick Midi Dress, $188 at Revolve
You need something to wear to the cocktail bar before you go dancing.
23. Sequin Wrap Dress, $49.90 at Zara
Be the extra AF style queen you wish to see in the world.
24. h:ours Sybil Midi Dress, $168 at Revolve
Throw on your strappiest stilettos, and make summer sexy happen.
25. Motel Datista Snake Print Slip Dress, $54 at Urban Outfitters
I mean, it’s a spaghetti-strap, snakeskin mini dress. It was practically designed with going out in mind.
26. h:ours Agnor Midi Dress, $188 at Revolve
Sheer clothes are having a serious moment—and they lend themselves incredibly well to the going-out sphere.
27. Frock Around Y-Neck Romper, $39 at Urban Outfitters
This mini doubles as a romper—which is basically the best of
both all worlds ever.
28. Lioness Despacito Metallic Open-Knit Maxi Dress, $49.99 at Urban Outfitters
Our collective obsession with crochet has paved the way for some seriously great naked dresses to enter the zeitgeist.
29. Kailua Mesh Ruched Mini Dress, $69 at Urban Outfitters
Equal parts form-fitting and fun.
30. Spaghetti-Strap Satin Dress, $49.90 at Zara
Layer on your favorite bohemian jewelry, slip into your comfiest sandals, and wear this everywhere.
31. Hanna Scallop Babydoll Mini Dress, $49 at Urban Outfitters
Also available in white and cheetah print—because when you find a silhouette this good, you stock up.
32. River Island Bodycon Snake Print Midi Dress, $60 at ASOS
Dressing like early aughts Paris Hilton has never been as easy as it is now.
33. Capulet Camille Midi Dress, $172 at Revolve
Wear it dancing. Or to an outdoor party. Or to a nighttime barbecue. Or basically anywhere else that feels too casual for an over-the-top sexy mini, but too sleek for a sundress.
34. Fringed Dress, $49.90 at Zara
Make. Summer. Fringe. Happen. (Because you can.)
35. All on Broderie Cut-Out Mini Dress, $50 at Nasty Gal
Your go-to summer dress, rendered bar-appropriate.
36. Summer in Italy Off-the-Shoulder Mini Dress, $69 at Urban Outfitters
Let the haters know that nothing can stop you from wearing off-the-shoulder necklines literally everywhere you go this summer.
37. The East Order Sahara Leopard Print Slip Dress, $169 at Urban Outfitters
Basically a high-fashion take on cavewoman fashion—but hey, cavewomen were hot.
38. Amanda Uprichard Wintour Wrap Dress, $202 at Revolve
Because a boss bitch would wear a kelly green sleeveless blazer. As a dress. To a bar.
39. Tie-Dye Dress, $29.90 at Zara
My friend owns this and has worn it to a party, so trust me when I say it’s fit for your next night out.
40. Bronze Lace Satin Slip Dress, $52.50 at Topshop
A slinky slip dress with just enough lace detailing to keep things feeling fresh.
41. Amanda Uprichard Catarina Dress, $273 at Revolve
Why shouldn’t your night-out wardrobe skew as maximalist as your day-to-day one does?
42. The Midnight Rambler Dress, $175 at Free People
Look, I don’t know your life, but if I owned this, I’d wear it to the bar tonight.
43. Auguste x Revolve Olsen Love Midi Dress, $165 at Revolve
Throw on your favorite wedges and favorite layered jewelry and prove that you can make a sexy floral dress bar-appropriate. (Or at least, biergarten-appropriate.)
44. Finn Ribbed Tie-Shoulder Bodycon Mini Dress, $49 at Urban Outfitters
Practically begging to accompany you on the dance floor.
45. Michael Stars Island Time Kaftan, $64 at Revolve
Because understated sexy is always a good look.
46. Spaghetti-Strap Pleated Dress, $39.90 at Zara
OK, I couldn’t keep myself from including a few LBDs. But this one’s flouncy. And flouncy means fun.
47. Printed Dress, $29.90 at Zara
Wear this, and you’ll undoubtedly be the most eye-catching member of your party posse.
48. Bardot Floral Mesh Mini Dress, $20 at Nasty Gal
Off-the-shoulder florals, but make it sheer—and figure-hugging.
49. Linen Strapless Midi Dress, $79 at Urban Outfitters
A dress that does casual fun as well as it does sleek sexy—just have fun with styling.
50. With This O-Ring Dress, $15 at Nasty Gal
Because 2000 is the new 2019.
51. Majorelle Quincy Midi Dress, $218 at Revolve
A little red lipstick and some chunky shoes could take this dress from dainty and delightful to seriously hot in a matter of minutes.
52. Slip Dress, $49.90 at Zara
I mean, a classic.
53. Tie-Dye Dress, $49.90 at Zara
A less obvious take on the summer going-out dress—but definitely one worth adding to your repertoire.
54. Privacy Please Dakota Mini Dress, $148 at Revolve
A dress you can wear from 10 A.M. one day to 5 A.M. the next.
55. Privacy Please Hanna Midi Dress, $158 at Revolve
You know that phrase, “It’s always the quiet ones”? Sweet sundresses are basically the sartorial equivalent of that. Chronically underestimated—always ready to deliver a surprisingly hot lewk.
56. BCBGMAXAZRIA Floral Midi Dress, $398 at Revolve
For the next time you plan to post-game your date with dancing.
57. Night to Remember Button-Front Midi Dress, $79 at Urban Outfitters
The kind of thing you wear to a bar when you want to seem effortlessly hot.
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