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Summer dressing is all about ease and versatility — effortless dresses, breezy linen separates, and multi-functional pieces, along with a designer handbag. Nothing says lay back and enjoy the warm weather like simply throwing on a summer dress, your cute sandals, and going. There aren’t many pieces that can take you from everyday life to vacation to the office all in one, but the shirt dress is a real chameleon that can streamline your wardrobe with minimal effort and styling.
“The shirt dress is such a tried-and-true staple, it’s a major trend for summer, and as someone who loves to pack smart, it’s a piece I’m going to get a lot of wear out of on vacation,” says stylist Micaela Erlanger, whose dressed A-listers from Lupita Nyong’o to Meryl Streep. Whether you’re going for a classic menswear-inspired look or a full-length maxi, the stylist recommends looking for soft, breathable materials for summer, like linen.
“The beauty of linen is it can host a wrinkle — it’s supposed to have that look so it’s not too precious and I love that for summer,” Erlanger says. “You also want to consider more neutral or earthier palettes because it is an organic material, so it’s going to get better with washing and aging, which responds better with more natural dyes.”
If you need some summer shirt dress inspiration, keep reading for the stylist’s favorite shirt dress outfit ideas, plus the best picks of the season to shop now.
How to Wear a Shirt Dress for Summer 2022
- Just add accessories: The beauty of the shirt dress is that it’s pulled together enough to just throw it on and wear as is. For summer, Erlanger suggests elevating the wardrobe essential with must-have accessories, including a bucket or summer hat, tote bag, sunglasses and espadrilles, for an effortlessly chic everyday look.
- Belt it: Belted shirt dresses popped up on spring/summer runways from Ulla Johnson to The Row. “Don’t be afraid of the power of a waist. Find yourself a beautiful brown leather or raffia belt to belt the dress,” Erlanger recommends. Add a flat pair of summer sandals, and you can wear the look from day to night.
- As a swimsuit cover-up: Ideal for summer vacation, layer a shirt dress over your bathing suit as a cover-up. Opt for an airy linen fabric or lightweight cotton for a more laidback vibe and top it off with a beach bag.
- Open with shorts: For a more unexpected look, Erlanger suggests wearing a shirt dress open with a pair of shorts and top underneath. It’s a solid option for weekend plans and getaways, plus you can style the shirt dress just like you’d style a button-down.
- The maxi shirt dress: Maxi dress silhouettes took over the spring 2022 runways — from Valentino to Chanel. The trend translates perfectly to shirt dresses, with long, caftan-inspired designs to wear all summer. Erlanger recommends pairing with an espadrille or block heel sandal to dress up the look even more.
- The mini shirt dress: On the opposite end of the spectrum, mini dresses and skirts staged a comeback on runways like Miu Miu and Jacquemus. “For a mini, especially if it’s a more simple silhouette, you can really amp up the accessories and layer on the jewelry — it’s kind of like a blank canvas so it lends itself easily to be accessorized,” Erlanger advises.
Top Shirt Dresses of 2022
- Best Cotton Dress: Marina Moscone T-Shirt Dress
- Best Floral Print Dress: Soly Hux Floral Button-Down Dress
- Best Classic White Button-Down Dress: Rails Long-Sleeve Cotton-Blend Shirt Dress
- Best Linen Dress: Magic Linen Julien Shirt Dress
- Best Cutout Dress: A.L.C. Georgia Cutout Shirt Dress
- Best Striped Dress: Tibi Striped Mid-Length Shirt Dress
- Best for Work: Max Mara Silk Shirt Dress
- Best Long Dress: & Other Stories Shell Button Shirt Dress
- Best Short Dress: Jonathan Simkhai Puff Shirt Dress in Black
- Best Sleeveless Dress: H&M Sleeveless Shirt Dress
- Best Plus-Size Dress: Eloquii Side Cutout Shirt Dress
- Best Swimsuit Cover-Up: Summersalt Effortless Shirtdress Cover-Up
- Best Summer Dress: Frame Pleated Maxi Dress
- Best Belted Dress: Everlane Oxford Shirt Dress
- Best Denim Dress: Sir Denim Day Dress
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Marina Moscone T-Shirt Dress
Best Cotton T-Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS-L
- Colorways: White and black
- Special Features: Made of eco-friendly organic cotton
There’s something effortlessly cool and laidback about the ease of a T-shirt dress, especially for spring and summer. Marina Moscone is known for her elevated, modern basics, and this T-shirt dress design perfectly embodies that. Made of organic cotton, the maxi silhouette features a side slit at the hem and U-neckline. Style it with sneakers, clogs, or chunky sandals for a casual day look.
Soly Hux Floral Button-Down Dress
Best Floral Print Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Colorways: Available in 8 floral patterns
For the print lovers, this retro-inspired shirt dress offers a low key look for summer. Available in eight different floral patterns, including navy, red and yellow, this boho style is versatile enough to dress up or down — from packing on vacation to wearing for your weekend plans or at the office. Reviewers love its airy, lightweight fabric and flattering fit, with many adding that it’s a great shirt dress for those with larger breasts. “I am never able to find dresses that button on top of the breasts that don’t pucker or pull on the buttons, and this dress doesn’t!!! It’s actually so flattering, I don’t have to worry about the gap in buttons, hits the waist just right,” one reviewer wrote.
Rails Long-Sleeve Cotton-Blend Shirt Dress
Best Classic White Button-Down Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Special features: Eco-friendly blend of cotton and Tencel lyocell
An oversized, menswear-inspired button-down is the quintessential shirt dress look. This timeless style by Rails features all the makings of a classic: a spread collar, cuffed sleeves you can easily roll up, and a hemline that falls just above the knee. The fabric is made from an eco-friendly blend of cotton and Tencel lyocell, so you can expect a breathable fit that you can wear for any season.
Magic Linen Julien Shirt Dress
Best Linen Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS – XL
- Colorways: White and sandy beige
- Special features: Made from sustainable Europeans flax and Oeko-Tex certified
Erlanger partnered with Magic Linen for the brand’s spring/summer 2022 collection, and there’s a reason (actually, several) that this shirt dress is one of her favorites. “I wore this dress recently, I love it, and I got a lot of compliments on it,” the stylist says. “It’s a more feminine take on the shirt dress. It has a drawstring waist and pretty sleeves and hits at just the right length.” She suggests styling it with flat sandals and a hat for an everyday summer look. And, it’s made from sustainable European flax for an eco-friendly linen fabric you’ll treasure for summers to come.
A.L.C Georgia Cutout Shirt Dress
Best Cutout Shirt Dress
- Sizes: 0-12
Tapping into this season’s cutout trend, this A.L.C. shirt dress brings a fresh twist to the classic shirt dress. With high-waist cutouts that wrap around for a semi-open back, the sleek silhouette shows just a touch of skin for summer. The cotton poplin fabric offers a crisp aesthetic and the dress is made even more airy, thanks to its side slits and plunging neckline details. With its A-line midi, this dress can be styled with a variety of shoes — from flat sandals to heels, making it a flexible option for many summer occasions.
Tibi Striped Mid-Length Shirt Dress
Best Striped Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS-L
Tibi is known and loved for its office-friendly wardrobe staples, and this striped shirt dress is no exception. The oversized silhouette features a classic blue and white stripe design, cuffable sleeves, side slits for better movement, and a pointed flat collar. Made of 100% cotton, this wardrobe staple can be dressed up for the office or paired with slides or sneakers for a more relaxed take.
Max Mara Silk Shirt Dress
Best Shirt Dress for Work
- Sizes: 2-16
- Special features: Made of silk
For an elevated shirt dress that means business, look no further than Max Mara’s Silk Shirt Dress. The luxe design features a modern black and white print that’s perfect for more dressed up days or meetings in the office. And thanks to its rich silky fabric, it doesn’t look like your traditional shirt dress. The midi-length style also comes with a self-tie belt to accentuate the waist for a more polished look. Top it off with heels or loafers to complete the look.
& Other Stories Shell Button Shirt Dress
Best Long Shirt Dress
- Sizes: 0-12
A midi-length shirt dress offers up a range of wearability — you can elevate the look with heeled sandals or keep it easygoing with slides or sneakers. This linen shirt dress by & Other Stories gets the style just right with dolman sleeves, a classic collar, shell buttons, and airy side slits. The lightweight fabric is ideal for summer, whether you want to wear it to the office or on vacation.
Jonathan Simkhai Puff Shirt Dress in Black
Best Short Shirt Dress
- Sizes: 0-14
- Colorways: White and black
Jonathan Simkhai’s Cleo Puff Dress brings a little playful, feminine detail to the shirt dress look. With voluminous puff sleeves and front pleat detailing, the design is cinched at the waist with a slight flare out in the hips for a flattering fit across many body types. Available in black or white, this structured poplin mini dress is terrific for a special occasion, but can also be worn to the office, too.
H&M Sleeveless Shirt Dress
Best Sleeveless Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS- XXL
- Colorways: White and Blue
A sleeveless shirt dress will come in handy for those extra hot summer days. This budget-friendly style from H&M is made of 100% cotton voile that is so breathable, it feels like nothing. The relaxed midi fit features a classic collar, dropped shoulders, and high side slits for a more contemporary look. Available in white and blue, all you need to do is add your favorite summer sandals and straw hat and you’re ready to go.
Eloquii Side Cutout Shirt Dress
Best Plus-Size Shirt Dress
- Sizes: 14-28
- Colorways: White and Blue
Eloquii’s Side Cutout Shirt Dress is everything you could want in a summer wardrobe essential. It’s made of cotton (plus a bit of spandex for a little stretch) and offers two rounded cutouts at the sides of the waist for a unique design element to accentuate the waist. Plus, its A-line midi length can be styled for a multitude of events. Available in sizes 14-28 in both white and blue colors, it’s sure to be on your summer rotation from weekend getaways to meetings and drinks.
Summersalt Effortless Shirtdress Cover-Up
Best Shirt Dress Swimsuit Cover-Up
- Sizes: XS-2X
- Colorways: White, rainbow stripe, black, and leopard
- Special features: Sustainably made from recycled plastic bottles and certified using the Global Recycled Standard
We can’t ignore one of summer’s most important shirt dresses: the cover-up. Swim brand Summersalt unsurprisingly mastered this staple with its Short Effortless Shirtdress Cover-Up. Available in four different colorways (classic white, rainbow stripe, black, and leopard print), this shirt dress is sustainably made using 100% recycled polyester that’s wrinkle resistant, silky, quick-drying (ideal for beach days), and featherweight. It’s complete with a stand collar and sleeves with tabs that can easily be cuffed or rolled up.
Frame Pleated Maxi Dress
Best Summer Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XS-XL
Sometimes you just want a dress that screams “summer,” and this Frame Maxi Dress is exactly that. Made of an ultra-lightweight ramie, this maxi is designed to keep you cool even on the hottest of days. The caftan-inspired aesthetic features an open collar and subtle puffed sleeves for a modernized ‘70s look. And the bright yellow hue brings all the sunshine — whether you’re wearing this on vacation or not.
Everlane Oxford Shirt Dress
Best Belted Shirt Dress
- Sizes: XXS-XL
- Colorways: Black/white stripe, black, light blue
- Special Features: Made with 100% organic cotton
It doesn’t get more effortless than this shirt dress you can simply throw on and go. Complete with a built-in adjustable belt that clasps at the side, Everlane’s Oxford Shirt Dress is perfect for summer office days. Made of 100% organic cotton, it’s complete with double-chest pockets and an oversized silhouette with a high-low hemline. Whether styled with sneakers or sandals, this is an elevated summer essential that looks instantly pulled together. One reviewer who purchased this wrote, “Love the fit, looks great even on petites! The material is quite thick, in a way it’s good as it holds its shape and doesn’t crease easily. But I wouldn’t wear it on hot summer days, would definitely wear it when it’s slightly colder.”
Sir Denim Day Dress
Best Denim Shirt Dress
- Sizes: 0-3 (US: 2-8)
A structured denim mini dress is always an unexpected take on the shirt dress. This above-the-knee option by Sir offers flared short sleeves, a cinched waist seam, buttons down the front, and classic collar for a sleek look. Made of 100% cotton, it’s an ideal transitional dress that works from summer into fall.
Meet the Expert
Micaela Erlanger is a celebrity fashion stylist based in New York. Named one of the “Most Powerful Stylists,” by The Hollywood Reporter, her A-list clients include Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Common, Diane Kruger, Sigourney Weaver, Lucy Hale, Amanda Hearst, and Shailene Woodley.
Meet the Author
Lauren Alexis Fisher is an editor, writer, and consultant with over eight years of experience in the fashion industry. After spending six years as a digital market editor at Harper’s Bazaar and a lifetime scrolling the internet, she’s well-versed in shopping all the best trends and pieces online – from shirt dresses to vacation essentials and beyond.