Throughout our intrepid summer-shopping research, we’ve discovered that right now, all we want to wear is dresses. With a new normal that dictates sticking close to home, a breathable dress is our go-to uniform for everything — including (but not limited to) lounging around the house, running errands, meeting friends in the park, and looking cute on Zoom.
So, we crafted a guide to the easiest and breeziest styles worth living in for the rest of this hot-hot season. In order to suss out the styles that everyone is currently carting, we headed straight for the review sections of our favorite sites. Ahead, click through everything from an extra-long lightweight gown (that seemingly flatters all shapes and sizes) to a sunny gingham mini (that's worthy of the chicest socially distant picnic) — or, just to peep what made the reviewers' cut in Summer's Best-Frocked List.
Welcome to Hype Machine, our hit-list of the top reviewed products across the web — according to a crowd of die-hard shoppers. Call this your 4-star & up only club, with entry granted by our devoted-to-the-goods shop editors.
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FP One Adella Slip
The Most Magical (Again, Literally)
This isn’t the first time that Free People’s “Adella” silhouette has made it into a Hype Machine — the bodice-only iteration of this top-selling dress can be found in our roundup of comfortable cotton bras. (We were skeptical, but the reviews don’t lie.) For such a delicate-looking confection, reviewers from size XS to XL claim the Adella Slip well-fitting, and supportive creation — clearly there’s some magic at play. (And don’t forget about the maxi version of this style — at 4.6 stars and 190 reviews, it’s hot on its predecessor’s heels.)
The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars; 270 reviews
What They’re Saying: “I bought this dress late last fall; I wish I’d bought the maxi as well. Since then this beautiful number and I have adventured, laughed, cried, slayed, over shared, and all the while she is just as luxurious as the day we met. The lace the adorns her bodice was at first something I thought I’d have to overcome. I can say with certainty that the lace isn't simply lace, but somehow armor as protective as it is sexy. Amazingly enough, the skirt is fit for a queen, soft and somehow workable. <3” — LunaAnthony, FreePeople.com reviewer
FP One Adella Slip, $, available at Free People
FP One Adella Maxi Slip, $, available at Free People
Madewell Button Front Tiered Mini Dress
The Easiest and Breeziest
“Light” and “airy” are words frequently bandied about by fans of this swingy, summer-y frock. More than one satisfied customer pledged to wear it all season long.
The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars; 30 reviews on Madewell.com
What They’re Saying: “This dress exceeded my expectations. I bought it on sale thinking it would be ok, comfy, but maybe a little flimsy. I took it out of the package and was immediately impressed at its quality. The fabric is lined and the top is fitted well. It flares out as a tiered dress should. It is summer in a garment, so cute and flowy and light and flattering. I have to stop myself from wearing it every single day. And it has pockets!! It may be worth noting that I'm 4 months postpartum, happy with my body (even a little sad to hide it, after it has achieved great things), but appreciate that this dress is functional with buttons for nursing and an easygoing, forgiving shape.” — mmgn, Madewell.com reviewer
Madewell Button-Front Tiered Mini Dress, $, available at Madewell
H&M Ruffle-trimmed Dress
The Most Re-stocked
We’ve been keeping an eye on this easy-wearing dress all summer long, and have watch it sell out again and again — only to be restocked by the powers that be at the Swedish fast-fashion giant. Clearly, there’s something about this frock.
The Hype: 4.1 out of 5 stars, 350 reviews on HM.com
What They’re Saying: This time, the praise comes from within the (digital) walls of R29: our Associate Creative Director Sue Tran owns this dress in three colors, and was the one who hipped us to its constantly fluctuating inventory status. “I literally LIVE in it,” she told us. “Sleep in it. Work in it. Went to the beach in it.”
H&M Ruffle-trimmed Dress, $, available at H&M
Eloquii Maxi Wrap Dress, $, available at Eloquii
Eloquii Wrap Maxi Dress
Women size 12 and up sing the praises of Eloquii’s classic and perfectly calibrated wrap dress, citing a fabric weight suited for year-round wear and expert, flattering tailoring.
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars; 497 reviews on Eloquii.com
What They’re Saying: “I have been on the hunt for a beautiful long dress that I could wear with my platform combat boots or dressy shoes. These mock wrap dresses are no-fuss: no-slip needed and the belt is easy to tie. The material hangs nicely without emphasizing anything about my figure that I don't like. I ended up getting the dress in three patterns. I was wearing the leopard print for the first time when a man stopped me at the store, raised his hands up and down at me and said, ‘This is excellent!’ I had been concerned that head to toe leopard would be too much, but the feedback I've received has been a resounding Yes to This Dress!”
Eloquii Wrap Maxi Dress, $, available at Eloquii
Linen Fox Nida Dress
The Freewheelin’ Frock
The forgiving silhouette and convertible belt of this easy linen dress means it can be styled to the wearer’s specifications. Reviewers love that it could be tight or loose, depending on their mood.
The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars; 87 reviews on Etsy.com
What They’re Saying: “The fabric is gorgeous, with a beautiful drape. It’s a very simple shape with a lot of fabric; the belt is what gives it shape and you can fuss with the fabric to make it lay right so it flatters your particular shape. This means it will be comfortable on bloaty days or if you gain a few pounds. The quality is excellent and I’m sure it will last a very long time. I have a feeling I’m going to be living in this dress for a while. I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.” — Gavagirl, Etsy.com reviewer
Linenfox Nida Dress, $, available at Etsy
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