The best summer dresses to shop all 2021

With temperatures slowly rising, it's time to look at the best summer dresses for summer 2021...

A model backstage at the Chloe show wearing a colorful summer dress
(Image credit: Getty Images / Antonello Trio)

It's time to start looking for the best summer dresses 2021 has to offer. It may not feel like it right now but summer really is here and if last year's heatwave was anything to go by, temperatures could be rising whether you're in London, New York, or beyond. 

It's no secret that our capsule wardrobe has evolved recently. After months of living in sweat pants and comfy loungewear in lockdown, vaccine distributions and the upcoming easing of restrictions in different cities around the world has finally brought the end of the pandemic in sight—or at least given us a much-needed sense of hope, which only means one thing: it's time to get our wardrobes together again. 

Luckily, summer is one of the best seasons for fashion and our favorite retailers are not here to disappoint when it comes to their new collection of summer dresses. Vacations abroad may still be off the cards for now but that doesn't mean you can't look chic for picnic dates with friends, fresh nature walks, or family staycations within the country. 

From Scandi-style maxis to cute mini dresses and trendy midis, here are some of the best summer dresses to shop for right now... 

The best summer dresses to shop now

This black H&M open backed dress is one of the best summer dresses

(Image credit: H&M)

1. H&M open-backed dress

Business in the front, party in the back

For the color-averse, this floaty dress from H&M (and part of their Conscious Collection) is the perfect way to make your wardrobe summer appropriate. The square neckline is everywhere for SS21 and this is the perfect way to get into it. The cut-out detail at the back keep things breezy (and stylish too).

This Nobody's Child citrus print dress is one of the best summer dresses

(Image credit: Nobody's Child)

2. Nobody’s Child, Eugenia lemon-print organic-cotton mini dress

A fun way to introduce print into your wardrobe

Selfridges Project Earth celebrates brands with innovative approaches to sustainability and Nobody’s Child is just one of the brands that has made the cut.  Seriously on trend (there’s that neckline we mentioned), this summer dress features a lemon citrus print (when life gives you lemons and all that), and puff sleeves which make for the perfect Instagram photo

This Cult Gaia dress is one of the best summer dresses for 2021

(Image credit: Cult Gaia)

3. Cult Gaia, Stella puff-sleeved linen-blend mini dress

This rust colored dress conjures Tuscan holiday vibes

Another trend to get into for summer is the exaggerated sleeve which was seen all over the catwalk from Simone Roche to Cecilie Banhsen and Loewe. Granted, these are slightly less out-there but are the perfect way to nod to the trend. The boat neckline means that this can be worn either on the shoulder or just slouched off to give that French-girl-cool vibe we all long to embody.

This Norma Kamali round neck jersey dress is one of the best summer dresses for 2021

(Image credit: Norma Kamali)

4. Norma Kamali, Round-neck jersey maxi swing dress

The seriously chic dress for fans of a black wardrobe

Norma Kamali, aka the Queen of Chic has a way with jersey quite like no other and makes clothes that fully embrace timeless and minimalist elegance. This jersey maxi, with its swing hem is floaty enough for summer time—when an all black aesthetic is your thing—and can be styled up or down, depending on your occasion or mood. 

This Ganni tiger print dress in yellow and black is one of the best summer dresses for 2021

(Image credit: Ganni)

5. Ganni, Tiger-print sleeveless satin-crepe midi dress

Nothing says Scandi cool like Ganni

Is it even summer if you don’t have a printed dress in your capsule wardrobe? Ramp up the style factor and channel  Scandi chic with this scoop-neck Tiger-print dress from Ganni. We’re seriously into the pale banana color which feels fresh and is great for those looking to experiment with color and print.

This Zara olive green mini dress is one of the best summer dresses for 2021

(Image credit: Zara)

6. Zara, Linen mini dress

Keep things on-trend with Olive green linen

We know linen really comes into its own during the hotter months so there’s always a case for adding some into your developing capsule wardrobe and this deep Olive green mini by way of Zara, is the perfect opportunity to do so. The loose-fit and thin straps with bows keep this stylish. Word to the wise, this is pretty short—but it is Hot Girl Summer after all, right?

This H&M lyocell white shirt dress is one of the best summer dresses for 2021

(Image credit: H&M)

7. H&M Lyocell-blend shirt dress

A shirt dress is the ultimate summer staple

Everyone needs a solid shirt dress for the spring/summer season and this simple design by H&M is one of the best on offer right now. The long sleeve mini dress provides a nice and relaxed fit with a gathered waist, a spread collar, and a button-through front that creates a casual look. It's white, lightweight, and can easily be dressed up or down thanks to its simple design. All you have to do is add some accessories and a pair of heels for a more glam look. 

ASOS DESIGN shirred waist button front tiered mini sundress in crinkle in gingham

(Image credit: ASOS Design )

8. ASOS DESIGN Gingham Print Mini Dress

Cute and trendy

This gingham print mini dress by ASOS Design is not only chic but super lightweight, making it an easy wear on a hot day. It features a shirred, stretch waist and tiered skirt... and it's just super cute! 

Style it with a cool pair of sneakers or sandals for the ultimate summer look. Gingham print is definitely going to be popular again this year, so get yours while you can. 

Sagal is a journalist, specialising in lifestyle, pop culture, fashion and beauty.  She has written for a number of publications including Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, Evening Standard, Bustle, You Magazine, Dazed and Wonderland to name a few.