Style Guide: Which dress is best in summer?

Style Guide: Which dress is best in summer?

If you're looking forward to warmer weather but struggling to find the right summer dress, you're not alone. At Tilley & Grace, we're here to help you find the perfect holiday clothes and dresses for any event in your summer calendar that will make you feel confident and beautiful. Discover the best dresses for your body shape and what dress to wear for formal and casual occasions in this style guide, so you can be ready for all the events you have this summer.

Style Guide: Which dress is best in summer?

What kind of dress should I wear in summer?

When choosing a dress for your summer wardrobe, you need something to help you stay cool in hot weather. Whether staying home or jetting off on holiday, opt for light colours and floaty fabric to remain comfortable and confident.

Alternatively, if you like bold colours, you can look equally summery in bright block oranges, reds and yellows for your summer holidays. Or, opt for floral patterns to embody the warm weather in your wardrobe.

How do you look good in a summer dress?

Looking good in a summer dress is all about proportion and choosing a dress that suits your body shape. Instead of hiding underneath clothes during hot weather, use a dress to highlight your best features for the ultimate body-positivity boost. Here is the best dress to wear for each body type.

Petite frames

If you have a petite frame, you don't want a dress that overwhelms you. Flowy dresses with lots of tiered fabric can drown you out and look heavy. Stick to form-fitting midi or thigh-length dresses to elongate your legs. If you want to wear something oversized like a shirt dress, add a belt so it doesn't overwhelm you.

Tall frames

For tall women, celebrate those long legs with a knee-high dress or rock a full maxi-length dress for an elegant look. Don't forget to break up your dress with a cinched waist to avoid looking lanky.

Pear shape

If you have a pear-shaped frame, you want to balance out your figure with embellished sleeves. Opt for a puffed sleeve dress or frilly sleeves paired with a loose-fitting bottom half to smooth out curves.

Curvy or hourglass

If you have an hourglass figure, don't cover up those curves. A form-fitting dress will look stunning and complement your figure.


For full-figured bodies, use a dress with a high-waisted structure to create a waist.

Boyish or narrow frame

If you have a boyish or narrow frame, you want to create the illusion of an hourglass. Use a dress with a fuller skirt and cinched waist to fill out your figure.


Women with an athletic build can achieve curves with a tie-waist or wrap dress and softly flowing fabric. Or any long sleeve maxis can smooth out curves.

Top heavy 

Similarly to someone with a pear-shaped figure, someone who is top-heavy might want to balance themselves with a full-skirt dress.

Boho Paisley Print causal summer dress
Paradise Kaftan Dress casual summer dress
V-neck Kaftan Dress casual summer dress

What is a summer casual dress?

If you're looking for a casual dress for a beach holiday, relaxing in the garden, or exploring cities and shopping this summer, we recommend a midi or short dress with bright colours. Short sleeves can also help make a dress look casual. Our V-neck Kaftan Dress is the perfect beach dress because of its free-flowing structure and floaty fabric, which you can easily pull over your swimsuit. Alternatively, our Boho Paisley Print and Paradise Kaftan Dress are ideal holiday dresses. The bold colours, bright floral prints and shorter sleeves are perfect for casual day wear.

Paisley Flower Print Dress casual and sophisticated summer maxi dress
Pebble Print Tiered Dress casual and sophisticated summer midi dress

How can I look sophisticated and casual in summer?

You might be looking for a day dress for a particular day-time event like a family BBQ or garden party, where you want to look sophisticated and casual. For these occasions, the best option is a maxi dress for formality and elegance, but with floaty fabric and bright colours to keep it informal. For example, our Pebble Print Tiered Dress or Paisley Flower Print Dress have long skirts and sleeves for modesty but are comfortable enough to feel casual.

Jersey Maxi Dress formal summer dress
Knot Detail Linen Dress formal summer dress

How do you make a summer dress look formal?

If you don't want to buy multiple dresses for various occasions, you can always add accessories to make your summer dress look more formal. For example, take the Jersey Maxi Dress and add jewellery to elevate the look, a belt to add structure to the dress or a silk scarf to add a degree of sophistication.

You can also pair any floaty or loose-fitting dress with a tailored jacket or blazer to elevate the formality. Equally, swapping your flat shoes or trainers for wedges or heels can give any summer dress a formal feel.

Alternatively, you can choose a stiffer fabric like our Knot Detail Linen Dress. The knot detail cinches in the waist, and the stiffer linen fabric is perfect for a more formal occasion like an outdoor garden wedding.

Summer fashion at Tilley & Grace

We hope you've found the perfect holiday dress inspiration for your body type or occasion in our style guide. However, if you've still not found the ideal summer dress, browse our Dresses collection for more options. Whether you're shopping for the ultimate summer dress for your holiday or summer outfit ideas to update your wardrobe, check out our Summer Clothing collection at Tilley & Grace, ready for summer.