Summer Dresses For 4 Hot-Weather Events

As much as we stand by our tried-and-true LBD, the season demands summer dresses that are anything but stuffy or serious. Along with being pretty, a little sexy, and extra memorable, it also has to hold its own against windy rooftops, all-night dance-offs, and flirty bonfires. With so many invitations piling up in our inboxes, we've decided to map out a summer dress-code that's quick and simple and addresses the four events you're most likely to need an extra-special summer frock: Barbecue, night wedding or cocktails, day at the beach, and music festivals. Each destination has its own special vibe, and we've found more than a few perfect options that fit the bill. Just don't blame us if our summer dresses end up putting your calendar into overload.
Barbeque or Picnic: No matter where you live, summertime barbecues are where it's at. The challenge? To stay comfy in a whimsical retro style that looks pulled together but still gives you room to breath and have an extra beer (or two).
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summer dresses for 2011
Above, from left: Rachel Comey Stinger Dress, $403, available at La Garçonne; J. Crew Indigo-stripe Schuyler Dress, $168, available at J. Crew; Forever 21 Woven Flower Burst Dress, $22.80, available at Forever 21; Wanderlust Straw Tote, $50, available at Madewell; Rare Floral Heart Cut Out Dress, $64.25, available at ASOS.
summer dresses for outdoors
Above, from left: Feature Polka Dot Dress, $90, available at Pixie Market; G.I. Jane Studded Dress, $60, available at Fred Flare; KNT by Kova & T Pleated Mary Dress, $98, available at Urban Outfitters; Free People Crocheted Floral Minidress, $128, available at Bloomingdale's; Motel French Kiss Denim Dress, $90, available at Topshop; Belle By Sigerson Morrison Knotted Strappy Sandals, $195, available at La Gar&cceil;onne.
Night-time Wedding or Cocktails: We're not saying winter weddings aren't cool, but there is something pretty spectacular and extra sweet about summer nuptuals. Wear any of these romantic, slightly sophisticated styles to a barn wedding or just a late-night margarita rendez-vous.
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summer wedding dresses
Above, from left: Diane Von Furstenberg Layly Tiger Dress, $385, available at Net-a-Porter; Kimberly Taylor Audrey Dress, $227, available at Shopbop; Robert Clergerie Diag Heels, $556, available at Zappos Couture; Topshop Watercolour Mix Dress, $135, available at Topshop; Very by Vero Moda Oversize Metallic Satin Dress, $76.09, available at ASOS; Helmut Lang Graphite Print Drape Dress, $470, available at La Garçonne.
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Above, from left: Topshop Burnout Stipe Maxi Dress, $60, available at Topshop; Alice + Olivia One-Shoulder Dress, $297, available at Alice + Olivia; Alexander Wang Mini Brenda Camera Bag, $425, available at Barneys New York; Tory Burch Amber Mini Dress, $325, available at Tory Burch; Acne Faith Dress, $299, available at Acne Studios.
Day at the Beach: Truth be told, the entire summer revolves around weekends at the beach. Keeping with the three Ss: sand, salt, and sweat, you want a weekend dress that is surf-friendly but still allows you to look fresh while soaking up the sun right into the evening magic hour.
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Above, from left: Nanushka Mumu Dress, $195, available at Pixie Market; Angela Adams and Sea Bags for J. Crew Sail Bag, $198, available at J. Crew; A.P.C. Madras Striped Jersey Dress, $90, available at La Garçonne; American Apparel Drawstring Hoodie Dress, $42, available at American Apparel; Milly Crochet Cotton Beach Dress, $195, available at Net-A-Porter.
beach sundresses for summer
Above, from left: Topshop Stripe Column Maxi Cover Up, $55, available at Topshop; Wish Cut-Out Net Dress, $122, available at Pixie Market; Wanderlust Sumatra Shirtdress, $88, available at Madewell; Kiss My Face Sunblock Lotion, $13.89, available at Drugstore.com; Sophomore Halter Dress, $150, available at Opening Ceremony; Old Navy Island-Print Bandeau Top, $16.50, available at Old Navy.
Music Festival: With only a few days to take in the best live music around, you never want to let your wardrobe compromise your revelry. With long hours spent on your feet and high temps to boot, go for dresses in light fabrics with a slight hippie flair. Extra points for psychedelic prints, too.
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2011 summer dresses
Above, from left: Marc By Marc Jacobs Tribal Print Dress, $394.13, available at My Theresa; Michael Kors Knotted Panama Hat, $68, available at Lord & Taylor; Free People Everyone We Know Dress, $98, available at Shopbop; Forever 21 Chic Culture Dress, $24.80, available at Forever 21; Mina Stone Hand Dyed Silk Tunic, $355, available at Steven Alan; Whistles Tye Dye Pocket Dress, $228.27, available at ASOS.
summer dresses for women
Above, from left: Topshop Carved Leather Satchel, $100, available at Topshop; Madewell Floaty Floral Dress, $158, available at Madewell; Mociun Circle Dress, $435, available at Mociun; Pop Beauty Yellow Nail Polish, $10, available at Planet Blue; AE Denim Vest, $39.95, available at American Eagle Outfitters; Ever Floral Elmore Dress, $110, available at Ever.
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