The best little summer dresses 2021 for all occasions


For anyone under 5’4 ”, the search for the best little summer dresses is on. Warmer days are ahead and vacation plans are in sight. At 5’2 ”, I have been used to having friends and colleagues who dominate me all my life. Instead of trying to match their size with a pair of sky-scratching stiletto heels, I learned to kiss my little frame and buy what I liked, and what I liked were the dresses. But as many women in this size group know, there’s a good chance that if you’re not careful with the proportions, a new dress purchase could mean an extra foot of fabric that we don’t need and, finally, a trip to the tailor.

I used to think that I couldn’t wear long maxi dresses, but now they have become my everyday uniform. If you’re shopping online, the trick is to always check the garment’s “length” measurements to make sure it fits your frame before you go. (I’m looking for dresses that are 51 inches and less in length, but the sweet spot is 40 to 45 inches.) I promise it’ll save you a headache of having to turn it over afterwards. If you are shopping at a retailer with an actual small section, rejoice! They are far away and few in number, but labels like Reformation make it easier to buy small sizes. And if you are a fan of Hill House Home iconic Nap dress, believe me, I road tested their Ellie and Nesli dresses, and they fit perfectly, coming down just above my ankles. Proenza Schouler is one of my favorite designer brands for dresses for all occasions, from work to weddings. I’ve always found their dresses to fit my petite figure, never needing to fix the hem.

Whether you are looking to shop for an upcoming event, vacation, or getting ready to head back to the office, this won’t disappoint. Ahead, shop 24 of the best little summer dresses to suit all your future plans.

Noon meets maxi

Calling all maxi dress lovers: these fresh and vibrant pastel shades are the perfect shade for summer and will fit easily. Just wear them with your favorite summer sandals and floppy hat.

Tory Burch ruffled long dress

Hill House Home the Nesli Nap dress

Cleo Staud ruffled stretch-cotton midi dress

Short and sweet

If you prefer shorter hems, you can’t go wrong with Farm Rio’s puff sleeve mini dress or Tove’s Clara dress with its tie front detail.

Farm Rio Puff Sleeve Cashew Mini Dress

Brock Collection Selma Linen Denim A-Line Mini Dress

$ 1,015$ 609


Tove Clara organic cotton tie-detail dress

Sachin & Babi Coco smocked bodice dress

Work approved

Collared shirt dresses made of breathable fabrics like linen will make summer office life comfortable and wearable.

J.Crew short-sleeved cotton-poplin relaxed shirt dress

Givenchy metallic chain shirt dress

Bottega Veneta ribbed ribbed wool dress

Belize Akele woven-belt linen shirt dress

Ready for vacation

If you’re planning a getaway soon, these casual caftans and dresses will also pair well with your island region.

Dries Van Noten Dorias tie-dye striped faille midi dress

Zara linen-blend shirt dress

D’Ascoli Uzbek ikat-print cotton dress

Agua by Agua Bendita Acacia floral-print linen midi dress

Daytime evening

For birthdays, picnics, or other daytime gatherings at the park or on a rooftop in New York City, these sundresses will be the subject of the party.

Little Nikita Reformation Dress

Sleeper Atlanta off-the-shoulder gathered linen midi dress

Ganni A-line checked seersucker midi sundress

Dôen Eclipse floral-print organic cotton voile midi dress

Special occasion

For dressy summer evenings, consider the elegant color-block pleated dress by Proenza Schouler, or for a night out on the town when the weather is hot and humid, consider this white Jacquemus mini dress paired with your favorite heels.

Bassike open-back cotton-poplin dress

Proenza Schouler pleated color-block crepe dress

Cecilie Bahnsen Tilde quilted-faille mini dress

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