The best summer maxi dresses
Summer guarantees many things; strap lines, burnt foreheads, and - of course - maxi dresses. Whether you're looking for petite or plus-size, long-sleeved or maternity, Mumsnet users have scoured the web for the prettiest and most practical of them all.
Long sleeve maxi dresses
H&M V-neck Dress, £34.99
This floral maxi dress from H&M is as romantic as can be. It's light and airy, but still gives plenty of coverage for chillier days (or for when the heavens decide to open). The elasticated waist and cuffs give it some definition, while the full skirt and sleeves will make you want to swish about wherever you go.
“My dresses from H&M have washed and worn brilliantly.”Buy now from H&M
M&S Striped Dress, £49.50
Multi-tiered skirt, anyone? This three-tiered beauty is fun and flattering, with a waistband below the bust and sleeves nipped in above the wrist. Float about in it on the beach, or dress it up with some light jewellery for the office.
“Per Una has some really pretty maxi dresses with sleeves.”Buy now from M&S
Zara Long Printed Dress, £49.99
This collared maxi dress offers a lovely silhouette. With a fabric belt and split at the hem, it's got both structure and movement. Super versatile, it's equally fitting for a garden party, holiday or work.
“Zara has some beauties in at the moment.”Buy now from Zara
French Connection Floral Dress, from £49.60
Another floral maxi, this number is perfect both for special events and as sophisticated daywear. Nipped in at the waist with a drawstring, it has a relaxed collared neck and – that's right – a breast pocket. We've got a dress with pockets, people.
“French Connection has some gorgeous maxi dresses.”Buy now from Amazon
Plus-size maxi dresses
Simply Be Floral Volume Sleeve Dress, £35
We're fantasising about palm trees and mojitos just looking at this dress. The bardot cut and split hem make it both cooling and flattering, so you're wardrobe-ready for any incoming heatwaves.
“I found loads of cheap maxis on Simply Be and they were lovely – they wore really well, too.”Buy now from Simply Be
Monki Buttoned Wrap Dress, £30
Effortlessly cool (and cooling), this abstract dress from Monki is easy to accessorise – simply add a pair of statement earrings to take the look from day to night. The V-neck and wrap design are ideal for a fuller bust, too.
“Monki does some great basics and they're often cut very generously – they'll state if it's an 'oversize' cut so the large will comfortably fit size 18. I bought several of their dresses last year and they've been brilliant in this heat.”Buy now from Monki
Yours Black Button-up Dress, £29.99
A black button-up is a summer stable. Pop a tee underneath on cooler days, and pair it with a sunhat and sandals when the sun's beaming. And if you're hitting the tiles, just add some jewellery and heels – honestly, the versatility's endless.
“The website I'd recommend for plus-size maxis is yoursclothing.com. They've been a godsend for me! Not too expensive, either.”Buy now from Yours
Petite maxi dresses
New Look Ribbed Dress, £15
As far as cheap maxi dresses go, this one's a steal. If you're worried about being swallowed up, this sleek, sporty dress might be the way to go. The slit in the leg will help out, too, by lengthening your silhouette.
“I'm five foot two and a size eight (albeit with a big bum!) and have a maxi dress from New Look with a vest top. I've had loads of compliments on it.”Buy now from New Look
ASOS Petite Smock Dress, £32
Part of the ASOS Petite range, this smock dress will see you through summer – from park to beach, and on and off the plane to wherever you've decided to go this year (provided it's not, er, Siberia). It's packed with pretty details, from its tie straps at the shoulders to the button-down front and split hem.
“I'm five foot one and ventured into maxi territory for the first time last summer. I was glad I did it – I got mine from ASOS Petite and was very pleased.”Buy now from ASOS
Boden Jersey Dress, £80
With its drapey, loose cut, this maxi is both elegant and cooling. Something of a wardrobe staple, it comes in khaki as well as a red and navy print (feat. pineapples). The tie belt means that you can give your silhouette some definition, but it can also be worn without.
“I'm a short-arse (five foot and a half inch – that half inch is super important), and Boden Petite maxi dresses are amazing and really flattering. I discovered this last year and have somehow acquired three of them.”Buy now from Boden
Maternity maxi dresses
Dorothy Perkins Jersey Dress, from £10.08
Another wonderfully cheap maxi dress, this A-line number from Dorothy Perkins is perfect summer daywear. It's jersey, too – so there's plenty of stretch to accommodate a growing bump.
“I've eyed up a few maxi dresses from Dorothy Perkins. I'm loving what they have in at the moment.”
“Second vote for Dorothy Perkins maxi dresses. I love them.”Buy now from Amazon
Mamalicious Printed Maxi Dress, £38
With its fun, fruity design, this maternity maxi dress is ideal for a summer 'do', the beach, or for the everyday. The leg slits and V-neck are super flattering, while the jersey composition adds an element of comfort. Speaking of, the tie band's adjustable, too.
“I've been really happy with the quality of everything from Mamalicious.”Buy now from Mamalicious
Seraphine Maxi Wrap Dress, £65
From a brand favoured by Kate Middleton, this dress shouts poolside glamour. The wrap bust is functional as well as flattering, giving easy nursing access so that you can wear it after pregnancy.
“I had a beautiful maxi dress from Seraphine for my summer pregnancy. Super flattering and comfortable.”Buy now from Seraphine
Find more maternity maxi dresses here.
Wedding guest dresses
Phase Eight Print Dress, £130
If you've got a few weddings coming up, this dress is a great investment. Its sunny apricot hue is gorgeously flattering – as is the frill bodice and skirt, which adds some theatrical movement.
“I'd opt for Phase Eight. I just bought a gorgeous dress to wear at my goddaughter's wedding.”Buy now from Phase Eight
French Connection Floral Dress, from £102
Floral splicing has featured heavily on the runway over the last couple of years, and you can channel the trend in this pretty wrap dress. With floaty short sleeves, a V-neckline, and a slit in the leg, it's both a little bit flirty and a little bit demure.
“I'm mad about French Connection – great quality and I wear everything I buy there over and over.”Buy now from Amazon
ASOS High Neck Plissé Dress, £35
It's easy to look glamorous in this high neck mint maxi. Deceptively simple, it features a split at the thigh and a button keyhole around the back and is composed of lightweight, breathable plissé. For £35, you'll not only get a cheap wedding guest dress, but you'll also have something versatile to wear all year long. Throw on some glitzy jewellery and you're ready for just about any evening event, or pull on a pair of trainers for a stylish daytime look.
“The ASOS own brand clothes are great value, and the return policy being so reliable and easy is definitely a plus.”Buy now from ASOS
Coast Party Dress, from £94.92
Black might not be your go-to colour for a wedding guest dress, but we think you can get away with it with this maxi since its black top is contrasted by the skirt's white and greys. Asymmetrical and sleeveless with a graphic, pleated skirt, Coast might be right when they say it'll 'command attention at any occasion'.
“Coast is always my go-to when it comes to occasion dresses. I've had some really lovely dresses which have stood the test of time style-wise and have been really good fabric.”Buy now from Amazon
If you want even more tips, check out Swears By a weekly roundup of the best shopping recommendations from Mumsnet users.
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