It's important to have cute cocktailish dresses in the summer. Since it's so hot, you can't get away with layering a trendier coat over that classic LBD you've had for 5 years, or toughen up an overly girly dress with a boyfriend cardigan. Your outfit has to stand on the dress alone. Now, I'd love to be able to buy fresh summer party dresses each year, but as a college (or soon to be!) student, that's just not realistic. The way I see it, you can buy two types of dresses: classic summery dresses that will work for each summer for years to come, or cute dresses that are versatile enough to move seamlessly from season to season. Here are a few of my favorite summer party dresses (all under $600!).
Paul & Joe Sister Jolicouer Silk Tiered Mini Dress, $315 at net-a-porter.com, Jen's Pirate Booty Madonna Dress, $198 at shopbop.com, American Apparel Interlock Asymmetrical Dress, $42 at americanapparelstore.com: This Paul & Joe dress is so adorable. The nude shade is on-trend, but off-white is a classic enough color that this dress would have serious longevity. The ruffles at the bust would be perfect for a more boyish figure, and the bow at the neckline acts like a statement necklace, so you don't even have to wear jewelry with it! This Madonna dress is hilarious. It's so '80s, exposed bra, Desperately Seeking Susan (loves it!) Madonna, but the exposed bra trend is also very now. You could get away with wearing this dress for at least the next year, and even past that by layering a cute, colored cami underneath so the exposed section becomes more of a cutout, if that makes any sense. I love this American Apparel dress because it doesn't look like American Apparel. Take away the model, add a better belt and different lighting, and if you told me it was Shoshanna or Preen and retailed for $300+, I would totally believe it. The cut is classic, it comes in a ton of colors (I like black the best, but this pic had the best detail), and the asymmetrical sleeve detail with its high neckline is so now. You get all that for less than $50. Hello, steal.
Alexander Wang Long Sleeve Goddess Dress, $590 at shopbop.com, Rag & Bone Hellcat Dress, $330 at shopbop.com, Alexander Wang Long Sleeve Fitted Dress, $490 at shopbop.com: I wasn't that much of a fan of Alexander Wang's recent collection on the runway, but I'm loving it in retail. The draping is drop dead gorgeous, and I love his modern takes on the goddess look. The one sleeve look is hard to pull off, but if you're going to do it, do it in this dress. The slinky fit and jewel-tone hue take the cut from trendy to chic, and while all that draping should come across as bulky, it's totally sexy and sleek. That boy is a genius. I'm a sucker for a loose silk t-shirt dress. That's something so casually and accidentally sexy about them. The way this dress dips off the shoulder works perfectly with the boxy fit of the body, and that snakeskin/tie dye/marbelized print on the front is both confusing and amazing. Alexander Wang does a slightly more classic take on the exposed lingerie look with this fitted dress. It's a little more demure than the dress above, but it's still hardcore sexy. Personally, I think the sheer panel and exposed shoulders are even hotter than the whole cutout because they leave a little more to the imagination. I mean, this is a get revenge on your ex by looking damn fine dress, hands down.
Mason by Michelle Mason Asymmetrical Ruffle Dress, $374 at shopbop.com, Alexander Wang One Shoulder Goddess Dress, $595 at lagarconne.com, Clu Tank Dress with Pleated Skirt, $242 at lagarconne.com: I think this Michelle Mason dress toes the line between being a summer and a year-round dress. The asymmetrical sleeve and neon hue are very now, but the idea of a berry colored, silk mini dress is very classically summery. This dress just looks so fun to wear, and the loose shape combined with the ruching at the waist is such a flattering cut. The middle dress is my hands down favorite. It has an amazing modern goddess/warrior vibe, and it manages to be insanely sexy without exposing that much skin (then again, I have low standards in that dept). The draping is just so perfect, I love the slight cap sleeve and the mixture of the reserved cut and fit with the sexy alien vibe of the shiny draping. This last dress is for all the hippies out there. I think it works because the shape is very loose and carefree, but the slight sheerness of the skirt and the scoop-neck take it from daisy-chain making to ballerina gone bad. Pair that dress with some trannie heels and a hardcore necklace, and you've got a chic, wearable look.
Paul & Joe dress: net-a-porter.com, Jen's Pirate Booty dress: shopbop.com, American Apparel dress: americanapparelstore.com, Alexander Wang long sleeve goddess dress: shopbop.com, Rag & Bone dress: shopbop.com, Alexander Wang long sleeve fitted dress: shopbop.com, Michelle Mason dress: shopbop.com, Alexander Wang one shoulder dress: lagarconne.com, Clu Dress: lagarconne.com