Snap up this season’s most stylish dresses for the daily grind.
Temperatures are finally on the rise but, while we may dream of escaping to a faraway beach, the nine-to-five is a harsh reality that the many of us must follow.
So, what does one wear to work when the temperatures are so stifling?
Knowing how to dress for warmer climes can pose a real sartorial dilemma. After all, short shorts and flip-flops are hardly workplace-appropriate, but at the same time, the very thought of having to don a starchy button-up shirt for the commute brings us out in a sweat.
The solution? An easy, breezy, yet suitably smart summer dress.
Luckily enough, what constitutes a ‘work dress’ these days doesn’t have to be something ill-fitting or stuffy. Instead, dressing like you mean business is now as much about the cut and finishing touches as anything else.
As such, creating the ultimate workwear wardrobe for the summer requires a combination of smartness, comfort, style and, in our opinion, nothing that sits too far above the knee.
Here, we’ve scoured the high-street to find the best dresses that are flattering, office appropriate and promise to keep you cool all-day-long.
Chevron Stripe Linen Dress: £49, Warehouse
Warehouse is a great spot for finding smart dresses that promise to keep you cool in the summer months and this option is no exception.
A sleeveless design with a midi-length finish and A-line cut, it nips in at the waist to create definition while the non-directional stripes put a stylish and summer-worthy twist on the classic boardroom pinstripe.
We also love the fact it has two front pockets which are perfect for storing your office essentials. Available in sizes 6-18.
Polka Dot Tie Back Dress: £46, Topshop
This dress from Topshop is a great option for anyone who likes to keep up with the latest trends but still wants to look professional.
A nod to the popular polka dot trend, it has a retro-inspired look with a scoop neck, fitted waist and midi-length skirt. The neutral sand colour means it’s smart enough to wear to work while the addition of polka dots and a tie back detail gives it a playful twist.
If you prefer to keep your arms covered during the daily grind, add a lightweight cardigan in keeping with the dress’ vintage-feel. Available in sizes 4-18.
Cotton Shirt Dress: £39.99, Mango
If you can’t get away with wearing floaty, maxi-length dresses to work there is an obvious alternative: the shirt dress.
Made for hot summer days in the office, this style is classic and fuss-free meaning you can pick it out of your wardrobe without giving dress codes a second thought.
The trick here is to opt for one that’s made from airy fabric like this cotton option from Mango which comes with a classic collar, button fastening, flared skirt and removable bow that you can switch out for a smarter belt. Available in sizes 6-12.
Sleeveless Belted Dress: £69, & Other Stories
A vibrant addition to any office wardrobe, this rust-coloured midi-length dress from & Other Stories is so versatile that you will able to wear it everywhere from the boardroom to your summer holidays.
The structured fit, collared top and pleated shoulders make it work appropriate, while the loose skirt and sleeveless finish promise to keep you seriously cool.
Wear yours with everything from classic white trainers to ballet pumps or court shoes. Available in sizes 4-14.
Buttoned Wrap Dress: £30, Monki
Inject a dose of colour into your workwear wardrobe with this green dress that comes decorated with all-over white spots.
A piece that will stand out in the office, it’s designed with a flattering wrap-effect silhouette that nips at the waist with a button closure and falls to a fluid midi hem.
While the shade is eye-catching, the three-quarter-length sleeves and modest v-neck make it appropriate for the nine-to-five. If you like the cut but aren’t convinced by the colour, the good news is it comes in plain black too. Available in sizes 4-16.
Long A-Line Jersey Dress: £59, Cos
A brand best known for its focus on comfortable cuts and quality materials, Cos is the go-to destination for anyone looking for fail-safe classic pieces that still feel on-trend.
Case in point: This long dress made from smooth stretch-cotton jersey that’s inspired by ballerinas. A slim, waisted fit, the skirt flares towards the hem and also features short sleeves, a scooped lower back and discreet side pockets.
We think the black option will look great worn with matching block heels and gold accessories, however it also comes in peach for those who want to get noticed. Available in sizes XS-L (8-18).
Linen Dress: £39.99, Zara
An easy, lightweight choice for summer, invest in this linen dress from Zara and you’ll be set for the entire season.
Great for balmy days, the combination of a lightweight material with a smart collar, gathered sleeves and button fastening means it’s perfect for when you want to look put together but still feel comfortable.
Compliment the warm hue with earthy tones like tan and deeper shades like khaki or forest green. Available in sizes small to large (8-12).
Patterned Chiffon Dress: £49.99, H&M
Florals are a perennial choice for the fashion crowd during summer but they can be a difficult print to master at the office.
The trick here is to opt for more grown up silhouettes or, in the case of this dress from H&M, a more mature motif. Decorated with a hand drawn floral design, the peach-coloured dress is made from chiffon and finished with a flared skirt that finishes on the calf.
Accessorise yours with heeled mules or a pair of sandals at the weekend. Available in sizes 4-18.
Jackie Sleeveless Fit and Flare Dress: £185, Reiss
If you prefer to wear dresses that are more form-fitting, this option from Reiss ticks all the boxes.
A fit and flare style, it’s cut to a round-neck with a sleeveless silhouette that skims the body and finishes just above the knee. A real investment piece, you can wear this option all-year-round, simply layer a crisp white shirt underneath during cooler months and pair with black pointed court shoes.
We love the chic navy-hue but it also comes in sunset orange and light blue. Available in sizes 4-14.
Cotton Rich Checked Cap Sleeve Skater Dress: £49.50, Marks & Spencer
Checks are a popular print when it comes to workwear and this Marks & Spencer dress offers a contemporary take on the trend.
The skater skirt-style, sleeveless design and cotton rich fabric make it super-soft and breathable, while the structured top and feminine ruffle detail give it a fashionable twist.
A great option that will see you through summer, it will look just as great worn with sensible heels at the office as it will a pair of white sandals for walks on the beach. Available in sizes 6-22.
For a dress that will make a fashion statement, keep you cool and still be appropriate for the boardroom, we suggest investing in Warehouse’s pinstripe dress. Made from linen, it makes for a super-comfortable and breezy fit that promises to flatter most body shapes.
Alternatively, if you want to brighten up your workwear wardrobe Monki’s spotted wrap dress is also a great buy.