Summer dresses for work

Table of Contents

Dressing for the office when it’s really hot outside is always a challenge, as you question what is and isn’t appropriate for the workplace. A little while back, we turned our co-founder Hillary Kerr’s unparalleled advice into a story on the number one bra “rule” that should be applied while dressing for the office. “I’ve always felt that if an outfit requires a ‘stunt bra’—meaning strapless, one-shoulder, or whatever—it probably isn’t the best choice for the office. It’s a boring rule of thumb, but I think it’s important to err on the side of professionalism versus the ultimate expression of your personal style—at least when you’re at work,” says Kerr.

We know what you’re thinking—what about the off-the-shoulder trend? Here at Who What Wear HQ, wearing off-the-shoulder anything is a huge no. While we all clearly love to wear the fun summer style on the weekends, according to Kerr’s go-to bra rule, it simply is not appropriate for the office. Sadly (and obviously), that means no off-the-shoulder dresses, which are basically the most popular dress style of the summer—we know! But don’t stress out too much, because we’ve rounded up the best summer dresses that are 100% work-appropriate. In our book, that means midi length, shoulder coverage, and no plunging necklines. Ready to shop?

Go on to see and shop dresses that are appropriate for the office during the summer.

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A reliable summer work dress should be at the top of your shopping list right now. Smart, cooling and comfortable, it’s effortless to throw on but makes you look instantly pulled together. Plus, with only accessories to consider on a Monday morning, you might even get a few more minutes in bed. Win win.

As temperatures climb, weekend and workaday wardrobes become more distinct. Bare shoulders, shorter hemlines, sheer fabrics and plunging necklines are best suited to barbecues and picnics. And no, they don’t count as business casual.

But, on stuffy commutes, you’ll want to keep cool and collected, while striking the balance between summery and smart enough for work. The answer? Invest in a few seasonal work dresses and keep them on rotation.

From shirt and shift styles to silk numbers that will see you through to Friday night drinks, we’ve rounded up the summer dress options that feel both office-appropriate and bang on-trend for summer.

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The shirt dress

Pleated Midi Dress

asos.com

£35

Buy now

Poplin Shirt Dress

cosstores.com

£79

buy now

Collared Midi Dress

hm.com

£24.99

buy now

Milano Rib Shirt Dress arket.com £255.00

Arket

Pure Silk Tie Waist Shirt Dress Autograph marksandspencer.com £119.00

M&S

Inspired by the classic menswear staple, shirt dresses were literally made for the office.

But while crisp cotton-poplin looks smart, the coolest designs have a modern twist: statement sleeves, safari style pockets, pleated details or utilitarian hardware.

And don’t think you have to stick to neutrals like navy and white either, a pop of colour will be sure to brighten up a dreary day sat at your desk.

The shift dress

Short Sleeve Dress M&S Collection marksandspencer.com £19.50

M&S

Alison Dress hobbs.co.uk £125.00

Hobbs

Emma Ponte Dress boden.co.uk £90.00

Boden

Annabel Dress hobbs.co.uk £119.00

Hobbs

Elene Shift Dress lkbennett.com £195.00

There’s a reason the shift dress is a workwear staple. Not only smart and timelessly stylish, it’s universally flattering too, skimming over your figure to fall in a neat A-line shape.

If you prefer something more fitted, opt for its sister style: the sheath dress. Deftly placed darts will enhance your curves and accommodate a larger bust.

Monochrome colourways nod to Jackie O’s iconic Sixties looks but the colourful iterations on the high street right now are perfect for summer.

The wrap dress

V-neck Wrap Dress

hm.com

£49.99

buy now

Collared Pencil Dress Closet next.co.uk £65.00

Next

Full Tie Side Dress

dvf.com

£191.60

buy now

Buckle wrap dress

topshop.com

£39

buy now

Check Tie Waist Dress

jigsaw-online.com

£150

buy now

Another womenswear classic, the wrap dress was first made famous by Diane Von Furstenberg in the 1970s. And no wonder, this clever silhouette can work wonders on your figure.

Stick to structured fabrics like crepe and cotton-poplin for a look that will feel office-appropriate.

The midi dress

Eliza Pinafore Dress finerylondon.com £29.00

Finery

Tie Waist Midi Dress

stories.com

£95

buy now

Oversized Check Dress karenmillen.com £82.50

Karen Millen

Crêpe Knot Dress arket.com £99.00

Arket

Rib knit midi dress

stories.com

£89

buy now

The latest midi dresses are longer than ever and, as a result, more flattering, finishing just above the ankle to highlight the slimmest part of your calf.

Surprisingly versatile, a midi length gives you more options. Fitted and sleeveless silhouettes are balanced by demure hemlines, so they still look formal enough for meetings.

If you want something you can wear all year round, pick a black number in a simple shape (think pinafores or anything A-line) and layer it over a rollneck come autumn/winter.

The long sleeved dress

Drawstring Waist Dress

mango.com

£49.99

buy now

Dahlia Check Dress

reiss.com

£195

buy now

Alma Ottoman Midi Dress boden.co.uk £98.00 Jaelynn Frill Detail Dress finerylondon.com £26.00 Wrap Front Dress Modern Rarity johnlewis.com £120.00

Just because summer is almost here, it doesn’t mean you have to bare all. If the idea of showing off your arms brings you out in a cold sweat, fear not, there are plenty of long-sleeved summer dresses out there.

From elegant three-quarter bracelet lengths to billowing balloon shapes, you can choose how much of a statement you want to make.

The desk-to-dinner dress

Genevieve Shirt Dress boden.co.uk £165.00

Boden

Pleated Shirt Dress warehouse.co.uk £52.00 Eyelet Print Midi Dress Jolie Moi johnlewis.com £69.00

John Lewis

Bicolor Midi Dress

mango.com

£49.99

buy now

Patched Spot Midi Dress oasis-stores.com £18.00

Oasis

These days, nine-to-five is less common, so there’s often little chance of a quick change before you head out after work on a Friday night.

The perfect desk-to-dinner dress can be instantly elevated with a simple shoe swap – leather loafers to heeled sandals or black ankle boots.

Softer, more feminine fabrics like silk and chiffon should be your go-to but, if in doubt, just go for anything printed, as the playfulness really translates after dark.

Print not your thing? Two-tone pieces are a grown-up take and look elegant teamed with minimalist jewellery.

So, there you have it, the six summer work dress styles that will make you look the business…

Related Story

51 Cute Work Outfits to Wear This Summer

Summer is here!

But as happy as you are for those warm, BBQ-inducing temperatures on the weekend, the minute Monday arrives, you find yourself almost wishing for a quick winter blast to roll through. (Almost.)

Because, as the temperatures rise, the very thought of your go-to office wardrobe—the starched button-ups, cardigan sweaters, and wool dress pants—makes you start to sweat. But the alternatives—sundresses, shorts, and tank tops—don’t really scream, “office appropriate.”

So, to help you make the seasonal transition, we turned to Pinterest to create a list of outfits that are both summer-ready and HR-approved. With bright colors, bold patterns, and a few unique styles that we haven’t seen in quite a while, you’ll be ready to face summer work days in style.

Pastels and Neutrals

It may be summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to default to your brightest brights every day. Layering neutrals (think ivory, blush, and gray) can be chic and—perhaps most importantly when it comes to that sweltering commute—cool.

Pops of Color

But, of course, it is the summer—which is the perfect time to break out your boldest, brightest, and most neon attire. (Not quite ready to don a bright yellow skirt? Opt for pops of color in your accessories!)

Florals

Wake up and smell the roses with a floral pattern! (OK, we know, that was cheesy…) Try a staple dress, skirt, or blazer and accent it with bold colors and accessories.

Bold Patterns

Floral too tame? Choose another bright print—anything from gingham to abstract. Keep the silhouette of your pieces classic (like a shift dress or pencil skirt), and you’ll still be office-appropriate.

Pattern Mixing

There’s nothing that will multiply your outfit choices faster than mixing patterns. And the summer, when you can get away with brighter, bolder patterns, is the perfect time to try it out. The easiest? Stripes and florals. Once you get the hang of it, try using other prints, too—like paisley, polka dots, and tribal prints.

Light Layers

The office AC can be a lifesaver from hot summer temperatures—until you notice it’s 65 degrees and your sleeveless shift dress just isn’t cutting it. Use light, airy layers to cover up—without the weight of a heavy blazer or cardigan.

Back to Basics

Of course, there are days when you’ll need to dress a bit more conservatively—but you can still infuse some summertime lightness into your outfit choices. Try cropped pants, loose blouses, and sleeveless silhouettes.

Best dresses for work: Professional styles perfect for the office

When our alarm sounds that it’s time to leave our cloud-like cocoon of a bed and head to the office, we are faced with the first challenge of the day – finding something to wear.

If you’re anything like us, this is a daily struggle that preoccupies far more time in the morning than we care to admit. But there is a simple way to maximise your sleep by creating an army of work-ready dresses.

Workwear has seen a major evolution over the past ten or so years where the definition of office appropriate has loosened since monochromatic suiting dominated the board room.

When it comes to navigating the tricky politics of the workplace wardrobe self-assurance is key. You need something professional but you still need to be comfortable, and you don’t want to spend all day tugging at your hemline or worrying about accidental flashes. You also need to feel confident in what you are wearing.

Ideally the piece will also be transitional – worn from summer to winter – and will take you from your 9 to 5 to your evening plans with ease.

While we are not opposed to the versatility of blouses and trousers, the beauty of the work dress means you only have to worry about one thing. By creating an arsenal of failsafe dresses with an effortless throw-on-and-go quality, you will banish your morning sartorial struggle without adding to your floordrobe of rejected ensembles.

Best Dresses for Work

Bow Wrap Dress

A wrap dress presents ample styling possibilities, and we think this latest addition from Mango deserves to be played on office-repeat.

£59.99 | Mango | Buy it now

See all NEW dresses from Mango

ME + EM Striped Rib Midi Dress

New to the collection but somehow we’re already nostalgic about it — fun, professional and a bit unexpected, this might just be office dress of the year.

£169 | ME + EM | Buy it now

Utility Shirt Dress

This one is a no-brainer, simple, chic and classic black. It’s an all season performer.

£120 | Karen Millen | Buy it now *On sale, was £180

See all on SALE dresses from Karen Millen

Lenora Pink Midi Dress by Kitri

This classic silhouette is given a feminine touch with a pale sweetheart pink hue and small ties at the arm.

£125 | Harvey Nichols | Buy it now

See all dresses from Kitri at Harvey Nichols

Ribbed Long Dress from Mango

This three quarter sleeve dress makes an ideal transitional piece. The flared design is more comfortable than your average pencil skirt and works just as well with white sneakers as it does with black boots. Win.

Available in charcoal and a light, creamy beige.

£35.99 | Mango | Buy it now

See all NEW dresses from Mango

Lana Red Vintage Dress

Break from all neutral hued associations of workwear with this bold red number in a luxe satin. Equally workable with a loose fitted blazer, denim jacket or light cardi.

£145 | Harvey Nichols | Buy it now

Belted Cotton Shirt Dress

Everyone should own a dress this effortlessly good-looking and easy to care for — if you’re a fan of shirt dresses you’ll be spoilt for choice this season.

£69 | COS | Buy it now

Knitted V Neck Sleeveless Dress

A dress with pockets that doesn’t make you look like a kangaroo is a wise and welcome purchase. Turtle neck? Fitted white tee? The options are endless.

£14.90 | Uniqlo | Buy it now

Louche Fleur Cotton Midi Dress

Patch pockets and contrasting buttons elevate this otherwise simple dress that offers the optimal balance for smart-casual workwear.

£55 | Joy | Buy it now

Pure Silk Tunic Dress

Putting a luxe twist on your workwear uniform, this tunic silhouette is offered in a sumptuous silk. Easily dressed up or played down depending on accessories and heel height.

£99 | M&S | Buy it now

Monochrome Dress

Flats and a denim jacket for summer or boots and a fluffy jumper for winter. Sorted.

£49.95 | Mango | Buy it now

See all NEW dresses from Mango

Brown Animal Print Dress

Make bold prints an integral part of your office wardrobe with this leopard print number from Wallis.

£48 | Wallis | Buy it now

Floral Crêpe Dress

This versatile collared dress will take you from day to play and the boardroom to the beach with its vibrant floral design.

£115 | Arket | Buy it now

Olivia Rubin Ines leopard-print crepe midi dress

In line with Olivia Rubin’s signature bold aesthetic, this dress will make a fierce and daring addition to your work dress collection.

£295 | Selfridges | Buy it now

See all work dresses from Selfridges from just £30

Cotton shirt dress

A shirt dress will always bring an element of sophistication to your look and this pale blue iteration from Mango is an ideal throw-on-and-go piece.

£49.99 | Mango | Buy it now

See all NEW dresses from Mango

Ted Baker Peplum-waist checked woven dress

Made all the more chic with the checked designed and peplum addition — this Ted Baker dress is made for the boardroom boss.

£179 | Selfridges | Buy it now

Claudie Pierlot Roseane bow-detail crepe mini dress

Raise the style stakes in your office with this bold red Claudie Pierlot dress that has the added playful detail of a bow.

£239 | Selfridges | Buy it now

Lapel Neck Dress

A different take on the office favourite shirt dress. Wear bare legged for warmer months or with a pair of brightly coloured ribbed tights for cooler months.

Available in navy and olive green.

£69 | COS | Buy it now

Graphic Zebra Shirt Dress

Go wild with your urban uniform and opt for something slightly out of the box in the shape of this zebra print shirt dress.

£159 | Whistles | Buy it now

Lyocell Nylon Belted Dress

Redefine workwear with this utility-chic dress with a tie belt for flattering cinching.

£89 | Arket | Buy it now

Buttoned midi dress

This black midi dress is one of those easy to style pieces that you will be able to create a new look every time you wear it.

£49.99 | Mango | Buy it now

Floral Midi Flippy Dress

Florals for spring, floral for winter, this all year round dress has an understated piece is designed for am to pm living.

£49 | Warehouse | Buy it now

Ditsy Blossom Midi Shirt Dress

Liven up your monotone workwear by adding this green-hued floral dress from Whistles.

£155 | Whistles | Buy it now

Etta Cotton Poplin Dress

You really can’t go wrong with this chic, easy-to-wear dress that has a kimono-like silhouette with a waist belt for cinching.

£295 | Joseph | Buy it now

Lustrous Gathered Shirt Dress

When you’re racing to work, throw on this regular-fit shirt style dress with a gathered skirt and you be ready and rearing to go in an instant.

£79 | Arket | Buy it now

Flowy Wrap Midi Dress

Proving that your workwear does not need to be boring, this & Other Stories dress is offered in a pale blue hue yet still feels office appropriate.

£69 | & Other Stories | Buy it now

Margot Animal Print Button Dress

For that piece that will take you from your office hours to happy hour, this leopard print dress from Monsoon will become your go-to.

£65 | Monsoon | Buy it now

Stine Goya Baily belted floral-print satin dress

When sophistication meets subtle femininity, this daisy print dress is offered in one of the colours of the season, a sky blue hue.

£260 | Net-A-Porter | Buy it now

Heart Wrap Dress

Answer all work related woes with this simple but chic heart print wrap dress that you can throw on in the morning for an easy win.

£39 | Topshop | Buy it now

Black Floral Chiffon Midi Smock Dress

Dress up and down with shoes and accessories for a versatile look for any occasion.

£27.99 | New Look | Buy it now

Black Polka Dot Midi Shirt Dress

Polka dots have a timeless elegance – you only need to look to that Zara dress to see their universal appeal. For a more sophisticated take on the look, this Wallis dress nails it.

£48 | Wallis | Buy it now

Mellie Bead Print Midi Dress

Elevate your office look with a geometric print dress with a self-tie belt.

£225 | Reiss | Buy it now

Floral Print Cluster Midi Dress

Proving that floral print is no longer reserved for summer alone – enter this piece into your work wear rotation.

£39 | Topshop | Buy it now

Floral print dress

Breezy in summer but covered up enough in winter that you don’t freeze – this is the all-rounder you need in your office-related clothing arsenal.

£59.99 | Mango | Buy it now

Maje Rosila daisy print crepe maxi dress

Solve your daily sartorial panic with this daisy-print dress from Maje with a gathered waistline and subtle side slits.

£239 | Selfridges | Buy it now

Bettina Floral Print Jersey Dress

We think this all-over floral print will win over even the most colourphobic among you due to its chic and vibrant design.

£60 | Monsoon | Buy it now

Cefinn Floral-print silk crepe de chine midi dress

Feel confident from head to toe in this abstract floral design dress.

£390 | Net-A-Porter | Buy it now

Peony Floral Printed Dress

Play to any and all office related dress codes with this LBD given a colourful twist with a floral design.

£165 | Reiss | Buy it now

Split sleeve midi dress

This ASOS navy dresses exudes sophistication and will help you nail any more formal dress codes.

£38 | ASOS | Buy it now

Wide Poplin Dress

You never really know what the British weather will throw at you but this dress is one of those all-year-round piece – just pair with tights and boots in winter or opt for sandals in summer.

£79 | Arket | Buy it now

Floral Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

Make that summer feeling last all year long with this green toned floral dress with puff sleeve details from & Other Stories.

£79 | & Other Stories | Buy it now

Percy Spot Print Button Dress

Getting dresses in the morning has never been easier with this fun polka addition.

£70 | Monsoon | Buy it now

Floral Jersey Shirt Dress

This midi jersey length has an eye-catching design that ensures you only have to think about this one piece and you are ready to go.

£89 | Arket | Buy it now

Scattered Daisy Midi Dress

For a fresh take on formalwear, this blue hued piece is embellished with a daisy print.

£159 | Whistles | Buy it now

Monica Print Button Midi Dress

Add more unique prints into your wardrobe with this tile design dress from Monsoon.

£65 | Monsoon | Buy it now

Second Female Akana Floral-Print Dress

This floral print dress from Scandi label Second Female is an effortlessly chic piece that will take you from desk to drinks.

£135 | Anthropologie | Buy it now

Heart Wrap Blouse Dress

Warm weather officewear will no longer be a struggle with this adorable heart print dress.

£52 | Oasis | Buy it now

Lana Polka Dot Vintage Dress

There is just something incredibly chic about this vintage-inspired piece from Kitri. From the polka dot design, to the peplum detail, it’s a yes from us.

£145 | Harvey Nichols | Buy it now

Grace Silk Crepe Dress

Dressing for work is a struggle – and particularly in summer – but this silk crepe dress oozes sophistication and elegance.

£545 | Joseph | Buy it now

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Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Pictured at top: one / two / three / four / five

It’s hard to beat the classic sheath dress for work — it’s a blank slate that you can dress up for an important work event with a blazer and sleek heels, but also dress down with a cardigan and a funky flat or a sandal. What I look for in a great sheath dress for work these days includes:

  • thick enough straps or sleeves that there is no chance of bra straps showing through — look for lingerie snaps inside dresses to keep your bra in place, or ask your tailor to add them if you have a problem with falling bra straps
  • a work-appropriate length that isn’t too trendy — usually within an inch of your kneecap
  • a fit that is tailored and polished but not “bodycon” — no one wants to work long hours in skintight clothing!
  • pockets, which can be great (because, well, pockets!) but often add a lot of bulk and detract from the sleekness (I still almost always want pockets, but that’s me.)
  • sleeves, which can also be a double-edged sword — sleeveless styles will inevitably layer better underneath cardigans and blazers. That said, sleeveless looks are not appropriate for every office — so know your office culture if you plan on wearing a sleeveless dress by itself.

Finally, note that on some sheath dresses you may have to rip your vents for the skirt — if there’s a little X sewn into the bottom of the vent, that probably isn’t supposed to be there. Readers, what are you looking for in a sheath dress these days — what makes the best dress for work in 2019 in your eyes? Which styles and brands do you wear the most?

  • Hall of Famers (specific styles that have stood the test of time): Theory, BOSS, Tahari, Lands’ End, Black Halo, Of Mercer, M.M.LaFleur
  • Under $100: Lands’ End, Old Navy, Calvin Klein, Boden
  • Plus sizes: Eloquii, Universal Standard, MMLF, Talbots, J.Crew, Lands’ End, Old Navy, Calvin Klein, Vikki Vi, Loft, Adrianna Papell (sign up for our newsletter focusing on plus-size workwear!)
  • Petite sizes: Ann Taylor, Lands’ End, J.Crew, Boden, Brooks Brothers, Talbots, Old Navy
  • Tall sizes: Ann Taylor, Lands’ End, J.Crew, Boden, Banana Republic, Old Navy
  • Pregnancy sizes: Isabella Oliver, Isabel Maternity, Isabel Maternity, and PattyBoutik (and check out our entire guide to maternity dresses for work!)
  • Best dresses for work with sleeves: MMLF, Boden, Gravitas, Lands’ End
  • Best dresses for work with pockets: MMLF, Boden, Lands’ End
  • Washable dresses for work: so many below!

Curious for past roundups of sheath dresses? Here they are from 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011. For other sizing issues, you may want to check out our roundup of bespoke dresses, which you can order to fit exactly to your measurements.

There were so many good ones this time that I thought instead of focusing on just a few random dresses, it might be fun to look at the general offerings at each store. (Don’t miss our Hall of Fame listings above, though, for a bunch of other styles that have been around for ages!) So here are some of our picks from the usual suspects for the best dresses for work…

The Best Dresses for Work at Ann Taylor

Pictured above: one / two / three

All of these dresses come in regular, petite, and tall sizes, all of them are machine washable, and all are available up to size 18. They’re $129-$149 (but keep an eye out for 40-50% off sales!) at Ann Taylor. Personally, my top pick would be the first dress — I like that the back is totally covered and it’s seasonless stretch (unlike dress #3), but I think the neckline is a bit more versatile than #2.

The Best Dresses for Work at MM. LaFleur

Pictured above: one / two / three

MMLF keeps putting out classic dresses that are reliable for work. (I heard recently that their sizing changed recently — what say you, ladies? A friend was complaining about having to return size 6s for 4s due to vanity sizing.) #2 has always been our pick for a Hall of Famer in the past — nice high V, totally covered neckline, machine washable, and available in a ton of colors — all for $145. #1 looks very similar to me but has a slightly wider V-neck and a slightly straighter skirt — and it’s available up to size 3X, which is great. Alas, this one is dry clean only, and sells for $240. #3 is one of the classic MMLF styles, and — huzzah! — it’s got pockets. It’s $195, comes in a zillion colors up to size 3X, and is machine washable.

The Best Dresses for Work at J.Crew

Pictured above: one / two / three

By my count, the newest dress to the dress party at J.Crew is the first one pictured above, made of a bi-stretch cotton and with some nice serious darts down the front. It’s available up to size 24 (as well as petites and tall sizes), and comes in five colors, some of which have a matching cropped blazer. The second and third dresses have been around for ages and are definitely classics at this point! They are all priced $148-$188 full price, but keep an eye out for 30-50% off sales.

The Best Dresses for Work at Boden

Pictured above: one / two / three

Boden, as always, has a ton of cute dresses for work — and so many of them have sleeves and pockets, huzzah! The first one above is a nice take on the scallop trend (and comes in a ton of colors), whereas #2 and #3 are both classic styles at Boden and have pockets; #2 is machine washable. All three are under $150 at Boden.

A Few Other Dresses For Work…

Pictured above: one / two / three

Obviously, we couldn’t include every dress for work that’s getting good reviews right now — but here are a few additional mentions. The first one pictured above first came on my radar last year at last July’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and has been going strong since, getting tons of great reviews in all its various colors. It’s definitely more of a statement than the other dresses we’re featuring here. The second one above is a bestselling style at Eloquii that Nordstrom now carries as well; Nordstrom has several colors, as does Eloquii. Finally, #3 is the most expensive one we’re featuring today — it’s $445, from BOSS. I always think of this sleeveless dress as being the “basic BOSS sheath,” but I keep coming back to the one pictured above — the sleeves and the slight A-line shape make it feel really fresh to me.

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Who doesn’t love a no-fuss, one-step outfit that you can throw on and look great in. Midi dresses tick that box—and more. The perfect length for day (or night), midi dresses, as their name suggests, hit below the knee, but above your ankles. Not too short and not too long, you can wear a midi to any occasion. Pair them with a comfy pair of sneakers for a chic weekend look, or with strappy sandals for a summer wedding.

Below, 36 midi-length picks, from flirty, floral frocks to simple button-up styles that will take you from work to weddings and on to the weekend.

Addition Elle Polka Dot Dress with Square Neck, $69, additionelle.com

Astr The Label Dolman Sleeve Button Down Midi Dress, $98, nordstrom.com

ASOS Design Curve Midi T-Shirt Dress, $59, asos.com

Gap Short Sleeve Midi Wrap Dress, $90, gapcanada.ca

Smithery Style Midi Drop Dress, $74, smitherystyle.com

Everlane The Japanese GoWeave Short-Sleeve Wrap Dress, $100 US, everlane.com

Old Navy Tie-Belt Wrap-Front Plus-Size Midi, $53, oldnavy.ca

Ever New Georgina Square Neck Maxi Dress, $180, evernew.ca

Asos Daisy Street Plus Midi T-Shirt Dress, $42, asos.com

Banana Republic Print Pin-Tuck Midi Dress, $215, bananarepublic.ca

H&M+ Off-The-Shoulder Dress, $50, hm.com

J.Crew Classic Gingham Button-Front Midi Dress, $126, jcrew.com

Smithery Style Artichoke Dress, $118, smitherystyle.com

Modcloth Collectif x MC Daytime’s Finest A-Line Dress, $79, modcloth.com

Forever 21 Plus Size Rose Print Midi Dress, $70, forever21.com

Wilfred Free by Aritzia Assonance Dress, $78, aritzia.com

Jason Wu x ELOQUII Pinstripe Origami Sheath Dress, $157, nordstrom.com

J.Crew Midi Wrap Dress, $164, jcrew.com

Michel Studio Sleeveless V-Neck Sharkbite Dress, $79, penningtons.com

Mango Soft Fitted Dress, $150, mango.com

Lost Ink Midi Dress with Asymmetrical Hem, $90, additionelle.com

Le Château Floral Print Knit Asymmetrical Midi Dress, $100, lechateau.com

H&M Kaftan Dress, $40, hm.com

9 Black Work Dresses to Simplify Your Morning Routine

January 09, 2018 | Filed in: Your Closet

If you’re anything like us, you’re in the middle of a strategic New Year’s closet purge. After you’ve gotten rid of everything that fails to bring you joy (or has brought so much joy it’s now unraveling), you may need to add a few new staples to your rotation. What better place to start than with versatile black work dresses that you’ll wear for years? Here are nine favorites.

1. The Wardrobe Heroine: the Etsuko

The Etsuko dress

One of our original styles (and still our best-selling dress to date), the Etsuko is known as the “Monday Morning Savior.” One woman donned hers to take her company public; another wore it to officiate a wedding; and one has been known to practice yoga in hers. With useful pockets, a belted waist, and machine-washable fabric, the Etsuko is a triple threat.

2. The Conference-to-Cocktails Dress: the Rachel

The Rachel dress

Think of the Rachel as your secret weapon: It may look simple, but the subtle design details set it apart from your typical LBD. The dignified V-neck, flattering seams, and wonderfully comfortable ponte fabric make it a piece you’ll reach for again and again.

3. The Hot Commodity: the Tory

The Tory 4.0 dress

We don’t like to play favorites, but when the Tory dress racked up a 1,600-person waitlist, we couldn’t deny that it was more special than your average black work dress. Made from machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant Japanese crepe, this dress features a faux-wrap detail—meaning it looks elegant but won’t fall open in the middle of a meeting.

4. The Reliable Classic: the Annie

The Annie dress

It’s 9:00 a.m., your alarm didn’t go off, and you have exactly five minutes to get dressed for your morning meeting. Pas de problème with the trusty Annie dress, a study in simplicity and function. Its easy A-line fit, machine-washable fabric, and flattering neckline will both beautify and simplify your morning routine.

5. The “I’m in Charge” Dress: the Akiko

The Akiko 3.0 dress

Maybe it’s the contrasting fabrics creating the illusion of a top tucked into a skirt; maybe it’s the single pocket offering a convenient place to carry your phone; maybe it’s the full-length sleeves. Whatever it is, the Akiko means business. Try it out on days when you need to command the room.

6. The Never-fail Dress: the Lydia

The Lydia dress

The beauty is in the details of this MM classic, which features elegant twisted straps, artfully curved seams, and snaps to hold your bra straps in place. Crafted from our stretchy ponte fabric like the Rachel, the Lydia is as comfortable as it is polished.

7. The Presentation Dress: the Sarah

The Sarah 7.0 dress

We love a modern power shoulder, and the Sarah’s is one of the chicest we’ve encountered. This machine-washable shift has a way of instilling confidence in the wearer—perhaps because it’s named after one of the boldest women we know, our CEO.

8. The Pajama Dress: the Casey

The Casey dress

We love workwear, and we also love pajamas. Enter the Casey, a sleek, curve-hugging sheath whose stretchy fabric will help you feel as comfortable in the conference room as you do curled up on your couch.

9. The Business-trip Companion: the Katie

The Katie dress

Thanks to a tailored silhouette and tons of stretch, the Katie travels beautifully. Its wrinkle-resistant fabric is ideal for flights, and the slit in the skirt makes clambering into and out of cabs a breeze.

Inspired? Shop our full suite of black dress options.

With summer in full swing, shopping for new work clothes is probably the last thing you want to do. But as the end-of-season sales ramp up, it’s actually a good time to shift your focus from swimsuits and spritzes to elegant, transitional office pieces (just for a few minutes—promise!). They don’t have to be complicated or stuffy, either. In fact, no matter where you work—whether it’s at a fashion magazine, a tech start-up, or in a more formal law office—a simple, no-fuss dress will almost always fit the bill.

If you’re in the market for a dress you can buy and wear now, consider something in lightweight cotton, like Sea’s puffed-sleeve floral frock. The dark print and modest neckline keep it office-friendly, and you can easily swap ballet flats for strappy sandals if you’re heading straight from your desk to happy hour. Meanwhile, Tibi’s striped midi dress and Zara’s belted shirtdress are polished enough for your 9-to-5 yet breezy enough for a quick trip to the beach.

Interviewing for a new job? You can’t go wrong with an LBD, and there are plenty of summer-ized options to choose from, including Proenza Schouler’s T-shirt style and a mod number by Maje. Stock up on these and all of the best summer work dresses below.

Tory Burch long-sleeve patchwork silk midi-dress

NORDSTROM $598 Shop Now

Altuzarra tile-print A-line midi-dress

NORDSTROM $1,250 Shop Now

Nicholas button-front linen sundress

NORDSTROM $498 Shop Now

Self Portrait two-tone floral-print crepe midi-dress

MODA OPERANDI $415 Shop Now

Staud Harper midi shirtdress

NORDSTROM $315 Shop Now

Eliza J geo-print belted shirtdress

NORDSTROM $105 Shop Now

Maje knit dress

MAJE $225 Shop Now

Theory Ribbon stripe cotton shirtdress

NORDSTROM $465 Shop Now

Proenza Schouler ruched-waist midi-dress

NORDSTROM $990 Shop Now

Topshop tie-waist midi shirtdress

NORDSTROM $63 Shop Now

Polo Ralph Lauren Bevlry denim midi-dress

NORDSTROM $398 Shop Now

Everlane cotton-weave collarless shirtdress

EVERLANE $78 Shop Now

Saloni Bianca puff-sleeve silk midi-dress

NORDSTROM $650 Shop Now

Jason Wu Collection floral-stripe cotton and silk dress

NORDSTROM $1,150 Shop Now

DVF Maia asymmetrical sheath dress

NORDSTROM $239 Shop Now

Carolina Herrera floral-print stretch cotton shirtdress

NORDSTROM $1,590 Shop Now

Zara belted shirtdress

ZARA $70 Shop Now

Marina Moscone striped cotton-poplin midi-dress

MODA OPERANDI $990 Shop Now

Prada polka-dot short-sleeve dress

MODA OPERANDI $3,260 Shop Now

Sea Ella floral puff-sleeve minidress

NORDSTROM $345 Shop Now

Rosetta Getty apron-wrap cotton shirtdress

NORDSTROM $870 Shop Now

Stine Goya Kirsten paisley midi-dress

NORDSTROM $276 Shop Now

Bottega Veneta pleated linen midi-dress

MODA OPERANDI $3,100 Shop Now

Tibi stripe twill midi-dress

NORDSTROM $695 Shop Now

Rebecca Taylor textured scallop-detail fit-and-flare dress

NORDSTROM $237 Shop Now

Office dressing: It’s a confusing, often frustrating realm to navigate. And if you work in a setting with a very strict dress code, the question “Is this office appropriate?” may follow you everywhere—through a shopping trip, as you get ready, and even as you walk into the office. It’s the uncertainty that sometimes forces us to fall back on some of the classic, tried-and-true office staples—a sheath dress, a blazer-and-trouser combo, or a button-down–and–pencil skirt pairing, for example. And while these options are always great, it is possible to test out other options. That’s why today we decided to highlight timeless little black dresses that are (wait for it!) also office appropriate.

When shopping for work dresses, make sure the piece meets all of the criteria: Is it the proper length? And how about the neckline—is it too low? If yes, toss it; if no, consider its overall feel. Does it have that much-needed air of professionalism, or is it too casual? And last but not least, evaluate the silhouette. For the little black dresses we picked, we made sure the cut was streamlined and refined—nothing too puffy or relaxed. And even though we picked the best LBDs for the office, they’re certainly not just limited to that. Wear the below picks out and about—just swap your power pumps for a pair of casual sneakers.