The Cool Mini Dresses We Want to Wear Now—and All Summer Long

Easy breezy.

By Hannah Zahner

I know, I know—it’s only April, but I’ve had warm weather on my mind since December of last year. There’s just something about the carefree days of summer that feels truly euphoric. Outdoor gatherings are at an all-season high, the possibilities for adventures and activities are endless, an abundance of fresh produce is in season, and, of course, we can finally move our mini dresses from the back of the closet to their rightful place in the spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely envisioning many a patio chat and rooftop rosé hang with a midi or maxi dress on. I love their elegant but easygoing style and there’s nothing better than putting on a single piece and considering your outfit complete. But sometimes, the occasion just calls for a floaty, above-the-knee frock. I know that when the temps reach into the triple-digits, there’s no way I’m wearing something that goes down to my ankles.

The voluminous sleeves and easy cuts make these mini dresses comfy enough to add to your work-from-home (or casual Friday) wardrobe and playful enough for a festive night out. As cool spring days make way for sunnier ones, we’re ready to reach for bright colors, breezy shapes, and dresses that show a little more leg (ahem, head here for everything you need to know about self-tanner).

I’m not sure if there’s any mood booster better or more instantaneous than putting on your favorite dress. So let’s get to scrolling and shopping for your new go-to mini dress that’ll take you everywhere this season.

Feature image by Riley Reed.

Two women drinking at Ashleigh Amoroso's happy hour gathering_mini dresses
Image by Michelle Nash

14 Comfy but Elevated Mini Dresses for Whatever the Warm Weather Brings

Hill House The Elizabeth Nap Dress

I’ll cite the happiest day of my life as when I discovered that Hill House updated their viral nap dress in a shorter cut. The same fluttery sleeves you know and love, plus elasticated smocking, and an array of pretty colors and prints. Oh, and I have one word for you: pockets.

Hill House The Elizabeth Nap Dress, $150

Jenni Kayne Palmer Dress

Jenni Kayne’s designs will always hold a special place in our hearts with their nod to cool and coastal California style. This dress is perfect for just about anything your day may bring, whether that’s errands, a coffee date, or a full day at your desk. It’s truly a wear-anytime-and-anywhere piece made in a luxe fabric that’ll remind you that you’ve got something special on.

Jenni Kayne Palmer Dress, $245

Johnny Was Briar Button-Back Dress

Moment of appreciation for this stunning and intricate design. While the embroidery and flattering silhouette add a touch of elegance, this dress’ relaxed fit and 100% linen fabric mean that you can wear it any time the desire strikes.

Johnny Was Briar Button-Back Dress, $298

Everlane The Smocked Linen Dress

While we’d happily purchase this dress in all three colors, it’s the Goji Berry option that really stands out. This vibrant hue helps you make a statement with ease, and the shape is an ideal cut for pairing with your favorite summer sandals.

Everlane The Smocked Linen Dress, $88

Samantha Wennerstrom eating breakfast in her kitchen_mini dresses
Image by Sara Prince

Outdoor Voices One Shoulder Dress with Liner

Exercise dresses have had the spotlight for a while now, and it’s all thanks to Outdoor Voices. This evolution of the ubiquitous original is designed with an interior liner. So while it definitely gets points for style, you can take comfort in knowing you’re covered.

Outdoor Voices One Shoulder Dress with Liner, $100

Cleobella Cara Mini Dress

The drama of this dress’ shoulders is unmatched. Sustainably made, this handcrafted piece is sure to be a staple in your summer wardrobe. Dance around, sip on your favorite warm-weather beverage, or just lounge out in the sun. Whatever your plans are, be sure to include this dress.

Cleobella Cara Mini Dress, $188

Abercrombie & Fitch Flirty Drama Mini Dress

Okay, we may be indulging in the new Abercrombie & Fitch documentary, but it can’t be denied that their rebrand is worth shopping. Case in point, this dress that we’ll be wearing to any and all summer weddings. Wide straps, a plunging neckline, and a fitted waist? Yep, we’re sold.

Abercrombie & Fitch Flirty Drama Mini Dress, $100

Christy Dawn The Verna Dress

Christy Dawn may be known for their floor-sweeping, ethereal dresses, but this long-sleeved mini delivers plenty of romance. Cute with boots or styled with sandals, you’ll be shocked by all the many ways you’ll wear this dress.

Christy Dawn The Verna Dress, $318

Madewell Linen-Blend Lorelei Mini Dress

If you were to take a spin around my closet, you’d quickly catch wind of the fact that somewhere around 75% of my wardrobe comes from Madewell. Their pieces are just that good. I love the way this breezy, linen-blend dress hangs on the body—it’s roomy, comfy, but elevated enough for date night.

Madewell Linen-Blend Lorelei Mini Dress, $89.50 (reg. $98)

J. Crew Long-Sleeve Crinkle Chiffon Dress in Mixed Floral

Nothing beats the drama inherent in a short hemline, long-sleeve combo. The delicate floral pattern and dainty tie-sleeves make a casual fit perfect for any summer party.

J. Crew Long-Sleeve Crinkle Chiffon Dress in Mixed Floral, $168

Anthropologie Maeve Smocked Tunic Mini Dress

Cut-outs have made a comeback, y’all, and we’re celebrating with this boho-inspired number. I’m thinking of pairing it with a scarf in my hair and the strappiest sandals I can find. Flower child vibes await.

Anthropologie Maeve Smocked Tunic Mini Dress, $148

Girlfriend Collective Iris Naomi Workout Dress

Outdoor Voices may have coined the exercise dress trend, but Girlfriend Collective knows a thing or two about luxe athleisure. If you haven’t yet experienced the brand’s soft, ultralight FLOAT fabric, do yourself a favor and hop to it. Be sure to grab yourself a pair of their leggings while you’re at it.

Girlfriend Collective Iris Naomi Workout Dress, $88

H&M Balloon-Sleeved Dress

Ballon sleeves and a dramatic neckline—is there anything better? Choose from this paisley-patterned option or go classic in black. Either way, the next time a gathering comes up on your calendar, you’ll know exactly what to wear.

H&M Balloon-Sleeved Dress, $49.99

Universal Thread™ Women’s Sleeveless Tiered Gauze Dress

This dress is hands down, the cutest thing you’ll ever find under $20. I love the flippy and flared hemline, and the breathable fabric will make this your go-to when the next heatwave strikes.

Universal Thread™ Women’s Sleeveless Tiered Gauze Dress, $14 (reg. $20)