Lifestyle

These Double-Duty Dresses Will Take You From the Beach to Dinner

I have a Zimmerman beach cover-up that I wear all year round. It’s a beautiful, durable, printed cotton dress that is just as good over a bikini at the beach as it is with a slip, tights, and boots worn at the office. It’s a double-duty dress, and I have a closet full of them.

When you love a dress—the cut, the color, the fit—you want to wear it everywhere. I am a firm believer you shouldn’t have to compromise where to wear it as long as the fabric is practical and somewhat seasonless—think denim, broadcloth cotton, and twills. The gold standard of the double-duty dress is that they are effortless enough to flow seamlessly from one event to another, regardless of time and place. Length is also key. I happen to think the best double-duty dresses are mid-length as they are the most practical for all scenarios.

Accessories are key to the success of these wear-everywhere dresses. They can instantly take you from day to night without having to change. Take my most recent purchase as an example: A crisp white cotton Doen slip dress. By day I wear it with a K. Jacques sandal and my trusty Ulla Johnson woven brown belt—casual and practical. By night, I pair it with a minimalist strappy sandal by The Row and my favorite CVC stone pendant necklace, and suddenly I’m channeling my best Kate Moss. I find it much easier to swap accessories than I do the dress for every possible occasion that suits my body and mood.

Here, my edit of the best double-duty dresses to wear this summer but also, year-round.

Vita Kin Mathilde hand-embroidered linen dress

Sleeper Brigitte linen midi-dress

Agua by Agua Bendita Miel palm tree–embroidered cotton midi-dress

Zara embroidered midi-dress

Tory Burch striped shirtdress

Muzungu Sisters Frangipani floral-embroidered cotton maxidress

Merlette Paradis tiered shibori-dyed cotton sundress

Vika 2.0 belted striped Tencel-blend midi-dress

La DoubleJ V Trapezio dress, gumball in double georgette

La DoubleJ Jennifer Jane dress, Amalfi in cotton voile

Lisa Marie Fernandez belted ruffled checked cotton-blend jacquard midi-dress

Odile Jacobs printed waxed-cotton wrap midi-dress

Loretta Caponi Stefania ruffled, tiered striped cotton-blend poplin dress

Matteau the long-sleeve button organic-cotton maxidress

LoveShackFancy Elspeth crochet-trimmed scalloped broderie anglaise cotton-voile shirtdress

Polo Ralph Lauren Ashton stripe long-sleeve linen midi shirtdress

Eres Laureate cotton maxidress

byTiMo tiered gingham cotton midi-dress

Matteau broderie anglaise organic-cotton poplin dress

Consider these dresses of the perennial variety—as in, they can be worn year round. But to make them feel extra summery for the season ahead, we’d recommend pairing them with lace up sandals or braided leather slides. Shop some of our favorite shoe suggestions, here.

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