The black summer dress has the potential to be a powerhouse staple in every woman’s wardrobe.
It can make you feel sexy, breezy, confident, or cool and sometimes can do all of that at once.
However, not all dresses are created equally.
Women should be paying attention to the basic guidelines of a capsule wardrobe to ensure that it will be versatile enough to wear to various events. .
Here are my top 6 picks for the perfect black summer dress:
The Low-maintenance, fuss-free dress
Looking for a black summer dress should start with versatility. You want a dress that you can wear with your favorite sneakers or with your highest gold heels to a party.
The most attractive quality of this dress is it’s low maintenance, thanks to the wrinkle-free fabric, so you don’t have to iron. This also makes it perfect for travel.
Two snaps (one at the chest) ensure it’s appropriate for work and play. It’s stretchy. It has pockets. It’s what we want to throw on when we have “nothing to wear” this summer.
The Extended Size Option for versatility
My selection: Belted Trench Dress | 11 Honore (Juan Carlos Obando)
Sometimes you find the perfect dress, and when you finally decide to click purchase, you realize the options stop at a size 12. So frustrating.
Luckily, plus-sized women have more options than in the past such as this Belted Trench Dress by Juan Carlos Obando is available in US women’s size 14-22.
This 100 percent viscose option is versatile, comfortable, and looks sophisticated for a variety of events throughout the year, even beyond summer.
It can be dressed up for an evening out with heels and statement earrings or can be a practical and classy daytime option with flats.
The black dress for the hottest day
My selection: Soft v-neck Alani Slub dress | Z Supply
Again, the versatility is the secret in selecting the right dress, as this can be dressed up with heels and a necklace or down with sandals and a jean jacket for cooler summer evenings.
The t-shirt dress works as a swimsuit cover-up, as a put-together easy throw on dress for running errands around town, and can be dressed up later for cocktail hour with friends. Experiment with big floppy sun hats when pairing it with sandals on a beachy day for a stylish look with minimal effort.
The Essential black dress for pregnant + nursing women
My selection: Sharon Maternity/Nursing Tank Dress | Nordstrom
Pregnant and nursing moms may be the absolute best candidate for an easy black summer dress.
We all know pregnancy can be, well, uncomfortable to begin with, so easy summer dresses that up your style and confidence are the perfect versatile staple for your closet.
Look for ample give around the belly and stretchy material that will grow with you through all three trimesters, such as this Sharon Maternity/Nursing Tank Dress by Nordstrom.
The dress is 100 percent cotton, which means it will be a breathable fabric for warm days. The crew neck style and the modest length are both conservative enough to wear to a meeting but the slits allow for easy movement and no tugging down the bottom hem, which can be an issue with some maternity dresses.
Nursing moms can also choose from nursing dresses with discreet side slits near the armpit, like this option, or another style that has a secret band of fabric sewn into the chest area that can be lifted up for breastfeeding. Check out all four types of styles available for nursing moms.
The Black dress for sexy summer nights
My selection: braided ribbed stretch jersey midi dress | Net-A-Porter
Black summer dresses can make women feel sexy as they transition from their workday to evening activities, or even for a day trip with your partner, such as a festival or quick beach getaway.
This braided ribbed stretch jersey midi dress by Net-A-Porter shows off curves and features a plunging neckline.
Searching for a black summer dress for women can be daunting, especially if you are going for a sexier look, but finds like these mean versatility: after a party weekend, you may still be wanting to wear this for a lakeside lazy Sunday over a bathing suit.
If you’re looking for a basic dress with a twist, look for eye-catching details, like the braided straps in this example (similar to the asymmetrical lines I explained above).
If you aren’t feeling the confidence you want to in picking sexier wardrobe staples, my personal styling services for women will guide you through those decisions.
The Conservative Black Dress
My selection: Irene stretch cotton blend midi dress | LA Collection
Another vote for the midi dress, this Irene stretch cotton blend midi dress by LA Collection gives you the control of how much skin you are showing that day, with a button-up front and cinch-able belt.
This can help ensure you are following your office’s formal or business casual dress code, even in hot summer months.
The midi length is perfect for both strappy heels and practical flats (as the model shows). That makes this dress a versatile winner for that work to play look (wear to the office and for cocktails after).
Shirt dresses should have a somewhat looser fit, and women can utilize the belt to show off the waistline even in these more conservative options.
Who said black summer dresses couldn’t be work-appropriate?
Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.