The Perfect Casual Summer Dress

I love the idea of a casual summer dress as an alternative to shorts, but I rarely find one that checks all my boxes… until now.

This dress is the perfect knee-length, it’s fitted without being clingy, it has a flattering v-neckline and wide straps that are bra-friendly, it’s made of a breathable cotton/modal blend, and it even has pockets!

Consider all boxes checked. Boden for the win!

I think my favorite thing about this dress is that it’s not a maxi. I like a maxi dress, but sometimes I just don’t want to deal with all that fabric, ya know?

Knee-length dresses are much more practical, but they’re hard to find in the casual category. When you do find one, it’s usually a shift style or a swing dress — and those do nothing for me. Then you have the other end of the spectrum with dresses that are super short and body-con.

This dress is described as semi-fitted, which sums it up nicely. It’s like the Goldilocks of dresses — it’s just right!

If you’re one of those women who needs structure but doesn’t want anything too form-fitting, this is the dress for you!

I actually found this dress at Nordstrom, but sizes are starting to get depleted. Fortunately Boden is fully stocked, and even better, they have this dress in a bunch of other prints and solid colors.

I love the cheerful scattered fruit print on chalky pink for a touch of whimsy, but I also think this dress would be really nice to have in the solid navy or black. It runs true to size; the 8 fits me perfectly.

If you prefer a sleeve, Boden makes a similar style with short sleeves that also comes in a variety of prints and solid colors. In fact, they have a large selection of summer dresses in all shapes and styles.

Shop More Boden Dresses:

If you’re not familiar with ordering from Boden, they offer free shipping on orders over $49, and they have a no-quibble returns policy if you return an item within 90 days of receipt for a $7 return shipping fee.

I styled this dress with both flats and heels for this post. First, I’m wearing these blush espadrille wedges.

The dolce color works in perfectly with the background of the dress, plus I just like an espadrille with a casual spring dress.

These shoes are absolutely gorgeous and amazingly comfortable, but spendy. They do go on sale from time to time; I got mine during the Shopbop spring event, but I don’t see them anywhere on sale right now.

They run slightly big for Stuart; I sized down to a 7.5, and I’m almost always an 8 in his shoes.

There are certainly less expensive options out there. In fact, Caslon makes a similar style for under $100 that also comes in a pretty shade of blush. I’ve tried them as well, and they’re not quite as easy to walk in, but still quite comfortable. They’re just made for a wider foot, so keep that in mind if ordering.

I also styled this dress with flats, and I added… wait for it… a denim jacket.

I know, I’m nothing if not predictable.

But seriously, this dress looks SO good with a denim jacket because it has a lot of blue in the print, and the styles also complement each other nicely.

I’ve shared this jacket a lot, but for anyone just tuning in, it has a really nice fitted shape and it’s a good mid-weight for year-round wear. It’s soft and stretchy and very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

It’s also the perfect versatile mid-indigo wash, and it’s a classic style you’ll have it for years. It runs TTS, or if in between, size down. I have it in the small.

FYI, my sunnies are old, but I found them at Dillard’s and Zappo’s. Mine are the Dove Grey.

These sandals are by Sam Edelman, and I like how they play into the side trend without looking like a guy’s shower shoe. (That’s what slides usually make me think of!)

Mine are the jute leather, but they come in a lot of other colors as well. They’re quite comfortable, very soft against the foot, and they have a padded footbed. They have like 230 reviews with a 4.5 rating so that says a lot!

They run true to size (I have my usual 8) and they fit my flat foot fairly well. If you have super narrow feet, they may not work for you, but they’re worth a try.

I carried my ivory hobo with both looks. It doesn’t necessarily coordinate with the outfit, but it doesn’t clash either. That’s why I like a white or ivory bag for summer; it really does go with almost everything.

For accessories, I kept it simple with a cuff bracelet, gold hoops and a layered disc necklace. Accessories can make or break an outfit, and in this case, the printed dress is the focal point, so I tried to choose accessories that complement the look without taking over.

Either way you wear it — with flats or with heels, with a jacket or without — this dress is a great way to level up your casual daytime look without sacrificing comfort.

Outfit Details:

Boden Melinda Dress (also at Nordstrom) // Stuart Weitzman wedges (similar for less) // Sam Edelman slides (also at Zappo’s) // Vince Camuto denim jacket // Tory Burch hobo (similar for less) // bracelet // earrings // necklace // sunnies

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photos: Alison Cornell

Join the Conversation

26 thoughts on “The Perfect Casual Summer Dress

  1. Love this! I like it better with the flats, but both look great. I ordered the Kut white denim jacket you’ve posted several times and it is so nice! Very comfy and has a nice amount of stretch.. I can’t wait to wear it with some dresses on an upcoming vacation. Ty!

  2. I so wanted the blue cardigan from Loft that you styled. Then I saw it at Loft yesterday, but it was not on sale. I decided – I’ll wait; it will go on sale. Hurray! This morning I received an email from Loft about their sale, so I quickly ordered it (they didn’t have my size in the store.) Today I am trying to be your twin haha! (white jeans, white t-shirt, longer cardigan – the pink/purple one you styled awhile ago, and wedge sandals in beige.) Finally a warmer day, and the sun is shining. Hoping to get to watch your Facebook live later today. Sending positive thoughts for your MRI results.

    1. YAY sun! We’re getting the clouds today but it’s not raining, so that’s a plus. 🙂 The outfit sounds cute, and so glad you scored the cardigan 40% off!

  3. I’ve been getting the Boden magazines for a while now and contemplating trying a few things so you’re def inspiring me with this dress! Not sure if I missed it somewhere but I didn’t see which size you ordered? I was reading reviews on the Boden website and they are mixed on the dress about length and sizing. Thanks! 

  4. Absolutely love this dress on you. The denim jacket and flats are my favorite look. I agree about finding a comfortable casual dress that doesn’t look dressy … this would be exactly my look. I really like the turquoise color in it which would look nice with a white denim jacket:) good luck with you MRI results… 😀

  5. Love the dress, especially paired with the jean jacket. Sending good vibes for your test results!

  6. I just ordered the dress. I really liked it when you showed it the other day. I had received a Boden catalogue recently and liked several dresses, and they offered 20% off your first order, so I got a great deal. I ordered the 8 petite. I am built like you, except 5’ 1” so hopefully the 8 petite will fit. I loved it with the denim jacket. Wishing you the best on your MRI results. 

  7. What a cute dress!  Love it with the denim jacket, too.  I ordered the red  striped bucket bag when you posted it earlier.  What a great price for a fun summer bag.  It should be here tomorrow.   Praying for your test results.

  8. I was just talking about Boden with my girlfriend in Nashville last week. She loves their dresses and stated one of the same reasons you commented on. Length. This is a super cute and versatile dress. I love it with the jean jacket!

  9. Very cute dress on you. I’m like you, its hard to find a good casual dress that fits the bill, but the older I get the less I like to wear shorts.  Thanks, as always for posting the LIVE, so those of us without facebook can watch on Wed.  I just watched it. Don’t stop doing them….I really do think it helps your online community relate to you more when they get to know your personality and listen to you talk.  You do a great job.  Have a Happy Mother’s Day weekend to come.  

  10. This dress is the cutest! I honestly love all the colors and not sure I could pick a favorite. I love the “voop” neckline too. It seems like the perfect in between and probably universally flattering.

  11. You have inspired me to get a white jacket. I love the many ways you wear yours. I have bought several only to return them because they are stiff or uncomfortable. What brand do you recommend? You always look wonderful in yours!!! I love your blog and watching your cute family grow!!! Thank you for sharing them and your experience with us!!!

    1. I think it’s worth it to get a quality brand that is comfortable. Otherwise you won’t want to wear it. And it should last 10 years, since it’s a classic. I love the Kut from the Kloth Helena that I have in white –

      It’s on the thinner side, which is nice for spring and summer, and it’s very stretchy and comfy. Also has really nice shape through the waist for that structure that we sometimes need.

      The Vince Camuto one is nice too – I have not tried the white, but I like the blue one a lot. I wear a small in the VC and a medium in the Kut.

  12. For similar dresses, you should also check out Lands’ End. They have some really cute ones right now, lots of different patterns, also in petite and tall sizes. And I think they’re on sale right now. I live overseas and often buy things from Lands’ End (Europe) because they have petite sizes and I don’t usually find petites where I live.

  13. Hi Jo-Lynne, just got this dress in navy fruit and it is as cute as the pink. Reminds me of daisies white and  on-trend yellow. Looks great with white or blue jean jacket  too! Thanks for the recommendation! Thinking about buying the solid navy one as well. I agree, perfect casual summer dress that checks all the boxes! 

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