What comes to mind when you think of summer? Is it long beach days, with your feet in the warm sand and dips in the surf? Is it hosting the best backyard picnics and BBQs for friends and family? Or is it all about that annual camping trip you look forward to all year? No matter what summer means to you, you’re likely thinking about transitioning your wardrobe from spring to summer once Memorial Day rolls around.
For many of us, our summer clothes happen to be some of our favorites. There’s something oh-so-simple about throwing on a single layer and heading out into the sunshine. That said, you might not be fully sure if you should be rocking dresses or separates during the summer, which leads us to the next question: What’s better for summer — dresses or separates?
The truth is, there’s no simple answer because it really depends on how you spend your summers and what makes you comfortable. Though, certain activities call for either a dress or an outfit made up with separates.
Read on for some tips that’ll help you decide how you should build out your summer wardrobe based on the activities you have lined up.
Before we dive into a few classic summer activities and the best outfits for each, let’s quickly run through the benefits of both dresses and separates.
Dresses are a great choice for the summer since these are single items that become full outfits. You can dress up your dresses or dress them down depending on the occasion, and dresses are often the centerpiece of outfits that look like they took effort when they really didn’t. Summer dresses are also ideal for the hottest of summer days, as they tend to be breezier and lighter than most separates.
Going with separates, like wearing a T-shirt with a pair of women’s shorts, can make it easier to build a summer capsule collection because having options in your rotation means more versatility and combinations. This is especially true if you like to wear solid colors. Separates can also be necessary or preferred for certain activities since dresses don’t provide the same level of coverage or mobility.
For those long-awaited summer beach days, dresses are called for rather than separates. Since many of us often head to the beach on the hottest summer days, it’s key to pick a breezy layer that can easily be thrown on over a swimsuit. Dealing with separates at the beach can be a bit cumbersome, while a dress can provide stylish and easy coverage between dips or for quick lunch breaks on the boardwalk.
The best dresses for beach days tend to fall in the category of beach cover-ups in quick-drying materials like terry cloth or comfy cotton jersey.
When it comes to summertime picnics in the park, we think separates are your best bet for a few reasons. First, wearing separates can make it easier to sit comfortably on a picnic blanket or even at a picnic table since your legs and thighs will have more coverage and flexibility. Second, separates can be easier to layer, which provides more versatility if the weather suddenly turns during the day. And third, there are just too many picnic-ready outfits to choose from.
For a perfect picnic look, opt for a women’s polo shirt paired with comfortable cotton or linen shorts. Bring a light crewneck sweater or open-front cardigan for an extra layer if it gets cloudy or too hot to have your arms exposed all day.
We say backyard BBQs here, but this really applies to any outdoor summer dining. For dining al fresco in the warmer months, try going for an outfit centered around a cotton sundress. This is especially true if you’ll be hosting since comfy sundresses are just so easy to style, and you have bigger fish (or burgers) to fry if your guests are on their way.
Sundresses also give off quintessential summer vibes, just like backyard BBQs do, which tell us that these are a match made in heaven.
When it comes to summer camping trips, separates tend to best. Whether it’s family-friendly lake camping or more intense backpacking trips, having warm-weather separates is ideal. Opt for women’s summer shirts that are moisture-wicking and provide UPF protection paired with quick-drying shorts. Having a few outfits like these in your rotation are essential if you stay active and tend to be outdoorsy in the summer.
These are just a few summertime scenarios that call for either summer dresses or separates. At the end of the day, it’s really about considering certain factors and building out your seasonal wardrobe from there. No matter where this summer takes you, we’re positive you’ll look amazing in whatever outfits you choose!