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Whether you’re looking for a floaty maxi dress or a short dress for sunning your legs in the park, our edit of summer dresses has all the printed and plain frocks you could wish for

The beachy-keen maxi dress

Life’s a breeze with a flowing maxi dress, especially during hot and humid weather. A simple ankle-grazing dress will be a throw-on-and-go favourite for many summers to come. Add raffia accessories and strappy sandals to get the holiday vibe at home. Choose a tiered style with narrow shoulder straps to maximise skin exposure, or opt for more coverage with long-sleeved dresses that take air conditioning in their stride. For those seeking the Goldilocks’ choice of maxis – not too short, not too long – there’s the midaxi dress, available in more than 70 designs at M&S this season.

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The frill-seeking short dress

A mini dress signals the arrival of warm weather. Choose a smock style with a loose cut to balance shorter hemlines and keep the look fresh with chunky sandals or this season’s on-trend trainers. Alternatively, take a classic turn with an Audrey Hepburn-approved shift dress: take your pick from cool cotton or linen fabric and pair with flat ballet pumps for a chic look that has stood the test of time. A vintage-inspired headscarf and basket bag are all you need to recreate riviera style, even if you are staying firmly put in the UK. Oh, and a pair of oversized sunglasses, of course.

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The pretty white summer dress

A crisp white sun dress, of the fancy type usually reserved for holidays, works wonders for lifting your mood when there is no jet-setting holiday in sight. The secret to wearing white in the summer is to not be precious about it; instead, consider any stains a sign of a summer well-spent. Toughen up a vintage-inspired cotton dress with rip-tape sandals and a denim jacket for day, adding oversized earrings and espadrilles for sundowners in the evening. You might just wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.

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The fun floral-print dress

Florals are a fashion perennial, and a delicate all-over ditsy-print dress taps into the cottagecore trend nicely. Wear dainty, figure-flattering silhouettes with trainers or chunky sandals to ground the look, and throw a cardigan over the top if you want to layer up. Floral dresses can also be bold, daring and graphic depending on your style, so don’t be afraid to experiment with larger-scale prints too, which look particularly striking on long, voluminous dresses with plenty of fabric to showcase the design.

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The wear-anywhere midi dress

Enter the fail-safe midi dress: comfy, flattering and easily dressed up or down for any occasion. Whether you choose a tea dress, a wrap dress or a shirt dress, this outfit-in-one is bound to become a go-to as you reconsider your post-lockdown wardrobe. For those returning to the office or planning outfits for postponed weddings and belated birthdays, the mid-length dress is your new best friend. Best of all, midi dresses can be worn year-round with the addition of a sweater vest and knee-high boots during the cooler months. Genius.

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Words: Dulcie Emerson