Lightweight dresses are a bit like wearable air-conditioning; they allow for a breeze to circulate, even as the heat and humidity rise. Lately I’ve discovered a few small brands, many with Southern ties, sewing the loveliest iterations of them. Even better, they’re made with intention—the very opposite of fast fashion. And best of all, they can double as cover-ups. So considering the mileage you’ll get out of them, I believe them worthy of investment and then some.
All of the creations dreamed up by the British designer Wiggy Kit for her eponymous line are inspired by her time spent working in North Carolina and her vacation home on Harbour Island, in the Bahamas—both places where an easy-breezy dress is a must. This swishy linen number looks like a dream. $673; wiggykit.com
I’m not sure there’s a single dress in Oliphant’s line that isn’t perfect for the South. Many are made of cotton voile, which is light as a feather and launders beautifully. This striped wonder in electric turquoise, however, is a tried-and-true pick in my closet. $258; oliphantdesign.com
I’m particularly fond of the gauze designs in this collection by Mabe because the fabric is perfect for those days when it’s so hot you don’t want anything touching you at all (pants are the devil when it’s ninety degrees!). This vivid green maxi is one such favorite. $256; mabeapparel.com
A former interiors editor at British House & Garden, Gabby Deeming, founded Daydress, and she has a meticulous eye for gorgeous, wearable detail. The shoulder ties on the below frock make for a vintage-inspired look that’s insanely charming. $277; daydress.co.uk
Sue Sartor x Sarah Bray
Sue Sartor’s work continues to inspire me, because the Louisiana designer understands how to flatter any woman, of any age, and her mashups of color and print are always compelling. This particular dress is a collaboration with another talented Southerner, the Bermudian Sarah Bray (pictured), and it’s stunning. $495; suesartor.com
Abbey Glass x Well + Wonder
A handful of years ago, we featured the Georgia designer Abbey Glass, and she’s still bringing serious style to the South. Her newest collection features a collaboration with the Southern artist collective Well + Wonder. I love this look, which features the work of the artist Annie King. $295; abbey-glass.com
I love the silhouette of the Emilia dress by the Texas designer Brooke Wright, because it can be cinched in for a party or worn lose to the beach. Also, it’s available in all manner of prints, from ginghams to florals. $320; brookewrightdesigns.com
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Perfect Summer Dresses for the South – Garden & Gun is written by Dacey Orr for gardenandgun.com