Summertime calls for something incredibly pretty and impossibly easy to wear. These eight dresses have clean lines, crisp patterns, and -- much like a gem of a glass house -- classic mod appeal.

Great Lengths

"Right now, long dresses are okay to wear during the day," says Blueprint fashion editor Katie Hatch. "The full-length look is no longer the most formal one. If you wore a dress like this to an afternoon wedding, you wouldn't steal the bride's -- or bridesmaids' -- thunder." "Maxi" dress, $298, Beaded necklace by Jodi Levine, $65, 212-827-8111

Puff Piece

"Here is the rare dress that accentuates your arms and legs and is forgiving to your butt and hips," Katie says. "As an added bonus, it even has pockets. It's just so easy to wear all summer long." "Peggy" dress by Diane von Furstenberg, $285, Hat by Scala Collezione, $24, Dorfman Pacific, 800-367-3626 for stores. "Fleurette" earrings by Mark Walsh Leslie Chin, $250, Carleen Ligozio, 631-204-0104. "Poete" bracelet by Les Prairies de Paris, $110, Switch, 310-860-1650


Mod(ern) Poppies

This season's dresses have a lot of that 1970s "Ice Storm" vibe. They're long and loose but also sexy -- especially the one at right, with its racer back. They also incorporate mod prints (note the Marimekko-like flowers). "With these shoes, this dress is perfect for a cocktail party," says Katie, "but I can also see it with flip-flops for an outdoor barbecue." "Cornflower" dress by Tibi, $376, Coplon's, 803-790-0015. Suede headband by Colette Malouf, $42, Zitomer, 212-737-5560. Patent-leather shoes by Michel Perry, $555, Searle, 212-753-9021


Blue Note

"Many minimalist styles are incorporating some shape and volume," Katie says. "This is a very simple dress -- it tapers at the waist and is loose everywhere else -- but it has a faux-wrap front and an exaggerated A-line skirt." On woman: Dress by Issa, $750, Horn, 310-278-2052. Patent wedges by L'Autre Chose, $310, Searle, 212-988-7318. 14k-gold charm necklace, $184, for stores. On girl: "Arletty" dress by Ismodern, $68, The Purple Bear, 248-645-0400


Orange Crush

"Because it's made of lightweight cotton, this dress is actually cooler than any shorts-and-tank combo," Katie says. To vary the look of a long, tiered dress, you can use shank buttons or safety pins to bustle up the longest layer. Learn how here. Sundress, $310, Maigrissima shoes, $610, Christian Louboutin, 212-255-1910. "Victorian" earrings by Mark Walsh Leslie Chin, $250, Carleen Ligozio, 631-204-0104. Ring by Kenneth Jay Lane, $75, 877-953-5264


New Jersey

Long sleeves are still very summery when they're on a minidress. For the body-conscious, Katie recommends a supportive slip underneath, "so it's not too jiggle-jiggle. This dress also looks great as a tunic, over a pair of black capris." "Morgan" dress by Julie Brown, $308, Abigail Morgan, 415-567-1779. "Nocia" wedges, $495, Robert Clergerie, 212-207-8600. 18k-gold circle earrings by Jennifer Meyer Jewelry, $1,100, Kaviar and Kind, 310-659-9523. "Kira" clutch by Deere Colhoun, $290, Number 5, 415-925-9555


Blast from the Past

"Though there's a retro feel to a lot of new dresses, they're still very current," Katie says. "They have all the cool old details -- like the embellishment at the collar and darts at the bust -- but they're made in today's sizes, in new fabrics, and, unlike a thrift-store purchase, haven't been sitting in a smoker's home for the last 30 years." On woman: "Matelasse" dress by Milly, $454, Monkee's and the Bamboo Hanger, 910-256-5886. Earrings, $75, for stores. On girl: "Orange Jonquille" dress by Ismodern, $68,


Royal Treatment

"The collar is dramatic and makes a statement. If you had your portrait taken in it, you'd feel like a queen," Katie says. "It's definitely a minidress, but it passes the reliable junior-high modesty test: The hem is past her first knuckle. This would also be much longer on anyone who isn't six feet tall, like our model." Ruffle-collar dress by Rowena Sartin, $340, Creatures of Comfort, 323-655-7855. Dana peep-toe shoes by Gigi Favela, $330, Gianna's Boutique, 610-797-6072. 22k-gold-dipped sterling-silver ring by Azaara, $172, Juli Mei, 732-449-0021


Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
January 6, 2019
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Martha Stewart Member
June 6, 2008
More great summer dresses (under $50) can be found at