While browsing some of NYC’s best shops for summer dresses, scoring the perfect frock is on top of every woman’s checklist. It’s not so easy finding the right fit, shape and price for your soon-to-be warm-weather staple, but tracking down of-the-moment numbers that are affordable, stylish and complement your favorite pair of sunglasses is actually a breeze. From floral prints to chambray trends, we’re certainly not interested in wearing a single pair of pants until after Labor Day. No matter your budget, we've ranked the best stores from least to most expensive to help you find the perfect summer dress!
The best shops for summer dresses
The reigning leader of cheap and chic megastores, H&Ms abound in New York, unloading trendy styles at a frenetic pace. Chances are if you see a chic frock on the runways, you'll find it here a few weeks later—and in turn, you'll find affordable capsule collections from the runway's biggest stars. Don’t hesitate to nab a long lace dress ($50), comfortable, long jersey-material frocks ($35) that come in select prints as well as popular A-line styles ($18) in multiple colors.
Owner Ella Sikorski opens her second Brooklyn store (the first is in Greenpoint) packed with hip, budget-friendly threads—most of which you can take home for less than $100. There is no shortage of flirty frocks such as Hawaiian-print A-line dresses ($50) and floral fitted numbers ($95).
The Canadian women’s clothing store is favored by most for its mystical charm and minimalistic, of-the-moment dress shapes that are perfect for every summer activity. Standouts include a soft, flowy off-the-shoulder number ($60), stretchy bodycons with a halter neckline ($60) and a lavender silk trapeze-shape frock ($99).
This popular high-end dress-rental service branched out with its first freestanding store in the Flatiron District a couple years back. And while borrowing designer gowns and formal wear is better suited for a wedding, you can still rent daytime frocks, too. The store features a rotating selection of dresses from more than 200 designers like Opening Ceremony, Vera Wang and Marchesa, but we’re currently lusting for an Erin Fetherston woven garden dress ($65), a Mara Hoffman printed maxi ($70) and a gorgeous Carmen Marc Valvo floral number ($75).
Bright dresses and bold accessories pop against Teddy’s pale wallpaper and checkered floors—a lovely setting for the store’s selection of boho-chic women’s apparel. Go nuts over mod dresses ($78) that are part Factory Girl, part beach babe, transitional semi-sheer sleeveless frocks ($68) and modest wrap sundresses ($68). With the majority of these pieces retailing for under $150, the sale rack is home to some stellar bargains.
This Spain-based chain—which has outposts in more than 50 countries—offers affordable (but not disposably cheap) iterations of the biggest trends. Its tailored, versatile dresses for women are both office and happy-hour appropriate, so we recommend scooping up a baby-blue collared shift dress ($39), hippie-chic flowy maxis ($80) or a simplistic fitted t-shirt dress ($60). Your closet will thank you for it.
Folks in the fashion crowd are obsessed with H&M's pricier sister brand. The first NYC location opened in December 2014, and it looks like it was worth the wait. The shop’s dress game is on-point, so you better grab a graffiti-print pleat-back frock ($115), a chambray denim-wash t-shirt dress with pockets ($115) and a silk-mix printed sundress ($87) before they sell out.
Head first to this West Village outpost to find a flirty spring dress on a budget, and it’ll likely be your last stop (we recommend scanning the racks for locally made frocks by Kisses by Darling and Raquelle ($128–$328). Other dresses range from $98 to $398, and tops cost $50 to $225, with the average vintage necklace ringing in at $58. Tables and chairs bordered by ivy-covered walls make for the perfect rest stop for shopping buddies (even four-legged ones) when the backyard garden isn’t being used for vintage sales in the summer.
Even before the ’70s trend took the world by storm, Reformation was churning out sexy, downtown-cool pieces with a vintage feel that look just as fashionable on city streets as they do on the beach. The shop is not rampant with bargains, but popular styles such as cutout, button-down striped maxis ($228) and flattering, loose Barbados numbers ($88) and ladylike midis with a daring lace-up neckline ($118) should not be overlooked.
This indie boutique with locations in Williamsburg, Park Slope and Cobble Hill just launched its first full collection of dresses—and they’re all gloriously shapeless and actually really freaking cute. Nab one of the seven summer styles that range from mid-thigh to calf-grazing loose-fit threads in multiple fabrics and patterns. If you go, prepare to splurge: The prices run the gamut from $295 to $345.
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