The Outdated Dress Trends We're Leaving Behind This Summer (& What We're Replacing Them With)

Not even dresses are immune to the fickle fashion phenomenon that is trends. And because we live in a part of the world where we have to adjust our wardrobe according to the planet's relative position to the sun, those trends change seasonally, meaning that if we want to stay fashionable in society's eyes, we need to find new pieces of clothing to wear. Though we never advocate for anyone wearing anything they don't want to wear, we also understand the desire to want to keep up with trends, no matter the reason. 


In an effort to cater to anyone who's after this summer's hottest types of dresses, we've identified dress trends that are out for the summer and have rounded up trends we're replacing them with. Follow all of these trends, or don't follow any of them at all. Wear what you like, and don't get rid of dresses that you love just because they're deemed un-trendy (they'll be trendy again soon). But if you do want to dress fabulously trendy this year, here are the dresses you should be buying.

Slip out of a smock and into a slip dress

Smocks had their moment, but we've moved onto an entirely different trend — the slip dress. Slip dresses are slinky and flirtatious, and they're perfect for a variety of events in the summertime. A slip dress alone with a pair of strappy heels is perfect for a wedding, but it can also be dressed down with a denim jacket and a pair of sneakers. Or it can be made edgier with a moto jacket and some combat boots. However you decide to style it, it'll be a step up from last season's smock.


Though not entirely trend related, we do want to mention a hack if you're nervous about wearing a satin dress to an event with food and drink. If you spill anything greasy on your slip dress, blot the stain with translucent powder. It'll remove the stain without ruining the dress, ensuring you're able to wear it all summer and well into the fall. And no need to waste your pricey Laura Mercier or Huda Beauty powder — less expensive brands like e.l.f. and NYX offer powders that'll do the trick, too. But if you're trying to conserve your makeup for your face, good old baby powder will work just as well.

Swap nap dresses for maxis with bold patterns

Though nap dresses are incredibly comfortable, we're moving out of the super casual trends we saw because of the pandemic and moving back into dressier options. Essentially, every event that had to be postponed or reorganized because of the shutdown is back in full swing, and we're celebrating with the return of maxi dresses in bold patterns. Now, don't go digging into your closet for the maxi dress you wore in 2013 with the chevron bottom and pastel top. Opt for a maxi dress with major florals or asymmetric patterns. Find them in bright colors and jewel tones that'll look great against bronzed skin. These are the patterns that are trendy this summer.


The versatility of the particular dress you choose is going to depend largely on the fabric and cut. If you find a cotton or linen maxi with short sleeves, it's going to be more suitable for casual events, like a day at work or an afternoon spent shopping, while a satin or chiffon maxi will work better for dressier affairs, like a business luncheon or a wedding. Be sure to pair your maxi with shoes that won't distract from the bold print, like strappy heels or a nude wedge.

Wear denim dresses instead of leather

We're making a major fabric switch this summer from leather to denim. In previous summers, leather reigned supreme, but now we're opting for a material that doesn't uncomfortably cling to our skin or raise our internal temperature to a potentially unsafe level. The dress that has cycled through more trend seasons than potentially any other style on this list is officially back in, and we couldn't be happier about it.


Denim dresses are about as easy to style as jeans. They can be worn in a way that fits nearly everybody's personal aesthetic, and they're super easy to find, especially this summer. And because we've come such a long way in fabric production, the large majority of denim dresses are comfortable to wear. You can throw on a denim dress with a blazer and some pumps for a day in the office. You can wear a denim dress with sneakers and a ball cap to a baseball game. They can be donned with boots or cardigans or wide-brimmed hats. A denim dress looks good with just about any accessory or shoe, and they wash up much easier than leather, which, if we're being honest, might be their most appealing feature.


Try prairie instead of gingham

If you're really missing the smock trend, try wearing a prairie dress instead. They're like a smock dress, but a little more nuanced. Prairie dresses typically don't have the horizontal panels that smocks have (or they just have fewer), and they have more rustic patterns and colors. Instead of a solid true pink, you'll see tiny florals on a pastel pink fabric. Prairie dresses also have more shape than a typical smock dress, often staying tight at the chest and flowing down beyond the waist. They're casual and cute, and they offer modesty without feeling as suffocated as actual pioneer women probably felt in their prairie dresses.


Prairie dresses are also replacing gingham dresses this season. Gingham dresses were previously seen in several forms, including smock dresses, but we're taking a break from them this summer. Instead of that picnic table pattern, grab your prairie dress. They're similar in style and tone, so they can be worn to virtually all the same events, they can be paired with all the same shoe styles, and they look great with all the same accessories. It's an easy swap that'll result in a trendier look.

Trade cutouts for 3D appliques

Cutouts were a sought-after feature in clothing for quite a few years, but now we're after dresses with a little more fabric, specifically ones with 3D appliques. Even more specifically, ones with rosettes. Rosettes are darling little appliques created with fabric and modeled to look like roses. They add a supremely feminine touch to dresses, and they're popping up all over the place this summer. You'll see them on dresses of all colors, but especially on white, cream, and pastel pink dresses.


One nice aspect of wearing a dress with 3D appliques is that you don't have to accessorize much because you already have a standout feature on your garment. Stick to dainty pieces of jewelry, and avoid wearing too much on a body part that's close to an applique. For instance, if the applique is on the shoulder, consider wearing stud earrings instead of ones that dangle. The same goes for shoes (though you likely don't have to worry about the appliques being near your feet). Wear dainty shoes in inconspicuous shades, like nude, white, or pastel pink. Keep the look toned down and feminine.

Opt for strapless over mock necks

Update your dress selection this summer with garments with strapless necklines. A strapless neckline is flirtatious and bold without being too revealing, and there are loads of options for the trend. You can strut the trend in a form-fitting mini dress, or you can opt for a flowy maxi. Wearing a strapless dress will also give you the opportunity to wear big, bold accessories since they won't have to compete with any fabric. Worn with a slicked bun and summery glam, it's an elegant dress trend for the season.


Strapless dresses are replacing mock necks this season. While mock necks certainly have their place, we're putting a pause on them in favor of ultra-summery necklines. Now, going from a mock neck to a strapless dress may feel like a major transition, but it doesn't have to. There are lots of strapless options that sit higher up on the chest, and those are great pieces if you're leery of the trend. But, if you're truly concerned about it, just wear other dresses all summer and rest assured that mock necks will eventually make their return, maybe even as soon as this fall.

Do draped dresses rather than bodycon dresses

This summer we're also trading bodycon dresses for draped dresses. Draped dresses are similar to bodycon dresses in that they're form-fitting, but they utilize more fabric. And instead of overtly hugging your curves, draped dresses accentuate your shape with the precise layering of fabric that has a rouched effect.


This trend may feel a little early 2000s homecoming dance-y, but we assure you it's a much more sophisticated take this time around. But if you're still worried you might look like you just stepped out of a Delia's catalog, select a draped dress in a solid color instead of a pattern, and opt for one with a chic slit or asymmetric hemline. And whatever you do, do not wear your draped dress with a pair of jeans underneath or a skinny scarf over top a la Ashley Tisdale at various red carpet appearances in the early 2000s.

Trade classic LBDs for really little LBDs

Though you can never go wrong with a little black dress, you can go dated. Keep things super on-trend this summer by trading in your classic LBD for a mini LBD. A mini LBD has all the features of a classic LBD that we know and love, just in a smaller package. They're still perfect for date night or girls' night out, and they still look just as good with closed-toe shoes as open-toed ones. And if you get the right LBD, you can accessorize dozens of ways, making it versatile and wearable for the entire season.


To have an LBD that's versatile and wearable the entire season, you need to purchase one strategically. Avoid dresses with any prominent features, like ruffles or puffy sleeves, and instead look for one that's plain in style. It should be form-fitting, easy to move in, and it should be mini, but not so short that it can't be worn anywhere but the club. Since it'll be so wearable, it's a good piece to splurge on. But if a splurge is out of the question, there are plenty of options at affordable prices, too.

Swap neutrals for LWDs

We can't all wear bright, bold patterns all the time and feel good, and that's okay. Some of us just prefer neutrals and always will. But this summer, try wearing a bright dress by going for the brightest of the neutrals: white. An LWD, the LBD's sister that needs to be much more careful around a glass of red wine, is a darling dress option for the summer. It's chic and clean and pretty, and if you can wear it without spilling anything, you'll become a bona fide goddess in the eyes of your friends and family.


LWDs are similar to LBDs in many ways, like their versatility. The right one can be worn in a variety of settings, and it's incredibly easy to accessorize. You can wear your standby metallic jewelry, or you can get creative with some of your lesser-worn costume pieces. If you're one of the aforementioned neutral lovers, you can wear nude heels or sandals, and if you're not, you can add a pop of color with a pump or sock booties. An LWD deserves a hanger in your closet this summer.

Try sheer fabrics instead of skin-baring dresses

For anyone who doesn't love showing skin, the shift to sheer fabrics is more than welcome. This summer, we're all about dresses made with sheer fabric. It's a fun and flirtatious trend that doesn't feel quite as risqué as a skin-baring dress. This trend is also a very wide umbrella, so there are several ways you can exercise it. You can opt for a sheer fabric like chiffon or lace, or you can opt for an open weave like a crocheted or knit dress. You might not be able to wear this trend everywhere, but it's an eye-catching look for a girls' night or a date.


Sheer dresses are most often worn with either nude or black undergarments, and the level of coverage is dependent on your comfort level. You can wear a bandeau and briefs, or you can wear a midriff camisole and thigh shorts. You can even wear a bodysuit if that's what you prefer. To keep the shape of your dress, however, try to wear undergarments that are smooth throughout instead of textured.

Wear mod dresses instead of ruffles

There will always be a dress style trending that also trended in the past. This summer, one of those styles is mod dresses. Popularized in the '60s by fashion icons such as Twiggy and Mia Farrow, mod dresses are structured pieces that often have features we're seeing trending currently, like bold patterns and bright colors. They're usually mini in length and often have no sleeves, though many have long sleeves and collars. They're great pieces for dressy occasions, and they're perfect in the summer since they keep you cool.


Though mod dresses are darling, you may have trouble styling them because of their patterns and unique structure, but we've got some tips. Because it's summer, you probably won't need to worry about getting cold, but if you do need a jacket, opt for something that's oversized, and wear it around your shoulders rather than sticking your arms through. For accessories, wear dainty pieces, and do so sparingly so as not to compete with the dress. You have the most freedom with shoes. The right pair will depend entirely on the look you're aiming for, but strappy nude heels, chunky platforms, and ballet flats are all suitable options.

Sub in bright colors for muted tones

We've let muted tones reign for several years now, and it's time we embrace bright colors again. This summer we're after dresses in bold tones that make a major statement. Pinks, blues, greens, yellows — it doesn't matter the shade, just as long as it's bright. If you're a little wary of the trend, there are ways to wear a brightly colored dress in a way that you're confident in. First, choose a dress style that you're comfortable wearing. If you don't like showing a lot of skin, you're not going to like wearing a bright orange dress with a low-cut neckline. Pick a piece that makes you feel good.


Next, find a dress in a color that you like and looks good on you. If you don't like wearing yellow, don't wear a bright yellow dress. Wear one of your favorite colors (a favorite that isn't muted, that is) so you're excited about what you have on. Finally, accessorize with pieces that you're comfortable wearing. If you're not used to wearing bright colors, ease yourself into it by wearing other pieces that you are used to. By the end of the season, you won't be able to believe you used to wear anything muted.