The Best Shoes To Wear With 8 Essential Casual Summer Dresses

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During summer, it’s easy to fall into the habit of living in sneakers or flip flops. Casual dresses are the go-to outfit choice when temperatures start to rise, and jeans become a nightmare to wear.

The right casual dress and shoe combination can take you from a day at the office to brunch with the girls or drinks at a beer garden. If you want to get versatility out of your summer wardrobe, casual dresses are a must-have.

They are easy to mix and match with every style from espadrilles to high heels, depending on what the occasion calls for. This guide covers which casual summer dresses are a must-have in your closet and the best shoes to wear with each style.

Why Dresses Are a Summer Essential

A girl can never have too many dresses. Although there are pieces that stay on rotation in our wardrobe all year round, summertime calls for a few essentials of its own.

Your knitted sweaters and Wellington boots go to the back of your closet in favor of mini-skirts, sandals, and tank tops.

Dresses are the easiest garment to wear during summer, as they can keep you feeling cool and looking stylish as the humidity increases and temperatures skyrocket.

Summer brings with it sweat and a feeling of being over-heated. They are also the perfect way to show off your fresh tan and summer-ready body.

Floral, denim, white, and midi—these are just some of the most popular dress styles for summerFloral, denim, white, and midi—these are just some of the most popular dress styles for summer

Whether you’re jetting off to the Maldives or staying at home this summer, you want to have a curated collection of summer dresses to see you through the season.

We’re going to cover the most popular styles and which shoes work best to help you build your seasonal wardrobe.

Summer dresses are one of the most versatile pieces to style, and the shoes can make even the most casual dress evening appropriate. We all know shoes can make or break an outfit, and they can also determine how comfortable you’ll feel during the warmer months.

If you plan on spending the summer months in dresses, it’s a great idea to invest in a pair of anti-chafing shorts to keep you comfortable all day long. You can also find creams and roll-on balms which will help prevent chafing.

You’ll also want to make sure you never leave the house without a healthy layer of SPF on your skin, especially anywhere that’s left exposed to the sun by the silhouette of your dress.

1. The Maxi Dress

The summer is when maxi dresses have their moment to shine. If you’re not a fan of flashing some skin and if you’d prefer to cover up, a maxi dress is the ultimate casual summer dress.

As the silhouette will cover most of your body, it’s a chance to get adventurous with your footwear.

Myleene Klass and Jessica Alba wear maxi dresses with boots and sneakersMyleene Klass and Jessica Alba wear maxi dresses with boots and sneakers

Your footwear choice will usually be determined by whether your maxi dress ends just above your ankle or if it skims the floor. The former option gives you the chance to have a little more fun, while floor-length maxi dresses like you prioritize comfort.

If you live in a country where the summer has milder weather and lower humidity, a pair of ankle boots is the perfect combo with a maxi dress.

Vagabond Shoemakers Amina Chelsea Bootie, $159.95 at Nordstrom

Enjoy day to evening comfort with the country-style Vagabond Shoemakers Chelsea bootEnjoy day to evening comfort with the country-style Vagabond Shoemakers Chelsea boot

Ankle boots can take a maxi dress and make it evening-appropriate when the temperature starts to drop. You can choose a flat Chelsea boot or go with a block-heel if you want a little extra height.

Steve Madden Lynden Block Heel Bootie, $129.95 at Nordstrom

Add a extra height to your feminine maxi dress look with Steve Madden's Lynden bootAdd extra height to your feminine maxi dress look with Steve Madden’s Lynden boot

Maxi dresses are the perfect dress to throw on when you don’t know where the day is going to take you and if you want to cover up from the sun. If you’re hitting the tourist sites or are running errands around the city, add a pair of white sneakers to your summer look.

Make sure to add a pair of short socks to flash a little ankle, especially if your maxi dress has a side slit.

Schutz Verony Tonal Flatform Low-Top Sneakers, 478 at Revolve

Explore tourists spots or run errands in a maxi dress with Schutz Verony sneakers for a chic but comfy all-day lookExplore tourists spots or run errands in a maxi dress with Schutz Verony sneakers for a chic but comfy all-day look

2. The Little White Dress

While the little black dress (known as the LBD) is a girl’s best friend, the little white dress has its moment in the sun during summer.

Ashley Roberts, Kylie Jenner, and Paige Turley show what shoes to wear with little white dressesAshley Roberts, Kylie Jenner, and Paige Turley show what shoes to wear with little white dresses

Summer is the one season when it’s appropriate to wear a white dress outside of your wedding day, and it can help make your tan pop. A white dress gives you the perfect base for creativity with your footwear and accessories.

You can make a statement with a hot-pink bag or a straw hat with a classic black trim.

Nude heels are a must-wear with a little black dress as they’ll elongate your legs and give you a classic look. If nude shoes aren’t your thing, consider trying a baby pink style. You want to keep your outfit fresh with light colors to fit the season.

Nine West Ezra Pointy Toe Pump, $79 at Nordstrom

Wear blush, nude or white heels for a leg-lengthening chic summer lookWear blush, nude or white heels for a leg-lengthening chic summer look

If you’re taking your casual white summer dress to a backyard BBQ or pool party, you can add a touch of glamour with a pair of metallic silver loafers. Your white dress will give the perfect backdrop for your shoes to shine bright like a diamond!

Rohb by Joyce Azria Shira Loafers, $32.99 at Zappos

Add instant glamour to your little white dress with the Rohb by Joyce Azria Shira synthetic leather loafersAdd instant glamour to your little white dress with the Rohb by Joyce Azria Shira synthetic leather loafers

3. The Floral Dress

What is summer with a floral dress? As soon as the warmer months come around, the stores are full of dozens of casual floral dresses.

Every year there’s an ‘it’ dress from brands like Zara that you feel like you see everyone and their mother wearing.

Jenni Falconer, Tallia Storm, and Jennifer Meyer pair their floral dresses with sneakers and peep-toe sandalsJenni Falconer, Tallia Storm, and Jennifer Meyer pair their floral dresses with sneakers and peep-toe sandals

You can give this outfit a tomboy twist and keep it casual by throwing on your go-to pair of sneakers. If you want to wear sneakers but give them a slightly more feminine look, search for a comfortable platform style.

Superga offers several platform espadrille sneakers in their permanent collection, which are a summer must-have.

Superga 2790 Cotropew Sneakers, $44.56 to $140.99 at Amazon

Give your floral dress a boyish twist with these elevated Superga espadrille sneakersGive your floral dress a boyish twist with these elevated Superga espadrille sneakers

A floral dress will perfectly complement a pair of mules, whether you prefer a flat-style or ones with a heel. Black open-toe mules will work with any floral print dress you choose, whether it’s a mini-dress or a maxi.

Schutz Posseni Mock-Croc Slide Mule Sandals, $98 at Zappos

The Schutz Posseni heeled mules will complement any floral dressThe Schutz Posseni heeled mules will complement any floral dress

4. The Midi Dress

The ‘it’ dress of recent years has been the midi, with its universally flattering silhouette which works for every body type. A midi dress can take you from shopping in Beverly Hills to sipping cocktails by the beach.

Sarah Hyland, Kate Middleton, and Selma Blair wears summer midi dresses with wedge sandalsSarah Hyland, Kate Middleton, and Selma Blair wear summer midi dresses with wedge sandals

You can take a styling tip from the Duchess of Cambridge and wear your casual midi dress with a pair of wedge sandals. You’ll get the aesthetic of summer sandals with the versatility of a heel.

Lucky Brand Mindra Wedge Sandals, $78.95 at Zappos

Espadrille wedge sandals work well with midi dresses for a casual yet flirty and feminine lookEspadrille wedge sandals work well with midi dresses for a casual yet flirty and feminine look

Depending on your aesthetic, there are a few styles you can choose between. You can embrace your inner bohemian princess with lace-up detailing.

Allegra K Espadrilles Platform Lace-Up Wedges, $27.99 to $35.99 at Amazon

Channel a Bohemian look by pairing your midi dresses with lace-up wedge sandalsChannel Bohemian vibe by pairing your midi dresses with lace-up wedge sandals

A thicker lace-up fabric can make you feel like a ballerina, and they work perfectly with a casual midi dress. Add a pair of wedge sandals in a neutral color like nude, navy, or white to get the most versatility.

Soludos Wedge Lace-Up Espadrille Sandals, $94.95 at Nordstrom

Take inspiration from the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and wear the Soludos wedge sandals with your midi dressTake inspiration from the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and wear the Soludos wedge sandals with your midi dress

5. The Smock Dress

When we picture a summer smock dress, the first thing that comes to mind is island hopping around the Greek islands. This casual summer style differentiates from the year-round version by having a looser oversized fit and a brighter color palette.

Olivia Palermo and Heidi Klum show different ways to style smock dressesOlivia Palermo and Heidi Klum show different ways to style smock dresses

Embrace some Grecian chic with a pair of leather sandals. Depending on your look, you can choose a strappy sandal with bead detailing or keep it more minimalistic with a plain strap.

Jerusalem Sandals Mara Toe Loop Sandal, $75.95 at Nordstrom

Work a classic Grecian look and wear your smock dress with black gladiator-inspired flat sandalsWork a classic Grecian look and team your smock dress with black gladiator-inspired flat sandals

You can add a vintage touch to your look by choosing a pair of leather sandals in darker leather that appears aged, or you make it feel more contemporary with a pair of rose gold leather sandals.

Ancient Greek Sandals Niki Strappy Flats, $230 at Zappos

Add a hint of contemporary style to your smock dress look with Ancient Greek Sandals strappy metallic flatsAdd a hint of contemporary style to your smock dress look with Ancient Greek Sandals strappy metallic flats

If you want to invest in a pair of leather sandals for summer, the Oran sandal from Hermes is a timeless choice that will work with any casual dress.

Hermes Oran Sandals, $630

Invest in these timeless Hermes Oran sandals, which can go well with just about any dressInvest in these timeless Hermes Oran sandals, which can go well with just about any dress

6. The Citrus Dress

There are certain colors that we shy away from during the colder months. When the heat hits, citrus colors like lemon become all the rage. The trick to pulling off a citrus dress is to let it do all the talking.

Vogue Williams, Hannah Ann Sluss, and Amy Childs pair their citrus dresses with light-colored shoesVogue Williams, Hannah Ann Sluss, and Amy Childs pair their citrus dresses with light-colored shoes

If you’re stepping out in a bright yellow shade or a lemon-printed dress, you want to balance your outfit with a minimalistic choice of footwear.

Avoid wearing black shoes as it can create too much of a contrast and overpower your citrus color. It can also invite the inevitable bumble bee comparison.

Stuart Weitzman Amelina Block Sandals, $395 at Zappos

Let your citrus dress do the talking by pairing it with the classic but chic Stuart Weitzman Amelina heelsLet your citrus dress do the talking by pairing it with the classic but chic Stuart Weitzman Amelina heels

Choose a pair of white espadrilles or brown leather open-toe sandals with a block heel. If in doubt, throw on a pair of comfortable white sneakers with your lemon yellow dress.

Adidas Superstar Sneakers in Triple White, $80 at Nordstrom

Nothing's better than a pair of classic white sneakers like the Adidas SuperstarNothing’s better than a pair of classic white sneakers like the Adidas Superstar

7. Denim Dress

For some people, denim is their go-to all year-round. While wearing bootcut jeans can be uncomfortable in the heat, it doesn’t mean you have to remove denim from your summer wardrobe.

Fashion it-girl Alexa Chung calls the denim dress her “ultimate chill out” look. You can find denim dresses in every silhouette from off-the-shoulder to shirt dresses.

Sian Welby, Giovanna Fletcher, and Vanessa Kirby prove that denim dresses can work with any shoe stylesSian Welby, Giovanna Fletcher, and Vanessa Kirby prove that denim dresses can work with any shoe styles

Bring some juxtaposition to your outfit by adding a pair of classic pumps to your masculine denim dress. You can keep it simple with a pair of black court shoes or add a pop of color to your look with a red or pink pair.

Schutz Analira Scalloped Suede Pumps, $98 at Shopbop

Give your masculine dress a touch of feminine glam with Schutz Analira scalloped pumpsGive your masculine dress a touch of feminine glam with Schutz Analira scalloped pumps

A denim dress is a great go-to look for the music festival season. Camping in a field or trekking between gigs can take a toll on your feet.

Add a pair of black combat boots or a pair of cowboy boots to help support your feet and keep you standing for the whole festival.

Steve Madden Troopa Combat Boots, $79.95 at Zappos

Get festival-ready and wear your denim dresses with Steve Madden combat bootsGet festival-ready and wear your denim dresses with Steve Madden combat boots

8. The Shirt Dress

Sometimes, all you want to wear is your boyfriend’s shirt and call it a day. A shirt dress can double as a beach cover-up and disguise a bikini or swimsuit if you’re thinking of cooling off at the pool.

This casual dress is one of the most versatile that you can add to your summer wardrobe. Adding a belt can help cinch in your waist and give your shirt dress a little structure.

Olivia Wilde, Amanda Holden, and Katie Price show the versatility of shirtdresses with heels and bootsOlivia Wilde, Amanda Holden, and Katie Price show the versatility of shirtdresses with heels and boots

If you want to bring a Parisian touch to your outfit, add a pair of ballet flats to your outfit. You can walk for miles in them, and they add a feminine twist to your look. Keep them in your tote bag to swap out for your heels or wear on your way to the beach.

Born Brin Ballet Flats, $79.95 at Nordstrom

Go Parisian-chic with a shirtdress and Born ballet flatsGo Parisian-chic with a shirtdress and Born ballet flats

A shirt dress is an understated but sexy look, especially if you choose a shorter length. You can elongate your legs with a pair of nude heels to wear your shirt dress to a bar or date night.

Nine West Zadie Heels, $89 at Zappos

Wear your short shirt dresses with nude heels to highlight and elongate your legsWear your short shirt dresses with nude heels to highlight and elongate your legs

If you feel like wearing boots, a shirt dress is a perfect length to experiment with over-the-knee boots. Try adding a black patent style to your white shirt dress for a classic look, or you can get keep your color palette light with a neutral nude shade.

Suede over-the-knee boots are a summer go-to for celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Taylor Swift.

Chinese Laundry Canyons Over the Knee Boots, $99.95 at Nordstrom

Mini shirt dresses look great with over-the-knee boots like Chinese Laundry's Canyons bootsMini shirt dresses look great with over-the-knee boots like Chinese Laundry’s Canyons boots

Credit: Sean Thorton / Adriana M. Barraza / JP-Rayne / JFXimages / David Sims / Phil Lewis / 
Avalon.red / Alberto Reyes / Rocky / Instar / WENN

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