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These ethical dresses for summer are must-haves for any woman’s closet! We found dresses to fit all budgets, too
By Katy Caric
Ethical dresses for summer are must-haves in any woman’s closet. After all, the perfect summer frock is a marvellous thing. It’s easy to wear – you needn’t worry about matching tops and bottoms, or sometimes, even underwear – and easy to accessorise: hoop earrings, a great bag and sandals are all you need.
A summer dress is also versatile; casual enough for daytime, light and comfortable enough for the weather, and cute enough to make you feel beautiful, even when you can barely keep your head up for the heat.
But…how much are you willing to spend? On the one hand, these dresses can be worn year after year without looking dated. On the other hand, depending on where you live, you may only have a few months of weather good enough to allow you to rock your look, so you might not want to spend much on your summer wardrobe.
Here, I’ve rounded up some of the cutest ethical dresses for summer – and there’s something for you, no matter what your budget.
15 Ethical Dresses for Summer For Any Budget
Dresses Under $150
All body sizes. All complexions. All ages. This dress doesn’t discriminate – it looks fab on anyone! It’s made of 100% polished cotton by Everlane, and comes in 4 different neutral hues, too. It’s the perfect garment for when it’s so damn hot, you just don’t want to wear anything that clings to your body in any way.
I just love the details in this dress! Namely, the puff sleeve, midi length, ribbed fabric and front slit. It’s also a super-versatile style that can easily be dressed up or down for endless, different occasions. It comes from a highly responsible brand – Amour Vert – which ensures its production is fully ethical.
Made from 100% soft cotton jersey, this dress comes in all sizes from small to tall. It’s the perfect outfit to throw on for a picnic in the park – you can sit in this one without fear of displaying too much underwear, thanks to its length!
ASOS partnered with the Better Cotton Initiative to ensure the material used for this dress used resources in the most responsible way possible. The BCI not only aims to improve cotton farming globally, but also provides farming-practice training and promotes things like water efficiency and reducing the most harmful chemicals.
This dress comes from one of the pioneers in the sustainable fashion field – People Tree. Their in-house snakeskin printed dress is made from Tencel, and you can rest assured that ethical practices were followed every step of the way to create this fun, light summer dress!
I love the asymmetric hem and the fact that you can wear this different ways: belted, with a sweater over it, with sneakers or heels, for example.
Wish you could afford one of Reformation’s awesome maxi dresses, but haven’t got the budget? Well, ASOS’s responsible edit has produced this white number that’s pretty close! It features a midriff cutout, long front slit, and generous bust.
If you’re not familiar with the Responsible Edit, all the clothes featured here recreate waste plastics and textiles into new products. You’ll also find more sustainable fibres and fabrics which use less water and exert less waste in the production process.
Priced Between $150-$250
Made from sustainably sourced viscose (a fibre made from wood pulp), this is one of the best ethical summer dresses for work. Its midi-length skirt goes well with any height of heel, and the fitted bodice looks professionally tailored. It also has a sweet diamond cutout at the back, which can be covered up with a blazer for the office.
Not a fan of conservative navy blue? There are 9 fabrics to choose from for this style, including plenty of fun, summery floral prints!
Price: Around $218
This is one of my favourite ethical dresses for summer, because it reminds me of a Vogue photoshoot, circa 1970. You can almost imagine yourself lounging on handmade rugs in an exotic place (I’m thinking: Morocco), smoking a hookah or something. The tangerine colour of this Mara Hoffman dress is gorgeous, and the wide sleeves and small side slits give the outfit an exotic, kaftan-like feel.
Price: Around $195
Maggie Marilyn is a New Zealand based sustainable fashion designer whose styles we LOVE! But the truth is, they’re rarely affordable for most people. Until now! This gorgeous dress is made from silk crepe, and it just went on sale!
Dress this up with heels and jewellery for a summer evening event, or wear it with flat sandals for lunch with the girls.
Price: Around $263
As seen in our first and second images in this article, the Seseh dress by Eco Gypsy is a loose, breezy piece of gorgeousness that fits any body size or shape.
Ethically made from naturally dyed organic cotton by artisans in Bali, it comes in four different colours. This is one piece that’s bound to be a summer staple in your wardrobe for years to come.
If you like your summer dresses more ‘pretty’ than ‘edgy’, you’ll love this ‘Fran’ midi dress! It’s hand-printed with beautiful, vintage-inspired blooms, and is made from lightweight crepe. Its flattering wrap silhouette suits all body types, and it looks great with strappy sandals or sneakers.
Ethical fashionistas will be pleased to know that each piece made by this brand is hand-dyed, printed and sewn together by local artisans in Indonesia.
Imagine, if you will, the possibilities for this dress! You could wear it with trainers and take it on a bike ride to your local shops. You could throw it over a bathing suit and pair it with some vegan slides. You could dress it up with some chunky jewellery and a pair of heeled sandals. The possibilities are almost endless!
And there’s lots to love: this is made from sustainable Tencel, has a flattering, stretchy fit and midi-hem, and if you didn’t already know, Ninety Percent gives exactly 90% of its profits back to the workers who make their clothes, and deserving charities.
It’s a rare opportunity to find a silk dress by ethical brand AMUR for anything under $500 – but we’ve found this gorgeous number for you!
This delicate, feminine style features a pretty teal shade that’s decorated with ruffled butterfly sleeves and a peplum hemline.
Price: Around $490
Can’t decide whether you like florals or solid colours in a summer dress? The Rosehip model by Reformation comes in mix of 10 colours and textures! Choose from soft lavender, navy blue, basic black, yellow, white floral – or maybe best of all, this elegant ballerina pink.
We love the straight-cut bust line, midi length, delicate spaghetti straps….everything, really! In fact, of all the ethical dresses for summer, this may well be one of the most classic designs.
Price: Around $250
It’s all about attention to detail with this easy, breezy cotton dress! Decorated with with sparkly silver Lurex top stitching, this midi-length dress has slender crisscross straps and falls to a ruffled hem.
Balance the loose fit by cinching your waist with the self-tie belt, or choose to wear it loose for hotter summer days. Looks amazing with sandals, trainers or heels.
I love everything about this summer dress, from the capped, ruffled sleeves to the coral colour! Made ethically from linen from Cult Gaia, this is one of my favourite ethical summer dresses on the list. It has a ‘rich hippy’ flavour that screams ‘quality,’ whilst being understated at the same time.
Pair it with some of Cult Gaia’s incredible sandals and gorgeous bags for the perfect outfit.
Main image: Eco Gypsy Second image: Eco Gypsy Bazaar Seseh dress. Get yours here.
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