These ethical summer dresses 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 summer dresses – and there’s something for you, no matter what your budget.
15 Ethical Summer Dresses For Any Budget
Dresses Under $150
All body sizes. All complexions. All ages. This is one of those ethical summer dresses that 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. It’s also the perfect frock for those on a budget
I just love the simplicity of this ethical summer dress! Namely, the side slit, flattering V neck and geometric cut. 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 organic cotton jersey, this dress comes in all sizes from small to tall. It’s the perfect outfit to throw on when you’re working from home. In fact, this is one of those ethical summer dresses that’s so damn comfortable, you’ll never want to take it off! It suits all body types, and even all kinds of weather! Pull the hood on if you’re caught in a summer shower, for example.
MONKI 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 eco-friendly 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. And priced at under $60, this is a great sustainable summer dress for those on a budget.
5. Recycled LBD
Looking for ethical summer dresses for evenings out? This dress by &Other Stories is made from recycled fabrics, and brings a bit of sparkle to the night!
The mini length adds some sex appeal, but the conservative neckline means it’s not too OTT. Plus, here’s a styling secret: a twist at the hip means any bloating your tummy may be going through will be well hidden. You’re welcome!
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
Olivia is just so pretty! She features a square neckline, open back, and hidden side pockets. Soft, breathable linen gives this sustainable sundress a fresh, crisp feel.
The dress is ethically made in Belarus from upcycled materials – namely linen and cotton.
Price: Around $210
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
Planning to hit the beach? Want to wear the most Instagrammable summer dress, like, ever? As seen in our main image for 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 ethical summer dresses more ‘pretty’ than ‘edgy’, you’ll love the feminine, floral offerings by Faithfull The Brand.
Their Alberte dress, for example, features puffed sleeves, a tiered skirt, and elasticised bust. It’s all created from natural, breathable linen.
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.
Let’s face it: ethical summer dresses can sometimes be a bit too revealing. Especially if you’re on your way to an important meeting. But it’s Ninety Percent to the rescue! Their chic, midi length dress is perfect paired with some vegan slides, or dressed up with some heels. You could make it fancy with some chunky bracelets, or dress it down with some Wellies. The possibilities are almost endless!
And there’s lots more to love! This is made from sustainable, lightweight, breathable Tencel, which has a flattering, stretchy fit. 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.
12. Lux Dress
Hey, cowgirl! This romantic dress is perfect for wearing with boots. It features organic cotton voile, a midi length and plenty of ruffles! Made by conscious brand St Roche, it also boasts great attention to detail, which is evident from the pintucks and hand-embroidered French knots.
Price: Around $375
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
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.
How romantic is this ethical summer dress? We love the pink colour, the mutton chop sleeves, the side cutouts…everything!
It’s made to order to fit your exact measurements. The makers of the dress, N-Duo, have created this beauty from breathable, lightweight silk.
Price: Around $410
This classic kaftan dress by MALA CHETTY will be a summer staple. The fresh white and bold hibiscus flower print lends an elegant style to the relaxed fit dress.
The dress will not only function as a graceful garment during daytime but one that will be just as refined in the evening. The kaftan looks fabulous with a simple sandal or paired with a heel and a statement clutch.
Price: Around $1,200
Main image: Eco Gypsy Second image: Eco Gypsy Bazaar Seseh dress. Get yours here.