Totally Cool

Steamy summer has arrived, and nothing feels cool enough on, except a bikini. Won’t do in certain situations, though. So, what will get you through the dog days

Banana Republic navy silk dropwaist dress

Banana Republic navy silk dropwaist dress

till fall? Great, light-weight, throw-on DRESSES are , that’s what.

They’re an easy, one-step sartorial solution for any situation, from work to walking that dog. The best have built-in style details that give you the instant chic with no layers. Check out these great, affordable versions we love from some surprising resources. Frock on in air-conditioned style.

Why does JCrew do everything so well? Michelle Obama continues to give them well-deserved exposure and fame,and, really, they do have some of the best dresses around this minute. There is an absolutely cool, easy, breezy sleeveless belted slight A-line sheath in soft graphite gray, silver-shot silk sirrah, with a rough-edged assymetric ruffled neck for

Martin+Osa watercolor print trapeze dress

Martin+Osa's print trapeze dress

Mango's medallion edged tee dress

Mango's medallion edged tee dress

$148.00. Another JCrew winner is almost the same silhouette in a darker grey cotton knit for a less pricey $88.00. Add a light cardigan for work. A short-sleeved JCrew wrap silk taffeta ruffle neck dress is a bit more covered, but still airy enough, in light pewter gray, black or chocolate for $129.00. Cool now, and really chic later for fall over black or charcoal sweater and tights.
Martin +Osa has a really interesting, eye-catching print trapeze shape summer
cooler in falcon blue, gray, navy and white silk for $130.00.. It’ll look great under a medium blue cardigan or a charcoal turtleneck for fall. Mango’s heather gray boat neck tee dress with brass medallions across the neck for $79.90 lends instant

MICHAEL Michael Kors abstract print sheath

MICHAEL Michael Kors abstract print sheath

transeasonal style to the wearer, no accessories required. Michael Michael Kors‘ dark blue and black abstract print cap sleeve cotton sheath dress has big designer ’80s genes in its simple inverted triangle shape — also very figure-forgiving — and will keep you cool and polished looking through summer’s worst. And at $129.50, it’s a real find.

Several of Ann Taylor‘s dresses are really terrific looking – and colorful, lest you think we only like darks and grays here at STYLED. A red pepper silk flat ruffled

Ann Taylor red ruffled neck sheath

Ann Taylor red ruffled neck sheath

front sleeveless sheath for $169.00 is totally hot for a dinner out, but cool and appropriate enough for work with a cardigan or jacket. A beautiful rose color AT silk subtly draped shift dress is elegant and only needs a

Ann Taylor rose silk satin dress

Ann Taylor rose silk satin dress

gray or cream sweater for the office (at $125.00). Two perfect LBDs (little black dresses) are Ann Taylor’s “perfect sheath” for $155.00, and wrap sleeveless ponte dress for $125.00, great day or night.

Old Navy comes in at $29.50 with a pale gray cotton shift dress that has a really good shape, and looks super-light, but polished enough for work. Liz Claiborne‘s Isaac Mizrahi-designed , black and white graph-print cotton

Old Navy gray cotton sheath

Old Navy gray cotton sheath

sleeveless, belted dress is a good crisp shape, and lends cool-as-a-cucumber poise to the wearer for a surprising $49.99.

Gap has a great color block tank dress in parchment and gray cotton that’s ultra-cool and looks right now in a soft neutral as we tone down summer brights to head into fall. A gray jacket or cardigan will do the trick for more toned down situations, and for $49.50, you can afford the air-conditioned feel.

Club Monaco offers a super-chic slightly A-line sheath dress in a shiny khaki fabric that bridges the odd moment between summer and fall perfectly. It’s $189.00 and worth its price in versatility.  For work, add a jacket or sweater in a matte fabric to make an interesting mix of textures, and for night, glam it up with more shine in accessories.  On a weekend, add flip-flops and get yourself to the market.

Gap colorblock dress

Gap colorblock dress

Lastly, Banana Republic‘s dresses get the nod for the most diversity in good design award for their very individual group of winning looks. A really stunning sleeveless silk dropwaist dress for $98.00 in navy is the perfect example of a casual shape in a dressy fabric hitting just the right note of chic summer ease for day, work or night depending on how you accesorize it. A ruffle-front cotton

Banana Republic gray shirtdress

Banana Republic gray shirtdress

short-sleeved shirtdress in steel gray or military blue is absolutely a great work dress, but can be dressed up to go out, or down for a Saturday ($125.00). And a dress I’ve loved since I first scoped it out this week is the Heritage satin safari dress for $132.00 in sand. This one is a

Banana Republic satin shirtdress

Banana Republic satin shirtdress

winner for work, under a gray or khaki boyfriend jacket, or for a casual day, throw on look with thong sandals.

So, quick, get a leg up on late summer style this minute with one-step dressing that makes life simple — and STYLED!

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