For anyone under 5’4”, the search for the best petite summer dresses is on. Warmer days are ahead and vacation plans are in sight. At 5’2”, I’ve been accustomed to having friends and colleagues tower over me all my life. Instead of trying to match their height with a pair of sky-scraping stilettos, I learned to embrace my petite frame and shop what I loved, and what I loved were dresses. But as many women in this size group know, there’s a strong chance that if you’re not paying attention to proportions, a new dress purchase might mean an extra foot of fabric we don’t need and ultimately, a trip to the tailor.
I used to think I couldn’t wear long maxi dresses, but they have now become my everyday uniform. If shopping online, the trick is to always check the garment’s “length” measurements to ensure it will fit your frame before checking out. (I look for dresses with a length of 51 inches and under, but the sweet spot is 40-45 inches.) I promise it will save you a headache from having to return it afterward. If you’re shopping at a retailer with an actual petite section, rejoice! They are far and few between, but labels like Reformation are making it easier to shop for petite sizes. And if you’re a fan of Hill House Home’s iconic Nap dress, trust me that I’ve road-tested both their signature Ellie and Nesli dresses, and they fit perfectly, coming down to just above my ankles. Proenza Schouler is one of my favorite, go-to designer labels for dresses for all occasions—from work to weddings. I have always found their dresses to fit my petite frame, without ever requiring a hemline fix.
Whether you’re looking to shop for an upcoming event, vacation, or preparing to go back to the office—these do not disappoint. Ahead, shop 24 of the best petite summer dresses to suit any of your future plans.
Midi Meets Maxi
Calling all maxi dress lovers: these fresh and vibrant pastel shades are the perfect hue for summer, and will fit with ease. Just style them with your favorite summer sandals and floppy hat.
Short and Sweet
If you prefer shorter hemlines, you can’t go wrong with Farm Rio’s puff-sleeved mini dress or Tove’s Clara dress with its signature tie-front detail.
Collared shirt dresses in breathable fabrics like linen will make office life in the summer comfortable and wearable.
If you’re planning a getaway soon, these caftans and breezy dresses will pair nicely with your island locale too.
For birthdays, picnics, or other daytime gatherings at the park or a rooftop in New York City, these summer dresses will be the talk of the party.
For dressed-up summer nights, consider Proenza Schouler’s sleek pleated colorblock dress, or for a night out in the town where the weather is hot and humid, consider this mini Jacquemus white dress paired with your favorite heels.