Tropical Summer Dresses

summer dress

Tropical summer dresses in cheerful colors and patterns will add fun to any summer wardrobe. Dresses inspired by the beautiful scenery of the tropics come in a variety of styles, colors, patterns and lengths.

About Tropical Summer Dresses

Island-inspired summer dresses range from casual, everyday dresses that can be worn with flip-flips to summer dresses for special events. The one thing these dresses have in common is that they're light, airy and meant to keep you cool in the hot weather.

Colors and Patterns

Summer dresses inspired by tropical destinations are lightweight and often have bold and colorful prints. When it comes to tropical patterns, you won't see any tiny floral patterns; prints usually feature large flowers inspired by flora native to tropical islands, like hibiscus or palm. The colors of tropic-style dresses take cue from the palette of the islands, like Caribbean blues and greens, bright reds and pinks, and sunny oranges and yellows.


During the summer months in the tropics, women often wear summer dresses in light, gauzy or silky fabrics. Thin cotton is a popular fabric, as is eyelet cotton. Lightweight cotton/polyester blends that resist wrinkles are popular choice for tourists as they are easy to care for and don't have to be ironed.

Types of Tropical Summer Dresses

Island-style summer dresses can be long, short or anywhere in between. On the islands, women prefer to wear dresses and clothes that are loose and unrestrictive.

  • Short dresses: For a casual, everyday look, pair a short summer dress in a tropical pattern with comfortable sandals or flip flops. Add a coordinating bag and sandals with a heel for a dressier look.
  • Mid-length dresses: A dress that falls just below the knee makes for a feminine silhouette. Show off those calves by pairing a dress like this with espidrilles that tie around the ankle.
  • Long dresses: Maxi dresses or long summer dresses can be worn both day or night. For evening events, wear a long dress with high-heel cork espadrilles or high heel sandals. If you're petite and concerned about how a long dress will fit on your smaller frame, opt for a petite sized maxi dress.

Style Choices

Tropical-look summer dresses come in a variety of styles. Choose the style that flatters your figure. Here are a few popular summer dress styles:

  • Tank style dresses: This kind of sleeveless, summer dress can be short or long.
  • Halter dresses: A summer dress that appears to wrap around the neck flatters most figures. Think fun and flirty, like Marilyn Monroe.
  • Spaghetti strap dresses: A dress with skinny shoulder straps is a great choice on a hot day; just be sure to use sunblock or bring a lightweight scarf to protect against sunburn if you'll be outdoors in the daytime. A dress like this in a silky fabric is a choice for a beach wedding or other formal event in the summer.
  • T-shirt syle dresses: Basic casual dress for every day wear. Most of these dresses feature colorful, tropicial prints. For a pulled together look, opt for a t-shirt style dress that belts at the waist.
  • Tunic dress: This type of dress usually has a v-neck collar. Tropical tunic dresses can be sleeveless or have three-quarter length sleeves or long sleeves. A tropical tunic, in a lightweight or sheer fabric makes a great beach cover-up.
  • Flutter sleeve dresses: This style dress gives an added feminine touch. It covers the shoulder caps and part of the upper arm with pretty, lightweight fabric.

Accessorizing a Tropical Dress

When it comes to accessorizing a tropical dress, less is more. Here are a few tips for accessorizing a boldly-patterned summer dress:

  • Jewelry: Avoid chunky metallic jewelry and opt for simple, natural jewelry. Earrings, necklaces and bracelets made with beads, pearls or shells are the perfect finishing touch to a tropical look.
  • Lightweight scarves: Wear a sheer scarf or shawl to cover bare shoulders on a sunny day. Use it to ward off the chill as the sun sets.
  • Shoes: Just about any kind of sandal will look great with a tropical dress. If you'll be doing a lot of walking, opt for a sandal with straps.

In the right style and with complementary accessories, an airy summer dress can look at home in a variety of summer situations.

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Tropical Summer Dresses