These Double-Duty Dresses Will Take You From the Beach to Dinner

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I have a Zimmerman beach cover-up that I wear all year round. It’s a beautiful, durable, printed cotton dress that is just as good over a bikini at the beach as it is with a slip, tights, and boots worn at the office. It’s a double-duty dress, and I have a closet full of them.

When you love a dress—the cut, the color, the fit—you want to wear it everywhere. I am a firm believer you shouldn’t have to compromise where to wear it as long as the fabric is practical and somewhat seasonless—think denim, broadcloth cotton, and twills. The gold standard of the double-duty dress is that they are effortless enough to flow seamlessly from one event to another, regardless of time and place. Length is also key. I happen to think the best double-duty dresses are mid-length as they are the most practical for all scenarios.

Accessories are key to the success of these wear-everywhere dresses. They can instantly take you from day to night without having to change. Take my most recent purchase as an example: A crisp white cotton Doen slip dress. By day I wear it with a K. Jacques sandal and my trusty Ulla Johnson woven brown belt—casual and practical. By night, I pair it with a minimalist strappy sandal by The Row and my favorite CVC stone pendant necklace, and suddenly I’m channeling my best Kate Moss. I find it much easier to swap accessories than I do the dress for every possible occasion that suits my body and mood.

Here, my edit of the best double-duty dresses to wear this summer but also, year-round.

Vita Kin Mathilde hand-embroidered linen dress

$1,684

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Sleeper Brigitte linen midi-dress

$290

BERGDORF GOODMAN

Agua by Agua Bendita Miel palm tree–embroidered cotton midi-dress

$700

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Zara embroidered midi-dress

$70

ZARA

Gimaguas Oahu dress

$153

GIMAGUAS

Tory Burch striped shirtdress

$398

TORY BURCH

Muzungu Sisters Frangipani floral-embroidered cotton maxidress

$785

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Merlette Paradis tiered shibori-dyed cotton sundress

$460

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Vika 2.0 belted striped Tencel-blend midi-dress

$564

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La DoubleJ V Trapezio dress, gumball in double georgette

$580

LA DOUBLEJ

La DoubleJ Jennifer Jane dress, Amalfi in cotton voile

$950

LA DOUBLEJ

Lisa Marie Fernandez belted ruffled checked cotton-blend jacquard midi-dress

$795

NET-A-PORTER

Odile Jacobs printed waxed-cotton wrap midi-dress

$625

NET-A-PORTER

Loretta Caponi Stefania ruffled, tiered striped cotton-blend poplin dress

$695

NET-A-PORTER

Matteau the long-sleeve button organic-cotton maxidress

$560

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LoveShackFancy Elspeth crochet-trimmed scalloped broderie anglaise cotton-voile shirtdress

$495

NET-A-PORTER

Polo Ralph Lauren Ashton stripe long-sleeve linen midi shirtdress

$248

NORDSTROM

Eres Laureate cotton maxidress

$780

MYTHERESA

byTiMo tiered gingham cotton midi-dress

$435

MODA OPERANDI

Matteau broderie anglaise organic-cotton poplin dress

$780

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Consider these dresses of the perennial variety—as in, they can be worn year round. But to make them feel extra summery for the season ahead, we'd recommend pairing them with lace up sandals or braided leather slides. Shop some of our favorite shoe suggestions, here.