What Is A Sundress? Here's The Official Definition

Certain pieces stand out for their timeless appeal and inherent charm. Among these, the sundress holds a special place as the symbol of effortless feminine beauty. That's why it's important to know exactly what sets it apart from other summer dresses.

By Carmen Schober2 min read

Not surprisingly, the abundance of opinions and preferences on the internet has overcomplicated a simple question, which is "What is a sundress?" As an authority on all things fun and feminine, let us officially set the record straight.

Many on social media have confused the sundress with bodycon dresses, prairie dresses, long sleeve dresses, two-piece sets, midi dresses, and maxi dresses. To be clear, none of these are genuine sundresses.

The Origins of the Sundress

The term "sundress" as we know it today gained significant popularity in the 1960s, largely thanks to the iconic designs of Lilly Pulitzer. Her vibrant, floral prints and carefree styles captured the spirit of the era, eventually transforming the sundress into a must-have wardrobe staple for warm weather. Since then, the dress has evolved into a specific style and silhouette that sets it apart from others, the technical definition includes six distinct features.

The Technical Definition


The fabric of a sundress is lightweight and breathable, perfect for staying cool during the warmest months. Common materials include cotton, linen, and lightweight blends that allow for maximum comfort and ease of movement.

Sleeveless Design

True to its name, a sundress is sleeveless, offering freedom and ventilation. It typically features thin spaghetti straps, although variations with wider straps can also be found. Full sleeves are not a feature of a sundress.


The neckline of a sundress is often designed to highlight the collarbone and shoulders, with styles ranging from sweetheart and scoop to V-neck and square. This adds to the feminine allure of the dress. Higher necklines can be flattering, but they change the style of the dress and make it more modern rather than keeping it classically feminine.


A defining feature of the sundress is its gently cinched waist. This design element accentuates the figure without feeling restrictive, ensuring comfort and a flattering fit.


The skirt of a sundress is usually A-line, flaring out from the waist and falling at or above the knee. This creates a loose, flowy silhouette that moves gracefully with the wearer. Midi and maxi-length dresses are beautiful, too, but sundresses feature a shorter length.

Print and Color

Traditionally, sundresses feature bright, cheerful prints, with floral patterns being particularly popular. Colors are typically vibrant, with yellow being a classic favorite that evokes sunshine and warmth.

The Appeal of the Sundress

The sundress is loved for its combined features of comfort and beauty. The design flatters a variety of body types, emphasizing curves while providing a relaxed fit that's perfect for casual outings, beach trips, and summer parties. The airy materials and light construction make it ideal for hot weather, while the playful prints and colors reflect the joyful, carefree spirit of summer.

Not only do women adore the classic sundress, but it's notably the most attractive piece of clothing a woman can wear, according to men. There's scientific backing to this as well. To begin, "When looking for a potential partner, studies show that men prioritize women who are good-looking and slender. Thanks to its bodice style that tapers at the waist and drapes gracefully across your hips, men love that the sundress perfectly enhances your feminine figure. No matter if you naturally have a fuller figure, a straight silhouette, or anything in between, sundresses hug your curves and can even give the illusion of a more tapered, snatched waist."

Additionally, "The free-flowing movement that sundresses afford us give off major “girl-next-door” vibes. Sundresses make a statement on their own, looking chic by default whether or not you put much thought into your outfit as a whole." One of the men interviewed by Glamour on this topic put it perfectly, saying that the sundress “gives a man most of the information he needs but makes him want to explore even more.”

The Perfect Example

The Evie Bra Sundress in Limoncello Floral was designed with each of these elements in mind, including a comfortable, built-in bra for seamless sculpting, hidden pockets, high-quality fabric, and a thin lining to ensure it's not see-through in the sunshine. Feminine details like a dainty string bow, a sweetheart neckline, frilly ruffles, and a gorgeous floral print make it picture-perfect.

In essence, a sundress is more than just a dress—it's a statement of femininity with enduring popularity and appeal. Whether paired with sandals for a day at the beach or accessorized with heels for a garden party, the sundress remains a quintessential must-have in any woman's wardrobe.

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