I’m the weirdo who doesn’t prefer shorts. Unless I can pair them with a sweater, and then it’s magical. I’m also the weirdo who doesn’t prefer summer. It has its charms, of course. No need to drag a jacket everywhere. Long evenings on the porch. Croquet.

The downside is sweltering humid misery. I’m crabby when it’s 90+ degrees with eight billion percent humidity. After work and on weekends, I want to pull on something effortless and go. I also want to look reasonably put together in something a little more feminine than shorts and a polo. Shorts and a polo is the summer uniform from which I am determined to break free. I hope to break free this summer with the help of some key pieces.

But first, a quick unpopular opinion. Apologies to all of Instagram, but I just cannot with the Nap Dress style. It wouldn’t flatter me in a hundred years. So that’s sadly off the table for me. As a 5’5” pear, I need something with more structure. I wish I’d known about the Nap Dress (if it was around) in 2015 when I was expecting because they do look like a maternity wear dream.

For a really casual Sunday in the backyard, I love an LL Bean classic knit dress. They’re really comfortable, but fitted enough in the waist and top to be flattering.

To dress up or down, a Julia Amory ruffle dress (pictured above) is the best. So worth it, plus they go on sale frequently and arewoman in orange dress ridiculously comfortable. The JA website lists a lot of caveats about sizing, which made me nervous to order a size small. It wound up fitting perfectly, so I’m glad I didn’t size up.

A Sue Sartor Palmona flounce dress is a bit of an investment, but if it will be worn almost every day, it’s a solid one. I also love the vintage halter dress my mom got during some of her post-college travels – the one pictured is from Hawaii. I’m not usually big into halter dresses, but do love this one.