The best summer dresses in New Zealand to add to the basket before the season ends

After two years of wearing (mostly) sweatpants all day, the “home tailoring” game is strong, but sweat and sand don’t mix. So we went on a hunt for the best dresses in New Zealand to greet the sun this summer.

From recycled yarns to linen in a hundred ways and contemporary Maori designer dresses, many of these looks are signed by local brands. Almost all of them have earth loving elements, which makes these yarns a better choice than their fast fashion counterparts.

Here are the best New Zealand dresses to shop this summer.

Pini Lucy and Yak organic mini dress

Price: $70

With GOTS certified organic cotton and a tiny bit of elastane, this dusty pink Pini Mini Dress was handcrafted in India by tailors paid a fair wage. Plus, it’s SO cute.

Aere Tiered Cross Back Linen Dress

Price: $136.73

We see the back of a black women's dress with balloon sleeves and crossed straps on a back cutout.

For a fully-fledged summer princess atmosphere, this Linen dress with crossed back rufflesin white or black, ticks all the boxes.

The Keep Fantasy Shin and Me Shirt

Price: $590

Two people wearing large shirts - one yellow, one blue - with balloon sleeves.

There will be only one question in your mind when you spy this loose shirt dress in yarn-dyed silk with shell buttons and a pretty collar: blue or yellow?

Dress Layplan Studio Nancy

Price: $490

A woman with multicolored braids, wearing a flowing orange and white dress, holds a white parasol in a park.

Made from unsold polyester, we think this full-length tangerine Nancy dress is super dreamy.

Kinney Rou Slip Dress

Price: $311.31

A woman standing on a boardwalk wears a gingham dress and white converse while looking out to sea.

Match your picnic mat, jams and napkins with this cute look from Kinney. the Rou slip dress is made from French linen and features a V-neckline that is mirrored in the back.

Recycle Boutique Vintage Floral Dress

Price: $65

A woman wears a vintage dark green floral print American dress.

Be the inner-outer flow in this american vintage dress dotted with flowers. There’s literally one, so if you like it, you better put it in your cart, stat. And if you miss, stick around and browse their shelves — in-store or online — you’re sure to find a pre-loved piece of jewelry.

Princess paper bag

Price: $?

A woman sits in a dark pink armchair wearing a light pink lace dress as she looks off camera.

Another great second store to buy a summer dress in Tāmaki Makaurau is Princess paper bag on the road to Karangahape. With up to 1,000 pre-loved items arriving each week, there’s a dress (and more) for every mood.

Afends Billy – Hemp Long Checked Dress

Price: $107

A woman is wearing a long moss-checked dress.
Made with a blend of hemp and Tencel (which is a more eco-friendly alternative to rayon and viscose), this maxi dress in foam tiles is light and fluid, a perfect choice for summer.

Kinney Bowie Dress

Price: $377.23

A woman wears a large white dress that ties in the middle and has a black swoosh on its lower half.

For summer days with a burst of drama, we love everything about the bowie dress by Kinney, from the balloon sleeves and pockets to the fact that it’s made from 100% linen.

Rubi Soon Maternity linen nursing dress

Price: $137

A woman wears a neutral-colored linen dress that stops at the knee, with sandals.

If you’ve recently made a little human – amazing, by the way – you can still look totally chic while nursing in this linen number with ruffled sleeves by Soon Maternity.

Papa Clothing Bub Dress

Price: $320

A woman wears a dark pink linen dress with balloon sleeves and a matching face mask.

By now you understand that we have a (major) obsession with linen and that’s because it’s quite high on the list of sustainable fabrics. In this beautiful linen Bubble dress in blush by Papa Clothing Pacific Island/Pakeha designer, Keva Rands, you’ll live out your floating fantasy.

Dress Mitchell Vincent Pou

Price: $190

A snapshot of two women wearing pink/purple dresses in different styles.

This muscle back slip dress was designed to embody the silhouette and strength of the Maori pou. It’s made in Kirikiriroa/Hamilton from end-of-line textiles, which means it’s great for you and Papātūanuku.

Kinney Clara Reversible Dress

Price: $309

A woman wears a dark brown full-length dress with loose sleeves and two ties that create a hint of a bow across her bust.

Sometimes you just want to rock your clothes to the back, and the Clara reversible dress totally oblige. Opt for a cut-out under the bust and a flowy paneled skirt, or a simple square neckline that can be cinched, depending on your mood.

La Vida Bow Tie Mini Dress

Price: $599

Two women wear dresses reminiscent of storybooks and smile on the ground.

For a whimsical, Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Mexico vibe, you can’t go wrong with the La Vida Bow Tie Mini Dress made with linen.

Cloth & Co – Boxy organic cotton t-shirt dress

Price: $126

A head-to-toe shot of a woman wearing a burnt orange midi t-shirt with sandals.

Organic cotton is free from harmful chemicals used in the production of inorganic cotton, which makes it better for you and the environment, and since organic cotton seeds are cheaper than inorganic seeds, they are also better for you. Farmers. This product certified GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic cotton boxy t-shirt is perfect for relaxed summer days.

Elsie Bodysuit Dress in Bamboo

Price: $115

A pregnant woman wears a dark green bamboo jersey dress with a side slit.

Bamboo Body stands for stylish comfort and their casual t shirt dressmade with the brand’s own stretched bamboo jersey is no exception.

Princess Highway Cockatoo Shift Dress

Price: $95.71

Two women hold hands wearing matching yellow and blue cockatoo print dresses.

If you’re in the mood to don a brightly colored number, highway princess makes a bunch of viscose-linen shift dresses in cheerful prints, as well as a range of cute soft jumpsuits.

Seer & Wilde Water Kimono

Price: $249

A woman wearing an orange kimono style dress over brown high waisted separates.

Made in Aotearoa from 100% linen, this one size fits all Japanese inspired water kimono can be dressed up or down, even over a bathing suit, and the belt doubles as a headband or scarf, depending on the occasion.

Cosmic Black Organic Hemp Strappy Slip Dress

Price: $59.95

A woman wears a salmon slip dress with pockets over a black t-shirt.

Hemp requires very little water to grow, making it a solid choice for a more sustainable wardrobe. This sweet slip dress– with all-important pockets – is made from a blend of organic hemp and GOTS certified organic cotton, and is naturally antimicrobial, UV protective, moisture wicking, insulating and odor resistant. Well, shit.

ReCreate Plaid River Dress

Price: $249.90

A woman in a yellow gingham dress and bucket hat stands in front of a sheet in a field.

Ethically made at Goel Community in Cambodia, the ReCreate River Plaid Dress is made of handwoven artisan cotton. We also love their Inclined dress in olive tree.

Pania Tongariro long dress

Price: $180

We see a woman from behind, she holds her hair up and looks aside while wearing a green linen dress.

Plant lovers will fall in love with this sleeveless Tongariro Maxi by Pania. It is made in Aotearoa from light linen, perfect for summer, and its color is reminiscent of linen.

On the way to the beach? Get some new clothes this summer with New Zealand’s coolest swimwear.

Image credit: ReCreate, Cosmic, Aere, The Keep, Layplan, Kowtow, Kinney, Recycle Boutique, Paper Bag Princess, Afends, Kinney, Soon Maternity, Papa Clothing, Mitchell Vincent, Nichola, Kinney, La Vida, Cloth & Co, Lucy and Yak, Bamboo Body, Princess Highway, Seer & Wilde, Cosmic, ReCreate, Pania.

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