9 Summer Dress Styles for Less

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SUMMER STYLE

Dressing for summer is all about looking stylish and staying comfortable without spending a lot of money. Here are nine hot designer looks at surprisingly cool prices.
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THE LOOK: INFORMAL MAXI

Maxi dresses priced in the triple digits fill the racks in stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. The MinkPink Little Blooms printed wrap-effect maxi dress with spaghetti straps and fluid skirt is a delicate and vibrant example of the style, but it's tagged at $119 at Bloomingdale's.
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INFORMAL MAXI FOR LESS

If that price is outside the budget for the season, try a floral maxi dress from Forever 21 for just $25. The cami-style top and flowing skirt create a versatile silhouette that looks good on just about every body type and goes just about anywhere, from backyard barbecues to date nights.
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THE LOOK: DRESSY MAXI

A halter maxi by Tomas Maier combines the comfort of a traditional maxi with sophisticated style. The burgundy linen dress ties around the neck and at the back. Even at a discount, it costs a jaw-dropping $519 at Barneys (down from $860).
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DRESSY MAXI FOR LESS

A similar flowing style, available in solid black or printed chiffon, sells for $32 at Old Navy. Spaghetti straps and a keyhole cutout in back add detail without showing quite as much skin as the pricey look-alike. Accessorize with a colorful bubble necklace and a cardigan for wedding season.
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THE LOOK: ILLUSION MAXI

The illusion maxi, with a long, flowing, sheer layer over a partial slip liner, is a flirty summer look. The overall effect can be casual or dressy, which makes it well suited for multiple occasions. The $98 strapless crochet knit maxi dress by Aqua comes in black or ivory.
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ILLUSION MAXI FOR LESS

What's no illusion is finding the same style in the same type of fabric at one-third the price. A crochet belted maxi dress by Lily Star is likewise available in black or ivory. Although it comes from Target's junior department, the cut flatters a range of ages and body types, and the sheer maxi overlay adds a whiff of femininity. At $33, it's hard to go wrong.
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THE LOOK: HIGH-LOW DRESS

Playing with the hemline of a dress -- higher in the front than the back -- adds visual interest to an outfit. Designers have given this style a lead spot on the runway, with upscale price tags to match. The black NSR high-low midi dress priced at $78 at Nordstrom is a good example of what wows the crowd.
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HIGH-LOW DRESS FOR LESS

A similar but less costly version is available in multiple colors for $30 at Target. The flowing high-low hem is sure to stand out in any setting and the floaty material is a cool choice for summer.
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THE LOOK: FIT AND FLARE DRESS

The full, softly draped skirt and sleeveless or spaghetti-strap top of the fit and flare silhouette help meet a number of summer fashion needs. The Eliza J floral-print fit and flare dress features bold flowers on a cream background and fetches $138 at Nordstrom.
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FIT AND FLARE DRESS FOR LESS

Save some hard-earned cash and opt for the Chaps floral fit and flare dress from Kohl's. This summer frock fills the same purpose as its high-end counterpart but starts at $60 on sale. Pair with flip-flops or heels, depending on the destination.
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THE LOOK: GEOMETRIC FLORAL PRINT

Big geometric prints are making big waves on designer racks this summer. They bring texture and color to any outfit and make a bold statement out on the town. An exemplar from Chico's features a large blue and green print and elbow-length sleeves -- along with a $129 price tag.
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Photo credit: Courtesy of jcpenney.com

GEOMETRIC FLORAL PRINT FOR LESS

Show off the geometric print look with a clearance-price $40 dress from JC Penney. With a bold aqua print and flattering fit, it can be paired with pumps for work or with sandals for the next summer party.
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THE LOOK: SHIFT DRESS

Shift dresses lack a defined waistline for a silhouette that suits a variety of body types. This style fits more loosely than other summer dresses -- one reason for its wide appeal. Nordstrom sells a slip-on Charlie Jade printed shift dress for $148 that features a short drop-shoulder sleeve.
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SHIFT DRESS FOR LESS

At H&M, a similarly trendy look costs just $25. Available in three eye-catching prints, this airy shift dress features side pockets and a rounded hem.

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THE LOOK: SHIRTDRESS

A shirtdress can be either casual or dressy depending on the fabric, color, and cut. It can also be fitted or loose, and the option of defining a waist with a self-tie belt gives the same dress more than one look. The Madewell Courier denim shirtdress is a classic, with its button front, pointed collar, and shirttail hem, priced at $98 at Nordstrom.
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SHIRTDRESS FOR LESS

For $45, ASOS offers a similarly casual and classic profile in a denim shirtdress by PullBear. Elbow-length sleeves, chest pockets, and a shirttail hem match the style of the more expensive dress for less than half the price.
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THE LOOK: ONE-SHOULDER DRESS

A dress with just one shoulder is a fetching and edgy summer look, cute and sophisticated all at once. The Ralph Lauren one-shoulder cape dress comes in classic navy with white detail, a small cape on the back, and a straight skirt to the knee. It's just right for a warm summer evening, except for the price: $144 at Macy's.
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ONE-SHOULDER DRESS FOR LESS

A stunning black one-shoulder dress from Charlotte Russe features similar white trim to accentuate the angle of the neckline, as well as the hem. At the time of writing, it was on sale for just $12 in sizes small and extra-small.