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Dressing Room Diaries – Knee-Length Summer Dresses

The hunt for a casual dress is never an easy one. They’re a great one-and-done option for many ladies and cooler than pants or shorts in the hottest weather. A reader asked me to share more options so today, I’m going to focus on a few knee-length summer dresses, I tried on for you last week.

If you’re new here, welcome. A dressing room diary is when I go into a local store for a try-on session so you can see what’s new and how it looks on a woman over 25. For reference, I am 5’4″ and weigh around 134 lbs with broad shoulders and straight hips. I have a long torso and arms so I often buy one size larger on top.

I try on clothes in colors and shapes that may or may not flatter me so you can see what’s in the stores and get some styling ideas. I tell you what sizes I am wearing to help you understand how things run. As always, you can click the red text for more info and to shop the item at no additional cost to you.

woman wearing striped tee knee length summer dress
A-LINE TEE SHIRT DRESS

This A-line knit tee shirt dress comes in a floral or this stripe in misses, petite, women’s, and tall. The center back length is – misses 38″, petite 36″, women’s 41″, and tall 40″. I am wearing a petite medium that fits through the shoulders and flares loosely over the hips. It’s a cotton/Tencel.spandex blend that will be very cool in hot weather.

WOMAN WEARING CHICOS KNEE length summer DRESS
PLEATED PUFF SLEEVE DRESS

This woven puff sleeve dress comes in 3 colors in sizes XS-XXL (22/24). I am wearing an XS which is snug through the shoulders so it runs true to size. It’s a cotton/nylon/spandex blend with a 39″ inseam. The reviews are positive, except for one that complained it was not lined which I find true for many dresses.

woman showing blue knee-length talnots summer dress for women over 50
TIE-DETAIL KNIT SHIFT DRESS

This 100% cotton dress comes in 3 colors- misses, petite, plus, and plus petite sizes XS-XL. The length is 38 1/2″ in misses, 36 1/2″ in petite, 42″ in plus, and 39 1/4″ in plus petite. I am wearing a small in misses which is too narrow through the shoulders and snug on me so runs a bit small and I suggest you size up. The adjustable tie gives a nice shape to the dress you can make at tight or loose as you like. You could easily dress this up or down with a change of accessories and footwear.

 

PLEATED SHIFT DRESS

This pleated shift dress has a flattering shape in a rayon/spandex blend. It’s sized XS-XXL with a length of 39″. I am wearing an XS which is too snug so it runs true to size. Here is the short sleeve version which I assume more women will gravitate to. It can also be dressed up or down which is a nice option, especially when traveling. The waist is slightly above my waist which is normal in a dress that’s too small for me.

WOMAN WEARING ABOVE KNEE DRESS AT JJILL
LINEN EMBROIDERED AND BEADED DRESS

This 100% linen dress comes in misses, petite, women’s, and tall in sizes XS-4X. It is unlined. I am wearing a small petite. The center back length is- misses 38½”, petite 36½”, women’s 41″, tall 40½”. It’s a slim A-line that feels more like a straight shift to me. This dress could also be loose belted if you wanted to have some waist definition but there was no belt in the store for me to illustrate.

POSITANO TIE-WAIST DRESS

This A-line dress comes with this embroidery or in an all-over floral. It’s 100% cotton with rayon embroidery. It has a drawstring through the front waist that allows you to snug it in slightly for some shaping. It comes in misses, petite, women’s, and tall sizes XS-4X. The length at the center back is -misses 37½”, petite 35½”, women’s 40″, tall 39½”. I am wearing a misses small. It is lined so no slip is required.

more knee-length summer dresses

If you wear dresses, what length do you prefer?

Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

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34 Comments

  1. I bought the t-shirt dress (stripes) you are wearing, but in a floral pattern. I love it, it is so comfortable, perfect length, and even though just a shift, it looks nice on me, and I wear a Large in that dress. Simple, casual, but looks nice still. All the dresses look good on you. I like knee length dresses for summer coolness.

  2. You look fantastic in all of them. My body shape and size are entirely different from yours, so my results would probably vary greatly. I wish more companies would make sleeves just above the elbow or elbow-length choices for warm-weather dresses. I know so many women are arm self-conscious. Thank you for your reviews and postings.

  3. I bought two of the front tie dresses. They are so flattering. I used to have a well-defined waist, but that went away, I think during menopause. Anything with a sewn-in waistline doesn’t work for me anymore. Perfect length, also – just below the waist. My mother told me I looked good in royal blue so I have quite the royal blue wardrobe. Even though my coloring is and was different than yours, royal blue is good on you too. Thanks for the fun entry today. Much better for us than mumus!

  4. The tie detail dress is cute, definitely worth a try-on. But I’ve found that most of the straight shift dresses look like paper bags on me, plus I would need leggings on underneath so I could bend and reach, now I’m too hot. Back to linen pants and a cute top for me.

  5. Love the blue dress on you, sure hope you are keeping it. Liked the black one but in the royal blue color. But sadly no petites. I’m a cool winter so am drawn to the bright colors.
    I’m one who loves to wear dresses in the summer they are so cool. I wear what we call pantaloons. Gives more coverage when bending over or squatting. Mine are 30 years old (just keep waiting for the elastic to give out). They are hard to find now these days. I did find a pair by Vanity Fair.

  6. Your’re definitely a dress girl. I am too. Why would I bother with shorts and waistband that makes me hot? I find that shorts can be uncomfortable when bending or sitting. Bring on the dresses, they are great and so cool. I have a collection of little short sleeved cardigans for when the sun goes in.

    1. I am not a shorts gal, but I do have two pairs and wore one to sit on the lawn for a little league game last weekend.

  7. I love each and every dress except the striped t-shirts dress. Horizontal stripes always make you look bigger & shorter. I’m 5’4″ so naturally, I’d like to look taller. I’d like to go on a shopping as pre and buy on each of all the other dresses as. Thank you do much, Jennifer!!!

  8. I really like the striped dress or any t shirt dress looks great. I bought a black t shirt dress with sleeves last summer and it actually fits. They all look great on you.

  9. I bought that royal blue dress last week! Also 5’4″ but about 15 lb heavier than you. I got the large and love it. So cool and comfy. Haven’t worn it yet but it is going in my suitcase for our Viking cruise next month!

  10. I prefer dresses that hit at the knee or mid calf. I know the maxi is popular now, but I just find them to have too much fabric for me.

  11. I like the T-shirt dress, the white embroidered dress and the royal blue dress (looked awesome on you).
    Thanks for modeling.

  12. I think that knee-length or just below is a flattering length for most women. Having said that, I am drawn to somewhat longer lengths this summer (although I have yet to buy a dress/skirt). I would not wear any of the dresses shown. I like the knit A-line tee dress b/c of its casual vibe but wouldn’t buy it as I want elbow sleeves, or at least longer than the ones shown.

  13. The Pleated Puff Sleeve Dress is my favourite of all. It would be cute with espadrilles and a straw bag. But, I need dresses below the knees. I’ve had a knee replacement and the scar is not pretty. I love sheath dresses but rarely wear one now, except my black one which I wear black pantyhose to disguise the scar.

  14. Thank you for the try on today. I especially like the ivory and aqua linen dress . You look great in almost all of them. My favorites for summer are sleeveless linen dresses. Since I am retired, I don’t concentrate on lining in them. Because it is very warm where I live, a lining would make the dress hot to wear.

  15. I think as I have osteoarthritis in my knees that I will be going for a longer length. I’ve seen some but they appear t be ankle length. If you find any could you post them please.

  16. You look good in all if them, but at my age what oddly draws my attention to other older women is our arms and feet. So I love tops/dresses with sleeves, even the thinnest fabric can disguise crepey upper arms. Is the Positano a beach cover up? Looks like it would be perfect.
    And I love any shoes/sandals that cover up toes. Some think that exposing toes lengthens the leg, but I find them very aging. These simple flats you’re wearing look fantastic, and are very flattering with your great legs.

    1. The embroidery style does resemble a coverup but it’s not intended to be. Of course, you could certainly wear it as one.

  17. I am conscious of see through clothes. In the dressing rooms you can’t tell but in daylight it is obvious. How can you determine if it’s “office appropriate” without asking the sales staff if you can walk outside or stand in the window?

    1. I walk to a bright place, bend over and look through the front of the skirt. Doesn’t always work. You can also hold fabric up towards a light and wiggle your fingers on the other side to check sheerness. If not lined, I wear a slip.

  18. The Positano tie waist dress really caught my eye. I prefer upper arm coverage and the soft colors are so appealing also. I always have to remind myself that a knee length dress will react to every body movement. When you sit down, bend over or reach, the entire dress will move.
    Love your hair style and color Jennifer! So fresh, so flattering!

  19. I like the tie detail knit dress. The dress would look great with a necklace. Glad it comes In petite ,and the rose color.

  20. As great as you look in nearly all summer dresses you’ve shown us, I really do think the knee length summer dresses are most flattering. You have nice legs and the shorter length seems to make you look taller.
    When you’ve modeled some of the long dresses , they sometimes seem to overwhelm you.
    Abd the shorter length will be cooler !

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