Over a decade ago, the term “lipstick index” was coined by Leonard Lauder, son of cosmetics legend Estée Lauder. When the economy plummeted in the early '00s, lipstick sales rose as women reached for luxury splurges on the cheap.
The summer of 2013 has spurred another index of sorts. As the temperature has hit unrelenting highs in the 90s, we’ve seen dresses hit the pavement. It may seem ironic to swath oneself in more fabric on sweltering days, but you’ll have to trust us on this one. The maxi is perfect to hop from freezing, AC-controlled offices to the outdoors, and acts as a perfect shield against pesky urban mosquitoes. We’ve rounded up a slew of picks that look just as chic skimming the Central Park grass to fluttering along the beach.
Dressing for formal fetes in the summer months can get incredibly tricky thanks to the age-old question: long or short? Luckily, Milly answers our prayers with her abstract-print halter dress. It will show off just enough of your tanned décolletage, while still keeping things just this side of demure. $545. 900 Madison Avenue; 212-395-9100; millyny.com
Whether you’re spending the rest of summer on the island of Manhattan or the isle of Capri, Rachel Roy’s maxi deserves to be your go-to frock. She mixes a rich indigo and mahogany print on a dress that (thanks to some serious ruffle detailing) practically floats. $498. Bloomingdale’s, 1000 Third Avenue; 212-705-2000; bloomingdales.com
Victoria Bartlett’s underwear-inspired label, VPL, makes incredibly wearable closet basics. Her ultra-comfy two-tone maxi dress features cinched elastic details in the front and back to ensure a streamlined fit. $415. Blue & Cream, 1 East 1st Street; 646-360-3768; blueandcream.com
No one captures the ease of Parisian dressing quite like Isabel Marant. Take her Melissande floor-grazing with its virtually weightless silk-crepe fabric and elongated keyhole at the bodice. Pair this with a floppy hat and worn-in leather satchel and you’ll have Marant’s je ne sais quoi, too. $1,455. 469 Broome Street; 212-219-2284; isabelmarant.com
How much do we love Diane von Furstenberg’s Samson maxi? Let us count the ways: DVF’s signature wrap fit, sumptuous silk jersey, and a charming criss-cross back. Not to mention a refreshing aqua-and-white all-over print. $485. 874 Washington Street; 646-486-4800; dvf.com
The muted, earthy colors and easy fit make this strapless Cynthia Vincent dress a bohemian must-have. Pop on some gold hoops and espadrille wedges and you’re set for an outdoor concert in Central Park or simply a daytime (iced, natch) coffee break. $355. Intermix, 1003 Madison Avenue; 212-249-7858; intermixonline.com
NYC-born and bred designer Jonathan Simkhai has given us an ingenious maxi dress that unites a shirt-dress silhouette with strips of sheer paneling. You’ll be able to show off your legs, while still protecting them from AC drafts on the F train. $525. Barneys New York, 660 Madison Avenue; 212-826-8900; barneys.com
British boy-wonder Christopher Kane has us lusting after his floor-length slip. The floral motif and sumptuous velvet material are decidedly feminine, while the shiny silver zipper offers just the right amount of edge. $1,280. Kirna Zabete, 477 Broome Street; 212-941-9656; kirnazabete.com
As a consummate traveler who splits her summer months between her Upper East Side apartment and Southampton abode, we trust that Tory Burch knows a thing or two about crafting the perfectly packable dress. Her sporty, striped tank dress is made of a stretchy, jersey-like material that refuses to wrinkle. It’s ideal for stashing in your tote for donning after the beach—or (better yet), after work. $495. 38 Little West 12th Street; 212-929-0125; toryburch.com
DKNY’s lemon-yellow racerback maxi was the pièce de résistance of the designer’s spring/summer collection. It includes a sheer, mesh back and thoroughly glamorous front side slit. $695. 420 West Broadway; 646-613-1100; dkny.com