What is a Gauze Dress?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A gauze dress is a dress made of gauze, a material which is very light and sheer, and usually extremely comfortable to wear. Early forms of this material were generally made of silk, but now it would more common to see gauze dresses made in fabrics like cotton, which produce less sweating and have great “breathability.” Most often, these dresses are worn in the summertime because they provide extra comfort from the heat.

Woman shopping
Woman shopping

One of the most noted things about a gauze dress is its sheer nature. This may be an advantage if a dress is worn as a cover-up, over things like swimsuits. Alternately, many gauze dresses are designed as house dresses. This means they’re great for wearing around the home on hot days, but they’re not really suited for wear outside of the home.

There are ways that a gauze dress can be adapted for use outdoors, or can be designed for more decorative and dressy purpose. Some designers make dresses that feature full lining to prevent the sheerness of the material from creating accidental and unwanted exposure. Another option with gauze dresses or skirts is to wear them with a full or half-slip, so that modesty is maintained. Of course, lining the dresses or wearing slips diminishes some of the cooling comfort factor of the material, but the lightweight nature of the material still may feel cooler than other fabrics.

As summer dresses or cover-ups and whether for public or private use, a gauze dress can have many advantages. They usually require hand drying, but the material is usually so sheer that drying occurs rapidly, especially in warm weather. Gauze accepts dye easily, and can be made in beautifully bright colors or muted pastels. A number of gauze prints are also available. Many cover-up and housedresses of this material are relatively inexpensive too.

Due to the delicate nature of the fabric, a gauze dress should be handled with care. Carefully follow any instructions for cleaning, and if the dress can be machine washed on a gentle cycle, people should consider placing it in a fabric bag to avoid damaging it. Unfortunately, gauze can have a habit of ripping if it catches on things, and it’s very difficult to repair if a rip doesn’t occur on a seam.

Shoppers looking for a gauze dress will usually find the most options during the late spring and summer months. Prices vary depending upon design, manufacturer and individual vendor. Styles to look for include tank dresses, sundresses and more fanciful ones that can be worn for dressy occasions.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I'm not too fond of this fabric, mostly due to its durability. It's a fairly thin fabric, so it wears out quickly from machine washing. And if the weather is hot, clothing has to be washed often because there is so much of sweating happening. I've had a few gauze dresses tear after only a few uses. If I buy another one, I'v vowed to only wash it by hand and air dry it. This fabric does not like being machine washed and dried. It's too gentle for it.


@SteamLouis-- I agree with you but most gauze dresses are sold with that layer underneath so that one can't see through it. And that layer is also a thin, cotton fabric. So it still works to keep me cool in hot weather. There are also gauze dresses mixed with other fabrics to prevent them from being see through.

Since I live in hot climate, I own quite a few gauze clothing, especially dresses and tunics. Tunics are also great. I often wear them with sports bras which resolves the issue of having to wear a sleeveless shirt underneath.


Gauze dresses are great, but like the article said, they're sheer and see-through. So it's difficult to wear them outside. They can only be worn with another layer underneath, but that also beats the purpose of remaining cool and wearing a fabric that breathes.

I have a gauze dress that's a little see through. I only wear it on the beach and that's it.

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