Here is the dress from Vogue Knitting (winter 2005/2006) that I keep meaning to knit for myself:
I would leave off the crocheted bobbly stuff.
Ravelry link, here.
The pattern calls for cashmere, but I would knit it with a wool/nylon blend. As I see it, that's the only choice available for winter dresses. The yarn is lightweight (by yard, compared to an equal length of, say, cotton or silk), is warm, and has strength. The big problem with knit dresses - even commercial ones - is what they call 'seating' in the industry, and what I've heard called 'bucket butt' more informally. That's when repeated sitting causes the butt area of the dress to stretch out of shape and leaves a large, sagging... spot on a part of your anatomy that likely needs all the help it can get to NOT look saggy. Nylon helps the wool's ability to 'bounce back' after being stretched repeatedly. That's one of the reasons it's in sock yarn.
Obviously, yarns with no ability to bounce back - most obviously silk, alpaca, llama, cashmere, and plant fibers - are a bad idea for dresses, particularly fitted dresses that WILL stretch when you sit down. Unless you intend to stand the entire time you wear the dress. In which case, go for it. Silk all the way, baby. See you in the hospital while they treat you for heat stroke.
The yarn used in this dress is a DK weight, knit at 3.5 stitches to the inch, which I think is pushing the envelope as far as it can go on weight/fabric thickness. But on the other hand, with all the square footage of a dress, you don't want to be knitting it on zeros or you'll never finish it.
If I were to design a dress, it would look a lot like this one (without the crochet - ha). The ribbing at the sides is excellent; it adjusts the fit to the individual AND adds a vertical line. The styling at the shoulders draws the eyes up and sort of broadens the view of the shoulders, so that it balances out the hips and leaves the impression of an hourglass figure, even on folks who might be a bit more test-tube shaped.
For summer, I'd try for something looser. No sleeves, and a flared skirt so air could move around the wearer, and lace patterns in places that won't let your ass hang out. And I'd use a yarn that was as light as possible, probably a cotton/tencel or cotton/nylon blend. Linen/nylon would be AWESOME, but I'm not sure it's made. Which is a damn shame.
And incidentally, yes, I could wear the dress. I'm five nine and wear a size ten and could wear the size large, as written in the pattern. All those times I bitch about the lack of size options? It's not because I'm a plus size. It's because I'm NOT a plus size, and often Vogue Knitting STILL doesn't offer things in my size. I find that damned pathetic, especially considering what the designers get paid. Cottage designers can turn out patterns with a huge range of sizes and make almost nothing, selling the patterns individually. And here come these great Designers who can't be bothered to do more than two sizes. I think it's a disgrace.
I'd design a knitted dress, but almost no one knits them. I'd rather stick with stuff like the Steeked Jacket that I know will be worn and enjoyed. And adjustable to anyone, of any size.