The Magic Date Dress

One day last summer, my best friend texted with some news…

“I found a magic date dress!” she said. She was very excited about this.

“What?” I furrowed my brow. I had no idea what a magic date dress was, nor why she was fraternizing with one at 2 p.m. on a weekday.

“LOOK.” This text was followed by a dressing room selfie of my friend in what appeared to be the world’s most flattering dress. “I’m going to wear it out tonight with Doug from Bumble.” It floated around her in just the right way, kind of how everyone on a red carpet looks like they were born in custom fitted satin.

“It IS a magic dress!” I said. It was the only rational response.

The magic date dress became her go-to outfit — a lovely, somewhat playful standby to pull on for every new romantic encounter. For as long as I could remember, I had approached first dates with a drawn-out wardrobe selection process, inevitably ending with the old black-tank-top-and-jeans. Could there be a better way?

Naturally, I ran to procure such a garment for myself. (Technically I did not run, I took the subway, but you know what I mean.) After some trial and error, I found my own magic date dress, in a black floral print, and brought it into the dressing room. The waistline fell at just the right spot. The cap sleeves were the perfect marriage of sleeveless and not. Angels sang. (Technically angels did not sing, but a salesperson called, “How’s it going in there?” and it was relatively melodic.) I immediately wore it out to dinner. And to many others since.

With a magic date dress, you cannot go wrong. It is a uniform you can throw on without thinking, whether to impromptu coffee or a romantic meal. It feels good no matter what.

For a dress to be magic-worthy, there are a few key points: The most important thing is that you feel good in it. It toes the line between casual and caring. A playful pattern is a plus. As is a cut that’s loose enough to accommodate after-dinner breathing. Comfort is key — go on a fake date with yourself in the dressing room. Can you sit comfortably? Can you lift your arms? If you find yourself tugging or readjusting, move on.

Here are a few potentially magical options…

I wear mine with chunky heels when I mean business, and with sneakers (sorry, Mom) for those casual situations where I want to look like I tried but only sort of. It has never let me down. (In fact, it might be the very best thing to come out of the last year of dating! But that is another story.)

Do you have a magic dress, or another go-to date outfit? Recommendations welcome…

P.S. How to know if your partner is the one, and 14 great reader comments on dating.

(Photo of Alain Delon and Romy Schneider by Russell Melcher, 1959.)