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The Magic Date Dress

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.)

  1. Alex says...

    Your writing is he best, Caroline. No topic mundane enough for you to work your magic on. And I too am from the thrifting side because with the money you spare on a second hand dress, you can afford to make it tailored so as fit you perfectly. It’s a win-win: adjusted, original, ecological and provides work for local workers. (AlthoughI have to admit that I would be tempted by the playful pattern dress you discovered!)

  2. Susan says...

    Last week my Mum asked me to drive her to Talbots. She was looking for something special to celebrate her belated 80th birthday. I found a beautiful rich sky blue floral sleeveless dress. After I assisted her with it she smiled and asked me to try it on. As a former Special Events Fundraising Manager my wardrobe consist of the usual little black or dark dress or suites. Despite my apprehension I did try it on and I felt as if I could tackle anything in this dress. Even though it is floral, by just changing the wrap or cardigan color, wearing high heals or ballet flats, the dress can be worn to almost any event. If I should wear it on a date and he doesn’t like it, bye bye to him. I just love how the dress looks on me and how I feel. It also helps me explore a more feminine side of myself.

  3. Jessie says...

    Yes! I have a magic date dress. I got it from Nasty Gal. It’s black (of course), short sleeve, with lace on the front up towards the neck. The back is a sheer black. It flares out from the waist. It fits me like a glove and hugs all my curves. I wear it with black tights, and wedge black suede ankle boots. I feel so sexy and hot and confident it in. Needless to say I wear it often when my husband and I go on dates.

  4. Yep, I have a first date dress. I bought it in the US in 2008 or 2009 (I’m aussie) and it’s great – there’s a slit at the neck/chest which I pin closed, but it allows cleavage peeks. It’s short, but not indecent. I can have a fat day and still love it. And it’s got 3/4 sleeves as sometimes I do not love my upper arms. My ex (of four years) did not like the dress. He is gone. It’s obvious why!

  5. Nicole says...

    Months before my senior prom (many years ago) my mom and I were shopping for other things when I spotted a dress I loved. It was out of our budget, but my mom bought it saying, “It’s your turn. I’ve already had my turn.”
    I love everything you write, Caroline!

    • Rachel says...

      This is SO SWEET, what a wonderful mom thing to do.

  6. Can we discuss that top photo? That is 100% Caroline, no? And I really wanted to know the story behind the photo. Like the longing gaze and why the guy is digging into the mussels (or whatever dish it may be) when clearly, look at the glow on her face that’s accentuating her longing. Hello! Way better than mussels. *Laugh* I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought it was Caroline!

  7. Sylvia says...

    Hi there,
    a little late but wanted to share a link for dresses. I never bought one myself, because since I discoverd them I couldn’t afford one and then when lookin for a dress forgot about them. But the post reminded me of their idea, so here it is https://www.ladress.com/

  8. I found mine a year ago when I saw it on a friend who looks gorgeous in whatever she wears (even/especially in her birthday suit… ehm), so I wasn’t sure it would look good on me too, but I went to the store anyway. And lo and behold, I looked (and felt!) extremely cute if I may say so.
    The only drawback was the colour (a dark olive), but lo and behold again: COS seems to run the same cuts and styles for long periods in different colours and when I checked their online shop a few weeks ago, they had it IN BLACK.
    It’s this one, btw: https://www.cosstores.com/en_eur/women/dresses/product.panelled-jersey-dress-black.0544496003.html

  9. cgw says...

    My current best “go to date but really go to impress the Huz of 20+ years” is an Old Navy dress from the sale/clearance rack. It’s similar to the coral dress you posted in the middle of the top row but in black with small floral prints, and a closed back. Not only does it fit so wonderfully and make me feel just the right amount of girly without it being treacly, it was only $42!!!!
    As a teacher, the price point was such a great bonus!

  10. Erin says...

    My Magic date/work/lunch/brunch/dinner/grocery store/et al. dress is a linen blend wrap maxi dress from Urban Outfitters. It was $100 (CDN!) and is so SO flattering. I’m all small boobs and big bum and I feel incredible in it. I have very sincerely had to stop myself from wearing to basically everywhere since I first got it last month!

  11. Liana says...

    Yes! I have a magic date dress! It’s the Holding Horses Magnolia dress in black. It’s got a fun, lacy pattern, elbow length sleeves and the swing style means I can eat and move easily. I wear it with flat slip on sandals and it’s the perfect “I just threw this on and look fabulous” dress.

  12. I love this! I did the same for job interviewing. I had many a first and second round interviews when job hunting for a year. I established preferred dress & blazer combos so then I had a uniform I was comfortable with and knew what I had already worn etc.

  13. Kate says...

    Just so glad to have you back, Caroline!!!! My first date days are far behind me, but having something that makes you feel beautiful is timeless.

  14. Rue says...

    This is eerily timely! I had a fantastic first date last week and it immediately made me want to up my date-dress game. Since that great date, I have been scouring the internet (eyeing basically every Reformation dress) but I think I need to commit to some slow and steady in-person shopping until I find the perfect dress for me. And/or order every single Reformation dress, and then return them. Ugh. I think the hardest part is finding the mix of casual and put-together, without looking like you’re a wedding guest.

    Also fingers crossed for me, this guy and these dates, it’s going really well!

    • Miruska says...

      Totally crossing fingers and toes for you!

  15. Ali says...

    I struggle SO much with what to wear on first dates. Part of it may be that I haven’t gone on many lately, but I’m trying to Bumble my way back into the dating scene now! My city has a pretty casual vibe overall, and I find it tough to balance “casual” with “I cared” with “sexy, but no, I’m not going to come back to your place after this first date” (because that’s just not my MO). I hope I can find a magic date dress soon… unfortunately my hometown also requires a magic date parka and snow boats :)

    • Sarah says...

      Definitely, relate with this! #sofarnorthisharealakewithcanada

  16. Lauren E. says...

    I went out to dinner with my husband and some friends Sunday night and had the exact same dilemma. So I went to Asos and bought a bunch of pretty summer dresses for this very reason!

    For me, the magic is also in covering the spots on my body I’m most self conscious about. If I feel relatively covered but still pretty, it’s a winner.

  17. loos says...

    Caroline, this piece is one of your best yet, it flows as if angels are singing, until the cliff hanger that is. Love it! The dress is nice too :)

  18. Ally says...

    love reformation and your magic dress…..very unsure of reformation sizing though, wish they gave a size reference for their models. Anyone have feedback about whether their sizing is TTS or how it might compare, say to JCrew sizing (which tends to be generous)? Any feedback gratefully received!

    • Helen says...

      They run true to size. Do note though that they don’t do refunds – store credit/exchange only!

    • am says...

      I find that they run small. I am a 0/XS at most stores, including JCrew, and bought an XS Reformation dress that I could barely squeeze into. I ended up giving it away. Their styles are also a little tighter, shorter, etc., so factor that in, too.

  19. Sam B says...

    I’m devoted to the Dôen line, I’ve had so many lovely times in my dresses from them. Their sizing does run a bit small, so I’m fairly limited in my choices. I ask them so often to go up one size so I have more flexibility. The last release didn’t have much for me. I did however discover Christy Dawn has been going up to X/XL in their dresses. It’s a game-changer! I hope this feedback gets out there. I’m often between straight and plus sizes and many of these brands exclude me in so many styles. Inclusivity is key! I do however have a dress problem.. I have found a few gems at HM and who what wear at target lately, but I try to really only bring in good ones that will not be thrown out.

    • Ellen says...

      After lusting over Dôen’s stuff for years since their first COJ feature, I was so disappointed that when I finally visited their store in May (from Australia) on a work trip to LA. None of the stuff looked any good on my small but curvy frame. I’m 5 foot 4 with DD boobs, and all I could think was ‘if I was twice as tall and my boobs half as big, this would look great’. It was so disheartening, though all the staff were lovely. Maybe future collections will work better for me?

    • samantha Bodamer says...

      Ah yes, I’ve asked them about possible sizing extensions and they said that there wasn’t enough demand. I do hope that changes as their line grows.

    • Alexia says...

      I asked on Instagram and they said XL is apart of their 2019 collection… but considering their large is more like a medium I don’t consider this a huge win.

      Love the look of their dresses, but I ordered the Ash dress and you could see my underwear (like my ACTUAL underwear not the line) when I sat down due to the style of the wrap.

    • s says...

      omg @ Alexia

  20. Kaitlin says...

    So pretty! But Caroline, what do you wear underneath? That slit makes me nervous, especially thinking about dancing, high bar stools, or getting into cabs.

  21. J says...

    Caroline, you are SO gorgeous, smart, witty, hilarious, and quirky. Any guy would be lucky to have you. I know (and you know) that you do not need to be told this. But from one 30 something year old woman dating in NY to another- sometimes you need a reminder. I know I do. Xoxoxo

  22. Hi Carolyne! It really seems like the perfect dress. Out of curiosity, which size did you take?

  23. Sarah says...

    I believe I’ve read through every response here, and it doesn’t seem that anyone’s mentioned vintage. I swear to you, friends, there are Magic Date Dresses to be found all over the place, and at all sizes and price points. I’ve been hunting them for the better part of my life, and it’s far easier to find than you’d expect. Thrift/charity shops. Yard/boot sales. Vintage shops. Etsy. Ebay. Your grandmother’s closet.

    My all-time favourite score was a red paisley 1950s number, no manufacturer’s tag, sourced for 12 bucks from a secondhand shop. It’s gotten more compliments than I can recall, and the quality far exceeds any modern-made dress that I can afford.

    Shop vintage, you guys!
    There’s nothing sexier than a woman with modern ideas and a classic wardrobe.

    • Janice O'Kane says...

      I LOVE this response!!! So, so true ~ there are so many ways to source a magic date dress. Although, I do love Caroline’s!

    • sasha L says...

      Does plain old thrift count?? I have three magic date outfits. One is a long sleeveless black shirt dress with snaps all the way down and a collar, it’s very fifties looking, had it forever. It’s super cute with cowgirl boots. Another is a short black wrap dress that is super soft and comfy and looks cute with leggings and tall boots and motorcycle jacket, or bare legs and flip flops too. Last is a halter black jumpsuit that is silky and more comfy that PJs.
      I didn’t pay more than $5 a piece for any and I’ll wear them too they wear out. Easy peasy.

      I wish we could post pics in the comments for this post, wouldn’t it be fun to see everyone’s date outfit?

    • Claire says...

      I’ve just started trying to find some thrifted/ vintage dresses, not only because of cost, but because I just don’t like what I see in the stores, especially with regard to fit. Thanks for this encouragement.

    • K says...

      Love this! So many of my own magic dresses have been thrift store finds. Just after college, my go-to date night look was a jean jacket over a depression-era Girl Scout dress (no patches, tho, just sturdy green fabric—it didnt look super uniform-y), because nothing says “hot date” like “depression era” and “Girl Scout uniform.” Still, I stand by the look. I felt cute and leggy and totally myself.

  24. CaraM says...

    I love a nice beautiful maxi or flowing dress in the summer – my closet is full of them! My only challenge is that I live in Colorado and so many dates (yes, even first dates) are hikes. I need to learn how to find a magical hiking outfit which is a challenge for a busty/hippy size 14/16 gal like me who usually just lives in dresses! Suggestions?

    • Christina from Colorado says...

      Hi Caram from Colorado! For date hikes, I love leggings (good-quality thick ones, or capri leggings) with a cute oversized men’s t-shirt that I cut the sleeves off of. Just cut right around the armhole seam, and it shows off the sides of your colorful sports bra and maybe even a cute peek of skin underneath (because armpits are so cute ;), but it’s still conservative around the neckline and a little more flattering around the belly / upper butt area. It’s kind of a muscle tee / cool girl look. Wear it with a sassy high ponytail or a cute baseball cap, and some legit hiking boots. (I love Hi-Tec if you don’t already have a pair; buy at Sierra Trading Post for a deal!) Most importantly, enjoy yourself out there! The joy on your face will be the most attractive part of you.
      PS. OMG I JUST REALIZED MY HIKING OUTFIT IS STRAIGHT-UP EARLY 90’S WORKOUT WEAR. “oversize tshirt!” “cut off the sleeves!” “leggings!” “scrunch socks!” lolllllllll.

    • Jenny says...

      Former Colorado dater here. Nothing is more beautiful than a little blush where the sun hits your cheeks and the way you confidently move among the rocks. Functional details, like the downturn of a wool sock to keep the dirt out of his La Sportivas, captivated me most about (formerly) my Colorado man. Even the duct tape patch on his windbreaker made me want to chase him into the woods and wrap wildflowers in his curls the old fashioned way.

    • CaraM says...

      Thanks everyone for all your advice, links, suggestions, adorable love story details, and laughs ! Always to fun to see some fellow/former Coloradoan gals on this board. Love the community here!

  25. Jodi says...

    FOR SURE was convinced that was you, Caroline, in the photo. You two could be twins! So beautiful. P.S. love this dress! I’ve been wearing the same Zara pleated jumpsuit all summer for every occasion and it’s the best.

    • Jessica says...

      I was going to say the same thing! Definitely dopplegangers.

    • Summer says...

      SAME!!! I was like, who’s the dude!

  26. Have you seen the new Netflix rom com “Set It Up”? The protagonist, Harper, wears like five different magic date dresses in it! She was so stinkin’ cute in the whole film, but she really rocked her playful dresses.

  27. Becky says...

    Yes! I had a favorite dress and would wear it with a denim jacket and hot pink suede peep toe wedges on first dates. Coming up on my 3-year anniversary with my guy so I’d say it was a success! Wearing clothes that feel like “me” is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

  28. Claire says...

    I don’t have a date dress, but I wish I did. I have put on some weight in the last year and nothing fits me anymore. I am trying to adjust. Loose fitting and flowing sounds perfect. And I will forever and always love a dark floral print.

    • Sarah says...

      You are beautiful inside and out ?

    • Jenny says...

      Buy it, Claire! You deserve to twirl up in a dark floral dream!

  29. Rebecca says...

    Romy Schneider is Caroline’s doppleganger! Holy hell, what a spitting image!

    • ali says...

      OMG!!! I didn’t see the names and thought that was Caroline too!
      Geez, they look like they’re 16.

  30. jac says...

    No to be a total yente, but WHO are these men you’ve been dating? Give me that Tinder and let me swipe for you. You’re a catch! And you should be treated thus. : )

  31. Emily Martin says...

    As a mid-aged professional woman, I discovered what my friends and I call the DOWD, Dress of World Domination. Powerful, sexy AND work appropriate. Shift cut, elbow length sleeve, jewel neckline, right above the knee, unlined polyester jersey, right around $100, patterned with a black band at the neckline, sleeve and hem. Machine wash, hang to dry. Nothing on the hanger. Magic on the woman. I bought 3. A group of 25 of my friends (all different ages, shapes and sizes) tried on my 3 dresses, and everyone looked fantastic. Actual quote from a man I did not know, “you are too beautiful for this early in the morning.” Need to kick ass at work? DOWD. Cocktails after work? DOWD.

    • Macauley says...

      Would love to see a link to this magical dress!

    • CB says...

      Yes–link please!

    • Sarah says...

      Shift? Eeeeeesh not the cut for me. Good on you though! *bring back a line world, haven’t bought a dress in years thanks shift/swing ?

  32. Wendy says...

    Imagine having a closet full of “magic” dresses, tops, maybe even pants. I think we need to be a lot more selective when buying clothes. Choose only the best fitting, best looking items, even if it means a smaller wardrobe.

    • Annett says...

      This so true – and so hard to accomplish!!!

    • Emily L says...

      Yes, yes, yes. I work toward this all the time. I would like to be able to grab nearly anything and have it look good. I like the idea of a capsule wardrobe of “magic” items.

    • Jenny says...

      Isn’t this the truth? To mercilessly scour out the old magic dresses that no longer suit, and to be the magic that the dress aspires to.

    • Alexia says...

      I feel like I see this sentiment around a lot, but for me at least, it couldn’t be a reality. My taste change, my comfort level changes (one day something is so comfy the next it’s not)… sometimes I get tired of chasing perfection! I’d rather just be happy with my wardrobe rather than constantly trying to build a small closet of perfection

  33. Rosie says...

    Yes– I’m such a fan of this! A magic date dress, for me, is one that hits me in all the right places and covers me in spots I’m uncomfortable about showing (like my upper arms). An unexpected opening such as a wide open back certainly helps ;)

    I love pairing mine with flat, white sneakers, inspired by all the girls in Paris donning their pairs with light summer dresses when I was abroad last summer.

    But the best part of a magic date dress is that you can wear it anywhere and feel instantaneously fabulous. I can wear mine to work or to grab a smoothie bowl on the weekends and always feel confident. Compliments roll in go beyond just my date. True bang-for-your-buck right there.

  34. Katie says...

    I bought the Reformation Lucky dress after reading Stella’s Week of Outfits post. The name alone makes me feel more confident!

  35. That dress is cute, but I definitely wore it in 1995 when I was 13! Funny how things come around.

  36. Lily says...

    I just burst out cackling at my desk over “Angels sang. (Technically angels did not sing, but a salesperson called, “How’s it going in there?” and it was relatively melodic.)”

    Love everything about this–especially the inclusion of lots of size and style options!

  37. The Everlane little black wrap dress has been SO magical!!!!

    • Susan says...

      I have it in blue, and the magic is REAL.

  38. Lesley says...

    YES. When I was deep in the online dating trenches a few years ago, I also had a go-to first date dress. It was a simple, black cotton dress with a scoop neck low enough to be date-y, but that could also easily have a scarf or jacket thrown over if needed. I swapped out shoes/jewelry depending on the situation, but it easily worked in many situations from a quick after-work drink to mid-morning coffee & neighborhood walk, to a full on three-course dinner “this is going really well” date. My now fiance still remembers it! He thought it looked effortless, which is exactly what I had hoped for!

  39. Corinne says...

    Ha! For a time my sister, my cousins, and I all shared a Magic Date Dress :) It was universally flattering: fitted but not too tight, long sleeved, and black. It was simple enough to dress up to suit each of our personalities, yet dressy enough to go just about anywhere. Whenever anyone had a special date or occasion, there was always a scramble of phone calls… “Who has The Dress?! I don’t know, who wore it last?!”

    I wore it on tons of first dates, and packed it for my first trip to Europe (I changed out of my jeans and into The Dress in our rental car and voila! it made its first European appearance in a Monaco casino). It truly was magical, all the more so because it tied us all together just a little bit tighter.

    • I love that!

      The sisterhood of the traveling date dress!

    • Elisa says...

      I think I saw that movie. It was called Sisterhood of the Traveling Magic Dress :)

    • Sarah says...

      Ha! I thought the same thing. Totally sisterhood of the traveling…dress!

  40. Em says...

    I whole-heartedly agree to the magic dress in theory but the only hesitation I have is around HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE THE SPANX ISSUE? Definitely not sexy… I mean, it’s like Bridget Jones’s first sexy-times encounter with Daniel Cleaver YET WORSE because they’re like, SHORTS! But some of us HAVE to wear them because of chub rub. Omg, so much to think of, as women.

    • Ada says...

      Ok this is totally optional – meaning I don’t think this is something other women “should” do by any stretch!! It’s just something that made me personally feel more confident on dates. (I add this caveat because there is way too much garbage out there about what women “should” do for men, so take it with a grain of salt). If I was going on a date that I thought might end with me taking my pants off (lol), I would pack a pair of fresh undies in my purse (rolled up, they fit in a little coinpurse). And then when you get back to your place/his place/wherever, excuse yourself to the bathroom first and change undies. It just made me feel confident and clean and also meant I could wear comfy boring undies all night before changing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      ada, i love that tip!

    • Candice says...

      Chub rub: you can swipe white solid deodorant on the inside of your thighs and voila, problem solved!

    • Meredith says...

      Ada, that is BRILLIANT! I may adopt it as just a general life practice; I feel like a spare pair of underwear is never a bad thing to have.

    • Erin says...

      I totally do this! Plus a fresh wipe/baby wipe/whatever they’re called in a Ziploc bag. Nice and fresh :)

    • Caitlin says...

      This reminds me of *more than one* occasion in college when I was wearing silicone nipple covers and didn’t have a purse on me to hide them, and out of desperation took them off secretively while walking back to his place or in the bathroom and tossed them into the bushes out of shame. THEN WENT BACK TO GET THEM THE NEXT DAY! Looking back…it’s like…how??? why??? Oh college self… My friends still love to laugh about this now.

    • Tabby says...

      How did I date for so many years without ever thinking Of Ada’s tip?! Genius.

  41. Lisa says...

    So – a few months ago we went away for my father in law’s 70th birthday. For his birthday afternoon tea, my mother in law wore a maxi shirt dress with a dark floral print and 3/4 sleeves with a pair of nice sandals. She looked AMAZING, but then she is an incredibly chic French woman.
    BUT a couple of weeks ago I found a very similar dress in Zara (I can’t find the link as it’s currently sold out). I would wear it all day every day if u could. I’m breastfeeding and I can feed in it. It’s been super hot and humid and I can just throw it on and feel wafty and relaxed. I mostly wear it with havaiana flip flops and BIG earrings but have dressed it up with gold sandals and felt chic, relaxed and fabulous.

    So in conclusion- my magic dress works for a chic slim French woman in her 60s and a very booby sleep deprived woman in her 30s

    • penny says...

      This is great. ;)

  42. Molly says...

    Which one was your friend’s dress? Dying to know!

    • Caitlin says...

      LOL i am too! I was hoping someone else asked and it was linked!

  43. Sarah says...

    I’m 31 and I swear I haven’t grown any taller, but lately I feel like a lot of my go-to dresses are too short! And I’m only 5’2″! I think my closet needs a refresh and that I should donate my mid-thigh-length dresses so that someone else might find their go-to that makes them feel confident and sexy. Knee-length or maxi dresses just make me feel more comfortable these days. I have several favorite maxis: one from Anthropologie, one from Brass (both with pockets), and a wrap one from Lulus.

    • I have the same problem. I tried on fancy dresses before a cruise last year and every single one was too short for my 5’2″ self.

    • Erin says...

      I have that maxi dress from Brass and it is fabulous!

    • Cait says...

      Try being 6’0 and dresses are being designed to be short and flirty for women who are 5’6 and below. I loooooove Sezane’s dresses but the short ones are basically a tunic on me :(

    • Jessa says...

      Cat, I have the same problem! I’m just a topknot away from being 6’1” and I have such a hard time finding dresses that look and feel good on me, if I want a little coverage I end up having to wear long sad sacks :/ any shops you would recommend??

    • mb says...

      I feel the same way! I just did an enormous purge of clothes due to an upcoming move. I found about 5 dresses that I used to wear to work that I haven’t worn in like two years. I tried them on to check why–they feel too short! I haven’t grown so I feel weird that I was wearing these to work just a few years ago. Is it because I’m 33 now?

    • Jeanne Elizabeth says...

      Yes! I find many dresses to be shorter than I would like. I’m 5’4″, but pretty short waisted. (My husband’s pj pants are too short for my legs and he is 5’10”.) Lately I have been buying midi or maxi dresses and having them hemmed to a hair above the knee. It does cost more, but it is worth it to have dresses I will actually wear.

    • Nancey says...

      We should do a COJ dress swap. would be fun, I’m 5’2″ and I have so many dresses that are truly lovely but I’m just TIRED of them. My closet needs a refresh. It could be like a dating site, we match up dresses and women and send them out (the dresses, not the women)

    • Alexia says...

      Sarah I would totally sign up for that. I have some pretty dresses that I just don’t LOVE but I’m sure would be great for someone else

    • Cait says...

      Jessa, I’m not sure how to respond directly to you so hopefully you will see this. I do have some recommendations! Calvin Klein tends to cut things on the longer side (even for short dresses, so it ends up being cute but not insanely short on us.) And that’s the Calvin Klein label that’s sold at like Macy’s, so it’s not crazy expensive. I also have some luck with Loft and JCrew makes many of their dresses in a tall length. Hope that helps! It is harder to find the sexy little dresses like Sezane has though. Maybe one day I’ll raise capital and open a business to fix that ;)

  44. Erin G. says...

    I have the Christy Dawn dress (maxi wrap) and can confirm that it is, indeed, magical! I actually got turned on to Christy Dawn from another CoJ post and ordered the dress to wear to a friend’s spring wedding. It is now my favorite dress if I need to feel the perfect blend of pretty and sexy. Also I am very curvy and a bit busty (generally a 14/16) and the XXL is great on me (for any other readers wondering about that size).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so great to hear, erin!

    • sb says...

      oh! thanks for your input. have you ever tried the dawn dress in XL? Sizing seems pretty good- as it’s not a wrap. Did they just update their size charts? I feel like these are new sizes available- not complaining!

    • Claire says...

      thank you for the sizing info, Erin!

    • Erin G. says...

      SB: I have not, but based on that sizing info (versus the sizing info for my XXL wrap dress) I would feel confident ordering the Dawn in the XL – if you do, I hope it works!

    • Christina says...

      Erin G – did you get a “unique referral code” URL for Christy Dawn? Would love to link my purchase through a CoJ friend so you get credit for a future purchase! xoxo

    • sb says...

      Erin! I ordered, and I am not sure if the dress fits me yet- but the packaging is beautiful. Christy Dawn packages in a cedar box with lavender! It actually seems like the best place to hide my special scarves from NYC moths. Amazing! and I hope the dress works!

  45. I clicked on the link to see your dress – it’s pretty! Do you really dry-clean it every time?? That would kill the magic of a dress for me!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Nope! I wash it in cold water on the gentle cycle and air dry. I know the label says I’m not “supposed” to wash it, but it works for me!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that one, amanda! i had a date shirt, too — i’d wear jeans and a cotton off-the-shoulder shirt. i felt confident and low-key. :)

  46. Ashley says...

    I can totally relate to the convenience and confidence that comes from having that magic dress. I would only add that on the east coast you need two, one for winter and one for the warmer months.

  47. N Rogers says...

    I have a long, black v-neck maxi dress from LLBean that is so comfortable and it is very slimming! It’s my go to dress when I want to feel confident.

  48. Eloise says...

    I’m shocked you found a “magic date dress” while looking for one. I’ve had some — all of which have been worn till threadbare – but can’t go looking for it; it has to find me!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “it has to find me” = i love that :)

    • Lara says...

      Ha, I feel the same way about the magic date himself. ;)

  49. Erin W says...

    For sure thought that was you in the top photo, Caroline! I was like, did she bring a photographer on a date with her? :)

    Also, I’m so on board with the “magic date dress”, pulling at a dress that feels too short, or uncomfortable, or doesn’t fit right is so annoying. Two more important factors for me (for low maintenance purposes):

    1. Can be worn with pretty much any bra I own
    2. Doesn’t wrinkle easily

    • Emily says...

      Ditto. I would add that my requirements include machine washable or hand washable — so much easier and budget friendly!

    • I also thought that was a photo of Caroline!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      erin, we said the same thing! when stella found that photo, we were like, um, it IS caroline. :)