Style

12 Pretty Spring Dresses

reformation dress

Yesterday, my sister texted me a Washington Post article titled, “Americans Are Starting to Buy Real Clothes Again.” And, for myself, that’s true! The weather is finally getting warm enough for dresses, and I’m excited to find a couple easy pieces to wear all day. Here are 12 lovely options…

universal standard sweatshirt dress

Zip

Thoughts? What are you excited to wear this spring? I also have my eye on this flirty number.

P.S. The best shoes for work, and seven everyday clothes I wear all the time.

(Top dress by Reformation.)

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.

  1. Meg says...

    I got excited for sec! My mind went to real = quality made clothes from pre-mid 1990s before disposable fashion was a thing. Capsule wardrobes. Less waste. Ah well.

  2. Rue says...

    Ohh perfect! I’m getting married in October and I’ve been looking for one or two white pieces to wear for showers etc. I want to buy casual pieces I can wear post-wedding/not-just-for-wedding-stuff, since I don’t do much dressing up in general but I like having white clothing in my “regular” wardrobe anyway. That Madewell eyelet dress in white is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for! Ordered it, and might just get one more white top to pair with jeans, and then I’ll call it good on summer and fall celebration outfits!

  3. Ellie Benner says...

    Maybe the CoJ community can help me – an amazing dress appeared to me in a dream the other day and I just can’t find it in real life! I’m looking for a patterned short sleeved shirtdress in a soft, maybe silky material, belted at the waist, not too tight around the arms, maybe midi or knee length (a lot of shirt dresses end up seeming really short!). Something that would be perfect with white sneakers and fit for running errands on Saturdays and getting brunch with friends after. Let me know if anything comes to mind! xo

  4. Sarah T says...

    Love all these dresses, and don’t mean to be a downer, but just need to put in that Reformation is a company that has very publicly been called out for their racism – there have been particularly horrific incidents reported by Black employees involving the company’s CEO. You can read more here if you aren’t familiar: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/reformation-founder-yael-aflalo-apologizes-for-past-racist-behavior

    I would highly discourage buying or supporting this company and disappointed to see them being suggested here.

    • Olivia says...

      I was thinking this too! Also, again not to be a downer just to inform, Doen recent said that they are NOT slow fashion or sustainable like they led everyone to believe for years. It’s been pretty devastating to the Doen community who has been supporting them through the years under the assumption they were sustainable. Doen let the label of “sustainability” bring them business and didn’t correct anyone when it wasn’t true anymore! There were articles as recent as 2019 when they were clearly positioning themselves as sustainable and just yesterday they said they don’t consider themselves sustainable.

      That, combined with the alarming (!) employee reviews on Glassdoor, the fact that they can’t promise that 27% of their factories pay a fair wage, and how long it took for them to listen to their community and diversify their sizes and models, I’m not sure I can support! It’s like where is my money going? I thought the high price was warranted for sustainable pieces, but now?

      If anyone is curious to see some receipts check @doensecondhand stories on Instagram or see the comments on some of Doens most recent Instagram posts.

  5. Laura Godsoe says...

    The link to the shirt dress still doesn’t work? Where is it from?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      So strange — it works on our end. (So sorry!) Banana republic xoxo

  6. Elizabeth says...

    Cheryl,
    I always like Boden dresses but have never ordered.

    How do you find their sizing? True to size? Big? Small? I am also 5’9. Do you order tall or regular? Thank you!!

    • Rachel L says...

      They usually have plenty of reviews on their site and I would never buy until there are a few so that I can gauge sizing and fit…but their clothes are pretty good in general and the colours are beautiful!

    • I’m not Cheryl ;-), but I find that the Boden dresses run a little bit bigger. I need to go one size down with their clothes. But that might be individual.
      The quality is great!
      Regards
      Anja

    • Anna says...

      I normally am a 2 or a 4 in US sizes, and usually order a 4 or a 6 in Boden. Anything that zips or button a 6, anything that is a pull on, size 4.

    • Cheryl says...

      Hi there, I’m the Cheryl! I’d definitely agree the sizing is true to size and I order a Tall only because I really need to move around in my day and I hate when I feel like I’m constantly worried my dress is hiking up.
      One option to consider is ordering a dress or two you like from Nordstrom’s selection of Boden. That way you get super easy delivery and returns and can figure out your sizing. The Boden website is more restrictive and if an item is on sale it must be returned within the week. Just some food for thought! Happy shopping.

    • Jamie says...

      The thing I love about Boden is that they provide garment measurements for everything. Click on the size guide and scroll to the bottom for the garment measurements (vs the body measurements at the top). This really helps me figure out which is the best size depending on how I want something to fit. I wish all brands did this.

  7. Emily says...

    Can you do a recommendations post for good wedding guest dresses for this summer? I’m nearing my second vaccine and have been invited to 2 weddings so far for this summer. Would love a post with options for different levels of formality (for the ones I’m attending, I’m imagining pretty colored or printed midi dresses are about right?).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Good idea! Yes!

    • R says...

      Second this! Maybe even one dress styled a few ways for multiple weddings?

    • Rue says...

      was just talking with my bestie about, like, “okay so after the pandemic, what is happening with style? are we picking up where we left off in 2019, or is that gonna look dated now?!” specifically came up for wedding guest outfits & in-person-hanging-with-friends/celebration outfits! help!!

  8. In anticipation of warmer weather, I treated myself to two Doen dresses – one solid and the other, a floral print. I figure a year in loungewear deserves a pretty pick-me-up, an invitation to get back into the world, an opportunity to look at myself clothed in something beautiful and wear the smile that I feel inside :)

  9. Patricia says...

    The pose of the model in the picture at the top of this story does NOT make me want to click through for further info. Why do clothing companies still push images like this?

    • Catherine says...

      I came to the comments to see if anyone mentioned that, LOL!

    • Kylee says...

      She’s really just showing how impossible it is to bend down in it – god forbid you drop your keys!! 😂

  10. Meg says...

    wow that Doen dress! it makes me want to elope in a meadow of wildflowers. (I’m already married so this plan probably won’t work).

  11. Cheryl says...

    I live in Florida and the unbearable heat of summer mixed with my inability to wear shorts means I’m always in a casual dress for maximum air flow. My stringent requirements are cotton blend, Long (I’m 5’9) and flattering. I just stocked up at Boden and can’t wait for them to arrive. Real clothes! It’s a sign, the nightmare is ending.

  12. Maggie says...

    Is there a link for the very first dress? I cannot seem to find it?

  13. Kristy says...

    Does anyone have good suggestions for breast-feeding friendly styles that aren’t shirt dresses? I’m having a hard time finding any I like!

  14. kat says...

    I’m trying to figure out my summer version of the high-waisted leggings I’ve lived in all winter. Maybe high waisted linen pants? I was decent keeping off weight gain through covid until late winter struck and now my mom tummy is totally a thing, unfortunately no longer balanced by bigger boobs since breastfeeding is over. I’m trying to embrace my body shape but it is hard to face the season change and really realize a good portion of last year’s clothing doesn’t fit right.

    • Neela says...

      Holy moly. This is literally, to the word, exactly my situation. I also just sold and donated a bunch of my clothes in an effort to face reality, that waiting to fit into my clothes again won’t work. Also, soon I won’t have a winter jacket to hide under!
      Am trying to embrace the change and have a little grace with myself. To that end, I’m psyching myself up to get starting building a small but sustainable wardrobe including pieces I make myself. I think linen pants are a good start! Maybe high-waisted, cropped loose fit (light-weight) jeans? I’m thinking I might also embrace A-line dresses. Loose-fitting cotton tank tops with scoop necks that show lots of collarbone are a good way to draw the eye up, too.

    • Kate says...

      High waisted loose pants are amazing! I have some in flowy cotton and in linen. They are so comfy, give off summer vibes, and are good for hot humid weather. It’s a bit of adjustment after wearing tighter clothes like leggings but I swear once you get used to them you’ll never go back! Some of my favorite pairs are just basic H&M cotton pants, I wear them with everything. I’ve found loose jeans don’t work as well for me, maybe because the material is so stiff, but I know some people love it.

    • kat says...

      Thanks all! I lived in Old Navy linen pants last few summers back when mosquitos were my biggest fear (oh, the days) so absolutely agree to the idea, it’s mainly about finding fit now since those don’t flatter/got tighter.

    • Hilary says...

      Check out Old Navy! They have a lot of flowy dresses, linen bottoms, and jumpsuits that you would look great in!

    • Hannah says...

      Highly recommend athletic skorts with little attached boy shorts/bike shorts underneath. They’re my summer version of high waisted leggings and are comfy, forgiving and practical!

    • Katie says...

      The NYT’s “Here to Help” column featured a similar question this morning! The answer seemed to be belts, A-line dresses, high-waisted pants and shirts tucked into skirts.

  15. Ramona says...

    Oh wow that Michaela dress (Reformation) is awesome in black… 🖤

  16. Elizabeth says...

    A number of these look like ones I wore in the 70s – I do wish they would come up with a better name than “babydoll” though!

    • Sarz says...

      Good point! You could read into it, but uhh, we won’t…

    • Ramona says...

      I know, right!? 😏

    • Lala says...

      ugh. to me the babydoll is so infantilizing! but to each their own.

  17. Jules says...

    I just started browsing through some older posts for maternity outfit ideas for this reason! I’m just starting to show and so many of these dresses are nice and loose for the spring and my little baby bump <3 The thought of wearing something besides my stretchy pants/sweater combo is so lovely and also terrifying lol

  18. Meg says...

    Could the CoJ team do this for jumpsuits too? I love the look of a jumpsuit but I get intimidated shopping for them. I would love to explore some options from you all. Thanks!

  19. Clair says...

    PS – Links that don’t seem to work are the Shirt Dress, Midi & Knot Twist

    • Christine Lodico says...

      I second that! I’m dying to know where the midi is from! x

  20. Clair says...

    Such lovely dresses – bring on the vaccine for a safe summer! (Also – links aren’t working for me either.)

  21. Hannah says...

    Did not realize how buoyant I would feel just reading and daydreaming about spring dresses. I get my first dose of the vaccine tomorrow and I think a piece of “real clothing” would be a perfect, hopeful way to celebrate. Thank you for this, Joanna!

  22. Naomi says...

    Sadly, I’m with you. These all look great on these models, and I’m sure would look great on someone tall… but I’m 5’2″ with a small waist but big chest… and these won’t work. More variety in style would be great – where’s the perfect black, gauzy, fitted on top with wider straps for my comfy bra, nipped at the waist, but then flowy (but not too flowy!) skirt that falls the floor (but not too long!) that I can wear flip flops with? Am I asking too much? :) (I’m joking around, of course)

    • Annie says...

      I am 5’2″, too…maybe Caroline would do a post about dresses for those of us on the petite size.

    • E says...

      I have the opposite problem as a tall person – so many dresses are cute but are sooooo short! The shirt dress looks cute, but can I bend over in it without flashing people?? So, amen to variety of styles.

    • patty says...

      Yes, please! Petite sizing always appreciated.

  23. Hannah says...

    I’m 17 weeks pregnant with my first baby. Don’t have a bump yet, but anyone have suggestions for dresses that I can wear as I get bigger, but also before and after? (Other than Hatch which is wayy out of budget for me)

    • Bailey says...

      Last summer I was pregnant with an early August due date baby. I lived in 3 cotton maternity dresses from H&M, Old Navy, and Gap. I typically avoid fast fashion, but pregnancy is short. I was impressed that H&M had organic cotton. Their striped sleeveless organic cotton jersey dress was $12 and I wore it every other day for 3 months and plan to wear it again this summer (when not 9 months pregnant).

    • Amy says...

      I love Target and OId Navy maternity!

    • Emily says...

      Seraphine! They are a little more $ than Gap or Old Navy (I just bought two that were $75 each) but can be worn throughout and after.
      https://www.seraphine.com/en-us/

  24. Liz says...

    The shirt dress link also not working for me. I get a malformed link message. Thank you

    • Maureen says...

      Hi Liz! Seems to be okay now. Fingers crossed!

    • Emilie says...

      Still not working sadly! Love that one.

  25. Feather says...

    Thanks for posting this. After reading the headlines this morning, I needed a pick-me-up. I felt frivolous clicking on this site (which I read every day) but it’s exactly what I need. Shopping for a dress now.

  26. Eleanor says...

    I thrifted a Pact Organics wrap dress right before the pandemic (who knows time really), and I have had absolutely no will to wear it. Excited spring is coming and maybe my vaccine too!

    • Sarz says...

      Any time a fashion post comes up, I’m always waiting for someone to drop the word “thrift”. Thanks for normalizing my approach to clothing, Eleanor! :D Your dress sounds like a total score – I hope a little hopefulness follows suit. (Understandable that it’s lagging a bit!)

  27. Sarah says...

    So over the baggy, boxy, midi, shapeless, frumpy dresses! Ugh!!! I don’t find any of these cute and they’re everywhere :(

    • Julie says...

      Feeling you, Sarah! They’re not flattering on me at all, maybe because I’m short!

    • laura says...

      haha they’re my fave :D they’re not everywhere though. i’ve seen more feminine silhouette style dresses on instagram. the first pic on this post, from Reformation, has more slim fitting dresses. Realisation Par is having a 25% off sale right now too.

    • M says...

      Same. I’m petite and these styles look ridiculous on me.

    • jan. says...

      yep. some of them look like around the house, others dowdy.

    • Ellie says...

      I’m with you, Sarah. My daughter is getting married in May (postponed from May 2020) and she is looking for a cute dress for her rehearsal dinner. The ONLY time she has melted down to me throughout the longest engagement ever is over the clothing styles right now. “WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO LOOK LIKE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE?” The struggle is real, as I am also looking for something pretty to wear. Although I usually manage to find dresses that I love, even my go-to places are failing me this year!

    • Yara says...

      Check out Seasalt Cornwall. I have recently gotten into buying their dresses. Impeccably cut, nice fabrics, very realistic necklines and lengths. I really appreciate that a decent number have sleeves. I am over frying my shoulders.

      I highly recommend the Pier View, South Border, Top Terrace, Chacewater, and Stepping Stone dress.

  28. Mel says...

    Is it weird that this post brought tears to my eyes? Talking about pretty dresses, the little joys in life and the *hope* and *promise* of wearing them to see people this Spring and Summer is bringing me so much joy.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      me too xoxoxo

  29. Amanda says...

    I recently bought that midi dress from The Gap (top right)–it’s super comfortable (t-shirt-like fabric), and it has POCKETS.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes to pockets!!!

  30. celeste says...

    Love that top middle shirtdress – very pretty.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so cute!

  31. SJ says...

    Yes to spring and dresses! As someone on a budget, I know I can find many of these styles at a thrift store for the fraction of the price (i.e the shirt and oversized option). I wish my younger self knew this whilst reading COJ <3

  32. Katie says...

    Can I ask a really dumb question? How do people keep light clothes so pristine? I LOVE the look of that shirt dress, and that eyelet dress… but I ruin everything light! Pen marks, makeup smudges, food (from my baby, or more often myself)… am I just too messy? Or do people have magic clothes-cleaning abilities I don’t know about?

    • Emily R says...

      makeup smudges and food should come out in the wash. If there is grease, give them a little scrub with dawn before you throw them in the wash, it’ll take grease stains out. Pen marks can sometimes be taken out with rubbing alcohol. Oxy Clean is your friend.

    • Madzie says...

      Right there with you Katie. I rock a basically all black wardrobe for this reason.

      ALSO. The link to the pretty white shirtdress is malformed? Linking error or did COJ crash a website?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the link is working for me — is it still causing trouble, madzie?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my friend Andrea always carries a Tide pen — I might try to do that this summer!

    • Abbey says...

      I have the same problem and unfortunately I’ve found the only solution is to act FAST when a potential stain occurs. (This, even more unfortunately, makes me feel like an uptight version of myself I don’t feel comfortable with so yeah, I don’t wear a lot of white clothing).

      for oil: dish soap + baking soda scrubbed in, let sit for 10-15 min, wash.
      for blood: dish soap + salt rubbed in, let sit 10-15 min, wash

    • Colleen S says...

      I feel your pain. I own a white tank top, but I ruin white shirts by sweating. I stopped using antiperspirant, and yet I still stain the underarms (and yes, I have completely detoxed). I’ve gone with the “if I’m eating something messy, I wear dark colors” mindset. My youngest sister has as well, since she’s ruined a lot of clothes that way.

    • absolutely says...

      Be more mindful. A pretty dress is great motivation for practice.

    • Christina says...

      @Abbey. Oh, blood is the easiest stain of them all. Ice cold water, and watch the stain diasppear like magic. If the stain is old and dry, you might need to soak it, still in cold water.

    • Hannah H says...

      Katie!
      I also wonder that all the time. There’s a great book called “My Boyfriend Barfed in my Handbag…” by Jolie Kerr about cleaning and stain removal that you might enjoy.
      But yeah I pretty much only wear black, brown and navy for this reason!

    • Em says...

      If I’m really dressed up, like at a wedding, I only drink white wine. This, of course, does nothing for the gravy, chocolate cake, butter etc. but at least I’m not worried about Merlot.
      My husband once told me I wasn’t mature enough for white pants. I was 35 and he was absolutely correct. I’m going to keep trying though.
      Also, I swear by the Fels Naptha bar for stains; very little it can’t take out.

    • Alex says...

      I can’t remember exactly wear I read this, maybe from Garance Dore – it is a very French mindset: When I wear white (and I actually wear a lot of white) I just DGAF. Spills, food, dirt, mud – whatever – I just live my life and for some crazy miraculous reason, I don’t get too dirty. If for some reason, you get stuff on you, c’est la vie (there’s the French part haha). The more you wear white and wash it, it gets this great lived in quality. Less bright hospital white and more muted artist ecru white. I did walk around with a stained bum from a dirty bus seat one time, but made for a great laugh at work!

    • K says...

      i’d like to know the answer to this too!