Casual Spring Dresses

casual dresses for spring

Last week on a warm day a friend of mine showed up to 8:30am drop off at Henry’s school in a very casual 3/4 sleeve dress just above the knee and a messy top knot bun. Maybe some light pink lip gloss and a little blush. Not too sexy or showy, but feminine, fun, and confident. I on the other hand was wearing leggings, a sweatshirt, and a baseball cap thrown over my dirty morning hair. It really didn’t take more effort for her to get dressed than I, but she looked so much more put together!

Ever since (and even though the warm weather hasn’t returned yet) I’ve been on the search for a few casual, easy, everyday dresses to add to my wardrobe and I quickly realized why I don’t have many: they are really hard to find for a few different reasons…

The biggest issue being length! So many dresses are just too short to be practical as a mother who runs around from work to school to soccer games and dinner prep during the day wearing so many different hats. I’m 5’4 and I’ve found for me that means a dress needs to be at least 34-35′ long from the shoulder (most companies tell you that measurement on the site), hitting right at or above the knee.
Another reason is versatility. I want a dress that can be paired with virtually any kind of shoe (bootie, flip flop, converse, oxford) to transition from one activity to another.
Fabric is a huge one: it has to be something I can throw in the wash so I can collect rocks with Henry without worrying about dirt and dry cleaning (white is okay if I can spot clean or bleach it at home).

Below are a few I’ve come up with that fit most of these criteria. But I’d love to hear, do you have a favorite casual dress you love? If I did another no jeans challenge soon would you do it with me?

(white smock above which I have a similar version of in a slightly longer length)

10 casual dresses for spring

1. Denim dress (boy do I love this one)/2. Gray Striped  $67.99/ 3. Midi black  $56.44/ 4. Blue and red $52.99/ 5. Simple jersey dress $19.99/ 6. Summer embroidered dress $79.99 (love this style) 7. Striped wrap dress $74.99/ 8. Striped ponte dress $69.99/ 9. Blue eyelet $137.99 (so pretty)/10. Paisley dress $168

Also, I  love the casual ‘play’ dresses at Sonnet James and lots of pretty reasonably priced ones at Ruche.

Oh, and if you’re up for something a little fancier: Boden is having a great sale right now on their spring dresses through tomorrow. This gingham, the flowershow, and white eyelet dresses are on my wishlist.


this is why I sew!!! I get to choose easy cotton or linen fabric and make it long enough (I’m tall) and cheap enough for my budget. I love shirt dresses. I also have a few sundresses, esp. one that ties on my shoulder that is great for hot days because I can go braless. I also sew skirts for myself and with a tank top, I’m set for summer days. I never wear shorts or capris in the summer – too hot for me.

Love the #2 dress up there.

I like that shirt dresses are in right now…I loved their ease when I was in high school in the 80’s and find them to be perfect now that I’m a busy (yet fashionable!) mom. Good luck! Love your round up.

Cute picks. I have a question, it seems so many dresses (one here too) are low in the back. What kind of bra do people wear (no bra is not an option). I agree that many casual dresses are too short. I am 5’10” and they are really short on me. Not great for running after kids.

These are all adorable but I definitely have to have nursing accessibility. Asos always has a good selection of midi dresses with nursing access. I especially like the kimono style they have right now.

I wear dresses almost every single day so I’d have to do the opposite and go for a “jeans challenge”!
I actually find dresses much easier to wear than jeans or pants, especially now while approaching the end of my pregnancy. Even when not pregnant I prefer dresses as I don’t have to keep pulling them back up like I do with jeans. And there’s no risk of plumber’s crack when bending down to play with my kids at the park! Plus dresses are good at hiding the bumps and lumps that jeans tend to show off!
Because it never gets very hot or very cold here in the Bay Area I find myself wearing the same dresses almost all year round. That sounds a little boring doesn’t it? 😉 Accessories make a big difference though. When it’s cooler I just put a pair of thick leggings underneath, throw on a jacket and boots and I’m all set. When the weather’s warmer I ditch the leggings and jacket and wear sandals. For the rest of the year (when it’s not warm or cool) I usually wear thinner leggings underneath, ballet flats and a cardigan or denim jacket.
Most of my dresses come from either Gap, Madewell or Splendid. They all have great casual and easy to wear dresses. I love the casual dresses from Boden too (which another reader recommended) but they don’t go down to my size 🙁
The best thing about wearing dresses though is that they instantly make me feel dressier than when I do wear jeans. Half the time I haven’t washed my hair (or maybe even had a chance to shower – eek!) but I throw on a dress and a little lipstick and I feel done 🙂

ugh, yes! this is the issue. So many lovely choices but NONE of them seem modest enough AND nursing/pumping friendly. I’m having a heck of a time getting ready for work every morning trying to figure out what I can wear to pump without having to totally undress in my office twice a day. 🙁

I agree, nursing is a whole other issue! I actually wasn’t really thinking about that too much when I wrote the post but there are a few of them that are nursing friendly (I’ll have to do another post on that!)

Two SF designers make my favorite casual, knee-length dresses that can easily go in the wash:

Nooworks on Valencia and 15th or
I have this dress in a different fabric: (it’s sold out online but they often have stuff in the store that isn’t online).

Curator on Church and 30th or
I love the classic dress and currently have my eye on the Mackenzie. (If you sign up for their email list, they send out frequent sale info).

It was 70 in the Boston area yesterday (where I love) and I wore a dress for the first time in ages and remembered how much I love them – especially as I am 33 weeks pregnant! I will join your challenge! ps. love that striped wrap dress, might be my first postpartum purchase!

I have two little ones and I so understand this. I’ve been wearing dresses with leggings or shorts underneath them. Gives me the confidence to wear dresses without showing anything. Love dresses from Anthropologie that are a little dressier and old navy for playing in the sand. I live on the other side of the bay, so it gets warmer then in SF.

I’m sitting here in my husbands San Antonio Spurs pajama pants and a ripped ‘Blur’ T-shirt on a lazy day off (still drinking coffee at noon after sleeping in with my 6 month old pug–that should say it all) and this post has made me want to get up and throw on an easy casual day dress just to putter about in my yard in. Dresses are just the best, and Target is a boon for light, inexpensive, no-frills, casual day dresses!

I wear dresses from Boden! Lots of choices, easy to wash, and a good mix of stylish and mom-friendly.

I like Boden too but I didn’t see a lot of casual stuff on their site. I probably just looking in the wrong spot though…

I love the white one! Yes, these are great for vacations too. For corporate work wear ideas check out

oh yes! casual spring dresses are so important! and so easy to wear because there is no need to think about matching! you simply slip them on and go.

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