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What is a Day Dress?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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A day dress is a versatile piece of clothing for a woman's wardrobe. It is simply a dress intended to be worn during the day; i.e., not a cocktail dress or an evening gown, which are intended for fancy events in the evening. Day dresses are excellent clothing choices for many occasions, and can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the event and time of day.

The first indication of a day dress is length. Though this is not always the case, the dress is often approximately knee length; it may be shorter or longer, but knee length is a versatile length that looks good with heels, flats, or even boots. The dress may be sleeveless or strapless, or it may have sleeves. Day dresses that are sleeveless or strapless are typically a bit dressier than those with sleeves that cover the shoulders. This type of dress may be made out of any type of clothing material, and found in any imaginable pattern.

Typically, this type of dress is one that might be worn in the workplace. A dress for the workplace will have sleeves, and will look professional. It will typically be worn with flats, though heels are of course appropriate for the workplace as well. These dresses may also be worn on the weekend; some are made with soft, comfortable cotton, and are particularly nice to wear when running errands on warm summer days.

A fancier type of dress may be worn for a morning or afternoon wedding. This dress might be designed in a slightly longer length known as tea-length, meaning that it falls between the knees and the ankles. In this case, the dress may or may not have sleeves. Of course, some day dresses are shorter, and may go above the knee. It is completely a matter of personal preference, as well as the appropriateness of the length in reference to the location where the dress will be worn.

There are many ways to make a day dress a versatile piece of clothing that can be worn from morning until evening. For instance, if one wants to wear this type of dress to work, it may be worn with flats and a cardigan and some simple accessories. To go straight from work to a fancy dinner, it may just be necessary to put on some heels, take off the cardigan, and add some bigger accessories, or some fancier makeup. Every woman should have a day dress or two in her closet.

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Discussion Comments

By OeKc05 — On Aug 03, 2012

@shell4life – I agree with you about versatility being key. I think that a black day dress is awesome, because you can wear it just about anywhere, and if you add just a few accessories, it can make the transition to evening wear.

I have a black polyester day dress that can fit just about any occasion. It has a V-neck and a notched collar, as well as sleeves that come about halfway to my elbows on my forearms.

If I know that I will be going out after work, I can wear this dress to work and carry along some jewelry and better shoes to change into later. I like to put on a necklace made of several bright silver chains with red beads and some red high heels before I go out. I also twist my hair up and put some silver bobby pins with red jewels in it, and I put on earrings to match.

By shell4life — On Aug 02, 2012

I have a pink and white day dress that I love wearing while I'm on vacation at the beach. It comes down to a few inches above my knees, and it is halter style, so it ties around my neck.

Large pink and white stripes cover the dress from top to bottom. It is great to wear while shopping at the various souvenir stores, and I feel equally comfortable wearing it to restaurants and while walking on the beach.

I think versatility is what makes a great day dress. If you can find something comfortable enough to be worn all day yet stylish enough to be worn into stores or restaurants, then you have found your perfect day dress.

By seag47 — On Aug 02, 2012

My friend wore a day wedding dress for her second wedding. She wanted the occasion to be only semi-formal, and she didn't spend a fortune on it.

The dress was strapless, and it was covered in cream-colored lace. The underlay was champagne, as was the pleated ruffle at the bottom. A champagne bow tie sash tied in the front to complete the look.

She looked glamorous yet understated at the same time. I think it was the perfect dress for her. She had learned a lot since her first wedding, and this dress sort of conveyed an older and wiser bride.

By wavy58 — On Aug 01, 2012

I have never thought of sleeveless dresses as formal. I think that this depends more on the material of the dress than the sleeves.

I have several cotton day dresses without sleeves, but they are obviously not formal. They look like they are made for wearing to picnics or cookouts. However, I can also wear them to work.

The dress code at my job is casual but dressy, so cotton day dresses fit this description perfectly. I wear them with some nice shoes, and I always bring a light sweater with me to work in case my arms get cold. I've never had anyone tell me that I'm not dressed formally enough for work.

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