The tradition dates back to the fourth century!

By Emily VanSchmus
March 05, 2020

I grew up hearing that it was good luck to wear new clothes on Easter Sunday. And while I personally think any reason is a good reason to buy a new outfit, it turns out there is actually some substance to this tradition—and it dates all the way back to the fourth century. 

This Easter tradition is based on a similar idea as the centuries-old practice of Christians wearing new white clothes after baptisms to symbolize spiritual rebirth. Christians in medieval times began wearing new, clean clothes on Easter Sunday to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus and the new life for followers of the religion. In 300 A.D. Roman emperor Constantine even declared his court would be required to wear their nicest new clothing on Easter Sunday. 

Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

It’s not clear exactly when the superstition started, but from this early tradition came the belief that if you were in a position to buy new clothes for Easter, you would continue to be blessed with good fortune in the coming year. On the flip side, those who could afford to buy new clothes but chose not to would experience a year of bad luck. As this belief spread throughout Europe, the saying, "For Christmas, food and drink; for Easter, new clothes" became popular.

When European settlers came to America, they brought the tradition with them. In the 1800s, upper-class citizens of New York City would wear their finest Easter dresses and accessories to the large churches along Fifth Avenue and parade down the street when services ended. Since the mid-1800s, the New York Easter parade has grown into a full-blown annual celebration complete with Easter dresses, costumes, and bonnets of all kinds. 

So whether you’re hosting Easter brunch, attending a parade, or celebrating a quiet Sunday at home, take this as a reason to treat yourself to a new outfit this spring. These are our favorite picks of Easter dresses for women and girls. 

Easter Dresses for Women

Courtesy of LOFT

Pretty in Pink

With puffed sleeves and pretty button cuffs, this bright mid-length dress is appropriate for attending Easter services, going to brunch, or spending time with the family. Plus, the stretchy smocked back makes this a comfortable choice for all sizes. 

Buy It: Floral Smocked Midi Dress, $90, LOFT

Courtesy of Target

Festive Floral

For an affordable Easter dress for women, this gorgeous floral dress is our go-to pick. The long sleeve style works for that finicky spring weather, and the relaxed fit means you’ll be comfortable all day, no matter how many relatives you’re hosting for Easter brunch.

Buy It: Long Sleeve Keyhole Dress, $27.99, Target

Courtesy of Gap

That’s a Wrap

Who says you have to wear pastel colors on Easter? This textured crepe weave navy wrap dress is patterned with white daisies and outfitted with a flattering tie-belt around the waist.

Buy It: Midi Wrap Dress, $79.95, Gap

Easter Dresses for Girls

Courtesy of Old Navy

Pastel Pattern

This lightweight cotton dress makes running around the Easter egg hunt a breeze. The white dress is tiered with a ruffled hem and a pattern of vertical pastel stripes. Dress it up with miniature heeled sandals or dress it down with a colorful denim jacket.

Buy It: Flutter-Trim Dress, $30, Old Navy 

Courtesy of Hanna Andersson

Playful Pastel

We love the bold twist on this pastel pink Easter dress for girls. The top's soft jersey fabric is easy to move and play in, and the skirt fabric is an eyelet weave that they’ll be comfortable in all day. 

Buy It: Eyelet Play Dress, $24, Hanna Andersson 

Courtesy of Target

Floral Ruffles

This toddler Easter dress is cute as can be, but practical too. Made from 100% cotton, this tiered dress is trimmed with ruffles and patterned with a subtle floral design. Available in sizes from 12 months up to 5T, this is one of our favorite spring dresses for girls. 

Buy It: Ditsy Floral Dress, $16.99, Target 

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