Dress

reputation (2017)

“Dress” is track twelve on Taylor’s sixth studio album, reputation (2017). It is one of the most sexually charged songs of her career. It details her wants and lusts over her lover.
Table of Contents

Background

Taylor released her fifth studio album, 1989, in October 2014. Its synth-pop production transformed her sound and image from country-oriented to mainstream pop. The album was a massive commercial success, selling over five million copies in the U.S. within one year, and spawning three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles. The BBC asserted that the success of 1989 solidified Taylor’s status as a global pop star.

In 2016, when Taylor was at the peak of overexposure, some of her rivals in the industry (including Scooter Braun, Kanye West and Justin Bieber) succeded in launching a worldwide hate campaign against her. As a result, Taylor disappeared from public view for an entire year and thought about quitting music for good. She became increasingly reticent on social media, having previously maintained an active presence with a large following, and avoided interactions with the press. She conceived her sixth studio album, reputation, as an answer to the media commotion surrounding her celebrity.

Lyrical Theme

As the name implies, many of the sexual references throughout the song pertain to dresses. Taylor has a history of fascination with dresses, dating back to her country music roots from when she first stepped foot in the music industry. In regards to “Dress” she said there is a real dress she bought that inspired the hook of the song:

«This song was one of those things where almost every line is something that I came up with like a year before, and then when I was writing the song, I just cherry picked, and I was like, ‘Like that, like that, like that, like that.’ And I was really proud of the hook of this because it sounds like a pickup line, and yet it is a love song about deep and tender feelings.»

During her “reputation Secret Sessions“, Taylor told her fans that all positive songs on reputation are about her “angel boyfriend” at the time, Joe Alwyn. References that fit this sentiment are seen all throughout the song. “Dress” likely chronicles around the time of the start of Taylor’s relationship with Joe when they were moving past the friendship stage after Taylor and Tom Hiddleston’s brief romance during the summer of 2016. The lyric, “Even in my worst light, you saw the truth in me”, is a reference to Alwyn being there for Taylor and not being bothered by the way the media was portraying her at the time surrounding the Kim/Kanye feud. References to this time are also seen in “Call It What You Want”, “Delicate”, and “King of My Heart.”

Live Performances

Taylor included “Dress” in the regular setlist for her fifth headlining tour, the “reputation Stadium Tour” (2018). With the performance, Taylor payed tribute to the dancer and actress Loïe Fuller: While she was singing, a white-robed dancer ran complementary circles around her, with artificially extended arms weaving folds of white fabric through the air. This dance style is called the Serpentine Dance, and was created by Fuller, as seen in Edison’s very first films. When Taylor finished singing “Dress”, a dedication to Fuller appeared on the screens: “In Honor of Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), pioneer in the arts, dance, and design. And who fought for artists to own their work.”

Five years later, Taylor chose “Dress” as the first surprise song for her “The Eras Tour” show in Los Angeles on August 7, 2023. Before performing the song acoustically on guitar, she said:

«This is a song that I haven’t played live acoustic. But I have played it live, and I miss playing it live.»

On March 2, 2024, Taylor performed a piano mashup of “Dress” with “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” (2016) during one of her “Eras Tour” shows in Singapore. During her concert on July 5, 2024, in Amsterdam Taylor played the song together with “imgonnagetyouback” (2024).

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Our secret moments
In a crowded room
They got no idea
About me and you
There is an indentation
In the shape of you
Made your mark on me
A golden tattoo

[Pre-Chorus]
All of this silence and patience
Pining and anticipation
My hands are shaking from holding back from you, ah, ah, ah…ahh…
All of this silence and patience
Pining and desperately waiting
My hands are shaking from all this, ah, ah, ah…ahh…

[Chorus]
Say my name and everything just stops
I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Take it off
Carve your name into my bedpost
Cause I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Take it off

[Verse 2]
Inescapable
I’m not even going to try
And if I get burned
At least we were electrified
I’m spilling wine in the bathtub
You kiss my face and we’re both drunk
Everyone thinks that they know us
But they know nothing about

[Pre-chorus]
All of this silence and patience
Pining and anticipation
My hands are shaking from holding back from you, ah, ah, ah…ahh…
All of this silence and patience
Pining and desperately waiting
My hands are shaking from all this, ah, ah, ah…ahh…

[Chorus]
Say my name and everything just stops
I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Take it off
Carve your name into my bedpost
Cause I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Take it off

[Post-Chorus]
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off

[Bridge]
Flashback when you met me
Your buzz cut and my hair bleached
Even in my worst times
You could see the best of me
Flashback to my mistakes
My rebounds, my earthquakes
Even in my worst lies
You saw the truth in me
And I woke up just in time
Now I wake up by your side
My one and only, my lifeline
I woke up just in time
Now I wake up by your side,
My hands shake,
I can’t explain this, ah, ah, ah…ahh…

[Chorus]
Say my name and everything just stops
I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Take it off
Carve your name into my bedpost
Cause I don’t want you like a best friend
Only bought this dress
So you could take it off
Take it off

[Outro]
There is an indentation
In the shape of you (Only bought this dress so you could take it off)
You made your mark on me
Golden tattoo (Only bought this dress so you could take it off)

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
Albumreputation
ReleasedNovember 10, 2017
Recorded2016–2017
StudioRough Customer (Brooklyn)
GenreSynth Pop
Length3:27
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
ProducerJack Antonoff
REPUTATION CHRONOLOGY
Dancing With Our Hands TiedDressThis Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Song Certification
"Platinum" certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. Signifying 1,000,000 units sold.
Handwritten Lyrics
Live Performance
Official Audio