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How To Style A Shirt Dress

A shirt dress is hands down one of the hardest working and versatile items you could add to a capsule wardrobe. No matter your age or body shape, there’s a flattering style out there for everyone. The perfect foundation piece, it’s effortlessly stylish all on its own, but can also be used as a lightweight layering piece instead of a cardigan or kimono to combine with other garments. 

Whether you are brunching with friends, packing for a holiday or dressing for an important work event, the shirt dress can be both elevated or relaxed to wear for almost any occasion.

Read on for tips on finding a style that’s the right fit for you, and get inspired with ideas to tailor your look by pairing your shirt dress with other items in your closet. You’ll be amazed at how this humble garment can reinvent your look in so many ways.

Off Duty Style

When you’re able to enjoy some much-needed free time, comfort is key, even you still want to look fashionable.

Classic longline silhouettes are great for a weekend style. Look out for relaxed and oversized options that you can wear either cinched in with a belt, or left unbuttoned and layered over your favourite casual t-shirt and jeans.  

Soft cotton, linen and stretch jersey fabrics are all great choices for a weekend wardrobe. Not only are they comfortable, but they’ll also exude a more casual style. Denim shirt dresses are a great option too. Try rolling up sleeves and pairing with fresh neutral-toned trainers. Layer a chunky knit or faux leather jacket over your dress if it’s chilly outside.

Look out for vibrant prints that can enhance your look, particularly if your working week keeps your style conservative. From vivid florals to animal prints, polka dots and stripes, a shirt dress can handle them all - so let loose and enjoy experimenting!

Wedding Guest Glamour

Although at first glance it may seem too casual, a shirt dress actually makes a lovely option for a wedding. Blending sophisticated daytime style with a vibrant party look, you’ll be the best dressed guest as the celebrations lead from daytime into evening.

To nail this style opt for soft fabrics that offer more movement and feel less tailored; like soft crepe, chiffon or viscose. More elegant for a party vibe, you’ll find collars and button front styles will drape across the neckline with grace and elegance.  

Look out for soft hemlines too. Hanky hems, frills and delicate ruffles will all help to soften the structured feel of a traditional shirt dress while still emanating the sophistication you’d expect from this classic look.


Holiday Capsule Closet

A successful holiday capsule wardrobe requires almost all garments to have multi purposes. For this reason, every suitcase should include a shirt dress. Pick a breathable fabric such as cotton or viscose and you’ll be able to wear it for almost any activity, from a day out sightseeing to an evening alfresco meal and even as a cover up on the beach.

Loose-fitting, oversized shapes are super comfortable and flattering over a swimsuit. Paired with sandals, a beach bag and glamorous sunglasses, just pull it on and you’ll be ready in minutes when it’s time for lunch or a stroll along the seashore.

Elevate your shirt dress for the evening by swapping your sandals for heels and finish your look with a leather or metallic belt and a clutch bag. Layer with an on-trend faux leather or denim jacket if there’s a chill in the air.

Look out for collarless styles that still have a tailored look but with a more casual feel. They’ll also be cooler and more comfortable for warmer climates.

Girls Night Out

Look for styles that have details such as skirts with front splits which can look elegant and dressy for a night out. Pair with your most stylish heels and accessorise with glamorous statement jewellery.

Silky or sheer fabrics will be very fitting for an evening shirt dress look, many of which add a self-tie waist belt which can add an extra chicness to your style.

Evenings often require a warm outer layer, so depending on where you are heading out to, consider what would complement your shirt dress. Maybe a cropped lightweight blazer, faux leather jacket or a sleek longline cardigan cinched in at the waist with a chunky belt.

Likewise in colder seasons, opaque tights paired with ankle or knee-high boots will be practical for keeping warm, and look out for on-trend styles that’ll finish your look to perfection.

Tailor Your Workwear

Think you’ve got every look covered? Don’t forget to explore the effortless workwear style that a shirt dress has in spades. Smart, professional and tailored, but softened by the silhouette of a skirt rather than trousers, this look is the height of sophistication, while still ticking all the office dress code boxes.

Look for sharp, crisp cotton fabrics that give off a look of classic professionalism, and opt for fitted knee length hems, button-down front details, classic high neck collars and long sleeves with cuffs.

For an informal office setting, go for softer fabrics and less tailoring. Chiffon or silk materials, with relaxed collars and delicate floaty hems will still ooze sophistication but with a more casual overall feel.

Work a shirt dress in five easy ways

ONE: Stand alone style: simply accessorise to finish your look and you’re good to go!

TWO: Use as an outer layer: a shirt dress that can be fully opened at the front can be worn as an alternative to a cardigan or jacket. Layer over skinny jeans paired with a short sleeve or cami strap top for a sophisticated off-duty style - your options here are endless so go ahead and enjoy experimenting.

THREE: Summer sizzle to winter warmer: one shirt dress can often be an active wardrobe staple all year round. In warmer months, pair with flat sandals and layer with a cropped lightweight blazer. On a cold winter’s day, throw over a chunky knit cardigan and team with opaque tights and boots.

FOUR: Beachwear cover-up: use a chic, lightweight shirt dress to layer over your swimwear, protecting skin from the sun, while also offering an easy way to “dress up” for lunch during a lazy day of poolside lounging.

FIVE: Elevate from day to night: start your day by pairing your shirt dress with a casual denim jacket and fresh trainers, then by night swap for heels, statement jewellery and an elegant clutch bag. You’ll be party-ready in a matter of minutes!

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