One style that is perfect for work or play is the shirt dress. A shirt dress is defined as a dress with a collar and often has buttons going down the front. Most shirt dresses are made from a cotton or linen material, which makes them perfect for staying cool in the summertime (If you like this post, see more summer styles here). As you probably know, my blog Polka Dot Blonde is all about recycling classic and timeless styles and wearing them in new and interesting ways. This style takes me back in time…I can’t help myself! If you want more information on classic styles that every woman should own, see these previous blog posts (part 1 and part 2).
Shirt dresses first became popular back in the 1940s, during the time of World War II. This style was hands down the most worn type of dress at the time, and different variations of it continue to be worn today. Why is that? The shape of the dress flatters most women’s body types (another universally-flattering dress, the A-line dress, can be explored here). At the time, shirt dresses were considered casual yet stylish enough that women could go to work, run errands, do housework, or attend a dinner date while wearing them. Another fascinating tidbit: before the 1940s, dresses used to be buttoned from the back. Because so many husbands were off to war, the styles of dresses began to be buttoned from the front (shirt dresses!) so women could do it themselves. I have rounded up 5 different styles of shirt dresses that would look fabulous on YOU this summer!
All the Retro Feels
OUTFIT INSPO #1:
LONG SHIRT DRESS
All of these shirt dresses would look absolutely stunning with a pair of wedges, loafers, ankle boots, or strappy heels. The longer style can be ladylike or bohemian, depending on which accessories you pair with it. I’m picturing delicate chain necklaces and nude heels for a feminine touch, and a tan leather or suede purse, floppy hat, belt, and ankle boots for a boho vibe. For a funkier look, wear your long shirt dress over a pair of jeans, buttoned from your chest to your waist, then opened up down to your feet.
- Eva Mendes Collection Becca Shirt Dress, New York & Company
- Gabrielle Union Collection Coral Shirt Dress, New York & Company
- William Rast Button-Down Maxi Dress, Macy’s
- Polka Dot Button-Down Midi Shirt Dress, Urban Outfitters
- Floral Button-Down Midi Dress, Urban Outfitters
OUTFIT INSPO #2:
STRIPED SHIRT DRESS
These striped shirt dresses all scream BEACH to me! They can come in a variety of colors, including gray, red, pink, but mostly they have been popular in a blue and white stripe. Keep it casual with a big tote bag or straw bag, espadrilles, fabric top sandals, mules, or wedges in a tan or white. Adding a red lip or red accessories to this look is also very glamorous and could be a simple yet chic way to dress up for the 4th of July! Add a denim jacket if it gets chilly when you’re hanging out on the beach at night.
- INC International Concepts Sleeveless Handkerchief Shirt Dress, Macy’s
- Que Sera Sera Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- Heidi Button Down Shift Dress, Francesca’s
- Kate Striped Shirt Dress, New York & Company
- Stripe Cold-Shoulder Wrap Shirt Dress, New York & Company
- Striped Linen Wrap Shirt Dress, New York & Company
OUTFIT INSPO #3:
MILITARY SHIRT DRESS
Dressing it Up
Perfect with some Aviator sunglasses and geometric earrings
These flat bed sandals from Madden NYC are so comfortable and on sale right now! I feel like Joanna Gaines with them on. 🙂
I love pairing my olive green New York & Company shirt dress with straw accessories, like this fedora and bag from Francesca’s!
Dressing It Down
Same dress, unbuttoned over a sleeveless My Chemical Romance tee (yes, I love that band…still haha), long necklace, threader earrings, and fringed cowgirl boots
I felt pretty damn cool…LOL.
Any style of shirt dresses can look great over jeans
As you can see from my examples, this style can be very feminine or you can toughen it up, depending on your mood! I think that simple, neutral accessories work best for the overall aesthetic. Think very structured, pockets, brass buttons, and so forth. If you liked my old tee shirt turned into a tank top, here’s where I learned how to do it (a DIY tutorial on ESPN.com).
- Belted Linen Shirt Dress, New York & Company
- Tommy Hilfiger Twill Shirt Dress, Macy’s
- Lauren Ralph Lauren Stretch Twill Utility Dress, Macy’s
- Sleeveless Shirt Dress in Cotton Poplin, J.Crew
OUTFIT INSPO #4:
CHAMBRAY SHIRT DRESS
These can be styled very similarly to both the striped and military shirt dresses, which is why I’ve saved these for after both of those styles. Red or leopard print accessories will look fabulous with these dresses! Tan or white leather accessories or straw accessories will accent your dress just right. Also try wearing a scarf draped over your shoulders or tied around your neck for some extra fun!
- Pastoral Preference Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- Daytime Dynamo Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- Collectif Cherished Era Sheath Dress, ModCloth
- INC Asymmetrical Denim Shirt Dress, Macy’s
- Tommy Hilfiger Cotton Sleeveless Shirt Dress, Macy’s
OUTFIT INSPO #5:
FUNKY & FUN PRINTED SHIRT DRESSES
So if you’ve never visited ModCloth’s website before…this is kind of what they do. I like that the print and style can both be throwbacks to decades past. I think these dresses would be so amazing with a patent skinny belt, Mary Jane pumps, Chuck Taylor sneakers, or loafers with socks. You could make your shoe choice a little quirky (like the dress) and keep the rest of your accessories pretty simple. These patterns speak for themselves!
- Fever London Yours Fondly Cotton Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- Hawaiian Print Shirt Dress (How about that??), ModCloth
- Noticed and Noted Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- Classic Short Sleeve Shirt Dress in Gingham, J.Crew
- Defining Details Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- Black Dot Print Poplin Fit and Flare Dress, New York & Company
- A Likely Starry Cotton Shirt Dress, ModCloth
- It’s an Inspired Taste Cotton Shirt Dress in Roller Disco, ModCloth
I hope that I’ve inspired you to wear your shirt dresses in a variety of different ways, or perhaps to go out and buy a few! They really are the perfect style of dress for summertime! Which outfit inspo did you love? Speaking of summer, what are your summertime plans? Any vacations on the horizon?
Until next time…
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