When it comes to awkward in-between-seasons dressing, it’s hard to decipher what to wear each morning. Whilst layering up in scarves, coats and roll necks in December are thankfully a thing of the past; we still aren’t ready to start wearing denim shorts and opened toed sandals whilst carrying an ice-cold glass of Pimms quite yet. (Nearly, but not quite.)
So how can you start to dip your toe into more spring styles without going all out? There is one go-to style that combines both a glimmer of spring appeal, yet remains fashionably functional for now: the shirt dress.
The shirt dress does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s part shirt, part dress - a classic go-to that can be dressed up or down. Whilst shirt dresses are no new phenomenon, it is easily one of the most over-looked pieces in our everyday wardrobes. Usually confined to office-appropriate attire, or merely viewed as a lazy day ‘throw-on-and-go’ outfit, it’s actually a fashionable, versatile shape that’s not just flattering to wear, but is also easy to style.
From smock styles to maxi lengths, the trusty shirt dress has been refreshed in new sartorial styles and is making it into the wardrobes of everyone from royalty to supermodels alike.
So if you’re looking for a bit of shirt dress inspiration, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite ways to wear the shirt dress to prove that it’s definitely worth the investment for years to come.
1. Neutrals For The Office
When it comes to wearing a shirt dress to the office, we automatically think of classic white and there is a good reason why. Keeping the colour more neutral at work means you can play around with other areas of the outfit – whether it’s teaming with bright accessories or a more statement shoe. This midi-length shirt dress in particular is a great option for workwear as it has a looser fit, but gives definition at the waist with the tie-up detail. Optimum comfort whilst also looking polished at your desk all day? Yes please. Take note from Meghan Markle and team a classic tan court shoe that will see you stylishly though the 9-5. Alternatively, switch up your footwear in favour of a strappy style and add a statement red lipstick to take you from desk-to-dinner after hours.
2. Mini-length For Spring
Perhaps not the best weather-wise choice for now teaming bare legs with a mini shirt dress, but this length is still a noteworthy style regardless. While the midi length dress is probably the most common in our wardrobes due to its clear associations to workwear, the mini shirt dress is a perfect versatile piece for spring. Whether in a more oversized fit, or in a fit and flare style, mini shirt dresses are great for having a big impact with minimal effort.
These styles can work for both day and night: take note from actress Denise Gough who teams her colourful printed dress with strappy heels for a film event. No film events in the diary? (us neither), wear yours with trainers and a cross-body bag for day. Drape a jacket over your shoulders to keep you warm and you’ve also found your perfect picnic outfit for spring.
3. Add a Belt
Ready to nail that off-duty model style? Look no further than Emily Ratajowski for inspiration. Try buying your shirt dress in a size or two bigger, then add a belt to give the dress more shape: no boyfriend required. Not only does the relaxed fit hide any areas you don’t like, but you’ll also be comfortable all day.
We love the laid back styling of Em-Rata’s look with some all-white trainers, knotted belt and tortoiseshell sunglasses. Until the sun makes an appearance (when this becomes the coolest look going), try teaming an oversized belted white shirt with patterned tights and chunky ankle boots.
4. Layer It Up
Whilst we can’t wait for warmer days, pub gardens and spring sunshine, until then we need to keep warm. The shirt dress is no exception to the power of layering: try adding a roll neck underneath a shirt dress to keep cosy on the morning commute.
Alternatively, throw a chunky jumper over the top for a more skirt-and-jumper look. (Bonus points if you let the lapels poke out at the top in a Peter Pan collar style.) We’ll be finishing the look with a classic trench coat and knee-high boots.
5. Wear It With Trousers
Perhaps not the easiest of looks to pull off, but teaming a shirt dress with trousers will give you serious sartorial points. Get a bit of inspiration from Olivia Palermo who teams her maxi-style shirt dress with leather trousers. The key to pulling this look off is to keep your jeans as skinny as possible: teaming mom jeans with a shirt dress may be a bit of a no-go as the bigger styles will swamp your shape.
Do as Olivia does and wear a more maxi style with black spray on jeans or leather-look leggings with flats for day or heels for a more evening appropriate attire.
6. Dress It Up for Nights Out
Whilst the shirt dress typically has a looser shape for day, shirt dresses also work for more dressed up events, as shown by Gigi Hadid. We love the button down detail on her yellow bodycon dress and the slit at the front adds some extra drama. Dressing a shirt dress up with heels and statement accessories will work for a bottomless brunch and beyond.
7. Be Brave With Colour & Print!
There are multiple variations of the shirt dress whether it’s the shape, style, print or pattern and if you want to make an impact we say go for it! Remove the ‘throw-on-and-go’ ease we usually associate with the shirt dress and give it a new lease of life. Whether it’s incorporating playful new elements like voluminous poplin sleeves, or experimenting with bold colour and print, the statement shirt dress is bold and bright whilst still remaining the reliable wardrobe hero it was in the first place.
We love this bright check design of this statement shirt dress and the pop of yellow on the shoe. If you’re going all out in colour and print keep other accessories in more muted colours to ensure that the dress remains the center of attention.