Are you tired of wearing the same clothes day in and day out? If you are looking for a summer uniform, look no further than the versatile and chic shirt dress. This wardrobe staple can effortlessly transition from the office to the weekend, making it a must-have for any fashion-conscious midlife woman.
Whether you want to dress it up with heels and statement jewellery or dress it down with sneakers and a denim jacket, the shirt dress is perfect for any occasion.
In this article, we’ll explore some stylish ways to rock your shirt dress when over 50, taking you from a formal meeting to brunch with ease.
History of the Shirt Dress
The shirt dress has a long and interesting history that dates back to the early 20th century. It was introduced in the 1920s as a way for women to achieve a more practical and comfortable style of dress, however, it owes its origins to the shirtwaist blouse, that very early product of the American ready-to-wear industry which originally became part of the uniform of the “New Woman” in the 1890s.
Designed to resemble a man’s shirt, with a button-up front, collar, and sleeves, it was typically made from lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen and was meant to be worn without a corset.
In the 1950s, the shirt dress experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to designers like Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. They reimagined the shirt dress with feminine touches like full skirts, nipped-in waists, and delicate details like lace and embroidery.
The shirt dress became a staple of the “New Look” and was worn by women of all ages and social classes.
Shirt Dress Styles
Today, the shirt dress has evolved into a modern and versatile piece that can be worn in countless ways. It comes in various styles, from classic button-downs to wrap dresses and may feature cuffed sleeves, a collar, or a breast pocket.
“Think of the shirtdress as a sartorial blank canvas“, explains Vogue Market Editor Madeline Fass. “Whether you’re starting with a classic white poplin or a pretty printed shirtdress, you can’t go wrong. Should you be looking for something a little less expected, there are a handful of shirtdresses with updated details—say, pleated skirts, off-centre buttons, and statement sleeves“.
This season, shirt dresses are all about bold colours, playful prints, interesting details and lengths. One of the biggest trends is the oversized shirt dress (which features a loose and relaxed fit that’s perfect for staying cool on hot summer days) and the belted shirt dress, which cinches in at the waist for a more flattering silhouette.
When it comes to prints, from tropical florals to bold polka dots, there’s a pattern out there for everyone. And if you’re feeling daring, try a shirt dress in a bold animal print like leopard or zebra. For a more understated look, stick to classic prints like stripes or gingham.
From Nordstrom to J.Crew, including Anthropologie, ASOS and Zara, we’re sure you’ll find a shirt dress that fits your budget and personal style.
Best Fabrics for Shirt Dresses
Depending on climate and occasion, the right fabric will make all the difference for your shirt dress.
For hot summer days, lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, and chambray are ideal. These fabrics will keep you cool and comfortable all day long. For more formal events, choose a dress in a luxurious fabric like silk or satin to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your look.
Another great option for shirt dresses is denim, a classic and long-lasting fabric that can withstand frequent wear and washing.
How to Style a Shirt Dress for Different Occasions
A shirt dress can be mixed and matched with virtually anything in your wardrobe to create countless looks. The key to making your shirt dress look stylish and put-together is in the details.
Here are some ideas for how to style a shirt dress for different events:
- Casual weekend outing
Pair a simple cotton shirt dress with sneakers or sandals and a denim jacket for a relaxed and comfortable look. Alternatively, style a printed shirt dress over a fitted tank in a classic shade with skinny jeans for an effortless outfit when you’re on the go and leave it unbuttoned. Add a crossbody bag and sunglasses to complete the outfit. Also, consider rolling up the sleeves to enhance the relaxed look.
Choose a tailored shirt dress in a neutral colour like black or navy and pair it with pumps or loafers. Add a structured bag and simple jewellery for a polished and professional look. If you’re wearing a belt, choose one that’s in a contrasting colour to add some visual interest to your outfit.
- Date night
When “flirty drinks” are calling your name, opt for a belted shirt dress with a more fitted silhouette. Add an edgy leather jacket and black heels for an effortlessly cool aesthetic. Complete the dating look with bold lipstick for a glamorous touch.
- Formal event
Choose a maxi-length shirt dress in a luxurious fabric like silk or satin. Pair it with strappy heels and a piece of statement jewellery like a chunky necklace, drop earrings and some stacked bracelets, for a show-stopping look.
Shirt Dress Dos and Don’ts
When wearing a shirt dress, there are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
- Do choose a dress that fits well and flatters your body type.
The shirt dress is a classic style that looks great on everyone, so make sure you choose one that showcases your best features.
- Don’t wear a shirt dress that’s too short or too tight.
This can make you look unprofessional and can be uncomfortable to wear.
- Do accessorize your shirt dress with simple and understated pieces.
The dress should be the focus of your outfit, so don’t overwhelm it with too many accessories.
- Don’t forget to consider the occasion when choosing your shirt dress.
A dress that’s appropriate for the office may not be appropriate for a night out with friends.
Overall, the shirt dress is a must-have piece for any summer wardrobe. Its versatility, comfort, and timeless style make it a perfect choice for any occasion. Whether you prefer bold prints or classic solids, there’s a shirt dress out there for every woman in her prime.