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How To Wear a Shirt Dress

A shirt dress is a versatile garment that you can wear alone or pair with other pieces to create unique looks for many different occasions.

Is Wearing a Shirt Dress for You?

A shirt dress is a garment that resembles a shirt up top — usually a button-down, a T-shirt, or a sweatshirt — but is long enough to wear as a dress. Up top, the styling often resembles a men's shirt, with a collar, breast pocket, and cuffed sleeves, giving it an androgynous look. Wearing a shirt dress can be a little daring, but with the right accessories, you can style it for any occasion.

Shirt Dress Materials

A shirt dress can be made out of any type of material. Most often, it is made of the same materials used to make the shirts from which they take their inspiration. Chambray, denim, cotton, silk, and linen are all common materials made to make shirt dresses. Occasionally, you can find shirt dresses made of more stereotypically feminine materials, such as chiffon or velvet. This may accentuate the contrast between the masculine styling and be appropriate for some of the dressier occasions.

Shirt Dress Length

Shirt dresses can range in length from very long to very short. A maxi shirt dress reaches almost all the way down to your feet. A midi shirt dress stops at about your knees, either a little below or a little above. A mini version stops at about the mid-thigh, though lower than just a plain shirt would usually go.

The lengths of the sleeves can also vary, just as with normal shirts. There are both long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirt dresses, as well as some with no sleeves at all.

8 Ways To Wear a Shirt Dress

Shirt dresses are already versatile because of the different lengths they come in and the different materials they use. You can also style and accessorize them to dress them up for formal occasions or down for more casual events. Here are some suggestions on how you can wear this type of dress.

1. With a Jacket

When you wear a blazer or sport coat over a shirt dress, it challenges people's expectations. At first, it appears that you are wearing a suit, but the next glance tells a different story. This way, you can have fun while still appearing formal.

For a more casual, edgy look, try wearing a denim jacket, an army green utility jacket, or a black moto jacket.

A trench coat over a shirt dress is a new spin on a classic look that also helps protect you from inclement weather. To create an attractive layering effect, try to choose a trench coat that is longer than the dress.

2. With Tights or Leggings

During the winter, it may be too cold to go bare-legged under your shirt dress, but that doesn't mean that you can't wear it. You can pair your dress with a pair of tights or leggings. This is also a good way to give your outfit a retro vibe that can lean either toward preppy school girl or punk rocker on the style spectrum.

Combine a dark-colored pair of tights with a light-colored dress for a striking visual contrast. Choose an oversized shirt dress for the coveted jellyfish look.

3. With a Swimsuit as a Beach Cover-up

If you are uncomfortable walking around in just a swimsuit on the way to the beach, a shirt dress worn as a beach cover-up may be the perfect solution. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause sunburn and skin damage; a beach cover-up can help protect your skin.

If wearing a shirt dress as a cover-up when you go out in the sun, you don't want to get too hot. Therefore, choose a lightweight, breathable material, such as cotton or linen. Avoid dark colors because these absorb heat from the sun. Look for white or light neutrals, such as beige, instead. Put on a pair of sandals or flip-flops, and you're ready for a day of fun and relaxation at the seaside.

4. Layered Over a Skirt

When you wear a shorter shirt dress over a longer skirt, it gives the impression of a jacket — not so formal as a blazer, but not super casual either. Another cool layered look is to wear a long, flowing shirt dress over a miniskirt. You'll feel like a superhero (or a supervillain, depending on your mood) as the longer skirt twirls around your heels as though you were wearing a cape. Either way, it's a powerful feeling.

5. As a Shirt

There are many ways that you can wear a shirt dress as a dress, but you also have the option of wearing it as a shirt over trousers or jeans. You can wear it over a T-shirt or tank top for a layered look, or you can just button the top part and keep the bottom buttons open if your dress is long. For a short shirt dress, tuck in the front part loosely and then leave the back untucked and flowing.

6. With the Sleeves Rolled Up

If you feel that your long-sleeved shirt dress looks a little too stiff or stuffy, you can scrunch or roll up the sleeves. This makes it look a little more casual and also gives you the look and feel of three-quarter sleeves. It can be challenging to find a dress with sleeves between long and short, but by rolling them, you can make your own.

7. With a Belt

On its own, a shirt dress can be a little amorphous. This may be what you are going for, but if not, you can add more structure and create a sleeker silhouette by adding a belt. Belting the dress gives you more of an hourglass shape, and you can accentuate the style with a designer belt.

8. As a Dress

You may feel that your shirt dress is perfect to wear just as it is. And that's perfectly fine! You can then dress it up or down with the shoes and accessories you choose to go with it.

Shop Kate Hewko for a Stylish Shirt Dress

We have several shirt dress styles available for sale, but that's just the beginning! Shop our dress collection for looks that are sassy, sexy, or sophisticated, yet always unforgettable.

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