October 09, 2012

Clothing Universals: The Shirtdress

A few years ago, you'd be hard pressed to find a shirtdress anywhere. These days, it's hard not to find them: nearly every catalog, website, etc, has a version of the shirtdress. And let me tell you something: this makes me very very glad. I would wear a shirt dress every day for the rest of my life if I could.

Shirtdresses are versatile: they can be worn with flats or sandals, and with a cloth, ribbon, or woven belt for casual days: touring, shopping, biking, picnics, barbecues, and more. They can be dressed up with heels and a leather belt for the work day, concerts and dinner dates. In silks, they can be worn with a brooch or beaded belt to weddings, baptisms, and other special events.

Shirtdresses can transcend seasons: all but the heavy wool ones and the light breezy linen ones can be worn throughout the year. My two chambray ones that I wore every week this summer are now transitioning into fall; I wear them with a long sleeve t-shirt or blouse underneath (the double collar can be very charming), or a boxy blazer and scarf, plus leggings or tights with boots. When it gets colder, heavy crew neck sweaters will look sharp with the collar peeking out, and the skirt flowing below.

And most of all, shirtdresses are universally flattering. I buy ones with full skirts, which suit my body type. Ladies who are tall and lean can wear the trim, straight-skirt shirt-dresses with grace. If you have no waist, a shirt-dress miraculously gives you one.

Here are some on my wish-list for fall:

L. L. Bean Signature // $159 // A black and white silk print will look lovely at the office or a dinner party. For warmth, layer with opaque grey tights, or a colored turtleneck. They have a few other prints: a bad-ass watercolor camo that I am so tempted by, plus black, and wool.

Tulle from Ruche // $72 // I don't really believe in polyester, and especially not for $72, but this dutch-floral dress is adorable, so I'll let my snobby judgements slide.

Land's End // $62 // I know. Land's End is boring. But let me tell you, I have bought this shirtdress, in it's seasonal incarnations, three or four times, and I love it. It is a classic cut they keep reinventing with new colors and fabrics every season. I'll probably skip this one, not being a fan of purple, but still highly recommend it.

Boden // $98 // Boden has tons of awesome shirt-dresses, including one that literally has my name on it, but I picked this one because it demonstrates what I'm talking about with layering. Also, it comes in green. And you all know how I feel about green dresses.

Anthropologie // $128 // Horses (and by extension Zebras) are the new Owls. And I am ok with that.

Do you have any favorites?


  1. It is a matter of sadness to me that I've never yet found a shirtdress that I thought looked good on me. They always look so good on the rack that I keep trying, but no dice . . .

  2. I've always wanted a DVF shirt dress, but that isn't in my budget at the moment. I like the Boden and Anthro dresses, though.