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How To Wear a Shift Dress 4 Ways (and the best ever LBD!)

Feb 9, 2018

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Just casually coming at you from this arctic tundra under several inches of snow. ? CHIBERIA!

I’m excited though because *fingers crossed* pending any weather implications, we’re heading to Dallas on Monday! Neal is going for work and I’m taking full advantage of our Southwest Airlines companion pass and hopping on the plane along with him solely for the excuse to remember what warmer temperatures feel like ?

Anyway, today I’m excited to share the CUTEST little shift dress, styled four different ways for a bunch of different occasions! I think every woman needs a good shift dress in her wardrobe–and if you happen to be in the market for one, this little black shift is too cute, and is such an awesome price at $49! It’s one of my favorite staples and I’ve already gotten so much wear out of it in the past couple of weeks–it’s one of my go-to’s for going out at night!

So–let’s chit chat a little bit more about shift dresses, and then jump into my favorite ways to style them, shall we?

What is a shift dress?

I absolutely love a great shift dress. They’re really flattering, appropriate for so many different occasions. But what IS a shift dress exactly? The “shift” part refers to the actual cut of the dress, which extends in a straight, simple line down from the shoulder. It’s typically shorter in length to hit above the knee. It’s one of the most iconic dress shapes of all time, and became popular in the 1920’s–the shorter hemlines were rebellious, and they also happened to be easy to dance in! Shift dresses have been a popular choice for women of all ages and for all occasions ever since! It’s said that Audrey Hepburn re-popularized them once again in the 50’s. (Admittedly, I think that’s why I love this dress so much, it’s so Audrey!)

Which brings me to my second point…

Are shift dresses flattering? Who do they look good on?

A shift dress is one of the most classic silhouettes out there, particularly because it looks good on a variety of body types–a black shift is the most universally flattering in my opinion ? While shift dresses are all similar in shape, they do come with different features to acommodate different body types! For example, if you have a larger bust, look for a dress with a v-neck as opposed to a high-neck, as well as one with darts to properly fit your bust. If you’re pear shaped, a more A-line shaped shift dress will likely provide a better fit! To accentuate curves (or even create them!) and define the waist, you can also add a belt!

How to wear a shift dress:

There are about as many ways to wear a shift dress as there are occasions to wear them! Here are four of my favorite styles, but you can easily substitute any of my items for similar items in your wardrobe–I’ll include a few substitution ideas in each as well!

#1: Shift dress with boots:

Dress: Leith–only $47! (runs TTS. Wearing XS), Everlane makes a nearly identical cotton version that is a little swingier too–a bit more casual and great for all seasons! Leith also makes this version which has more of a high-low hem and is slightly less structured. Boots: Stuart Weitzman Lowlands. For budget friendly dupes, check out Nordstrom Rack–they have a lot on sale! Earrings: Amazon–only $8.99! (Can you believe it?!) Lipstick: RMS Beauty in RMS Red Hair: Curled with a t3 Micro 1″ wand curling iron (wand + attachment sold separately!) and finished with Oribe Apres Beach spray Makeup:  See this post for my full everyday makeup routine!

If you guys remember a few weeks back, I posted this exact date look on Instagram stories when Neal and I were getting ready to go out on a dinner date! (We went to Boefhouse, our favorite restaurant! I included a write-up about it in yesterday’s post, if you’re curious!)

Styling Tips:

You’ve heard me mention this before if you’ve been reading for awhile, but I love pulling style inspiration from different decades! I think by itself, this dress is very classic Audrey Hepburn, but paired with OTK boots, it brings in some cool sixties/seventies vibes! The boots make a statement while the black on black is understated–so by adding in some fun gold earrings, it makes the outfit modern and chic. Of course, I rarely leave the house when I go out without red lipstick–I think it’s the perfect finishing touch!

Substitution ideas:

Layer a leather jacket over the top for a little more edge! Instead of black OTK boots, you could go with some neutral OTK boots to warm up the outfit, or if you’d like a pop of color, swap the gold earrings for some fun colored tassel earrings or a pretty pendant necklace!

#2: Shift Dress with a Blazer:

Dress: Leith–only $47! (runs TTS. Wearing XS), Everlane makes a nearly identical cotton version that is a little swingier too–a bit more casual and great for all seasons! Leith also makes this version which has more of a high-low hem and is slightly less structured. Tights: Admittedly these are from Walgreens, haha! But I’ve heard good things about Nordstrom’s brand of tights if you want to invest in a better, more quality pair! Pumps: Old (identical here and  here!) Blazer: BB Dakota c/o Shopbop. Also styled in this post! Stud earrings: Amazon (good for sensitive ears, too! They’re only $15!) Hair: Curled with a t3 Micro 1″ wand curling iron (wand + attachment sold separately!) and finished with Oribe Apres Beach spray Makeup:  See this post for my full everyday makeup routine! Lipstick: RMS Beauty in RMS Red

You wouldn’t normally think of this dress as a “work” dress based on how I styled it above, right? But it’s totally appropriate for the office with the addition of tights and a blazer (ahem, MOST offices, I’m sorry if you have a very strict dress code, please don’t skewer me.) I love how this blazer isn’t as structured as others and it’s more of a felt material, which adds a really interesting texture to the outfit! It runs TTS (I’m wearing an XS!) I like to roll the sleeves for a little more added interest.

Tip on tights:

For a more conservative office environment, go with completely opaque tights, if you’re worried about looking like you’re showing too much skin.

Optional: 

Style your shift dress with a belt! Depending on your body type, you might find that layering a blazer over a dress can be a bit shapeless (and make you look square) if this happens, add a belt around the smallest point of your waist (you can play around with belting it underneath the jacket or over the top! This defines the waist and creates more of an hourglass shape! (This leopard belt would be so cute!)

#3: Dress Up Your Shift Dress:

Dress: Leith–only $47! (runs TTS. Wearing XS), Everlane makes a nearly identical cotton version that is a little swingier too–a bit more casual and great for all seasons! Leith also makes this version which has more of a high-low hem and is slightly less structured. Pumps: Sam Edelman (I have the slingback old version but these are basically the same with a regular back!) I also love this chunky rounded toe versionStud earrings: Amazon Lipstick: RMS beauty lipstick in RMS red Hair: Curled with a t3 Micro 1″ wand curling iron (wand + attachment sold separately!) and finished with Oribe Apres Beach spray Makeup:  See this post for my full everyday makeup routine! Stud earrings: Amazon (good for sensitive ears, too! They’re only $15!) Lipstick: RMS Beauty in RMS Red

The classic Audrey look ?

Tips:

When I first purchased this dress, this is the first way I thought of styling it–perfect for a night out to a more upscale dinner or date, you could even make this work for a wedding or rehearsal dinner any time of the year! I think the topknot makes it so cute–did you know I first learned how to do a topknot from this post on Cup of Jo?

I wanted to keep things simple, so I went with simple studs for earrings (I got these on Amazon! They’re sterling silver posts, so they don’t hurt sensitive ears, and they’re so cheap, haha!) and my go-to black pumps.

#4: Business Casual Shift Dress Style (With a French Twist):

Dress: Leith–only $47! (runs TTS. Wearing XS), Everlane makes a nearly identical, slightly longer version that I also own (I styled it in green here!)–you can get it as low as $47! Leith also makes this version which has more of a high-low hem and is slightly less structured. Cap toe shoes: old but Sam Edelman makes an identical pair now! Silk button down: Everlane Relaxed Silk Shirt (comes in so many colors! I’m wearing a size 2 here!) Hair: Curled with a t3 Micro 1″ wand curling iron (wand + attachment sold separately!) and finished with Oribe Apres Beach spray Makeup:  See this post for my full everyday makeup routine! Stud earrings: Amazon (good for sensitive ears, too! They’re only $15!) Lipstick: RMS Beauty in RMS Red

Outfit Details:

Another work-appropriate look (that can be made more conservative, again, with the addition of tights!) I absolutely love the look of a layered shift dress–you can treat it just like a jumper! (Remember those when you were a kid? Haha! I totally forgot about them until my mother in law was like, “you look so cute in your jumper!”–I was like AW! Jumpers! Throwback!)

I like layering my silk button down underneath, or a slim-fitting turtleneck (J.Crew’s tissue turtlenecks are my fave!) underneath the dress for the jumper-like effect. It’s a totally different look, and it adds some warmth during the cold months (or if your office is just freezing, as they always are!)

Cap-toe pumps are so adorable and these look just like the Chanel version (and I’m not complaining about their price tag ?) I love that they give off a little French-chic vibe!

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Do you have a favorite shift dress? What are some of your favorite ways to style it? Also, if you have any requests for more “how to style…” posts, make sure to leave them in the comments below! You guys know I aim to please ?

The best shift dresses–shop my other favorites! 

Photos by Hannah

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