What is a Shirtdress?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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A shirtdress is a dress which borrows stylistic accents from the tailoring of shirts, particularly men's shirts. While the basic design of the shirtdress is simple, this style is quite versatile, and it can be worn in a range of ways and in an assortment of locations, from dates to the office. Many clothing manufacturers offer shirtdresses as part of their spring and summer lineup, and they can also be found in thrift or vintage stores. Skilled sewers can also create their own, if they want more control over the cut and style.

A typical shirtdress can look at a glance like a button-down shirt which has been lengthened. The dress typically has a row of buttons all the way down the front, and it may have the classic cuffs and collar associated with a formal button-down shirt. Shirtdresses are also typically tailored to hug the figure with flattering darts and seams which emphasize slender waistlines and other attractive features, and they may be short or long sleeved, although short sleeved styles tend to be more dominant. The length of a shirtdress can also vary, with some hovering around the mid-thigh, and others being much longer.


Most shirtdresses are made from lightweight fabrics like cotton and silk, and they tend to be cut close to the body all the way to the hem. Others may be made from heavier materials, making them more suitable for the office or cooler weather. The dress may feature accents like ruffles down the front or ornamental buttons, or it may be left simple; many are also designed to be belted, typically with a wide belt, to further emphasize the waist.

A more formal, heavyweight shirt dress can be worn in many offices, especially if the hem is modest. Women who want to jump from the office to a night out without having to go home to change can accessorize their shirtdresses with dressy shoes, more showy jewelry, or scarves to make them feel more flirty and fun, and many women also like to leave some of the buttons at the top or bottom of the dress undone when out on the town, to create a more soft, casual look.

In addition to being worn in the office and out on the town, a shirtdress can be useful for a day at the beach, as it can be worth over a bathing suit. In addition to protecting skin from sunburn, a casual summer shirtdress can also be worn in beachside restaurants and other establishments, allowing the wearer to easily transition from lying on the beach to shopping.


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