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How to Wear a Shift Dress with Style & Class

I’ve come to understand something about myself (and other women). Despite my love for fashion, I still have days I don’t feel like dressing up. And when such days come, all I wanna do is slip on anything my eyes find. Now, guess my go-to dress for such style ruts? The shift dress, of course!

a lady wearing a shift dress and looking up

Don’t get me wrong. Shift dresses aren’t for bland days. Though these dresses are straight without any deliberate attempt to flaunt your curves, you can still rock them in statement-sy ways.

But how do you do this? How do you rock a shift dress to get eyes of admiration fawning over you? That’s what this piece will cover. So, fasten your seatbelt and jump on this ride with me.

What is a Shift Dress?

a lady wearing a burgundy shift dress with a zipper in front

A shift dress is a comfy dress that falls straight from the shoulders down your body.  It has darts around the bust and most times features a high scoop or bateau neck. Furthermore, this type of dress for women looks busty and has little difference between the measurements for the bust, waistline, hips, and hem.

Since it has no shape around the waist or hips, this dress isn’t perfect for flaunting your figure. But guess what. If you are well-endowed behind, your curves will still find a way to sneak out. Also, the shapeless drape of this dress makes it a perfect outfit for hot weather. And since it’s loose, there’ll be enough room for air to touch your skin.

a lady wearing a loose red dress with ruffles

In addition, these dress styles typically end above the knee, but they also come in midi or maxi lengths. And most of them are sleeveless while others come with long, short, cap, or statement sleeves.

Shift Dress vs Sheath Dress: Is There Any Difference?

Angel Obasi in a purple dress with Canadian Sleeves

Shift dresses are similar to sheath dresses, and most people think they’re the same. But here’s the difference: while a shift dress hangs loosely from your shoulders, falls straight down, and doesn’t cinch at the waist, a sheath dress is form-fitting and has tucks around the waist.

Furthermore, sheath dresses have this formal vibe. You can wear them as formal office wear if you’re a working-class woman. On the other hand, shift dresses are versatile and more casual than formal. They’re comfy and perfect for any outing be it the beach, picnic, or a walk down the street.

What Body Type Looks Good in a Shift Dress?

a lady wearing a brownish-yellow dress with short sleeves

Since this dress deemphasizes the bust and waist, it looks great on women with column, ruler, or apple body types. This is because dresses like this hide their lack of curves while adding balance to their looks.

However, this doesn’t mean other body types can’t wear a shift dress.

How to Wear a Shift Dress

a lady in a green short dress

Wear your shift dress to work, church, parties, or casual gatherings and make a style statement by following these dress tips:

Check the Length of Your Dress 

a lady in a comfy dress with puff sleeves

This is important so you can ensure your dress is appropriate for the occasion. You want to check that your dress isn’t too short so when you bend, your underwear won’t be in people’s faces.

Add Colors with Prints

A lady in a multicolored striped short dress

If you’re a lover of colors and you don’t want to wear a bright solid-colored dress, go for a shift dress with prints. This could be floral, polka dots, checkered, plaid, animal, etc.

Wearing prints is a great way to add color to your outfits without going overboard.

Cinch with a Belt/ Corset

comfy dress with belt outfit

Want to add some definitions to your waistline? Wear a corset or belt over your dress. This is a great styling option for hourglass or pear-shaped ladies who want their curves to bulge a tad from their boxy dresses.

A belt or corset will cinch your waistline, accentuate your curves and add more accents to your look.

Wear Leggings/Pantyhose Underneath

A lady wearing a pair of tight underneath her dress

You think your dress is too short? Not a problem at all. Wear a pair of leggings or pantyhose underneath. While these bottoms cover your thighs, they give your outfit an edgy look that won’t go unnoticed.

Punctuate Your Shift Dress with Accessories

Victoria Willie in a blue and white short floral dress  with sunglasses

Don’t just slip on your dress and get going. Wear those little add-ons that emphasize your look. Yes, I’m talking about your jewelry, sunglasses, handbags, wristwatches, bracelets, anklets, nose rings, and other accessories that always transform your outfit.

Accessorizing is also a great way to wear more colors. For instance, if you’re wearing a neutral-colored shift dress, you can accessorize with bright-colored accessories and steal the show.

Layer Your Dress

A lady in a pink dress with a jacket

Layering your outfit is a great way to restyle your clothes without looking like you repeat them. It also comes in handy when the weather is cold. 

You can always layer with a cardigan, blazer, coat, sweater, collared shirt, etc. Just make sure the outerwear you’re going for suits the occasion and achieves your style intent.

Wear a Shirt/Tee/Turtleneck Underneath

lady wearing a turtleneck underneath her short frock

This is another excellent way to style your dress. Wearing a top underneath transforms your dress into a pinafore especially if the dress is sleeveless or has cap sleeves.

Put on Some Makeup

a lady wearing a short black gown and smiling at the camera with her shades on

Unless you’re not a fan of makeup, you shouldn’t rock your shift dress with your bare face. Put on some makeup even if it’s your foundation and powder paired with bold lipstick.

What Kind of Shoes Can You Wear with a Shift Dress?

a lady in an orange frock posing and smiling

Any kind of shoes looks great with this dress. It all depends on the look you want to achieve and the event you’re attending. For a formal or business casual look, go for:

  • Ballerina flats
  • Loafers
  • Low or high-heeled pumps
  • Wedges
  • Espadrilles
  • Mules
  • Stilettos

And for a casual look, wear:

  • Sneakers
  • Boots
  • Knee-high boots
  • Sandals
  • Flip-flops
  • Espadrilles
  • Mules
  • Pool sliders
  • Crocs, etc.
a lady in a beautiful yellow gown with matching belt

Shift dresses are a must-have for every woman looking to build a classic wardrobe. Besides the comfort they bring, as you’ve seen in this post, they’re versatile enough to rock in different ways. So, go ahead and wear yours. And be sure to bless the gram with mindblowing pictures too.

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or creating fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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