Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.Everyone loves a good shift dress- with great reason! They are comfortable, versatile, and always in fashion. You may, however, find yourself wondering how to style one. Shift dresses are characterized by how loosely they drape.
To best flatter your figure in a shift dress, the most important things to keep in mind are your body shape, the occasion you are dressing for, and the versatility of the dress you choose to buy.
- Each body is individual and unique, but most of us fall into a specific shape category. Finding out which you belong to will give you reference points to pick flattering pieces.
- Belts, belts, belts. Odds are, no matter what body type you have, a belt will be a crucial element in styling your shift dress flatteringly.
- The occasion is important to keep in mind. On certain body types, a casual shift dress and cardigan can look comfortable and stylish, but on others, it may look sloppy. Regardless, styling a shift dress appropriately is key to making it look good.
- One dress can serve many purposes. A black shift dress can be worn with heels and a stylish belt for a glamorous look, or worn alone with casual shoes for a day to day look.
It can be tricky to create the silhouette you desire, and you may want to give up on the dress altogether. Don’t! This style guide will teach you exactly how to style yourself in a shift dress and achieve the look you want.
Can You Belt a Shift Dress?
Yes, you can and should belt a shift dress. This trick is the easiest way to add shape to your figure. Belting at the waist is always flattering on every body type.
Not only is this a great way to contour your body, but it also opens up a world of style possibilities. A thinner belt looks sleek and subtle, while a thicker patterned belt can add glamour and flair. Pairing your belt with your shoes is a must here- this can turn a neutral-colored shift dress into several different outfits.
For example, you might wear a thin leather belt and pair it with flat shoes for a work-appropriate look. Before going out that evening, change into a different belt and heels to elevate your outfit.
How Do I Style My Shift Dress For Different Occasions?
This brings us to our next point- styling for different occasions. Don’t think you can’t wear a shift dress on its own because you absolutely can. Pairing a shift dress with flat shoes is great for a casual and comfortable setting. A longer sleeved dress would pair with boots, heeled or otherwise, for a stylish cold-weather look.
Choose a loose cardigan to add an element of comfort and style depending upon the patterns and colors you choose. For a throwback look, you can wear a short-sleeved t-shirt underneath a sleeveless shift dress (I would personally wear this style belted). This also gives you separate elements to play with the color and texture.
As always, jewelry can be used to dress up a look or make it more casual. A simple shift dress goes from day to night with a bold necklace choice. Speaking of accessories, the kind of purse you choose can also influence the overall look. A smaller bag or clutch can be used to add a pop of color. Match your shoes, and pair with heels for a glamorous feel.
How Do I Flatter My Particular Shape in a Shift Dress?
In this next section, we'll detail how each body shape can be flattered in a shift dress. Many times women will write the style off merely because of their body type. The key here is knowing which body type you have and making sure you bring attention to the right parts of yourself. Remember, these are not hard rules. Do not feel restricted or limited by them. If you find that a particular style makes you feel good, whether or not it is listed here, wear it!
An apple-shaped body type is more round in the middle and thinner in the upper and lower body. The natural silhouette of a shift dress already forgives a larger midsection. Highlighting the upper body with ruffles or a statement necklace is an excellent choice for an apple shape, as well as a ruffled or patterned hemline. Belting may not be a good choice for your form here but play around with placement and belt size before ruling it out.
Pear figures are larger on the bottom than the top (naturally). Size is truly the key here. A dress of this style may be too tight around your hips while being too loose up top. Tailoring can fix this, or choosing a larger size to offset and belting to keep it from feeling too large on top. You can also accessorize to bring attention to your chest and arms, even carrying a larger purse can help balance out this shape.
An hourglass shape is larger on top, on the bottom, and thinner at the waist. A belt here is almost a must; otherwise, you risk looking quite boxy. Another way to cinch the waist is to tailor your dresses, either yourself or professionally, and remove the need for wearing a belt. Otherwise, pairing a shift dress with a short cardigan or coat will draw attention to the waist as well.
Athletic figures have broader shoulders and thinner hips. To balance out your shape, choose a dress with a lower neckline to draw more attention to the center of the chest. A belt will provide the illusion of larger hips, as well as a pocketed shift dress, which has more fabric naturally towards that area. Heeled shoes will affect your posture in a way that makes your bottom half stand out (it’s true!), so it's certainly something to consider.
Shift dresses Are Flattering on Everyone
This article has shown you that, no matter the occasion or body shape, shift dresses are universal and timeless. On their own, they may not flatter everyone, but there are endless ways to style them. That’s the beauty of owning such a versatile dress.