An Ode To Alexa Chung's Shift-Dress Style

Photo: Richard Young/REX Shutterstock.
Alexa Chung is no stranger to the shift dress — in fact, this silhouette is an integral part of her signature, often '60s-inspired style. From runway shows to red carpet events and everywhere in between, Alexa's pulled off the shift dress effortlessly, and has inspired us to do the same this summer. You really can't blame her for being so loyal to this style — it's classic, easy, and almost universally flattering.

To keep the look from feeling tired, Chung is always changing up the elements and styling of her shift dresses. She sometimes wears the look with heels, but more often with flats, and frequently adds a clutch or small crossbody bag, simple jewelry, and her signature bedhead (which is way more chic than my bedhead ever is). You can dress a shift up or down with the right makeup, shoes, and accessories — it's a great foundation for a summer-ready ensemble.

So click on to get all the shift-dress inspiration you need to steal Alexa's effortless signature look. Whether you wear one to work, a rooftop soiree, or all those summer weddings, the shift dress is a closet staple that makes getting dressed for anything seem oh-so-simple.
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Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
The Little Black Shift
The shift dress is the perfect incarnation of a go-to LBD. It looks sophisticated and elegant while still feeling fresh and revealing some leg. A touch of embellishment around the neckline or pockets gives it a Chanel-like or vintage feel. Balanced with a messy updo and patent loafers, this look is perfect for meeting the parents or carrying you through endless work parties. Come fall, some sheer tights and booties will do this dress good.

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Photo: Ray Tang/REX Shutterstock.
The Metallic Shift
Make the shift dress work for nighttime by going for a sparkly fabric or full-on metallic. This isn't your typical body-con going-out look. Keep it polished with loose waves and peep-toe heels that are just as shiny as your dress is.

The best thing about the metallic shift is that it's only as sexy as you style it to be. Depending on the shoe and accessories, this can be just as suitable for an Upper East Side dinner party as it is for a club — unlike the typical skin-tight, cutout party dress.

For a similar style, try:
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
The Little White Shift
Major Twiggy vibes. A sleeveless white shift looks youthful and playful, but is still streamlined enough to create a grown-up feel. Everyone needs a white dress for summer, and this style is a bit less expected than, say, a lace or eyelet summer dress. You can even layer it over a sweater or turtleneck come fall, whereas those eyelet dresses are retired as soon as it gets chilly.

With pulled-back hair and a summery statement clutch, you'll be feeling sleek, cool, and ready for whatever the season throws your way.

For a similar style, try:
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Photo: Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images.
The Long-Sleeved Shift
A staple for changing seasons, a long-sleeved shift in a light sweater fabric is ideal for chilly date nights. Style it with a mini handbag, a felt hat, and your go-to pair of comfy black heels to look stylish and sexy without trying too hard.

You can also style a long-sleeved shift dress for daytime by toning down the accessories and opting for a casual slip-on sneaker. It's a perfect look for running errands or grabbing weekend lunch with some friends — no sweatpants here!

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Photo: Ray Tang/REX Shutterstock.
The Schoolgirl Shift
In a classic uniform hue, the schoolgirl shift is sweet and perfect for layering. Play up the collegiate vibes with an oxford shirt and chunky loafers, and then dial up the sophistication by adding a bold, grown-up handbag and sheer lace tights.

This version of the shift dress is all about a fit that's just the right amount of boxy, while still being streamlined enough to be layered over a shirt or sweater. Add some interest with fashionable details like zipper pockets or a deep V-neckline to keep it from feeling full-on private school.

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Photo: Richard Young/REX Shutterstock.
The Sleeveless Contrast Shift
If you can't already tell, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the shift dress. A high-neck shift with bold contrast hems and mock pockets says you're ready for a work meeting or a trip to the Hamptons. With a basic Mary Jane heel and an unexpected clutch, the outfit feels ladylike but not boring.

Or if a black heel feels "blah" to you, this dress goes with just about any kind of statement heel, too. Try balancing the minimal lines with unique accessories like a straw bag or lace-up heels to make it feel more outside the box.

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Photo: P. De Graeve/REX Shutterstock.
The Lace Shift
The feel of a shift dress really lies in its fabric, and lace or velvet details elevate the silhouette and make it look romantic and dressy, despite the above-the-knee length. Keep the accessories minimal and let the dress do the talking — just a small, chain-strap purse is enough to complete the look.

Sheer lace around the arms and neckline is the way to go for showing a subtle amount of skin. Feel free to toughen up the dress with a heeled bootie or edgier outerwear and accessories, like a studded clutch or deep-maroon lip.

For a similar style, try:
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Photo: Nils Jorgensen/REX Shutterstock.
The Casual Shift
Shifts don't always have to feel dressy and buttoned-up. A simple heather-gray dress paired with black ballerina flats and a cute choker makes for a polished daytime look. It's casual, comfortable, and breathable, but still looks put together.

This variation will come in handy for both work and play. Take it from day to night by amping up the makeup and accessories and swapping ballerina flats out for a chunky heel or bootie.

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