Yet, I must admit that, as can happen with any classic, I’ve grown bored of the simple shirt dress. It started to feel more Kate Middleton-goes-to-a-polo-match than fashion-forward. While I still have many in my wardrobe, this summer, I found myself reaching for them less and less. After all, how much innovation can happen with a style that is so straightforward and elementary?
Turns out, designers said, “Hold my beer.” The spring/summer 2023 collections were filled with inventive ways to wear shirt dresses. Looking back to the summer lineups, it was easy to see that the shirt dress still has room for creativity.
The Miu Miu spring/summer 2023 collection included long-sleeved tops layered on top of each other to form a mini dress, giving the “no pants” look a new life and redefining what a “shirt dress” can be. Then, there was also the polo shirt fit-and-flare dresses shown by Loewe, which put a quirky spin to the ultra-feminine style. New York-based designer Peter Do, on the other hand, went for an androgynous vibe, deconstructing a menswear-inspired suit by substituting the blazer for a sheer shirt dress on top of black trousers. Burberry also pushed the shirt dress forward via a nylon overcoat with shirt collar.
With all this inspiration, I set out to find ways to make shirt dresses fun again by trying three styling concepts seen on the spring/summer 2023 runways: utility, deconstructed tuxedo, and the “no pants” look. Here’s how you give a new life to that tired shirt dress.
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Redefine Utility Dressing
Utilitarian fashion is one of 2023’s biggest fashion trends, with cargo pockets, industrial buckles, and nylon materials making their way into high fashion. The shirt dress is one of the easiest ways to try this trend for size. Yet, it doesn’t have to mean sporty. Take, the dress pictured above, a nylon version from Tibi, which I styled with platforms to make the outfit more evening-appropriate than athletic.
Given tuxedo dressing is a top fashion trend for 2023, deconstructing menswear-inspired details is one of the best ways to adapt the shirt dress for the rest of summer, as well as the impending fall transitional outfits. While designers like Peter Do opted for a sheer shirt dress to transform a suit, I decided to wear a crisp white shirt dress with a necktie styled as a scarf. It’s part dress, part tuxedo.
No Pants Look
The “no pants” look has been all over fashion ever since Kendall Jenner wore tights as pants with visible panties from Bottega Veneta. While only wearing underwear or tights is a hard limit for many, turning a shirt into a dress is a good alternative. For this look, I try to go for oversized button-down shirts that are long enough to fit as a mini dress, styling them with anything from loafers to heels.