7 Ways to Wear A Shift Dress Without Looking Frumpy

When you want a dress with a little breathing room but that still looks cute, a shift dress is an answer.

Women's floral shift dress

A shift dress is similar to a sheath dress, but here’s the difference. It hangs loosely from the shoulder, falls straight down, and does not cinch in at the waist the way a sheath does. It’s also roomier at the hips. This makes it a casual, comfy dress, especially if you are having a ” fat day.”

Shift dresses were all the rage in the ’60s when Twiggy and Jackie O wore them, and they’re still popular today. The only problem is, the same thing we love about shift dresses, namely the lack of waist/hip definition, can sometimes make you look heavy and matronly. Here’s what to do to get around that.

shift dress-

1. Wear A Shift Dress that is Slightly Tailored

Some shift dresses are looser than others. Try to find one that is slightly tailored, nips in slightly at the waist, and skims your curves a bit more. 

2. Go for Color or Print

Shift dresses have little shape or detail, so to make this type of dress look more interesting and alive, pick one in a bright color or bold pattern.

3. Watch that Your Dress isn’t too Short

Shift dresses tend to be short, which means if you have heavy thighs, they are not the best choice.

shift dresses with interesting necklines

4. Choose an Interesting Neckline

Another way to look modern in a shift dress is to pick one with an interesting neckline. Look for lace-up necklines, off-the-shoulder necklines, draped necklines, keyhole necklines, and cold shoulder necklines.

5. Wear Flat or Low Heels

Younger gals often wear shift dresses with heels, but it makes the dress looks even shorter. A low to medium shoe or flat sandal is the solution and looks especially nice if it’s more on the chunky side. For example, a block heel goes with the mod feel of a shift dress. In winter, a flat boot with opaque tights looks great.

women's floral shift dress

6. Leggings Can be Worn with a Shift Dress

A good way to get around the short-length problem is to wear your shift dress with leggings. A shift dress looks like a long tunic, and we all know how well tunics go with leggings. Find a shift with a bit of black in it and wear it with black leggings.

7. Choose Complementary Jewelry

A shift is a bold shape, so don’t go with thin, dainty jewelry. Keep jewelry minimal but go with a strong piece like a cuff or a pendant necklace. Something with a bit of an artistic or modern vibe works with this mod style of dress.

8. Try Dressing Up Your Shift Dress

If you have an hourglass figure, you might try belting a shift dress, so your waist doesn’t disappear—another way to dress it up-a a leather motorcycle jacket.

The shift is a classic. It’s very figure-flattering, and you can’t go wrong, and it’s an easy, relaxed type of dress when you want to look hip and classy, so try one.

Do you wear shift dresses?

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2 thoughts on “7 Ways to Wear A Shift Dress Without Looking Frumpy

  1. Great to have the definition between a shift and sheath dress pointed out Deborah, thank you. I find being busty and having a tummy means many hours of trying on everything. There’s usually something that looks good, but the days of just walking into a shop and buying the thing you love are gone,. Sigh!

    1. I really don’t care for the legging under dress look. I totally agree with the suggestions of the shoe and jewelry choices. Such an elegant look!

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