There are certain styles of clothing, like shift dresses, which I always put into the category: NOT FOR ME. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30s or maybe its just because I’ve become more confident in my style choices, I’m now more willing to try styles I used to think were not for me. Case in point, this shift dress. I was shopping at Target looking for some light weight dresses I could bring with me to Italy. I wanted some inexpensive pieces that would fold easily and below maintenance during the trip. I was drawn to this dress because of the bold print down the front and I tend to like wearing jewel tones because they work well on my olive skin.
I assumed this dress wouldn’t work on me because of the shift shape, but I dragged it to the dressing room on the off chance it would work. Success! It totally works! It’s not too short and it’s not too flowy, so it actually worked on my curvier shape. So, if you’re hunting for dresses this summer or fall, make sure to give shift dresses a try. The shape is timeless and it can work for so many occasions. Check out my 6 tips for styling shift dresses without looking or feeling frumpy.
1. Choose Tailored Shift Dresses
Some shift dresses are looser than others. Try to find one that is slightly tailored and skims your curves, so it is not too tight or too loose. If you’re a curvier girl, you should avoid the ones that are super billowy. I recently tried on a shift dress that had vertical pleats. It was a disaster on my figure because there was way too much volume. I look for shift dresses that have some structure and seaming at the bust and waist. I also ensure they aren’t too wide so they just skim past my hips.
2. Pick a Bold Color or Print
Shift dresses tend to be pretty plain. To make a shift dress more interesting, you should choose one with a bold print or bright color. I chose this one with a vertical print which is elongating and also slimming since it falls in the middle of my body.
3. Watch the Length
Shift dresses tend to be pretty short. If you have big thighs or are super curvy, this dress style might be tough for you to pull off. If the dress is too short, you could still rock it with leggings or thick tights. Wearing black leggings or thick tights with shift dresses works because the shorter length mimics a tunic. I’ve had the experience where a shift dress shrunk, so throwing on tights or leggings was an easy solution to still wear the dress without worrying I’d show off my private zone!
I have a pretty curvy lower body, but I tend to choose ones that hit just above the knee. If you’re on the taller side, you could also order a tall-length version. Many online retailers offer talls. I sometimes purchase tall skirts and dresses to give me that extra length, which tends to be more flattering on me. If you love your legs, then don’t worry too much about the length, as long as it falls at least mid-thigh so you’re not wearing a mini!
4. Avoid High Heels, Wear Flats or Low Heels
I prefer wearing flats or shorter heels with shift dresses because heels just add to the shortness of shift dresses. I think sandals look adorable with shifts, but I also like wearing 1-2 inch heels with shift dresses too. If you love your heels, just don’t go sky high. Stay with 1-2 inches to give you a little boost without shortening the dress too much.
5. Choose Chunky Jewelry
You can add some visual interest to the pretty simple shift dress shape by throwing on a bold cuff bracelet or a thick chunky necklace or long pendant necklace. Adding a piece of jewelry with a modern or artistic vibe can be a fun way to enliven the look.
6. Add a Layer
If you’re unsure you can rock the shift style, don’t worry, just add a layer! Even if you feel like your body is too curvy to wear a shift, adding a long cardigan, a jean jacket or a sleek leather jacket are great ways to style a shift for curvier girls.
Are you ready to try a shift dress? Here are some of my current favorite printed shift dresses: