Ways to Wear a Shirtdress: Getting Creative with Clothes

Ways to Wear a Shirtdress: Getting Creative with Clothes

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Brown sleeveless shirtdress

Ways to Wear a Shirtdress: Getting Creative with Clothes

There are many ways to wear a shirtdress that then can expand your wardrobe possibilities. Sure, the obvious way is to wear it as it was inteneded….as a shirtdress which I didn’t even showcase here. Yet if we learn to think more creatively with our clothing, we can transform almost any item to work in so many various ways.
It’s no different than my thoughts that I expressed in the Shop Your Closet series. Wearing what we have doesn’t have to be boring.

Quote of the day: “Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.” Margaret Cho

Not that I’m going to change your life with ideas about ways to wear a shirtdress. Yet my goal is to have you not go out and buy new clothes all the time. I think we can be more sustainable by figuring out how our clothes can work better for us.
Since I crave variety, that means figuring out ways to layer either over or under and sometimes do other crazy things with the items we already own.


As soon as I wrote those words above, I realized I need to confess something. This shirtdress is new. Because my Banana Republic credit card gives me rewards to their store, I use those rewards almost monthly. (One reason I don’t save them up anymore, is the worry they may go out of business. I’m not sure that’s a huge concern right now, but it was during the last year).
Therefore, as I perused the Banana Republic site, I decided to search for another “perfect airplane outfit.” The last time we traveled to Denver, I discovered that my outfit was absolutely perfect for me for the plane trip! I even wrote all about it and broke it down, piece by piece.

So that’s how I came up with buying this brown shirtdress that I’ll be styling below. The only criteria that it doesn’t fit as well as my original dress (which I still have and love) is that it’s not a print. Yet I think the darker color can hide any stains.
This exact dress is still available, but only in very limited sizes. However, I also linked more of the same type of dresses below. The advantage of having a dress like this is you know it’s fabulous for traveling, but you can wear it throughout the year for other occasions too.

So let’s explore the many ways to wear a shirtdress.

Layer a cardigan over your shirtdress

Add a Long Cardigan

I think we are all very proficient at adding a cardigan over any kind of dress. I even chose a long cardigan that is longer than the dress for this example.
The idea stands the same with all lengths of cardigans though. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a particular piece because of the length. It would look just as good if the dress hung longer than the cardigan.


This cardigan is from our Bellelily collaboration. It’s one of those sites, that I used to think was only for the younger girls. Until we tried some of their items. Personally I was very impressed with the clothes we received. Of course, it depends on what you are expecting. For instance, let me tell you about this cardigan. It’s fabulous for the warmer weather here in Arizona. Yet if I were still living in Denver, the lightweight material would have been disappointing.

The leopard shoes added some print mixing which I seem to be obsessed with lately. I think maybe because I consider it more challenging than to combine a solid and print since I’ve done that my entire life. Onto bigger and better things, right?
This pair of pumps are Walking Cradles “Sloan” that I consider ultra sexy. The heel is easy to wear and the cut out on the side seems special. They are also available in black leather/suede.

Add a blazer over your shirtdress

Wear a Blazer or Jacket over the Shirtdress

Another form of ways to wear a shirt dress is to throw on a jacket or blazer. What you may notice is how the dress seems shorter in this example.
Because the blazer is longer, I felt that the proportions with the longer dress were “off”. So I belted the dress and pulled up some of the extra material above the belt. You can see how I did this to a dress in the past (check under the sweater over a dress heading.)

Insider tip: A tighter belt usually can shorten you item by about 2 inches with NO SEWING!! It’s a good trick to remember. And belts are usually plentiful at the thrift stores.


This blazer was an impulse buy when searching for a lightweight jacket for my husband. It’s a men’s blazer and I’m not loving it as much now as I did in the store. However, since I’m trying to be more sustainable and not just purge willy nilly, I’ll try to figure out how to make it work somehow.
If you have any ideas, I’m all ears (dye it, make it a vest, crop it?)

Since the blazer is muted in color, I added in the red sock booties and a bright necklace.

Creative ways to wear a shirtdress

Layer a Top Over the Shirtdress

I remember the first time I read about layering a top or sweater over a dress and thus making the dress look like a skirt. It seems so obvious, but I had never thought to do that in all my years before blogging.
Even after Charlotte, Nancy and I blogged about it in our early blogging years, I would forget about trying it. However, now this trick is in my wheelhouse, and I try to use it frequently to change up a look.


The blouse was a final sale when SteinMart was going out of business last year. If you’re not aware, they are back online now. It’s funny because the necklace and earring set are also from Steinmart many years ago. Someone recently requested if I could find the set for them and unfortunately it’s not available. But here are a couple of similar options.

The leopard flats were a fabulous deal from DSW last fall but limited in sizes now. I tend to wear quite a bit of leopard with my brown items I realize. I hope you have at least one pair of leopard shoes. They are perfect with so many looks.

Layering ways to wear a shirtdress

Layer Under Your Shirtdress

Too many times we think about layering over a piece, yet we forget the option of layering under it. I did this with my first “perfect airplane dress” which means the dress doesn’t need to be washed between wears (hopefully, haha). Now if I were wearing this shirtdress traveling, I’d layer a short sleeve top under it.
For a day out and about, I wanted to show the dress with a hoodie under it. This means you could wear a too short or too long top under the dress since all you are seeing are the sleeves and collar.

Insider tip: Hoodies don’t have to be for casual only. I’ve shown different ways to layer and wear that piece before also.


This leopard tunic under the dress is from a small business that one of my friends owns called Belong Lifestyle USA. It’s still available in limited sizes, and I’ve worn it in a video here.
I added in some color with one of my Gibby’s scarves. If you haven’t tried her scarves yet, they are swimsuit material and therefore S.T.R.E.T.C.H. Why is that good? It’s makes them much more comfortable. Also they are the perfect size to just tie and go!

Insider tip: My Gibby’s discount is good until the end of May. You get 25% off going through my link which makes each scarf about $10. You can also use the code on the headscarves which stay on my head without bobby pins. It’s amazing!!

Ways to wear a shirtdress as a duster

Creative Ways to Wear a Shirtdress

Let’s hear it for buttons. If something buttons up the front, then why not wear it as a jacket, or in this case a duster? This may also seem very obvious, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve categorized your clothing and only think of an item like this as a “dress.”
So I unbuttoned it, and layered it over another shirtdress. The colorful shirtdress is one I’ve had for ages. In fact, it’s the one I wore when the three of us experimented with button up dresses in the past. I really like the brown dress layered over the colorful one for modesty especially when I sit down.


As you can see, I gravitate towards leopard shoes with this dress since I chose the Walking Cradle Sloan pumps again. The colorful dress came with this belt, so I used it over the outside layer to hold it in place.

Insider tip: Take off the belts that come with a dress or item and store them all together. This way you can wear it with many more outfits. Don’t worry, when you grab the original piece, you’ll remember it came with a belt. Or you’ll realize you can wear a different belt with it, now that you have more choices when you look at your belt collection.

5 ways to wear a shirtdress

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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