Monday 19 August 2019

How to wear... the shirt dress

It’s the solution to summer office-wear woes, but works just as well at a sun-drenched picnic and is far more functional than a flimsy sundress, writes Meadhbh McGrath

Kate Middleton's Suzannah style is gorgeously refreshing, topped off with high-contrast accessories and a straw bag, one of summer's recurring hits. Photo: Getty Images
Kate Middleton's Suzannah style is gorgeously refreshing, topped off with high-contrast accessories and a straw bag, one of summer's recurring hits. Photo: Getty Images

Meadhbh McGrath

Wimbledon finally reached its conclusion last weekend, but when we weren't rapt by the history-making tennis, our attention was firmly on the court-side fashion. There was sleek suiting (neutral on Sienna Miller, vivid fuchsia on Twiggy) and laid-back denim (asymmetric and distressed on Ruth Wilson, chic and relaxed on Meghan Markle), as well as the usual spray of floral sundresses on the likes of Claire Foy, Phoebe Waller Bridge and Pippa Middleton.

But the standout style moment from the week was the shirt dress: Maisie Williams favoured pink denim, while Rebel Wilson opted for bold red, though the most eye-catching of them all came in Wimbledon whites.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

Geri Horner, Laura Whitmore and Kate Middleton all stepped out in fresh white shirt dresses during the tournament, offering breezily stylish summer outfit inspiration.

The shirt dress is the most functional interpretation of the summer frock: no need for stick-on bras under a backless spaghetti strap number, or a slip to layer beneath a floaty, see-through dress.

Admittedly, white is not the most practical colour to choose, especially if you're around children, pets, grass or public transport, but Kate Middleton's Suzannah style is gorgeously refreshing, topped off with high-contrast accessories and a straw bag, one of summer's recurring hits. It's elegant yet accessible, and the black touches give the look a polished feel.

Simplicity and ease are top of our wish lists when getting dressed in the heat, and a shirt dress ticks both of those boxes, without sacrificing on style.

If white is too tricky a proposition, you can go in the complete opposite direction with solid black, as seen on Jennifer Aniston in Loewe. Photo: Getty Images
If white is too tricky a proposition, you can go in the complete opposite direction with solid black, as seen on Jennifer Aniston in Loewe. Photo: Getty Images

If white is too tricky a proposition, you can go in the complete opposite direction with solid black, as seen on Jennifer Aniston in Loewe.

Black and white are your two best picks for avoiding sweat patches, so ideal for hot, humid days. Ignore those who say you shouldn't wear black in summer: just go for a lightweight style, like Jennifer's sleeveless cotton-linen dress.

Add visual interest with a waist-defining belt or Jennifer's asymmetric silhouette, and if you don't want to go bright, try a warm tan accent, whether in a dress trim, sandals or handbag, to bring some levity to the outfit.

Of course, when the sun is shining, many of us want to reach for vibrant hues and patterns. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown wore an Altuzarra shirt dress in a charming blue gingham watercolour design, and the nipped waist and side slits are flattering and feminine, ideal for a warm day.

Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown wore an Altuzarra shirt dress in a charming blue gingham watercolour design, and the nipped waist and side slits are flattering and feminine, ideal for a warm day. Photo: Getty Images for UNICEF
Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown wore an Altuzarra shirt dress in a charming blue gingham watercolour design, and the nipped waist and side slits are flattering and feminine, ideal for a warm day. Photo: Getty Images for UNICEF

On the catwalks, Chloe styled boho paisley dresses with anklets and flat sandals; Chanel presented a shirt dress in a retro turquoise and red print, worn with heavy gold coin bracelets; and Escada and Tory Burch both offered multicoloured striped versions. At Tibi, lime green ruled in an ankle-length shirt dress with a flared skirt, and a collarless mini with a wrap belt, paired with mules.

For a more wallet-friendly alternative, the high street boasts a rainbow of shades and a multitude of prints. You can go long-sleeved, elbow-length, short or sleeveless; collared or collarless; mini, midi or maxi - the options are near-endless.

Make sure you try it on before buying, seated and standing, to ensure the buttons sit comfortably. The bust is the most crucial area, and you'll want to be able to throw it on without worrying about gaping buttons or a boxy fit - if the button placement is properly configured, you can undo them to reveal or conceal as much cleavage as you wish.

Red €60 from M&S
Red €60 from M&S
Black, €59.99 from Mango
Yellow, €99 from & Other Stories
Blue, €69 from COS
Striped, €155 from Hobbs at Arnotts
Floral, €160 from French Connection
Cream, €52 from Topshop
Green polka dot, €219 from Whistles at Brown Thomas
Straw bag, €26 from Next
Straw bag, €26 from Next
Layered necklace, €9.99 from H&M
Heels, €75 from River Island
Clutch, €130 from Reiss
Sandals, €56 from Solillas at Office

Irish Independent

Also in this section