The two types of shirt dresses
I’ve always thought shirt dresses are really cool. One-piece dressing and easier to wear than a full on Dress with a capital D. There’s so many variations as well. Check out this amazing Claire McCardell piece with an obi-style belt and a dramatic collar:
There’s a shirt dress sewalong going on right now at A Fashionable Stitch, but while I do like the pattern they’re using, I don’t want a zip in my dress. It feels like cheating! I want mine to button all the way down the front.
To get some inspiration, I’ve been doing extensive research (okay, browsing netaporter.com. The online equivalent of wandering round Liberty’s and pawing all the highly expensive dresses, but without any sales staff to give you the evil eye.)
Here’s what I’ve determined. Shirtdresses currently come in two categories, which with stunning originality I like to call ‘Loose’ and ‘Fitted’. The loose style are MUCH more prevalent at the moment. In fact the ‘no waist’ look seems to be big right now, which is a shame for those of us who resemble a potato in outfits with no waist definition.
The ‘Loose’ category often has a half placket. There’s a lot of interesting sleeve applications, with raglan and kimono styles. There is no waist seam, and normally a self-fabric belt. Sometimes they have a collar, but more often not. Prints are big.
The 2nd category is a lot rarer in RTW at the moment – the classic 50s looking ‘Fitted’ dress. It’s got a waist seam, a big flared skirt, often sleeveless with a notched collar. Lots of cute details like a thin belt, or novelty buttons, or a big old bow, or piping. There’s a lot less of these around, although Miu Miu have come up trumps this season (I love the coral one below, with star-shaped buttons).
Okay, there’s loads of pretty dresses out there to copy, but here’s the problem - I have serious issues with decision making. I’ve narrowed my options down, and have two possible combos, but I need your help! What do you think of these?
First up, we’ve got Simplicity 2246 (the Lisette Traveler dress), and some gorgeous fabric I bought from Ditto in Brighton. It’s a really light crisp cotton, apparently ex Christian Dior stock. I love the geometric pattern and the mysterious letter A which appears all over (A for AWESOME)
But I’m not 100% sure about the match. I’d make the full-skirted dress, but I wish it just had one waist dart. And a notched collar. I don’t like the girly puffed sleeves either, would have to use the cuffed ones. Also, is this pattern just too boring to do the fabric justice? Help! Too many thoughts!
Okay, second combination:
This is the oil-on-water digital print I got from the lovely people at Our Patterned Hand (pardon the wrinkles – it’s just dried). The pattern is an unknown quantity: McCalls 6520.
Nobody in the world seems to have made this dress, possibly because the envelope styling is hideous (see below). The raglan sleeves could go either way – I love them, but they’re hard to fit. The shaping is loose, but crucially there’s a tie to pull it on at the waist. As a huge bonus they’ve included my favourite thing, a tiny stupid chest pocket. But what do you think? Is this pattern stylish or frumpy?
Are you a shirt-dress lover too? Any patterns to recommend?