Summer Shift Dresses You’ll Want to Wear

Summer Shift Dresses

When it’s hot I don’t like to wear anything close to my body.  Of course, given my body shape, the last thing I should be wearing are shapeless frocks, like shift dresses.  However, I will admit, there have been plenty of times that the weather has been so warm I really don’t care about flattering my figure.  I am sure you can relate.

When I think of shift dresses I always think of Lily Pulitzer, not that she was the inventor of the silhouette, but because they are so summery and the cornerstone of the company.  In fact, fun story, the reason Lily Pulitzer cotton lined her shift dresses is because she often found it too hot in Florida to wear underwear.  She also chose bright printed fabrics for her shift dresses because they covered up the fruit stains when she sold orange juice from her family’s orange grove.

Anyway, back to shift dresses and wearing them this summer.  Yes, they can be so appealing because they are so cool to wear when it’s hot, but before you zip one up, take a look at some of my tips for wearing them this summer.

Summer Shift Dresses You’ll Want to Wear

Outfit #1

summer shift dresses

Having a large chest and full hips and thighs, when I look for shift dresses, I look for styles that at least have a little shape.  Shift dresses typically have little to none, making them a nightmare for curvy girls because they essentially bypass the place we are the slimmest, our waists.  However, just the smallest shape just above the waist and around the rib cage can make a huge difference, as can some structure.  Curvy girls will benefit from wearing fabrics that aren’t swishy.

This dress from Boden looks to hit all these points.  I styled it with a pair of yellow sandals from Coach, a striped bag from Kate Spade and coral earrings from Blu Bijoux.

Outfit #2

summer shift dresses

If you have short or heavy legs, before of summer shift dresses that are too full.  Fullness will just make short legs look shorter.  Because full skirts have a shortening effect, heavy legs will also look shorter, not matter how long they are, which will also make them look heavier.  Look for shift dresses that skim the body, like this style from Ted Baker.  I also styled this dress with blush sandals that match more closely to the skin tone versus very dark styles which will just chop the legs up even more.  If you skin tone is darker, choose shoe colors that match more closely to your own skin shade.  Finishing this dress, I added this navy crossbody mini from MICHAEL Michael Kors and blue stud earrings and a tassel charm bracelet from Ann Taylor.

Outfit #3

summer shift dresses

Not all summer shift dresses are sleeveless.  This style from J. Crew has sleeves and looks similar to a tunic or t-shirt style.  Few people choose horizontal stripes, but the princess seams help give this style some shape.

Shift dresses are typically short and proportionately often look better with flat shoes and sandals.  Heels can look good, but they often have to be heavier styles and not fine heels.  For a pop, I added these hot pink flats and finished the look with a white bag from Rebecca Minkoff and silver chandeliers from Stella & Dot.

Outfit #4

summer shift dresses

Summer shift dresses are great for straighter body shapes and those who have a tummy.  Typically, women with these body types have nicer legs, making ankle straps ideal.  I styled this easy summer shift dress from The Gap with these printed ankle strap flats from Anthropologie and finished the outfit with a coral handbag and statement earrings from Bauble Bar.

Outfit #5

summer shift dresses

Summer shift dresses aren’t just for casual.  They can also go to work if the style is appropriate.  However, there are some things to keep in mind, particularly with shoes.  Avoid pumps with spindly heels.  You’re better off choosing flats or work appropriate sandals or wedges.  In the look above, I styled this work shift from Hugo Boss with red wedge sandals from Louise et Cie.  Finishing the added a work cardigan in charcoal from Theory, a grey bag from Vince Camuto and layered necklace from Stella & Dot.

Enjoy your summer shift dresses.  Choose the right styles for your unique body features and lifestyle and you’ll be cool and stylish all season long.

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  • Carol

    Love these suggestions! I was just looking for a summery dress for travel to a hot country. Thanks for your comments about body types. What style would you suggest for someone who is top heavy and has long, thin legs? I am very out of proportion!

    • Hi Carol, thanks! For your body, I would recommend shift dresses that are slimmer and sit closer to your body. I like the Ted Baker or Boden style for a body shape like yours.

      • Carol

        Thanks!

  • tgchi13

    Great tips on the shoes!