A shift dress is a dress without a waistline seam, they can also be semi-fitted, skimming your body silhouette, but not contouring to your body’s frame as a fitted dress would do, which would have structured darts or style seam lines.
The advantage of a shift dress is, it lacks restriction, however don’t think of this style of dress as being shapeless, as it is far from that. It’s a style of dress that is its own blank canvas, popular in the ’60s as ‘Pop Art’ dresses. An example of an iconic shift dress was Yves St Laurent’s ‘Mondrian’ cocktail dress that featured blocks of primary colours set within a grid of solid black lines. This style of dress is also known as a Chemise, Sacque or Sheath; vintage styles could be found in psychedelic prints worn with medallion style necklaces, numerous bangles and wide brimmed hats.
The versatility of its style is what makes this dress a timeless classic; a look not out of place at the racecourse, however, I would consider wearing an above the knee not mini version shift dress as this could prove awkward when sitting down, in addition to following the ‘rule of thumb’ dress code for some racing enclosures.
When choosing a shift dress your considerations are from boxy styles, to tapered, to one colour block or print, the list goes on; there is a shape that will complement your body. Tapered styles, where the hemline is reduced, are slimming, as opposed to a box style, which on a broad frame can make you appear wider. Footwear does play a huge role with this style of dress (yes we are back to shoes making or breaking an outfit), chunky heels, broad frame and a boxy design, not the most flattering of looks however, it can be softened with a narrower heel.
It’s a style of dress that draws the eye up and down, from the neckline to the hemline, providing you with options in terms of accessorising, a wide sash belt cinches you in it at the waist becoming a feature, whilst not restricting at the hips; a chain belt worn on the hips draws the eye away from the waist. A Shift dress looks chic in a solid colour block when worn with a jacket or coat in a contrasting colour or print, statement jewellery stands proud.
A great one-piece dress whose simplicity is not to be underestimated.