6 Ideas for Styling Shirtdresses

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I love a shirtdress. They're versatile, come in a range of silhouettes, are classic, and are great for this time of year. Often made in breathable fabrics like linen and cotton, shirtdresses are a staple in my wardrobe three seasons of the year. I wanted to share some ideas for styling shirtdresses featuring some of my favorites in my closet!

6 Ideas for Styling Shirtdresses

I am focusing on two styles of shirtdresses that are available in both Misses and Plus sizes (and some also come in petite). All the garments styled with these dresses are also available in both Misses and Plus.

The fabrics are breathable and summer-friendly with accessories that are stylish but not trendy so you can enjoy them now and for summers to come. Shoes are comfortable but not frumpy, and I chose silhouettes that may already be in your closet to provide some inspiration as you delve into your spring to summer wardrobe.

A Belted Cotton Shirtdress from Talbots Styled 3 Ways

I fell in love with this shirtdress from Talbots. I actually own this same dress in a different print and have worn it so many times over the years. It is available in Misses, Petite, Plus, and Plus Petite, has pockets, and has been a trusty go-to for spring to summer occasions as well as travel.

a collage showcasing a pink and orange floral cotton shirtdress from Talbots with a cream J. Crew cardigan, straw hat and tote, Naot sandals, and summer-friendly accessories

dress | sandals | hat | sunglasses | face color | tote | bag holder | SPF lip balm | earrings | slip shorts

Here, I styled the dress similarly to how I wore it when I visited Savannah last summer and how I would have modified the look if I had these items available then. I swore by my Thigh Society slip shorts for comfort in the heat (read my Thigh Society review and use WO215 for 15% off!)

The lip balm has SPF, so you can get a hint of color while staying protected while sightseeing outside. The face color is from Flyte.70, a favorite brand of ethical makeup specifically for us grown-ass women. “Look of Love” is like a blush and bronzer in one; I use it on my cheeks and nose as well as on my lids. You can use your fingers to blend; I also sometimes use this brush. It plays nice over sunscreen and looks great on friends that are a range of skintones. Use WOXYGEN15 for 15% off at Flyte.70.

Alison in Savannah wearing a black and white cotton Talbots shirtdress with a straw hat, wicker crossbody bag, and white Birkenstock Bend sneakers
Me in Savannah in 2023, in the same Talbots dress but a different print. This is an 0X; I probably should have sized down but wanted to ensure bust room.

While I wore my beloved comfy Birkenstock Bend sneakers, I would have been more comfortable in sandals like these, and it would have been easier to dress up the look. I wish I had packed a cardigan to throw on in chilly restaurants and museums, had a bigger bag for purchases, and added a Top Tote to hold my hat when indoors (I own one of these and LOVE it).

I don't own these exact sunglasses by SOJOS but I have other styles and find the quality rivals brands like Quay. The hat I own and wore just this past weekend to a music festival; it has an adjustable band and I find it runs a bit big (I exchanged the larger size for smaller). I own these hoops, my daughter owns a pair too, they are the perfect size and color and hold up amazingly well, especially for just $25!

A collage featuring an orange and pink floral cotton shirtdress from Talbots with a raffia clutch, heeled sandals, and orange accessories for a summer event for women over 40

dress | reading glasses | earrings | lip oil | bracelet | shawl | clutch | shoes

It is the same dress, now styled for a spring-to-summer event. Graduation, retirement, baby shower, day wedding, work event… a cotton shirtdress in such a stunning print can dress up nicely and won't need a ton of accessories to feel festive.

I love Peepers for readers; great price and great style. I don't have this pair, but I have at least four others from the company, and I have no complaints. The earrings are also from Talbots, so they match the dress without being corny. I added the ABLE gold cuff for a bit of shine; I really like this sustainable brand. The lip oil is sheer and not sticky; I own the same product from MERIT and love it for a hint of color and comfortable shine.

This clutch is the perfect choice for all summer situations, and these low-heeled sandals from Naturalizer come in a range of colors, including multiple skintones. I am a fan of Naturalizer for style, comfort, and widths! Add a pashmina if it gets chilly when the sun sets; this one brings out the orange shades of the dress and is less than $20.

a collage featuring a colorful printed cotton shirtdress from Talbots with an ABLE denim jacket, Dagne Dover camel crossbody bag, and New Balance sneakers

dress | sunglasses | denim jacket | earrings | fragrance | crossbody bag | sneakers

Who says a belted shirtdress has to be dressy? Especially now, in this transitional weather, it's nice to have layers. I own this denim jacket from ABLE and love it this time of year because it's so lightweight. I also own these New Balance sneakers in the same color combo and find they go with so much. And if you don't yet know my love for Dagne Dover bags… well, try this crossbody and understand my feelings (use ALISON10 at checkout for 10% off). I liked toning down the bright print of the dress with these more neutral pieces.

I added the perfume oil because I am a fan of Maya Fragrance. I wear Maya Base as my everyday scent, and the company recently send me their newest scent, No. 2. It is a rose scent… but it's not the rose your aunt wore (at least my Aunite Gerri smelled like roses). This is clean and modern and the other day I wore it and got hot and sweaty and it smelled even better. Use ALISON15 for 15% off sitewide!

A Midi Linen Shirtdress from Universal Standard Styled 3 Ways

Another dress I personally own is the Dune Linen Shirtdress from Universal Standard. Made from a stretch linen that resists wrinkles and can handle the dryer, this cap-sleeved dress is incredibly versatile and so comfy in the summer heat.

collage featuring the UNiversal Standard Dawn linen shirtdress worn as a duster with a white tank and denim cutoffs

dress | hat | tank | shorts | sandals | sunglasses | necklace | earrings | lipcolor | bag

Since this shirtdress completely unbuttons, it makes for a chic duster to throw over another look. I have worn mine like this, over a simple white tank and denim cutoffs to add a bit of style and coverage. Envisioning this look for sightseeing or visiting the local farmers market, I styled with a straw hat, polarized sunglasses, a roomy tote, and simple jewelry that just add polish to the ensemble.

I love my Birkenstock sandals, and I love that they are back in style, offering comfort at the same time. This color is versatile, and the oversized gold buckles elevate the shoe. A Lands' End canvas tote is also a classic that is back in fashion. Lands' End has amazing colors to choose from this year and for just $8 you can personalize it with a word, name, monogram, and more (I'm carrying a Medium Lands' End tote in this post).

a collage featuring the Universal Standard Dune linen shirtdress styled for work with black leather accessories

dress | reading/blue light glasses | necklace | ring (sizes 3-12) | bronzer | belt (plus size alternative) | laptop tote | sandals

Since this shirtdress does not have a defined waist nor does it have high slits on the bottom, it can easily be belted. Adding black leather to linen makes it feel more formal and less beachy; the belts and sandals together can formalize a range of summer dresses all season long. This tote is highly rated and under $200. And I've written before about where to find rings larger than a size 8 and this one is available up to a size 12; signet rings are a big trend this year.

A collage featuring the Universal Standard Dune linen shirtdress styled with orange, pink, and white accessories

dress | hat | bandana | earrings | sunglasses | lipcolor | bag | sneakers

For this look, I was inspired by how I often wear my Dune linen shirtdress: with sneakers or super comfy sandals and a baseball or straw cap. I then can use bright accessories to add joy to the neutral color.

Alison wearing the Dune linen shirtdress in black with a straw hat, wicker bag, and clog sandals
One of the times I've worn the Universal Standard Dune linen shirtdress, this time styled with straw, wicker, and sandals.

For this look, I went with my trusty Birkenstock Bend sneakers which are go-to shoes whether it's for travel or just traveling to the mall. This straw tote packs a punch, is fun without being too trendy, and the price is really nice. The bandana ‘s colors stopped me in my tracks and I love how well it looks against the neutral linen; it inspired all the rest of the accessories! I'd roll it and wear it knotted in front around the neck.

Speaking of the accessories, again I linked to SOJOS sunglasses because they really do impress me. I have my sister to thank as she had a pair I liked so much I got my own. The lipcolor from Glossier is a summer favorite; Fete and Coupe are both fun glossy sheer pops of color that look great with a bare face or a touch of bronzer.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I love shirtdresses! I’ve been struggling to style the ones I own with different shoes & accessories; thanks for the ideas!

  2. Sadly, the Honest Beauty tinted lip balm does NOT have SPF. I’ve been looking for a replacement for my beloved Kiehl’s tinted butterstick that they discontinued. The closest I’ve come is Sunbum, but it is opaque and a bit grainy.

  3. When I first saw the Talbots shirtdress, I knew it had your name all over it.

    Thanks for the styling ideas of the 2 styles of dresses, and for occasions with different degrees of formality. Context is important.

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