Shirt Dresses Are the Unsung Heroes of Your Closet

Graphic by Kayleen Dicuangco

Think shirt dresses are boring? Hear us out.

Shirt dresses for women are fall fashion’s unsung heroes. Now, before you call us basic or boring, hear us out.

They’re the ultimate one-and-done item. Instead of worrying about what pants work with what shirt, all you need is a pair of shoes and a jacket, and you can run out the door. This brings us to another point: The shirt dress is as versatile as our fall schedules demand. From working from home (hello, no waistband) to going out for dinner (refer back to the no waistband comment), this magical piece of clothing can be worn through it all — even morning daycare drop-off.

shirt dresses for women
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Still need some convincing on the virtues of shirt dresses? The Fall 2023 runways speak for themselves. “It’s about real dressing: that Italian sophisticated woman who you know, that becomes global,” said creative director Kim Jones of his shirt dress scattered Fendi collection. Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons took a similar approach at Prada, where nurses’ uniforms served as the primary inspiration for their collared clothes. And Maria Grazia Chirui paid homage to Dior’s mid-century roots with lapelled bodices and full skirts.

The key to making this style look fresh is in the styling. Pair the classic silhouette with unexpected combinations à la the “wrong shoe theory.” Think chunky sneakers, dad socks and maybe even a bomber. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite shirt dresses for women.

The OG

Xintianji Women’s Shirt Dress

When you think of shirt dresses, the original white button-up is sure to come to mind. Channel Tom Cruise à la Risky Business (or Priyanka Chopra-Jonas’ recreation in the Jonas Brothers music video) with this mini from Amazon. Whether worn with socks or knee-length boots, it’s a classic style that will never serve you wrong.

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The Runway Version

Fendi Wool Dress

Fendi was one of the shirt dress pioneers on the Fall 2023 runways so why not go directly to them for your fashion fix? What we love about this style (besides everything) is the zippered front. It gives it a Space Age feel while keeping the dress firmly in the present.

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The Going Out Option

Mango Knot Detail Shirt Dress

Want to make a stylish statement without looking like you’re trying too hard? Keep your silhouette simple but go with a colour that packs a punch. This red shirt dress from Mango checks all the boxes.

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The Seasonless Select

COS Oversized Waisted Denim Shirt Dress

shirt dresses for women

Trust us — you will never regret buying a denim dress. It’s one of those rare outfits that can seamlessly work in every season and keeps coming back into fashion year after year. COS makes a great one that fits slightly oversized but when belted, can really define your figure.

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The Sustainable Style

Frame Mini Shirt Dress

Our favourite shirt dresses for women will always be the sustainable styles. Made with 100 per cent organic cotton, this Frame ’fit is soft and lightweight thus making it incredibly versatile. You could even pull a Selena Gomez and wear it with capris.

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The Faux-Leather Find

Contemporaine Cap-sleeve Buttoned Faux-Leather Dress

Anyone else still not over the fabulous 70s-inspired outfits from Daisy Jones & The Six? The copper colour of this dress from Simons keeps the reference alive without venturing too far into costume territory. No fictional band required.

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The Perfect Work Dress

Everlane Hammered Satin Shirt Dress

shirt dresses for women

On those days when you can’t seem to find anything to wear to work, shirt dresses provide an easy solution. This one by Everlane is made with their hammered satin FSC-certified viscose (read: an eco-conscious fabric) which has a slight sheen for a little extra polish.

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The Extra-Preppy Option

Maje Short Shirt Dress

Our school days might be long gone but it doesn’t mean we have to abandon all preppy pretences. Maje is the maestro of shirt dresses and this one features all the classic requirements: pleated skirt, collared top and crest-covered buttons.

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The Designer Dupe

Good American Fit For Success Mini Dress

Not all of us can commit to a designer price tag. Enter the ‘Fit for Success mini dress’ by Good American. It’s an affordable take on Prada’s poplin option that stays true to the original while also adding some of its own unique flair.

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The Coziest Choice

Burberry Check Wool Shirt Dress

Can’t you just picture cozying up to the fire with a cup of warm cocoa in this dress? Also it’s plaid, Burberry, 100% wool and made in Italy — need we say more?

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