In her Wall Street Journal article on the shirtdress, fashion writer, Nancy McDonnell quotes a June 1938 Vogue magazine article that declared the shirtwaist dress “an American institution” and suggested one should be sealed in a time capsule “for the purpose of enlightening future civilizations about our own.”
And I totally agree! This fashion classic has been around for quite a while, originally inspired by the practical, utilitarian style of the nurse’s uniform. It’s basically a shirt joined to a skirt for convenience. But, the uniform that comes to mind for me is the one that morphed into what housewives wore in the 50s and 60s.
In the late 40s, when Dior popularized full skirts, the shirtdress became more feminine. Series like the Donna Reed Show and Ozzie and Harriet depicted the perfectly put together housewife in her button front full skirted dress.
Of course, the closest I’m ever going to come to being like a 50s housewife is dressing like one. I’m very happy to take the fashion and leave the rest, thank you very much! And this iconic housewife uniform is one of my favorite looks. Like the wrap dress, it has stood the test of time.
It is quite a versatile style. Throw on flats or sandals with a cotton shirtwaist dress and you’ll look casual, yet polished, for a day out shopping and lunching with the girls. Oh, and let’s not forget. They’re comfortable too!
Here I wanted to show how you can dress it up. I added a vintage black silk shantung bolero jacket, paired it with a faux leopard 60s clutch and 60s bronze patent leather stilettos. All the jewelry is vintage as well. This would be quite appropriate for office wear or going out to a nice restaurant.
I love the botanical print and the colors in this 1960s shirt dress. It would work for spring, summer or fall. Alas, it is too big for me. Has a 40″ bust and 30″ waist and is in excellent condition. Even has original belt! So I’ve listed it for sale on my site. You can find it here.
This is a vintage shirtwaist dress I wear a lot in Florida. It’s got a really cool turquoise and green geometric tiki inspired print. Added a vintage chunky turquoise bead necklace and earrings, a woven jute belt, gold ballet flats and my kitschy vintage straw and seashell purse.
Also, when the weather gets cooler, a vintage cardigan always looks nice over a shirtwaist dress.
Here are images of shirt dresses from the 1950s through the 1980s. As you can see, there are many interpretations of the style.
These are some other vintage shirtdresses I have for sale on my site.
What do you think of this style? Do you own a shirtdress?
Till next time….
Linking up with Jess/Elegantly Dressed and Stylish for Turning Heads Tuesday