Shirtdresses

While some "fashion hybrids" are better left on the drawing room floor-we'd like to forget that jeggings and jorts ever happened!-there are a few success stories of experimental clothing mashups. Case in point: the shirtdress! It's not difficult to see why this clever combination of two classic wardrobe essentials (the collared button-up shirt and the dress) has been a mainstay in women's closets for decades, as the result is effortlessly feminine, always stylish, and flattering for all figures. Thanks to premiere fashion houses like Chloe, this year-round staple is consistently being reinvented with new prints and luxe fabrics. Just look to today's Trend Report to see how fashionable ladies like stylist Caroline Sieber are making this key item a chic and sexy choice for fall.

Of the many runway examples to choose from for today's story, Chloe's Snake Print Shirt Dress ($2535), shown above, right, from the F/W 11 collection seemed like the most fitting choice. Our reasoning is simple: it embodies all of the great qualities of a classic shirtdress (sophisticated, below-the-knee, and slightly seductive) with modern updates (luxurious silk fabric and of-the-moment snake print), making it a completely chic option for both day and evening affairs.

Shifting from the runway to real way, we've noted a number of chic ladies are wearing these collared, button-up frocks and couldn't help but admire their ultra-savvy styling. When it comes to incorporating a shirtdress into your daytime wardrobe, we suggest taking a page from the style playbooks of three editors: Susan Cernek, Glamour's Fashion Development Director, Julia Sarr-Jamois, Wonderland's Fashion Editor, and Caroline Issa, publisher/Executive Fashion Director of Tank Magazine. Cernek selected a navy blue, rose-print Liberty for L.L. Bean vintage dress for Paris Fashion Week last month, which she buttoned up all the way to the top and cinched at the waist with a thin black J. Crew belt for a sharp and sophisticated afternoon look. We also like that she added some additional color to her outfit via a teal Anya Hindmarch bag and Valentino heels, which give her retro look a current pop. Sarr-Jamois went for a similar floral-emblazoned shirtdress for PFW, however, unlike Cernek, she opted for a more relaxed, easy look by skipping a belt and going for an unbuttoned collar instead. In addition to Cernek and Sarr-Jamois, we're also crazy about the look Caroline Issa sported during Paris Fashion Week. We adore the simplicity of her outfit, which featured a Carven buttoned-up polka-dot shirtdress with a contrasting white collar and Jimmy Choo brown strappy heels. It's an excellent combination of some of our favorite trends, including the vintage-inspired midi skirt and adorable spotted pattern.

While it's true that the shirtdress is a pitch-perfect choice for day dressing, we'd also like to point out that it can work equally well in the evening too! To see what we mean, check out the look Caroline Sieber put together for the opening of the Richard Hambleton: A Retrospective exhibit in New York two months ago. The fashion fixture looked amazing in a Theyskens' Theory shirtdress, which she nipped at the waist with a Prada belt and finished with Celine sandals. It's a perfect choice for an evening event, as the frock's ankle-grazing length lends itself to a dressier look, while Sieber's decision to leave the top and bottom of the dress partially unbuttoned gives the overall look a touch of sex appeal.

Now that you're familiar with how some of fashion's elite are working this trend into their daily mix, it's time to introduce you to some of the chicest and most stylish shirtdresses available on the market. If you're looking for an option to wear to work or a daytime luncheon, we recommend Milly's Linda Printed Shirt Dress ($395), Tibi's Cobweb Shirt Dress ($485), and Plenty by Tracey Reese's Cummerbund Shirt Dress ($238). Our styling suggestion? Accentuate your waistline by adding a slim belt a la Cernek. Adventurous dressers seeking a standout print should definitely take a look at Proenza Schouler's straight-off-the-runway Shirt Dress with Ikat Print ($859) or Diane von Furstenberg's New Tunis Dress ($385), which features an eye-popping geometric pattern. We're also partial to the kaleidoscope look of Halston Heritage's Disco Print Shirtdress ($175) and think it would be a fun choice for fashion party. Of course, there are some awesome inexpensive options available too, like Topshop's playful Animal Print Dress ($60), Vero Moda's Vintage Print Midi Shirt Dress ($47), and Forever 21's Polka Dot Dress ($28). Finally, if the sensual aspect of this trend appealed to you, you won't want to miss Wren's Alexa Sleeveless Long Dress ($334). Just be sure to follow in Sieber's footsteps and leave the top and bottom of the dress unbuttoned for a head-turning finish!-Jessica Baker

Photos of Susan Cernek and Caroline Issa, courtesy of Stockholm Streetstyle; Photo of Julia Sarr-Jamois, courtesy of Vanessa Jackman; Chloe runway photo, courtesy of First View.
EXPLORE: Beauty, Caroline Issa, Caroline Sieber, Julia Sarr-jamois, Susan Cernek, Chloe
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