Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Dresses to Impress- the A-Z of fab frocks and gorgeous gowns.... S is for Shift Dress

The Shift Dress- a wardrobe staple. Whether its an authentic vintage 1960s mini, a retro 1950s hourglass shape or modern 'office wear' offerings from the High street, the Shift dress is most definitely here to stay.

A sleeveless dress that hangs from the shoulders, historically the shift dress de-emphasised the waist and had a high neckline literally making it easier to 'shift' around. Although really the term 'shift' relates to a wider shift in cultural attitudes of the late 50s (in case you were wondering!) Restricting corsets were removed and women could breathe again in the shift dress as it enabled much more freedom of movement, looked good and is still easy to wear whether dressed up or down!
1950s shift

1960s John Bates shift dresses
The beauty of the shift dress is in the fact that it is suitable for most body shapes and sizes. It has gotten shorter and then longer again over the decades; some shift dresses have waist definition with thin belts and there are both A-Line and pencil skirt varieties, not to mention a huge variety of patterns. Whatever your look or style there is most definitely a shift dress to suit you.
Basic rules for finding the perfect Shift Dress:

Apple Shape: Apples are rounder in the body and often have thinner legs so golden rules for you gals is to look for a tunic style rather than a belted version of the shift. Depending on your bust, you can go for either high neck (small bust) or scoop neck (larger bust) styles. If your legs are your best asset then go short in the hemline and make the most of your best feature! Patterns hide a multitude, so be bold.
Retro print tunic style shift

Patterned tunic style shift
Hourglass: If you have the in and out shape of the fuller figure then a belted shift will work best for you as it accentuates that waistline. A pencil skirt shift will sharpen your shape and if your legs are chunkier than you'd like go for a dress a bit longer in the length. (A Top Tip I use is to get a longer length in dresses is to buy from the Tall range where available, unless of course you are already 5ft 8" or over!)
Belted shift dress

Pencil Skirt shift dress
Pear: Shift dresses with A-Line skirts are just perfect for pears. There are lots of these around at the moment in a variety of lengths and fabric styles and they will cover your larger areas yet structure the rest of your torso quite beautifully. Avoid bias cuts and look for fullness to the skirt. An empire line is also a good shift option for a pear as fabrics drape from your under bust as opposed to your waistline.
Fuller skirted shift

Empire line shift with fuller skirt
Boy: If you are a straight up and down girl then you can actually wear most of the shift styles available. One which may work especially well is the 'skater shift' which has cap sleeves, a slight waistline definition and an A-line skirt. This style of shift will give you some semblance of proportion and balance you out well.
Skater style shift for providing structure

There really is a shift to suit you. Embrace your shape and know how to clothe it; you are beautiful inside and out so wear yourself well. x

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