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A vintage shirtdress, late 1960s-early 1970s.
A 1950s vintage "shirtwaist" dress.

A shirtdress is a style of dress that borrows details from a man's shirt. These can include a collar, a button front, or cuffed sleeves. Often, these dresses are made up in crisp fabrics including cotton or silk, much like a men's dress shirt would be. As they are typically cut without a seam at the waist, these dresses often have a looser fit, usually relying on a belt to define the waist. Button fronts and a forgiving fit make this a flattering look for most body types.


Shirt dresses were sometimes called "shirtwaist dresses" when they first became fashionable during the 1950s. The 1950s version of the shirtdress was launched as part of Christian Dior's post–World War II "New Look" couture designs, with a full skirt held up by wearing a crinoline.[1] They often featured a notched collar, and elbow-length sleeves with cuffs. More informal versions of the shirtdress, made of cotton, but retaining the full skirt and collar, became a staple part of many women's wardrobes during the 1950s, with designers such as Anne Fogarty becoming known for their versions of this style.[2] A 1957 issue of Life magazine includes a photo of a typical cotton shirtdress selling for $25 in New York City.[3]

A variation of the original shirtdress is the "T-shirt dress". T-Shirt dresses began being produced in the 1960s, and are simply an elongated version of a T-shirt.[4]

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  1. ^ Hewitt, Valerie; Ann Kellogg; and Lynn Payne (2008). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through American History, 1900 to the Present: Volume 1, 1900–1949. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-313-33395-8. 
  2. ^ Popular Shirt Dress Combines Tailored Top with Ruffly Skirt, Reading Eagle, June 30, 1954, p. 26
  3. ^ "Fashion: A Spree on 7th Avenue". Life 42 (10). 11 Mar 1957. p. 112. ISSN 0024-3019. 
  4. ^ Cumming, Valerie; C. W. Cunnington; and P. E. Cunnington (2010). The Dictionary of Fashion History. Berg Publishers. p. 211. ISBN 978-1-84788-534-0.