Shirtdress Showdown + A DIY

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A classic shirtdress is a wardrobe piece that every woman should have hanging in her closet. After all, there’s a reason that shirtdresses have been adored for over 65 years. In the 1950s, Christian Dior launched this new silhouette as part of his post-World War II “New Look” designs. The style eventually evolved into a more casual item sans crinoline, and became a beloved everyday staple that has stood the test of time. Fashionistas with a variety of personal sartorial flair have reimagined this classic item into a modern basic that everyone should embrace. Whether you want to show some leg to sex it up or add a blazer for a business vibe, the shirtdress can work on everyone for just about any occasion.

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Alison Lang, Stylist and President of Alison Lang Style, is a strong proponent of this simple but elegant attire: “The shirtdress is very versatile and a great piece to pack when traveling. You can wear it during the day with a ballet flat, cute sun hat and leggings, over a bathing suit with a pair of flip flops, or dress it up for a sexy night time look, unbuttoned with heels and long earrings. It is flattering on most body types and looks very polished.”

Feeling crafty? Lucky for you, a shirtdress is one of the easiest things to make yourself. After finding an oversized oxford shirt, try one of these five DIY additions to modernize the look.

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1. To define your waist, cinch your middle with a statement belt or even a thick ribbon tied in a bow at your back.
2. If you have basic sewing skills, put them to the test by adding some lace to the cuffs or fringe to the hem.
3. With a large pair of shears, slash off the sleeves for a warm weather look. Alternately, carefully cut off the sleeves and the top portion of the back of the shirt for a halter style to show off your shoulders.
4. If cutting a shirt makes you a bit nervous (not all of us have the Martha Stewart gene!), try buttoning the collar around your chest instead of your neck. Then, tie the sleeves around your waist for a flirty bandeau style. Note that this works best with a roomy shirt… we highly recommend snagging one from your man or brother.
5. To spruce up a white shirt, consider tie-dying it a bright color. This bohemian flare will make a shirt dress perfect for the beach.

Or, try one of these designer alternatives, no DIY necessary:

Carolina Herrera Three-Quarter-Sleeve Bubble-Jacquard Shirtdress ($2690)
Tanya Taylor Mia Embroidered Stretch Cotton Shirtdress ($595)
Kate Spade New York Tobin Shirt Dress ($428)
T by Alexander Wang Oversize Cotton Poplin Shirt Dress ($405)
Polo Ralph Lauren Pleated Cotton Shirt Dress ($165)
H&M Crepe Shirt Dress in Light Beige ($35)

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-Casey Sharbaugh currently resides in New York City and works in the fashion industry.  Find her on Twitter at @caseyhshar