There are certain classic styles that are available all the time, regardless of what’s currently on trend. This includes the trusty shirt dress, a style I’ve owned in various iterations over the years (in fact, I think at the moment I have three hanging in my wardrobe). The only teensy, so small it’s almost invisible, problem with shirt dresses is the same problem we have with all button front items – the accidental bra flash brought to you by gaping. Welp, there are a few solutions to that problem, but wearing an oversized shirt dress is by far the easiest. Nobody can be faffed sewing tiny fasteners onto their shirts, everyone loves being able to eat an extra karaage chicken steamed bun that they definitely do not need. This dress has your back, trust me.
This particular member of my shirt dress trio came to me via a trip to Savemart a while back, and I 100% picked it from the rail because of the print. I love the jungly print (are we sensing a pattern?) and it totally reminds me of my Charley Harper Tree of Life puzzle. Some might say it’s ill-advised to pick out a dress because it reminds you of a puzzle you own, but those people are living weirdly narrow lives and we can safely ignore them. It’s not supposed to be oversized, but in this case there obviously weren’t any other size options, and I decided that the oversized shape gave this dress a certain insouciant charm.
When I’m in an overwhelmingly large shop, be it new or second hand, I totally ignore everything else and just focus on fabric. I’m first looking at colour and print, and secondly at fabric feel. This works superbly for me because I look at images of clothes All. The. Time, so I have an inbuilt sense of what I like the look of. However, even if you’re not a weirdo who keeps a folder of magazine images in her office, you know instinctively what colours appeal to you the most. Grab whatever print or colour gets your attention – literally, grab it. If the fabric feels ick to you, drop it, if it feels good, you can move onto the final decision point: fit.
In order to feel okay about the fit of this not-oversized-oversized dress, I had to achieve a few goals right off the rack: length; I had to be able to roll up the sleeves which were definitely going to be too long; and the shoulder seams had to either fit my shoulders or be sufficiently hidden in the construction of the dress. In addition, because this item buttons at the front, I had to be happy with where the buttons sat (for that perfect depth of collar to sternum ratio).
The length is totally fine, even with the longer hem in the back. Later this day, I wore this dress with flats and it was nowhere near the ground; in heels, it just felt swishy and awesome. The sleeves are okay. They were a little hard to roll up, and in the end I used my trusty stretchy bands, for two reasons: the depth of the sleeve placket wasn’t quite right to pull off my best technique (I will demonstrate another day) and the sleeve was too heavy because of the width and length of fabric I was rolling. This can be solved relatively easily, by getting my tailor to narrow the sleeves. I only got away with the shoulder fit because the print hides the seams – in a few of these still photos, you can see where the shoulder seam falls way off the point of my shoulder.
In the end, the pros of a brightly patterned, hugely comfortable shirt dress outweighed having to wear my stretchy bands and a slightly questionable fit around the shoulder. I love two things: a button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a skirt I can swish around in – this dress achieves both, while providing entertainment for any pre-school children I might encounter. I’m one step closer to Ms Frizzle and I am 0% mad about it!