Straight dress styles are meant to be appealing and flattering, but not to be constraining or revealing. There are many different styles of straight dresses to pick from, and some of them may look fantastic on you. Which types of straight dresses should you be wearing, and which ones will you start wearing once you’ve gotten a better understanding of the wonderful styles on our list?
Straight dresses seem to come back into style every five to six years or so, and every time they do, there seem to be two questions on everyone’s mind. The question is whether straight dresses are more flattering on skinny women or flattering on all body types. The second question concerns the footwear that should be worn with shift dresses.
While I could talk about how there’s definitely a straight dress for ladies of any size and shape out there, it’s just a matter of finding the correct one for you, the aim of this essay is to focus on what happens after you find your perfect shift. To put it another way, what shoes or boots will you pair it with?
But, before we go any further, let’s define what a shift dress is.
Types of Straight Dress Styles
Straight clothing styles date back thousands of years. Many various designs of dresses have been improved and modernized over the years, resulting in a diverse range of alternatives and types to pick from today.
Drop waist Straight Dress
The drop waist design, also known as the low waist, has a waistband that sits significantly below the natural waist. This waistline is actually closer to the hips than the previous one. The garment can now hang straight down from the body. Drop waist dresses come in a variety of necklines and sleeve styles. The flapper esthetic of the 1920s is intimately associated with this dress silhouette. At the time, drop-waist dresses were quite trendy. This dress appears to be a skirt and blouse set, but it’s actually all one piece.
Shift Straight Dress
The shift dress is a simple square shape with shoulders that hang straight down. This dress is form-fitting but hangs straight. There is no definition of the waist. The shift dress just skims the curves instead of emphasizing them. Shift dresses are often sleeveless and come in short lengths that terminate above the knee.
This is a classic dress silhouette from the 1960s that was extremely fashionable. In fact, for anyone who wants to create a fun vintage look that’s a little bit mod and always fashionable, this is still a go-to style.
Sheath Straight Dress
The sheath dress is fitted throughout to highlight the contours, although it is a square shape. The dress’s cut is still straight. When you’re inside, it simply bends around your curves. The sheath, on the other hand, is a straight style while hanging up. This is a short dress with a hemline that falls just above the knee. Sheath dress styles come in a variety of necklines and sleeve shapes.
The sheath dress is an excellent all-around option that can be dressed in a variety of ways. With a cropped sweater or jacket and flats, you may create a business look, get ready for cocktails with a pair of high heels, or have fun shopping and doing errands.
Column Straight Dress
The column dress is designed to hang straight down from the chest, fitting snugly across the body before falling straight down. This is an extremely forgiving style that can conceal flaws in the body. It’s form-fitting but not form-fitting, with no definition in the waist or anywhere else. It simply drapes straight down in an attractive, uncomplicated manner. Evening gowns and other formal attire frequently have the column silhouette.
A-line Straight Dress
The A-line dress is designed to hang straight down from the body, with only a small flare outward. It can be fitted at the waist while still maintaining this fundamental form, which resembles a capital A. It is for this reason that the A-line is called the A-line. This silhouette looks great on a wide range of body types. It’s a timeless esthetic that may be found in wedding gowns, prom dresses, and ball gowns. Dresses with a line are also popular in casual wear. This is a very adaptable style that has been fashionable for a long time.
Kaftan Straight dress
The kaftan is a long, voluminous dress. It’s designed to be straight and wide, with billowing fabric that wraps around the body in a huge, airy design. Because of its loose fit, this is a really comfortable dress.
The kaftan is a long dress that usually reaches the ankles and comes in a variety of colors and designs. It’s common in African print dresses, in fact. Kaftans of the Ankara style, as well as other African dress designs similar to the kaftan, are particularly fashionable right now. All African clothing, including kente and Ankara long gown designs, is very popular right now. African fashion and Ankara designs have gained popularity over the world.
Empire Straight Dress
The empire waistline is a style that sits just below the bust line, well above the natural waist. It drops straight down from here. Because this dress is designed to be worn hand straight, there is no definition around the waist. Because its full, loose fit is incredibly forgiving and camouflaging, the empire waistline is a favorite of pregnant ladies and women who don’t want to show off their bellies and waists.
Empire waistlines are really attractive. The design provides a long, flowing skirt that helps to hide all of the body’s curves beneath the bustline.
Empire waistlines date back to the 1700s, making them one of the oldest dress patterns still in use today.
Qipao Straight Dress
The qipao dress has a high collar and a straight skirt. This outfit is based on a historic Chinese style from the 1600s. It became prominent in Western culture in the 1920s. The qipao dress became sleeker and more streamlined once it became fashionable in the Western culture, with a range of sleeve types. In keeping with the eastern style, this dress is frequently constructed of silk cloth.
Shoes for Straight Dresses
Let’s start with the broad picture: a straight dress pairs well with almost any style of shoe.
I would have joked a few years ago that you should probably forego the sneakers, but with the growing trend of wearing sneakers with dresses, that is no longer a fashion no-no.
Having said that, certain styles are more effective than others. Some of my favorites are included here, along with some advice on how to make the best decision.
Flat Sandals for Straight Dresses
Though bulky comfort or “footbed” sandals have become popular in recent seasons, I still believe that simple straight dresses are better suited to more delicate flat sandals.
You can’t go wrong with a pair of simple thong or slide sandals, whether your straight dress is casual or dressier in character. The thinner the straps, the better.
Strappy Heels for Straight Dresses
Yes, straight dresses were frequently worn with low heels and even flats in the 1960s, and they can still be done now. A pair of polished heels, on the other hand, transforms a plain shift into something very unique. The correct heels add a level of refinement that lesser heels can’t match.
Ankle strap sandals with just one or two thin vamp straps, as well as cage-type sandals — or those with many straps running up the length of the foot — perform particularly nicely.
The key is in the balance in both circumstances. You should check your clothing in the mirror to ensure that your shoes don’t overpower your dress, but also that your base (shoes and feet) doesn’t appear too delicate for a classic shift’s looser fit.
It’s sometimes the color of the shoes/dress combo that throws things off, and other times it’s the breadth of the straps — but don’t worry, you’ll know when you’ve got it right. In its airy femininity and straightforward sophistication, the well-balanced mix is virtually stunning.
Pumps for Straight Dresses
While traditional shoes and a straight dress aren’t the most exciting of outfits, they’re certainly one of the most straightforward. And, as always, my recommendation is to keep things simple. Allowing the attitude of the dress to dictate the pumps you choose is the easiest way to make this match work.
Choose a pair of basic, unadorned, almond-shaped evening pumps if your straight dress is a sleeveless, billowy evening gown.
If you want to complement a retro-styled shift with a bit more structure, try for low, block-heeled pumps with a vintage flair. A modest piece of hardware on the vamp, a slingback strap, or a particularly glossy finish are all possibilities.
Boots for Straight Dresses
Regular readers know that I recommend tall boots as a good match for almost every dress, and the straight dress is no exception. In fact, practically any boot or bootie would look great with a straight dress — though you should be cautious because taller types can make shorter, flowing dresses look like nightshirts.
Evening looks great with heeled booties and short straight dresses, while ankle boots (or even combat boots) look great with a casual straight dress – with or without tights.
Accessories to Wear with Straight Dresses
A straight dress is one of your wardrobe’s most flexible pieces. It goes with most items, whether it’s patterned, neutral, or colorful, and adapts to create the appearance you want. These appealing picks are a testament to that.
Jewelry for Straight Dresses
- Wear your dress with a strand (or two) of pearls for a classic Michelle Obama or Jacqueline Kennedy appearance.
- Do you want to take a risk? Make a statement with a hefty gold necklace, bracelet, or watch.
- A sheath dress is the ideal way to flaunt that opulent, jewel-encrusted statement necklace.
- Pull your hair back and wear a pair of glittering chandelier earrings for a more refined look.
Belt for Straight Dresses
- By adding a belt to your sheath dress, you may make it figure flattering. Add a slender belt just above your hips to complete the look.
- Wearing a belt in the same colour as your dress (such as black on black or beige on beige) is always appropriate for work; for a night out, try pairing your black sheath with a brilliantly coloured belt.
- This will offer a splash of colour to your outfit while also drawing attention to your tightened waistline.
Bags for Straight Dresses
- For a formal look structured bags add an extra dimension to your dress.
- A studded clutch or a blingy box clutch is perfect for a glamorous night out.
- Add a splash of color to your ensemble—by toting a funky envelope-inspired carry case with your dress.
- A girly outing! A catchy crossbody can heighten your cool attitude.
Layering for Straight Dresses
- Wear an unbuttoned cardigan that matches one of the colours of your sheath dress if it has a pattern or design.
- Pair a vibrant jacket, blazer, or cardigan with a monotone sheath dress. This will quickly add brightness and assertiveness to your style.
- A trench coat can be worn with your dress to keep the shivers at bay.
- A faded denim jacket will give your outfit a boho-chic vibe while also acting to balance off the girliness of the primary piece.
- For a more sophisticated look, add a white shirt or button-up underneath your sheath.
- Add a shirt, jacket, and scarf over top to turn your sheath into a skirt for a creative twist.
Scarf for Straight Dresses
- A bright silk or chiffon scarf with an edgy geometric pattern adds edge to a monochrome outfit.
- On a little chilly day, a woollen scarf will keep you both warm and stylish.
How to Wear a Straight Dress and Look Fabulous
Regardless of your body type, the straight dress is undeniably attractive, flexible, and ageless. It’s a great choice for the office because of its straightforward, form-fitting cut. As long as you know how to wear it, it is a terrific choice for practically all events and seasons. Here are some helpful suggestions for wearing straight dresses and looking super trendy.
What to Look for?
Length – Either a few inches below or just above the knee is the most flattering hemline. Anything less than that will detract from your ladylike demeanor. Mid-calf hemlines are the same way.
Fit – The dress is too small if it squeezes your armpits or tugs at the seams. The dress should fit snugly around the body but not too tightly. Perhaps you might invest in a top-quality straight dress and make any necessary adjustments to be able to use it for many years to come.
Style – If you’re searching for a terrific first item, we recommend a neutral cloth with a subtle texture. Plus, you may use a variety of colorful colors and expand on it! A sleeveless sheath dress with a traditional neckline, back vent, and tapering skirt form that wonderfully suits the waist is also a great alternative for any event. Make sure yours has a concealed zipper and is above the knee length for a more professional look (no higher than 2 inches, though).
A slit – A slit, whether in the back or on the side, will help you feel more at ease while strolling in that slim silhouette. So if yours is sewed shut, feel free to snip it open!
Decide Based on the Occasion
Will you be in a more laid-back environment? What do you mean, business casual? Is it appropriate to dress up for business? Will you spend most of your time sitting? Are you going for a walk? Is the weather going to be rainy, or are you expecting a lot of temperature changes? All of these factors should be considered before you put on your straight dress. Layering is essential if temperatures are expected to dip, while for a business-formal affair, you may need to match it with a jacket and closed-toe shoes (keep it short; no higher than 3-3 12 inches).
Play with Color
You can start with a neutral base and work your way up (up to 2, unless the added colors are in a similar color family). To add visual interest, finish the ensemble with a statement accessory, a variety of textures, or even a print or splash of color. Your work-appropriate ensemble is ready to make you stand out during the week!
Layer your sheath dress if necessary to change up your look. A sleeveless sheath dress, for example, is a nice option for the summer months but may also serve as a terrific transitional piece for the cooler months. You can wear a jacket or cardigan over it for a more traditional look, or a turtleneck (or collared shirt) underneath for a more unique look.
You can choose a combination of layers (under and above the dress – see below) depending on the dress regulations you want to meet.
Play up Accessories
Some of the simplest accessories that can help keep things corporate include classic pumps, a silk scarf, belt, brooch, ladylike handbag, eyewear, and tights. Wear this dress with statement jewelry, strappy stiletto heels, and a tiny purse for a great night out. If you’re going on a picnic or outing, a sheath dress in a summery colour, paired with a straw tote, floppy hat, and flat sandals, will be perfect. Just be careful not to overaccessorize. One or two of the mentioned items are sufficient.
Some Ideas to Pair a Straight Dress
Use the straight dress as a foundation for a range of outfits, whether for business or play. You can simply dress it up or down, and it will always look exquisite and trendy!
For the office, a straight dress with a long-sleeved turtleneck underneath and a pair of brightly coloured pumps would be excellent. If you add cropped jeans, a hands-free bag, and booties or flat boots instead of pumps, you can quickly change it into a comfortable, casual ensemble.
A mix of interesting designs and textures can save the day if you’re planning a night out. Just keep the color scheme monochromatic. For example, a black cropped top and black moto jacket worn over a grey sheath dress and accessorized with ankle booties, a printed belt, and patterned tights (all in the gray-black range) can make you seem sophisticated and ready for a night out with your friends!
A monotone straight dress will look excellent with a striped tee with long sleeves and a waist belt, as well as a swing jacket (depending on the weather), especially if you like less conventional business formal wear. Match the color of the heels to the color of the belt, and if your dress is on the dark side, play with a neutral-colored jacket. Simply remove the jacket for regular business casual.
If the weather is increasing or you predict temperature changes throughout the day, layer the dress with a silk blouse or replace it with a floral print scarf. All you’ll need is a blazer, an accent colour belt or handbag (the same colour as the blazer – i.e. bright red or neon yellow! ), and neutral heels. If you’ll be visiting more conservative meetings or workplaces, though, you should avoid wearing overly bright colours.
If you have a floral blouse or peplum shirt that is slightly loose (yet, not too long), you can layer it over the dress. In this case, make sure the blouse is an opaque one so that the dress’ print or color won’t show from underneath. Also, if you notice that the necklines of the dress and blouse don’t match up entirely, use a necklace to hide the issue! A thin waist belt will help define your waistline. Complete the look with same-colored pumps and tights. However, when it comes to colored tights, you should be careful unless we are talking about the tried navy.
Tips to Wear Straight Dress Styles
Pick a Print – For a colourful spin on the classic style, choose a dress with a striking geometric or floral print. Don’t be afraid of all things printed because they’ve been in the heart of the fashion world for a while now.
Change the Figure – The straight dress’s column-like form may not be suitable for all body types. Change things up with accessories and layering (i.e. a shapely jacket or a skinny waist belt). If your dress is a little shapeless, you could emphasise your form by wearing accessories that cinch up around the waist (too straight up & down).
Wear the Straight Dress that Best Highlights your Best Body Parts – If you’re curvy, for example, minor darts in the bodice will assist draw the eye away from your breast and offer you more room. You can unzip the slip zips to create the illusion of a pear-shaped physique. Petite figures and plus-size ladies both look excellent in above-the-knee hemlines (which will elongate the legs) and flexible fabrics (which will also help you look thinner).
Take Note of the Fabric – Choose clingy, figure-flattering fabrics that will accentuate your curves. Mid-weight textiles are likewise a good choice, but we can’t say the same for heavier fabrics, which may make you look squarish.
Switch up Shoes – You can wear your sheath dress with ballet flats or pumps, but depending on the weather and season, you can also try a wedge heel, seductive sandal, or even edgy ankle booties.
A straight dress is an absolute must-have. It is the workhorse of your all-season wardrobe because it can take you through a wide range of various circumstances. Allow yourself to be inventive with accessories and to dazzle with beautiful looks all year.
FAQs – Fashionable Straight Dress Styles
What is the History of Straight Dress Designs?
Straight, simple dress styles can be traced all the way back to the dawn of dressing and emerged early in the history of fashion. A straight dress style was one of the first ancient dress styles. Togas, which were worn by both Greeks and Romans, were designed to fall straight from the shoulders to the floor.
What is a straight dress?
Straight-cut dresses are designed to fall straight down the body. Instead of being trimmed to tighten the waist, fitting tight around the back end, or creating structure around the bodice, they are cut and styled in straight lines. The majority of these styles are more loose-fitting than tight-fitting, making them more comfortable to wear. The bodice of these dresses is usually not fitted. Straight dress styles, unlike the maxi or wrap dress, skim right past the waist and usually fit loosely in this area.
These aren’t figure-hugging midi dresses, clingy slip dresses, or form-fitting tiny dresses. These dresses feature a straight silhouette and are ideal for ladies with larger hips and curvier curves who don’t want to flaunt them, as well as people with straighter body types. Straight dresses can be anything you want them to be, from casual to formal, long to short sleeve.
How do you style straight dress styles?
Straight dress styles can be worn in a variety of ways. Various gowns can be fashioned in a variety of ways. A traditional shift, for example, can be paired with strappy heels, sandals, flats, sneakers, and a variety of different footwear. Experiment with various shoes, purses, and accessories to see what looks best with your favorite straight dress styles.
What is the difference between a shift dress and a sheath dress?
The shift and sheath styles are sometimes confused because they are both straight dress designs with similar names and because they are both short dress types. Despite their similarities, they are built significantly differently and fit very differently on the body. The shift dress has a boxy cut and is meant to fit loosely around the body. This is a cozy, adorable design. The sheath is a seductive, form-fitting style that embraces the body all over and clings to every contour and curve.
Which body types can wear straight dress styles?
Do you have a body shape that lends itself to straight-cut dresses? Straight dress styles will look great on you if you have a more thin or athletic physique, such as a rectangular body type. Some straight dress patterns are also flattering on curvier body types. Women with voluptuous hourglass figures look great in empire-waist gowns.
How should you style straight dresses with jackets?
When paired with a cropped jacket, many dresses look great. A denim or leather jacket looks great with a dress to make it look more casual or edgy. Try a nice shrug to dress it up a bit. This can dress up a dress and make it look more formal or semi-formal depending on the situation. To make a dress more professional or informal, add a blazer or button-up sweatshirt. To show how many different ways you can outfit your favorite goods, experiment with different sorts of jackets and straight dresses.
Do straight dresses look good with boots?
Some straight-cut dress styles look excellent with boots. Knee-high boots, for example, look fantastic with a classic shift dress. In reality, this is a really old appearance that was fashionable in the 1960s. With the appropriate kind of boots, sheath dresses look great. When designed correctly, kaftan dresses can also be worn with boots. To find out what you like, experiment with different dress and shoe or boot combinations. When coupled with the proper clothing, a pair of boots can make quite a fashion statement.
Can a straight dress be business casual?
Depending on how they’re fashioned, many varieties of straight dresses function nicely in a business casual setting. Many dresses may be instantly made more professional by adding a blazer or cardigan. In any professional or business situation, shift dresses, sheath dresses, and drop waist designs can all look amazing.
Can you wear a straight dress with a belt?
Some straight dress styles, such as the sheath dress, can be worn with a belt. Other styles, such as the shift and the drop waist dress, will simply not hang or look correct when worn with a belt.