What Is a Shift Dress?

Posted by Ana Velez on


A classic shift dress is a short dress that hangs straight down from the shoulders. The beauty of this style is that anyone can wear this simple design because it is appropriate for all sizes and body types. The dress has been popular since the 1960s. It is simple to move and sit while wearing a shift dress. American youth culture was at its peak in the late 1950s, when the dress first gained popularity. The dress represented the time's revolutionary, free, and youthful attitudes.


The shift dress has a straight, short design. The side panels keep it together as it hangs loosely from the shoulders. They typically have a high either round or boat neck collar. It can also have short sleeves or a sleeveless cut.


The shift dress is popular among women of all ages because of it's easy of wear and versatility. This style dress is a simple and flexible piece that can be worn for both formal and casual occasions.  The cut and design of it are generally appealing, taking the worry out of choosing an outfit. It's simply one of those outfits that will always be in style.

How to Wear a Shift Dress

Shift dresses are the most comfortable to wear for ladies with a straighter figure because of their narrow/straight cut. The dress's straightness can make it a bit more difficult to fit an hourglass/curvy figure because it fits perfectly at the hips but loosely at the waist. It is often worn with a belt to define the waist. In the summer, cotton sleeveless styles are preferred, and in the winter, a shift can be worn with tights.

Shift Dress vs. Sheath Dress


How a shift dress differs from a sheath dress is a frequently asked question. Both dresses have a clean, simple aesthetic and are often short to mid-length. Sheath dresses, however, are formfitting and have definite waist, while shift dresses are loose and comfy. Sheath dresses follow the curves of the hips, waist, and chest, while shift dresses feature panels designed to hang in a vertical line.