Wardrobe essentials: the shirt dress

21/05/2015

Maria Loks wearing Tod's dress in Shirtdress / How to spend it May 2014 (photography: David Ferrua, styling: Damian Foxe) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
From a uniform to a fashion classic, the journey of a shirtwaist, or shirt dress, took just over a hundred years. Originally designed in the States in 1980s for the factory workers and nurses, the shirtwaist uniform consisted of a gauze man-inspired shirt tucked into a midi skirt often made of cotton. The idea behind the new style was purely practical - the outfit required minimum styling, was easy to maintain through numerous and frequent washes and, most importantly, didn't restrict the movement.

Vogue Italia 1988 / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Steevie van der Veen in Cosi semplice cosi chic / Marie Claire Italia March 1989 / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
shirtdress from Gianfranco Ferre for Ketch 1874 collection / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Best of all, the new ensemble was liberating: it didn't need a corset to show off the tiny waist and couldplayfully flirt by exposing a little ankle, something truly new and exciting after the centuries of floor-length gowns. The early designs were further popularised by Charles Diana Gibson, an American illustrator and creator of the Gibson Girl, an illustrated character portraying the ideal of feminine beauty and often associated with the New Woman movement.

 Helena Christensen wearing shirtdress in Elle France July 1989 (photography: Friedemann Hauss, styling: Beatrice Amagat) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Claudia Schiffer and Valeria Mazza in Harper's Bazaar US June 1995 (photography: Peter Lindbergh) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Helena Christensen in W April 1995 (photography: Robert Erdmann) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
By 1910 the shirtwaist became a wardrobe essential. The cotton styles were worn as a typical uniform, while the more elaborate and fancy silk, lace and taffeta designs were chosen for a special occasion. While the evening wear was made to order, the day dresses and uniforms were produced by several factories including the New York-based Triangle Shirtwaist, the largest manufacturer of the dress at the time.

Vogue US November 1983 (photography: Eric Boman) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Tatjana Patitz wearing Alaia shirtdress in The long, cool summer / Vogue US July 1992 (photography: Hans Feurer) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Christy Burlington in Vogue US December 1992 (photography: Arthur Elgort) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
On 25 March 1911 the fire swept through the factory floors burning it down to the ground and killing over 146 workers including 123 women and 23 men. The tragedy lead to the establishment of the American Society of Safety Engineers, the world's oldest health and safety institution.

Vogue China February 2010 / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Natalia Vodianova in Vogue US March 2004 (photography: Mert & Marcus, styling: Grace Coddington)
Candice Swanepoel in Vogue US April 2012 (photography: Craig McDean, styling: Tabitha Simmons)
Despite its dark moment, the shirtdress survived - more over, by the mid 1920s the new styles were introduced as a stylish sportswear garment for playing gold and tennis. Referred to as "the-button-down-the-front-style" and "golfer" they took over the pages of American fashion magazines offering style inspiration and patterns.

Valeria Mazza in Atelier Versace Spring 1996 campaign / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Laetitia Casta in Marie Claire France July 1995 / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Beri Smither in Elements of elegance / Marie Claire US April 1995 (photography: Robert Erdmann, styling: Jackie Frank) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
In the meantime, on the other side of the Atlantic, the shirtwaist was introduced to the English ladies as the Utility dress. Once again, purely practical, it was the answer to the shortage of fabric and a part of The 1941 Utility Clothing Scheme. As unglamorous as it may sound, the dress was a part of a daywear collection commissioned by the British Board of Trade and designed by ten members of Society of London Designers. The square-shaped model had broad shoulders, a mid-calf skirt, bold lapels and roomy pockets to suit the latest fashions. It was worth 7 clothing coupons from the 66 rationed annually for the entire wardrobe.

Making waves / Cosmopolitan July 2008 (photography: Dean Isidro, styling: Michaelle McCool) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Maria Loks wearing Giambattista Valli dress in Shirtdress / How to spend it May 2014  (photography: David Ferrua, styling: Damian Foxe) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Maryna Linchuk in Chic easy pieces / Harper's Bazaar (photography: Nathaniel Goldberg, styling: Ludivine Poiblanc) / wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
And then came Christian Dior. He brought the New Look and his version of the shirt dress featuring tight fitted bodice, rounded shoulders, notched collar, 3/4-length sleeves and a full skirt made of  yards and yards of fabric held by a crinoline. It was another moment of liberation, now promising hope and beauty after the gloomy and terrifying years of WWII.

shirtwaist dresses / history of shirtdress / 1941 Utility dress / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
By the mid-1950s the humble dress was praised by both the Royalty and housewives worldwide. Grace Kelly worn a beige silk version when she and Prince Rainier of Monaco announced their engagement in January 1956. The model was christened "To Catch a Prince", inspired by the occasion and the Hitchcock's 1955 film.

Grace Kelly wearing shirtdress & Prince Rainier showing Grace's engagement ring to her mother and father at Kelly home in Philadelphia, 1956, photographed by Howard Sochurek via Time / Life / history of shirtdress via fashioned by love british fashion blog
In the 1970s the dress changed its shape again to suit the era and new fabrics. Halton was one of the designers responsible for the make-over closely followed by Geoffrey Beene and Bill Blass. Every fashion designer customised the classic giving yet another spin, adding frills or stripping it down back to basics. From Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Donna Karan to Alaia, Ferre and Gianni Versace, Tomas Maier, Bottega Veneta, Altuzarra, Chloe, Valentino and Louis Vuitton, there has never been a decade that would exclude a shirtdress, albeit constantly adjusted for the trends and lifestyle and, once a simple uniform, it still remains one of the most iconic wardrobe essentials today.

spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / bottega veneta spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / diane von furstenberg spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / altuzarra spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / michael kors spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / erdem spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / burberry prorsum spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / donna karan spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / donna karan spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / jason wu spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / louis vuitton spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / valentino spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / chloe spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
spring/summer 2015 trends / shirtdress / history of shirt dress / ralph lauren spring 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Never a trend - always in style.

wardrobe essentials / history of shirtdress / shirtwaist dress story / best shirt dresses to buy / trends 2015 / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Shop: 1 / 2 / 34 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Photo source: Maria Loks wearing Tod's dress in Shirtdress / How to spend it May 2014 (photography: David Ferrua, styling: Damian Foxe), Vogue Italia 1988, Steevie van der Veen in Cosi semplice cosi chic / Marie Claire Italia March 1989, shirtdress from Gianfranco Ferre for Ketch 1874 collection, Helena Christensen wearing shirtdress in Elle France July 1989 (photography: Friedemann Hauss, styling: Beatrice Amagat), Claudia Schiffer and Valeria Mazza in Harper's Bazaar US June 1995 (photography: Peter Lindbergh), Helena Christensen in W April 1995 (photography: Robert Erdmann), Vogue US November 1983 (photography: Eric Boman), Tatjana Patitz wearing Alaia shirtdress in The long, cool summer / Vogue US July 1992 (photography: Hans Feurer), Christy Burlington in Vogue US December 1992 (photography: Arthur Elgort), Vogue China February 2010 (photography: Patrick Demarchelier), Natalia Vodianova in Vogue US March 2004 (photography: Mert & Marcus, styling: Grace Coddington), Candice Swanepoel in Vogue US April 2012 (photography: Craig McDean, styling: Tabitha Simmons),  Valeria Mazza in Atelier Versace Spring 1996 campaign, Laetitia Casta in Marie Claire France July 1995, Beri Smither in Elements of elegance / Marie Claire US April 1995 (photography: Robert Erdmann, styling: Jackie Frank), Making waves / Cosmopolitan July 2008 (photography: Dean Isidro, styling: Michaelle McCool), Maria Loks wearing Giambattista Valli dress in Shirtdress / How to spend it May 2014  (photography: David Ferrua, styling: Damian Foxe), Maryna Linchuk in Chic easy pieces / Harper's Bazaar (photography: Nathaniel Goldberg, styling: Ludivine Poiblanc), shirtwaist dresses from 1950s  & 1941 Utility dress via V&A, Grace Kelly wearing shirtdress & Prince Rainier showing Grace's engagement ring to her mother and father at Kelly home in Philadelphia, 1956, photographed by Howard Sochurek via Time / Life, shirtdress on a Spring/Summer 2015 runway at Bottega Veneta, Diane von Furstenberg, Altuzarra, Michael Kors, Erdem, Burberry Prorsum, Donna Karan, Jason Wu,  Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Chloe & Ralph Lauren

10 comments:

  1. "Never a trend,always in style"....
    Such a very TRUE words!
    So good selection,Natalia:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's amazing when certain styles of clothing really stand the test of time! I think it's hard not to love the shirtdress because it's something that is flattering on everyone! I especially love the black & white striped dress you posted.

    http://amateandarottweiler.blogspot.com.ar/

    ReplyDelete
  3. I never think of old nurses uniforms as being particularly stylish - but I suppose at the time, compared to what was available, they must have been the height of fashion! That history certain puts a new spin on shirt dresses for me. Personally, I'm on the hunt for a silk one, preferably that won't break the bank. We shall see how this goes ;)
    xox,
    Cee

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Natalia, I enjoyed your wonderful post so much because I'm a huge fan of shirt dresses! I'm personally very happy that they are back :) Now I need only my perfect shirt dress and therefore I thank you not only for this post but also for the very helpful links.
    xx from Germany/Bavaria, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  5. What a fascinating history! I don't think you can go wrong with a shirt dress :)

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  6. Shirt dresses are one of the best inventions ever! I particularly love wearing silk ones.

    LUXESSED

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  7. so cute look ; -))


    i invite to me too


    www.live-style20.blogspot.com

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  8. I love your post. You always have amazing options of how you can style certain looks. And you are so right, a shirt dress is essential in any wardrobe.

    Kia / House of KTS (formerly known as Pure & Complex)
    http://www.houseofkts.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. They always look good! I love #1
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  10. How stylish it looks in all the above photos!

    http://beautyfollower.blogspot.gr

    ReplyDelete