Monday, November 1, 2010

Dresses as Skirts

Earlier Drafts:
I posted the photo at right when I wore this dress alone during the summer, and I also wore this dress for my master's defense.

faux turquoise beaded necklace (Kohl's)
turquoise cardigan (Old Navy)
brown stretch belt (Kohl's)
blue embossed cotton dress (J. Crew)
teal mary janes (Seychelles)

Last week, when I posted the look at right, Katie of Interrobangs Anonymous wrote "Alright, lady, time to spill your shirts over dresses layering techniques. I'm amazed at how you keep pulling it off without there being any weird shapes or bulges."  I'm happy to oblige!  Today's look is not really a dress-as-skirt look, since the top of the dress is still clearly visible, but I did use one of my dress-as-skirt "techniques" to style this monochromatic-ish look, so I thought it would be a good time to share them all with you.

In both the look above and the one to the right, I've used a "fold under and belt" technique.  Above, I folded the cardigan under, positioning the fold at the desired place, and then used the belt to hold the cardigan in place and mask the transition from cardigan to dress.  At right, I did the same thing with the white button-down, but since it was under the cardigan, I just had to make sure the white shirttails didn't hang out beneath.  (I tried it that way too, but I didn't like it as much.)  I do actually think there is some detectable bulging in each look, but not enough to look weird, IMO.

The belt is also key for the looks below, which I'd describe as examples of the "fold up and belt" technique.

In both of these cases, I put a top over the dress and folded about a one inch cuff at the bottom of the top.  I continued folding up until the shirt reached the desired position, and then I put the belt over the top of the cuff to hold the shirt in place.  I started trying this because I liked the color-blocked dresses I saw everywhere this summer, where the skirt was one color, the top was another, and there was a solid belt-like elastic stripe through the middle.  To save money, I figured out how I could create a similar look with pieces I already had.

This doesn't work with every shirt, though.  I had to choose a shirts that weren't too long, or the cuff that goes under the belt would have gotten too big and bulky.  I also had to carefully choose shirts that were thick/dark enough and cut in such a way as to obscure the top of the dress beneath it.  At right, for example, I actually wanted to wear a brighter blue tee, but since it has a scoop neck, the brown bits of the v-neck dress were peaking out.

This doesn't work with every belt, either.  The thicker and stretchier the belt, the better it will work to keep the cuff in place without looking weird or feeling uncomfortable.  This brown belt works perfectly for this type of thing, which explains why it's featured to heavily in this post.

The looks below don't really incorporate any technique at all.  All I've done is layer a top over a dress.

This simple layering technique works for me because I tend to favor dresses cut in simple, sheath silhouettes.  This allows for any number of tops to be put over the dress and prevents any weird bunching from going on.  While this works best when the skirt is also fairly form-fitting, I've been surprised at how many dresses with full skirts that I've been able to use with all of these techniques.

Today's first look is a good example of a full skirt working for layering.  I really love this dress, so I was excited to find another way to wear it.  Skeptics might suggest that I didn't need the belt, but I liked how moving up the waistline with the belt allowed the skirt to move like it does when its worn alone.  Since the distinctive heel of my teal mary janes is wooden, I thought the brown belt might also help draw attention to that feature of the look.  This ensemble also prompted a friendly conversation with the woman who rang up my items at the grocery store, so I'll consider it a success!


  • Which is your favorite "dress as skirt" look?  Do you have any other ideas for how to make this work?
  • How have style blogs helped you to re-think your styling techniques?  It never even occurred to me to try mixing clothes in this way until I began posting pictures of myself online, but I love how it makes my wardrobe feel more versatile and fun.


Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous said...

Well done! I have to admit, even I hadn't noticed all the times you've done this look - that's how you can tell it works, when the reveal makes you seem all sneaky.

I've tried similar techniques, but can never get the look just right. I suspect it's due to a combination of wide hips, a big bust, and a very short waist - that's asking to pack a lot of layering into a small space. However, with your specific techniques I'm inspired to try again!

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

You're like the master of the dress as a skirt! I've tried it as well, but only can do the jacket well. I find the top over the dress tends to have awkward proportions.
You look lovely in the blue dress on top.

Sassy Molassy said...

I love that purple/white combo. So flattering. Where did you get your white button down? I have such a hard time finding one!

A-Dubs said...

Thanks for these excellent tips, Liz. And you look LOVELY in all of these ensembles, especially today's!

Kat said...

Very impressive. As a long-torso girl, I think maybe with the right belt I could use your trick with some of my shirts that are a little too short for wearing with most of my pants. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Jessica said...

Gah! Genius! I've done the jacket-over-dress thing, of course, but I've never tried the dress-as-skirt - what a fabulous way to remix... This is something I'll definitely be trying!

Surely Sonsy

E-Jo said...

These are excellent tips. I'm totally going to try these out! That blue dress is a stunner!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thank you for these tips! I've always loved your dresses as skirts looks, but never knew how to achieve them myself. Now, maybe I'll play around with them.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Sassy, the white button down is from Express (and from my sister's closet).

Kat, interesting point about shirts that are too short! I hadn't thought about that, because I have an exceptionally short torso, but it sounds like a great idea.

I hope those of you who are going to give these "techniques" a go are successful! Come back and post links to make sure I (and other readers) don't miss your own takes on this look.


Anonymous said...

These all look great!