Portland Spring weather is finally here, and that always puts me in the mood to wear dresses. Wearing vintage pretty much guarantees a few dresses in my closet, and if you don't have one yet for the warmer weather, that is a perfect excuse to try out a vintage one! Specifically the shirtwaist dress.
One of my favorite styles of dress, a shirtwaist is pretty cut and dry. They borrow a little from menswear, while staying feminine. The tell-tale sign is a "shirt" like bodice featuring a buttoned front, cuffed sleeves, and sometimes a collar similar to a men's button up shirt. They have a tailored waist and always a full cut skirt that accommodates any size hips. Undeniably cute and extremely easy to wear. I own about a dozen!
Shirtwaist dresses are insanely versatile. Depending on your mood, they're easy to dress up or down for a more casual look. They look fantastic with flats, pretty sandals in the summer time, small heels (for dressing it up), or even cowboy boots! Throw a simple cardigan over one to keep it looking vintage, or a solid colored blazer and oxfords for an updated look. Many vintage ones you can find with their original belt, if not no problem. A skinny belt for the waist is readily available anywhere from Target to mall stores, in any size and color. I find that a belt subtly accents the shape of the dress on any body type, but it's not required. These dresses are all about your comfort zone, a big reason that I love them so much. You can find them in any size and just about any fabric too.... cotton, polyester, wool.... and any color or pattern. So fun! You'll find many for sale online (try Etsy & eBay), and I have never been in a vintage clothing shop that did not have a few to choose from.
These are some of my favorites that I own and wear all the time. I particularly love the 1950's novelty print one with little Daschund dogs!
They were popular in the 1940's, 50's, early 60's, 70's, and most recently, a couple of seasons back. Easy to wear and classic. Go ahead, try one. You'll love it! - Christine
Christine is the co-owner of Living Threads Vintage, a vintage clothing shop in downtown Portland, OR. Each week she brings her talent for wearing a vintage modern mix to Nicole B Vintage.
All photos by Travis Taylor