My wardrobe strategy – for myself and for every client – is that each new item work in at least 3 combinations with existing pieces.  Solid separates function easily in this system, provided they are chosen in a unified color theme.  But what about one-piece dresses?

That’s where accessories come into play – making the same garment feel dressier or more casual.  Experimenting with new looks is a great spirit-booster during a quarantine. Here are some examples of variations I created …

These are dresses I sewed myself, but the styling lessons are universal.  I loved this ready-to-wear shirred dress from the Cabi collection, but wanted sleeves and any color except black.  Made in breathable navy blue rayon jersey, it’s comfy in both hot and cool weather.

  • First I styled it for  summer casual – straw hat, cork sandals and shell jewelry.
  • Strappy navy pumps and sleek gold/silver mix jewelry take it in a dressier direction.
  • Navy tights and chunky booties will carry it right into cooler weather.
  • For those of you who sew – constructions details are HERE.

This easy tee dress is up-styled with a draped bodice and front tie.  Originally intended this for a Florida beach vacation – obviously postponed.

  • It still gets that boardwalk vibe with straw and shell accessories.
  • Pearlized ivory pumps and tote, plus turquoise earrings dress it up for religious services or lunch dates (hopefully soon to come).
  • Adding darker touches via a black/white reptile pump and black/white/turq mini-scarf extends the outfit into cooler months.
  • Sewing specifics – if you’re interested – HERE. 

Inspired by this red Cabi shirt dress that was too long-waisted for my short body, I sewed up a similar style from a blue floral georgette.  sandals,

  • First I simply belted it and paired it with a high-heeled snadal.
  • Then I layered it over a royal blue tank, leaving the bodice unbuttoned.
  • Finally I copied the Cabi styling idea and layered the dress – duster-like – over black leggings, stiletto booties and the same blue tank.
  • Construction details HERE.
  • Info about how this dress could work for me, even though it seemed to violate every one of my personal style “rules” HERE. 

Notice, above, how popping the collar up a bit in back further elongates the line of my short figure – who knew?

What dress in your closet can you dress up?  Dress down?  Re-style to get more wear from it?

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Mary Longren on July 4, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    This turquoise one is really flattering. I bet you feel so good when you are wearing it.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on July 5, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      The top-stitched center seam and slit are really elongating. And that knot in the tie anchors focus at the center waist for the illusion of greater inward curve too. A very flattering style. Thank You Liesl!

  2. Jessica Sager on September 8, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    I love that last look with the black pants, you look awesome!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on September 9, 2020 at 7:58 am

      That’s my favorite too. Hope I can achieve the same effect by adding black tights to the second version as the weather gets cooler (if there is anywhere to go by then.)

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