Do Shirt Dresses Make Me Look Fat?

From the book “100 Ways to Look Fat” -Baloney Concept #10 – Shirtdresses make you look fat. No they don’t.

Shirtdresses are an easy-to-wear style that can be very figure-flattering.  It’s gentle shape is more forgiving than a fitted sheath.  As always, the degree of flattery relates to the fabric, shape and design details.


  • Best shirtdress fabrics are soft enough to drape toward your body – not stand stiffly away.  Washed silk, soft cotton, challis and matte jersey are all effective choices.

3 dress Collage


  • Your best shirtdress styles follow the natural outline of your body – straighter if your body is straight, curved in toward the waist if your body is curvy.
  • Slim skirt shapes are generally more sleek than gathered, flared or wide A-line styles.

Style Details:

  • Center front button detail, zippers and plackets all draw the eye up and down, elongating the figure.
  • The V-shape neckline elongates the neck and upper torso.
  • A shaped, shirt-tail hemline is often more pleasing  than a straight horizontal hem.
  • The skirt length should create a longer-than-wide proportion.  I PhotoShopped the pictures above to lengthen the dresses. See an original and its touched-up version compared below.
  • A drawstring waist that causes the bodice to blouse gently over the waistline can work well to balance lower boy fullness, provided that the lower portion of the garment isn’t too full below the drawstring.
  • Be careful about adding a waistline tie or belt to your shirtdress.  If you add one, keep it loose enough to avoid creating a cinched-in, sausage effect and to fall just a bit below the waist, subtly elongating your torso.

2 dress Collage

If you don’t already own one … try a shirtdress and I’m betting you’ll love 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. Maureen on October 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Always appreciate your insights, Nancy! And I like your Photoshopped style much better than the original 🙂

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      The length-to-width proportion is a huge part of dressing sliun. Of course those models are all 6 feet tall, so the actual dresses wouldn’t look that short on you or me.

  2. Elaine Earnshaw on October 18, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I recently bought a shirt dress pattern and appreciate you mentioning the fabric choices that are the most flattering.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 18, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      It needs to be soft enough to drape against your body so it doesn’t add bulk. I’d love to see what you end up using.

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