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Shapeless Dress

Shapeless Dress

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Have you secretly admired a shapeless dress, but worry it would fit like a potato sack? If you’ve ever wondered how to wear shapeless dresses and not look frumpy, then this post is for you!

From belts to blazers and everything in between, I’m sharing 11 ways you can wear a shapeless dress and look stylish.

Brunette woman in a garden, wearing pink floral dress and heels, leaning against a post.

Recent pop culture trends like the social media sensation “Cottagecore” aesthetic, and binge worthy Netflix series Bridgerton have fueled the love for the shapeless dress.

If you love shapeless dresses as much as I do, then you already know how awesome they are! If not, then I’m here to share the love. In addition to hiding my fluffy bits, my collection of spacious dresses keep me nice and cool in the desert heat.

However, they’re not just for summer! Many shapeless dresses can be worn all year long. Long sleeve maxi dresses are great at hiding warm layers and still look feminine.

Collage of brunette woman wearing long dresses and a white banner with text.

What is a Shapeless Dress?

A shapeless dress is an umbrella term used to describe any style or silhouette of dress, without a feminine and natural defining waistline.

A Brief History

Forms of shapeless dresses date back to antiquity and were popular throughout the Greek and Roman empires. Wearers of these full and flowy garments used binding and ties to cinch fabric above the natural waistline.

Later, French styles of the Neoclassical period exaggerated the waistline even more, raising it beneath the bust. These re-invented waistlines known as the empire waist were popular throughout the Regency era. Despite its roomy aesthetic, popularity of the empire waistline declined, and the corset became more fashionable.

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Fast forward to the end of WW1 and big changes happened in women’s fashion. Money was tight, so clothes were simplified. Designers like Gabriel Chanel and Jean Patou were creating chic and innovative clothing designed for comfort and practicality.

The flapper style of the Roaring Twenties introduced straight and loose silhouettes that were ultimately the first shapeless dresses of the twentieth century.

In 1957, designers Givenchy and Balenciaga introduced a waistless dress with a tapered hemline. Known as the sack dress, this simple silhouette has become the inspiration for many modern shapeless dresses.

Different Types of Shapeless Dresses

These silhouettes could also be considered shapeless dresses:

  • Rectangular – Also known as a straight column or tubular silhouette, this silhouette is rectangular in shape. Shift dresses, t-shirt dresses, and tunics generally fall under this category.
  • Trapeze – This dress is triangular in shape with the flair starting around the shoulders. Tent, swing, and tiered dresses most often have this silhouette.
  • Voluminous – Usually a long, maxi length dress with many layers of fabrics. Caftans and cocoon dresses have a voluminous silhouette.
  • Empire – Another slightly triangular shaped silhouette that hides the waist by flaring out under the chest. Babydoll dresses and maxi dresses will often flaunt this silhouette.

11 Ways to Wear a Shapeless Dress

These are my favorite ways to style a shapeless dresses and wear it with confidence! You can also shop more of my favorite flowy dresses down below.

1. Choose Lightweight Fabrics

Lightweight fabrics won’t add bulk to an already wide silhouette. Not only do they drape beautifully, but they create a romantic and etherial look. Look for dresses made from the following fabrics:

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Brunette woman in long pink dress standing in a bedroom, leaning against a white desk.

  • Viscose
  • Polyester blend
  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Rayon

3. Use a Belt to Create a Waistline

It’s amazing what a simple belt can do. A belt is the easiest way to give shape to a shapeless dress. Even better, there’s no sewing involved!

Brunette woman in blue dress and suede belt taking a selfie in a mirror.

H&M Dress (sold out, similar blue dress ) | Loft Suede Belt (sold out, similar belt)

A brunette woman in a green jacket and casual outfit standing in front of a tree and white picket fence.

Tip

Always measure your waistline before purchasing a waist belt.

4. Add a Cropped Jacket

Give structure to your shapeless dress with a cropped jacket or sweater. The straight bottom hemline provides the illusion of a waistline.

Brunette woman in a long pink dress and jean jacket, standing next to a desk with a floral purse on top.

5. Use a Cinch Clip to Create a Waistline

Yup these nifty little things exist. If you’re like myself and lack sewing skills, then a cinch clip is an easy way to give shape to a shapeless dress. Throw a scrunci in your hair and you’ll be full 90s vibes!

Cinch clip with two bronze leaves, each one mounted on a green leather heart.

Image via ChicBohoCreations

6. Elevate it With a Blazer

Blazers add structure to an unstructured silhouette. Pair a casual loose dress with a blazer, and you’ve got an extra work outfit. A satin blazer is an elegant way to take a loose dress from day to night.

Brunette woman in white slip dress and tan blazer taking a selfie in a bathroom mirror.

7. Tie on a Button Down Shirt

Tying a classic button down shirt over a shapeless dress is another no-sew way to create a waistline. Not only will it give a little extra warmth on those cool summer nights, but your dress now doubles as a maxi skirt!

Brunette woman wearing a white blouse, pink floral skirt, and pink sneakers, standing in a garden on a brick path.

Choose Bold Colors and Bright Prints

Modern elements such as bright colors and bold prints add flair to an otherwise simple silhouette. You’ll never be accused of looking frumpy wearing a vibrant pop of color!

Brunette woman sitting in her living room wearing a pink and orange dress with a rattan purse next to her.

8. Accessorize

Accessories set the tone of your outfit either dressing it up or down. Statement earrings take a casual dress from day to night. A rattan purse or canvas tote sings summer vibes. Simple gold studs and a structured satchel are a great option for the polished minimalist.

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Portrait of a brunette woman in pink top and pink floral raffia hoop earrings.

Floral Raffia Hoop Earrings

9. Wear it With a Vest

Take a maxi dress from summer to fall by pairing it with a faux fur vest. A long loose dress is the perfect length for hiding warm thermals. Throw on a pair of over the knee boots and you have the perfect mix of warm and stylish.

Brunette woman in a floral dress, suede belt, faux fur vest and boots standing in front of a stairway and living room.

H&M Floral Dress (sold out, similar here) | Faux Fur Vest | Aldo Boots (old, similar here)

10. Have Fun With Shoes

One thing I love about shapeless dresses is how versatile they are. I love pairing my long maxi dresses with sneakers, flats, and mules throughout the summer. Come winter, I know I can easily take those same dresses and elevate them with boots or classic heels.

Brunette woman wearing a white blouse, pink floral skirt, and pink sneakers, standing in a garden on a brick path.

Paired with these pink Keds, my floral dress is every day wearable.

Brunette woman wearing a white blouse, pink floral skirt, and raffia mules, standing in a garden on a brick path.

For a more polished look, I pair my shapeless dress with these neutral raffia mules.

Brunette woman in a garden, wearing pink floral dress and heels, leaning against a post.

These affordable Nine West heels elevate my shapeless dress for formal events.

I love this flat version too!

11. Just Wear It!

Feel the breeze from underneath and head down to your local all you can eat buffet. Take full advantage of this super comfy silhouette and let it hang loose. Your grandma’s mumu would be proud!

Brunette woman in long pink floral dress, standing in a patio between white posts.

Shop

Discover more of my favorite shapeless dresses!

What do think? Do you love shapeless dresses as much as I do? I’d love to hear from you!