Not to be confused with the more fitted sheath dress, shift dresses are airier through the body in a cut that’s universally easy to wear. Some are more casual while others you’ll reach for on special occasions, but the
best shift dresses are all reliable MVPs on days you need something that just works. And, with a swingy, non-constricting silhouette, they fit right in with a comfort-dressing mindset.
A T-shirt shift dress, especially one in a soft, drapey knit that’s
easy to belt, will be comfortably chic through a lazy weekend and create a blank slate for all sorts of looks to give you the most bang for your buck. If you travel, a shift dress that packs down to almost nothing while being easy to layer will offer maximum versatility on the road.
When you’re ready to get dressed up, reach for shift dresses with detail. That might mean a little or a lot depending on where you’re going. A cocktail-worthy shift dress can pull out all the stops like intricate crochet lace or a firebrand pattern with a tie halter neck. Daytime party dresses often keep things simpler with statement sleeves or cold-shoulder cutouts. The balance of clean lines and fun accents gives them the flexibility you need for switching between baby showers and happy hours.
From a little black dress to summer’s juiciest prints, these are the
chicest shifts to dress up or down. 1 This Swingy V-Neck Shift With A Cult Following
You won’t want to pass up this absolute bargain: This
really cute shift dress comes with 25,000 Amazon ratings and counting. It strikes a balance that’s simple yet statement-making, with a straight cut through the bodice and cropped ruffle bell sleeves. The polyester chiffon has a bit of spandex for give, and it’s all fully lined with a zip closure in the back. “The dress is super versatile[...] it can be worn to numerous events and can easily be dressed up or down,” one shopper commented. “The dress fits really well, its not tight in the bust or around the waist. It is very much a shift dress.” Wear it with flat sandals on vacay or take it to a party in your favorite heels. Available colors: 35 Available sizes: X-Small — XX-Large 2 A Retro-Chic Shift Dress That’s Ready For Cocktail Hour
It doesn’t get much more festive than crochet lace and pom-pom trim no matter what kind of occasion you’re dressing for. This
swingy shift dress is peak ‘60s (very Megan from for fans in the house) with an A-line body and bell sleeves. A higher neckline keeps it sophisticated while the transparent lace creates an overall airy look — and the smooth and durable nylon construction ensures it will last for more than a few seasons. “I did not expect to love this dress so much...hangs SO perfectly and gives total Priscilla Presley vibes,” a reviewer raved. Mad Men Available colors: 6 Available sizes: X-Small — X-Large 3 A Versatile T-shirt Shift Dress With Pockets
T-shirt dress is just as much of a staple as a good pair of jeans and your go-to tee, but infinitely airier. Dress it up or down, with layers or without — no matter how you spin it, the dress can go almost anywhere you do. This one is made from a stretch rayon knit that drapes softly and feels super-comfortable, with a high scoop neck and two nicely sized pockets hidden on the side seams. “A fantastic little t-shirt dress. Ridiculously soft, fits perfect, POCKETS, versatile so I can style it in SO many ways: tights and booties with a cardigan, fishnets and Docs with a leather jacket, sandals and a hat for the beach, the possibilities are endless,” one fan gushed. Available colors: 26 Available sizes: Small — 4X-Large 4 The Beachy Shift Dress That’s Worth The Splurge
Relatively muted for a
Lilly Pulitzer printed dress but still boasting plenty of the brand’s signature pop, the Harper dress is sunshine in a shift. It’s made from a thick cotton-spandex knit woven into flat French terry that is deceptively comfortable despite its prim and proper looks, with a notch neckline bordered by intricate swirls of soutache trim that makes necklaces unnecessary. “Loved the fabric, soft like sweatshirt but not too thick. Want one for everyday of the week!” one fan noted.
If your aesthetic is a little more subdued or you’re on a tighter budget, you might also love this
nautical shift dress with similar lines and a preppy vibe. Available colors: 4 Available sizes: XX-Small — XX-Large 5 A Tiered Ruffle Shift Dress In Summery Gingham
summery printed shift dress is the airiest thing. It has an easy unstructured bodice with a slightly defined waist seam to give the billowy style a little bit of definition over a tiered ruffle skirt that flares to the knee. The cotton-polyester fabric has zero stretch to help hold its playful shape and the entire piece is fully lined for opacity. “The material is so lightweight that it’s perfect for summer and then the buffalo plaid will also look cute and trendy in fall with a jean jacket,” one shopper pointed out. “The dress is constructively made really well, I was pleasantly pleased to see it also had a lining so it’s not at all transparent.” Available colors: 7 Available sizes: Small — XX-Large 6 A Travel-Worthy Shift Dress That Refuses To Wrinkle
simple shift dress is a workhorse all year long in virtually any climate. It’s sleeveless yet bra-friendly so it’s easy to layer under or over other pieces, and it turns into a minimalist little cocktail dress with a simple jewelry swap. Shoppers reported that the rayon-spandex jersey doesn’t wrinkle, so it will survive getting tossed in your luggage and comes out of a suitcase ready to explore. It also has excellent drape, which lends itself well to belting that completely transforms its shape. “The all in one dress you want,” a reviewer promised. “Loose fitting but not baggy. Not clingy but a breathable material. Easy to take from day to evening.” Another fan reported of its ease of care, “It washes and dries well. It doesn't tend to hold onto lint nor has [it] shrunk. It hasn't faded, piled or shown any other signs of wear for a few months now. It doesn't lend to wrinkling easily.” Available colors: 7 Available sizes: X-Small — XX-Large 7 This Chic Mock Neck Shift Dress That Comes In So Many Patterns
modern shift dress has a shoulder-baring racer front that combines with a mock-neck halter top. Follow those clean lines down for an angled A-line skirt that is perfectly sharp yet breezy. There are some showstopping formal floral patterns alongside this sophisticated leopard print, as well as polka dots for a perfectly sweet daytime option. All are made from a polyester crepe and come fully lined for a high-quality finish. “I wore an elastic belt to cinch the waist, but it looks great without a belt as well,” one fan reported. “I got tons of compliments on this dress, and most importantly I felt comfortable and confident in it. I wore it to an outdoor wedding on a hot summer day and the thin fabric kept me cool and comfortable.” Available colors: 23 Available sizes: X-Small — 4X-Large Plus 8 A Chiffon Shift Dress With Airy Split Sleeves
Another cute day to night option, this
pretty shift dress is simple yet stylish. Its trim A-line cut and clean open V neckline are softened by sheer split sleeves that feel special yet unfussy. The body of the dress is fully lined for total coverage even in the lighter colors — all you see is flowy crepe polyester chiffon. “Everything I expected and more and quite comfortable at the same time,” a fan praised. Available colors: 7 Available sizes: Small — X-Large 9 A Cold-Shoulder Shift Dress That’s Cute & Casual
cold-shoulder shift dress is just so comfy in a soft cotton-poly blend with a little added design appeal. The shoulder straps are wide enough to hide a regular bra with dropped half sleeves that fall nearly to the elbow. The skirt flares out gently to the knee with a pair of pockets inside. “This did the trick beautifully,” raved one fan who bought it for a work party. “Extremely lightweight and comfortable fabric, and hidden pockets a plus. Easily dressed up or down for more casual use.” Available colors: 14 Available sizes: X-Large — 5X-Large 10 This Cozy Funnel-Neck Shift Dress
Weekend mode: activated. This
casual shift dress has an impossibly soft lining that feels even better than a sweatshirt, if that’s possible. It’s gently oversized with a relaxed funnel neck and wide cuffs plus T-shaped seams on the back for a minimalist design spin — and a couple of deep pockets so you don’t even have to reach for the remote during your Netflix marathon. “So cute, I can see that this is going to be a go-to fall piece. The shape is great, not frumpy at all,” a reviewer shared. “I usually order from Free People but I found this brand and decided to try one piece to see how the quality was and I’m impressed.” Available colors: 7 Available sizes: X-Small — XX-Large