Vintage Shift Dresses

Why To Wear: A shift dress is a great choice for those who want a chic vintage style without the waist-cinching feel of 1940s & 50s dresses.  Shifts and sheaths skim past the waist and instead fit the bust and hips closely, so they're ideal for someone with a relatively thick waist and/or narrow hips.  The look is clean and modern, perfect to pair with hip-slung belts and cropped cardigans.

Alternatives: Some vintage dresses can become shifts with a little tweaking.  A tailored style without a waist seam can become a shift if you let out the darts at the torso.  Likewise, a very full A-line dress or tent dress can be cut down into a shift dress, essentially carving out a perfect fit with a bit of reworking.

What To Look For: Shift dresses were once called sacque dresses in the late 50s & early 60s, when they came into fashion again for the first time since the 1920s.  You may see them called sacques, shifts or sheaths.  Because they were so popular in the 60s, and because the 60s wasn't so long ago, most vintage clothing shops will offer a wide variety of 1960s shifts in myriad fabrics and colors, including linens, wools, occasionally silk and some easy-care synthetics.  Select carefully - there's no need to make allowances when buying shift dresses as they are plentiful.

Favorite Finds:  The 60s had so much diversity to offer in details.  You'll find vintage shift dresses in folksy embroidery, modernist prints, wash-n-wear fabrics and lots of classic contemporary looks.  You'll see preppie versions, bohemian takes and Mod classics.  Some go-go girl styles even have cutouts around the waist for a bare midriff effect... very cool!

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