Why Not Wear Your Favorite Shirt Dress As A….Shirt?

I know, I know, rocket science.


Dresses are tough.

No matter how elaborate or intricate one may be, no matter how wonderful it might make you feel, a dress always make a very singular point. And much like with a short sentence, a dress is not easy to re-punctuate. That’s a talent reserved mostly for separates. A pair of khaki shorts can be as plain as white bread one day and as feisty as Antoine Dodson the next given the proper accoutrements. So too can a blouse. Or a skirt, even pants. Because those are items that say nothing about their wearer and everything about diversity at once.

A dress, though. A dress is a commitment. To saying something and saying it over and over again.

Sure, it can be styled and restyled ad nauseam until your entire closet has been turned on its head, but at its essence will always remain the dress. The same short sentence that makes the same point no matter how hard you try to move its commas and its periods and its semicolons if they’re there.


Never has this felt as true and hit as close to home as last week when I tried to repurpose a white Christopher Kane shirt dress. When I wore it last fashion week, I wore it (as photographed above) with a pair of platform sandals, a gold choker and sunglasses. I wanted to wear it again without the choker, maybe a neck scarf, a pair of slides or sneakers; I would have felt comfortable with stilettos too, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake how…the same I felt. And see, that’s the fundamental issue, isn’t it? That you always turn out feeling the same.

Once you’ve put together an outfit and worn it and reaped all the intrinsic benefits of feeling great in it, can you ever actually re-approximate that feeling of greatness by wearing it again? Not unless you can actually, meaningfully wear it differently. I think.

So you know what I did? I wore it as a blouse. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to do it earlier but by pairing it with my favorite $3 Levi’s jeans and an old anorak vest I once bought from Club Monaco after having seen it on Tibi’s Amy Smilovic and thinking it was Céline, it felt so dangnab new.

Like adding a new object to the subject of that anterior, concise sentence.

As for the reflective sunglasses by Spektre, the colorful Gucci neck scarf peeking out of my pocket, the green minaudiere by Reece Hudson and the nude mules (incidentally) by Tibi — those were just the dotted i’s and crossed t’s I’d forgot to include during the first edit.

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  • Greer

    I actually really love this outfit!! I mean I love the first one too, I actually took that photo of you wearing it to a dressmaker when I was in Vietnam and got it made 🙂 SO NOW I CAN WEAR IT AGAIN REAL DIFFERENT YAY

  • Anaïs

    I like to wear mine with denim shorts but never tried with pants! Great idea !

  • Sweet Mona
  • I recently got a black, almost knee length jersey dress with a slightly lowered waistline from Aritzia (no longer on their website, booo) that I’m trying to pluck up the courage to wear over my black and navy paisley jeans because it looks awesome but it’s a bit more of a statement than I’d usually make. I need a shirt dress like yours, then I’d totally do it

  • Nico

    Yes, really a great idea! love your accessories!

    Pleated skirt, blazer and slip-on on lowbudget-lowcost Fashion Blog

  • I’ve done this before! I enjoy wearing a dress, yet having the added protection from the elements with pants. Looks great both ways you have styled it, now where are all my dresses? I mean shirts …


  • Natali

    Fabulous jeans and vest! You always look so cool!


  • Avanti

    Love the way you styled both outfits. Chic and wearable!


  • Savannah

    Hey Leandra, I think there’s a problem with today’s post. Not sure if you noticed, since it’s a minor error, but there’s only one picture up with one pose in the re-styled outfit. Usually there are several different pictures with a variety of poses for us to choose from. Also, no gif?

    • Savannah

      Sorry, it was my browsers fault. I see all the pictures now.
      But still, no gif?

  • Kate Wilson
  • Jen

    Just did that same thing this last weekend for my date night with my husband.

  • LP

    When you wore it as a dress, on a scale of None to Elephant, just how big were your panties? Because that would have been my main concern.

    • Leandra Medine

      elephant drinking hemp mylk!

      • Louise Palazzo

        Yeah, every lady got a pair!

  • Tessa

    Q. Do you still wear this dress? http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FFHm-9CB2Q4/TtypQsE2yVI/AAAAAAAAJTY/vng-DXZkCzY/s800/streetstyle6341.jpg

    If not, would it be weird if I asked if you would consider selling it?

    • Leandra Medine

      I do! But you can borrow it. #sisterhoodofthetravelingfringe

      • Lilli

        holy balls this was the dress that started my love affair with white dresses

  • Serena

    I think that the blouse worn a a dress together with the gold shirt under it and the sandals make a provocative and funny dress. They say a lot about you…great choice!

  • Anna Proffitt

    Oh my that is the most perfect shirt in the world! You have the best style ever xx


  • Paola Tomeo

    Hi Leandra,
    I have a question:
    What do you wear under when you wear it just as a dress?
    I have a couple of short dresses and I am always wondering what to wear under.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Leandra Medine

      most of my underwear are actually biker shorts so those! in nude!

      • Paola Tomeo

        could you recommend a style…please!

  • Personally, I like it better as a blouse. The look seems more complete that way. I love the vest too!!

  • ee_by_cc

    Love the tone of this article. Reminds me of the classic Diana Vreeland column “Why Don’t You” in Bazaar. Clearly you’ve figure out how to get a great cost per wear out of this piece


    • Charlotte Fassler

      i agree with the cost per wear element, that is an issue with a lot of my dresses is I feel as if they are such singular pieces that they quickly become tired. However it is useful, especially with a shirt dress to have other ways to wear/ disguise it as a new article of clothing

      • Lilli

        Agreed! I have this new policy before buying something knew. I have to think of at least 5 different ways/outfits it can go with and if I can’t do that then I leave it go home, have a sleep and if I dream about it then I’m allowed to buy it!

  • Megan

    i think only YOU can pull this off. you look incredible, but i think i would look hungover 😛

    The Quintessentials

  • claudia

    Your style is so chic! Love the outfit with the white shirt dress and the brown heels!


  • monkeyshines
  • The Deathly Fashion

    Oh Leandra, I would have thought to wear it as a shirt before an actually dress. I love you dearly! The anorak makes this so perfect. You are perfect.


  • Elisa Taviti

    Cool jacket my dear!!

    xx Elisa – My Fantabulous World

  • Alexandra Dieck

    Hey Leandra! Did y’all find someone for the photo/photoshop intern?


    • Leandra Medine

      Are you looking!?

      • Alexandra Dieck

        Hey!! Yeah I would love to know more about it! I’m gonna shoot you an email right now to info@manrepeller.com


  • Kmy Gcm

    I know you have that vest from a really long time (in fashion years) but it still looks so good and timeless 😀 Love it

    • Kmy Gcm

      *for a really long time, 😀

  • Boyfriendsandblazers

    absolutely love the look. My favorite part about the shirt dress is that it is a great combination of sexy and tomboy. It has the “I didn’t spend 2 hours picking out my outfit this morning” look and the “I still look sexy and fab” During the spring I prefer a shirt dress with mules or gladiators esp high ones like the Stuart Weitzman’s. Also the perfect final touch, BEACH WAVES.

  • I do like it the way you styled it, but I think it really looks awesome on you as a dress!

    Mafalda ❤

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  • That’s a nice variation! However, I like it without the jeans better ( the man attractor version). Pretty gams like yours should be flirting more often. And by the way, inspired by your ballet basic post, I decided to wear my ballets flats the other day. I’m not sure if I managed to look less basic, however, I enjoyed my outfit 😉

    “BOHEMIAN SENORITA” blog post at:

  • I’m actually wearing a dress styled as a shirt right now… haha! I tucked mine into a pair of shorts though. I love this (and I love the dress. It’s sort of risky business esque)

  • Saakshi Kaushik

    So Vogueish BAYBAY. And your lips!! WHAT IS ON THEM. It’s not the green/pink stick is it???????????????????????????????????????

  • Julia

    You should make a post about argyle. I think if anyone can wear argyle, its you.

  • Effie

    I was literally just thinking about wearing a long sleeve shirt dress belted and bloused over a pencil skirt tomorrow morning. Feeling sartorially validated, thank you!!

  • anna

    looks fantastic on you but to be honest everything does because you are very thin, hard to pull many layers if you have curves, nevertheless your style, amazing

  • It looks really great!!

  • Vera Sawicki

    Great outfit! I love the shoes!!


  • Hannah Cole

    Exactly what I needed to read, literally my daily battle. I’ve started avoiding my dresses because they feel too “normal” – why wear the same outfit again and again? I always get in a life rut when I do that. My goal for winter is to invent new and warm ways to interpret these dresses and make them my own