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Lace details on the back of the Alexander Wang LWD with leather collar

How to style a white shirt dress to not look like wearing a lab-coat is an often asked question. While historically Americans wear white in summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day,  many women shy away from the preppy shirt-dress style. Read how to pull this comfortable cut off even in white.

  1. How to Style a White Shirt Dress?
  2. Wear a White Shirt Dress with Neutrals
  3. How to Style a White Shirt Dress with Color
  4. When to Wear a Little White Shirt Dress

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How to Style a Little White Shirt Dress

White shirt dresses are a little tricky to style as one can easily slip into lab-coat and, in Germany, nurse territory. Note that there female nurses and doctors wear white shirt dresses and Birkenstocks.

To avoid this look, a cut with some interesting details is best. The garment shown in this post, for instance, gives the illusion of layering. Other great details are lace, and leather. You don’t need all these embellishments at once, one would be sufficient. Together these details alone permit wearing a posh monochromatic look when you add white or nude footwear.



Wear a White Shirt Dress with Neutrals

A white shirt dress can look great with brown/tan for an all neutrals look. Here the belt under the second layer creates interest. The finishing touch are the heels and bag in the same color.

Stylist tip: Repeat the color of accessories three times to tie an outfit together.

over 50 years old fashion blogger in white shirt dress styled with tan bag, belt, sandals, necklace
White shirt dress outfit idea with tan/brown accessories for a sophisticated American Classic Southern Belle look


To stay comfortable on chilly evenings or mornings add a jacket in another neutral color, like for instance, olive or indigo blue. A shirt dress always looks great with a jean jacket or an utility jacket. You may add a cap for style.


midlife fashion blogger in lwd with utility jacket and leather hat
Outfit details: Great Northwest utility jacket, Michael Kors sandals, Ray Ban sunglasses, Kate Moss for Longchamp satchel, Kieselstein Cord belt, Kieselstein Cord moon-sun buckle, LeatherCoatsEtc leather camouflage-print hat, Hermes enamel bangles, Seiko watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and smoky quartz necklace


How to Wear a White Shirt Dress with Color

Adding a pop of color to a white garment creates a friendly summer vibe. In the example shown in the photos below, I added orange. However, any crayon color works just fine.


stylist in white shirt dress, plateau sandals, statement belt, straw sunhat
Side view of white and orange look


fashion blogger in American Classic white summer dress with straw hat outfit and orange sandals
Outfit details: Alexander Wang leather collar white shirt dress with vintage Paloma Picasso orange kisses belt, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, Michael Kors orange plateau sandals,  Hermes collier de chien bangle, Bulova watch, nugget necklace, orange bag, and unbranded straw sun hat


When to Wear a White Shirt Dress

Wearing white after Labor Day (and before Memorial Day) is the new Do. Just add a white sweater, a half slip under the dress and black tights in winter. Wearing black and white is an eternal classic.  In fall, any fall color tights and sweater/cardigan would look great with it as well. In spring, a white sweater dress looks great with pantyhose and spring pastels More on how not to look old in pastels.

Learn what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy my book now.


Read more on styling a white summer dress for spring and beyond.


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Photos: G. Kramm

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