How To Style A Shift Dress So You’re Trendy, Not Frumpy

Happy #FASHIONWEDNESDAY. I am still kind of on a high from my week in NY but I’m getting back into the swing of things here in St. Louis! I was able to do a shoot with my favorite photographer in the world on the Brooklyn Bridge last week in one of my FAVORITE outfits: a bell-sleeved shift dress. I have ALWAYS been a little bit wary of shift dresses because they can sometimes just HANG on your frame — totally drowning your figure. However, I learned that you just have to find the right one and accessorize accordingly! Here’s my guide on how to style a shift dress to look trendy, not frumpy. Let’s dive into this.

How To Style A Shift Dress So You’re Trendy, Not Frumpy

How To Style A Shift Dress So You're Trendy, Not Frumpy

This dress has me SO excited because while it was so perfect for the 75-80 degree NYC weather, it is also made of wool-like material so it will be warm in the fall and winter. I can’t wait to pair it with some cute tights and booties to bring it into the chillier months! While it’s still warm though, we can totally take advantage of styling this cute dress like it’s still 75 degrees out (because it’s supposed to be 90 by me, so…)

Step one: Choosing the right fit.

How To Style A Shift Dress So You're Trendy, Not Frumpy

Not all shift dresses are created equal. In fact, it’s kind of a hit or miss but mostly miss situation. You want a shift dress to hang on your frame, but not completely hide it. My problem is, I was always trying on shift dresses that had a completely straight cut, but my body isn’t shaped like that. I needed to find a dress that dipped in a little bit. I got this dress from Francesca’s (linked above) one of my all time favorite “trendy” clothing stores. It has the slightest curve in at the waist, literally you almost can’t tell, so that when I wear it, it accentuates my waist without being skin tight.

Step two: Choosing the right style.

How To Style A Shift Dress So You're Trendy, Not Frumpy

We all know based on these posts (here, here, here) that I am a sucker for bell sleeves. I love love love bell sleeves. Literally could not be more thrilled that this trend hasn’t died yet. I opted for this double bell sleeve look because I knew that it was very “me”. You may want to lean towards a halter top, or long sleeved dress depending on what season you plan on wearing it the most. I loved the embroidery on the sleeve (also very “me”) and was drawn to the sleeve details. I am also a sucker for key hole necklines. I think they’re SO classy and fabulous. You know what your personal style is – now is the time to let that shine!

Step three: Choosing the right accessories.

How To Style A Shift Dress So You're Trendy, Not Frumpy

I lovelovelove pairing a bright lip and bold shoes with a simple dress. It’s my FAVORITE way to class up an outfit. I opted for this bright poppy red lip to match the embroidery on the shoulder, and these metallic shoes to go with the runway theme of the week (did you catch my post about the latest trends off of the NYFW runway? Check it out here). I kept the shoes fairly neutral so they didn’t take away from the fun dress, but played my makeup up so that I still captured the attention of people walking down the street (actually, the bridge). When in doubt, throw on a bright lip and call it a day! For this particular outfit, I stayed away from having big, chunky jewelry. With key hole necklines, you want to make sure that you aren’t over-doing it with your accessories. It speaks for itself. If anything, you could do a pair of quiet, dainty earrings or sparkly, dangly earrings to play up around your face. Just be careful you don’t have TOO much going on.


How To Style A Shift Dress So You're Trendy, Not Frumpy

This outfit is SO easy to recreate — it’s pretty, simply and would look amazing on just about everyone. I love how shift dresses hide problem areas and let me eat as much as I want without having to suck in πŸ˜‰ They also work on SO many body types, it doesn’t matter what yours is. They are completely comfortable and they are totally trending so it’s a win-win for everyone.

How To Style A Shift Dress So You're Trendy, Not Frumpy

Did you like this outfit? Let me know your thoughts below! 

PS: for those interested, I have finally launched my makeup artist business. You can find out more on my Facebook page, or the “makeup services” tab at the top of this screen. I’ve also started an Instagram to feature client work, so you can check that out here as well. If you are in the St. Louis or surrounding areas, please let me know – I do travel and would love to be a part of your special day!

About The Author

Taylor Mobley


  1. cara | 20th Sep 17

    This dress is beautiful! I love the sleeves and the embroidered detail! You look gorgeous Taylor! Although I’m a bit nervous with you sitting on the edge of the bridge haha (#imascaredycat)

    • Taylor Mobley | 20th Sep 17

      LOL. It was totally scary sitting on it!!! But the shots were worth it πŸ˜‰

  2. Chloe | 20th Sep 17

    You look gorgeous in this dress! I love the photos too, the backdrop is so beautiful! I always have the hardest time with shift dresses, but this one is so fun with the sleeves and embroidery! πŸ™‚

    xo, Chloe //

  3. Victoria | 20th Sep 17

    Shift dresses are not my friend. I am rather big busted and they always look frumpy on me. I do like the dress you are modeling, very cute.

  4. Anna | 20th Sep 17

    Omg I’m actually wearing a dress right now that’s super similar to this one! I love your hairstyle!

  5. Alexa | 20th Sep 17

    This dress is so pretty! I love this style of dress, they are so comfortable but still make you look put together πŸ™‚

  6. Krystin | 20th Sep 17

    This dress is so cute! Love that you shared these tips because it can be challenging when not to look frumpy!

  7. Courtney Kramer | 20th Sep 17

    So cute! I love how pairing a bold lip can complete such a statement dress.

  8. Lee Anne | 20th Sep 17

    This is such a pretty dress, and I love how you’ve styled it! Those booties look so good.

    Lee Anne

  9. Mary | 20th Sep 17

    Love the sleeves AND the color…perfect for fall! Beautiful background and photos…

  10. Kristen Jones | 20th Sep 17

    LOVE this dress on you! I’m obsessed with the embroidered sleeves!

  11. Ali A | 20th Sep 17

    I find that dresses like these need a belt (if you can make one work) to give you a waist and I ALWAYS wear a heel. I’m only 5″4, so flat shoes with this style always makes me feel frump.

  12. Kuleigh | 20th Sep 17

    You nailed it! I love the embroidery on the sleeves.

  13. Alison @ Puppies & Pretties | 20th Sep 17

    This is such a fun dress! I agree, shift dresses can be so hard to find the one that has the right fit.

  14. Jenny | 20th Sep 17

    This dress is so lovely on you! I am a sucker for bell sleeves myself.

  15. Jen | 20th Sep 17

    That dress is so beautiful and I love the embroidery on it!!

  16. Isabelle | 20th Sep 17

    I love shift dresses! This was great advice, I particularly liked the bit about accessorising – I never know what to pair with them! πŸ™‚

  17. Melissa | 21st Sep 17

    Francesca’s is the best! I think fit is ultra important. I’ve had the problem too of just looking frumpy in shift dresses. They also tend to flatter certain body styles more than others. I love the dress you picked and it is so flattering! I like the double bell sleeve.

  18. Kallie | But First, Coffee | 21st Sep 17

    First, awesome shots. Second, it’s so hard to find the perfect shift dress, I love your tips for wearing one!

  19. Lauren | 21st Sep 17

    OMG, I am jealous of the shoot location! I have a hard time finding shift dresses because I am petite, but I loved your tips!

  20. Alex | 21st Sep 17

    Hahahahah I feel like I always need this help because I always end up looking frumpy hahaha

  21. Brittany Daoud | 21st Sep 17

    I really love the sleeve detail of that dress. I definitely think having a sleeve like that, as well as the embroidery, helps to draw in your eyes so the dress itself doesn’t look so boxy! xo, Brittany

  22. Hanna | 21st Sep 17

    So totally trendy! You look AMAZING!

  23. Alix Maza | 21st Sep 17

    The sleeves are gorgeous! Love a good shift dress.

  24. Mary | 21st Sep 17

    such a cute dress and i love the ruffles!

  25. Tatyanna | 21st Sep 17

    I love the way you styled this shift dress! So much that I’m now looking for a similar one for the fall.

    xx Tatyanna

  26. Alexis | 22nd Sep 17

    Gorgeous! These photos are so amazing! Shift dresses always look frumpy on me so I’m definitely going to follow your tips!

  27. Erica @ Coming Up Roses | 22nd Sep 17

    You’re the cutest, per usual. Also I see “lovelovelove” is rubbing off on ya…we only talk 24/7, so no wonder I keep talking like Miranda Sings to my husband. HAHA. πŸ˜‰

    Coming Up Roses

  28. Simone Hjulmand | 22nd Sep 17

    You look absolutely stunning! xx

  29. courtney | 23rd Sep 17

    Oh my gosh that dress is absolutely gorgeous!! I love the silhouette, the cutouts and the embroidery.

  30. Jessica | 26th Sep 17

    Such a pretty dress! And I love these photos on the bridge!
    xo Jessica

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