How to Wear a Shift Dress: Style Tips


Shift Dresses Shift Dresses

As we gear up to celebrate 60 years of Lilly Pulitzer next year, let's take a moment to bring it back to where it all began: the Shift Dress. A Lilly girl's wardrobe staple, and the style that launched irreverent American Resort Wear. While we have endless new styles today, we will always hold a special place in our heart (and our closet) for the one that started it all.


The shift dress, from its rise to its revival is synonymous with rebellion and nonconformity. First worn by flappers in the 1920s, the shift was a woman's answer to a comfortable look to dance the night away. Embellished with fringe and fun decorations, the shift had character and creativity.

In the 1960s, Lilly Pulitzer revived the shift in a BIG way. Tired of the stuffy styles worn by socialites at the time, Lilly tasked her dressmaker with creating comfortable, chic shifts with a twist — PRINT. The bold and bright prints would oh-so-sneakily hide the orange juice stains on her clothes, and the easy straight style of the shift would be comfortable for those loooong days spent at the juice stand. It was a win-win! From there, the shift EXPLODED onto the Palm Beach scene, and her friends were SOLD. The shift was liberated luxury, and women couldn't get enough. Lilly Pulitzer was in business.

It was clear that the shift was here to stay when Jackie Kennedy, First Lady and BFF to Lilly was photographed sporting the style. From there, the Lilly dress went viral, growing to be an American Resort classic. Lilly had started a revolution.

Rose Kennedy (right) and granddaughter Kathleen.


The classic shift dress is sleeveless, collarless, and ever-so-slightly skims the body. The straight style is structured, yet mobile. Feel free to move and groove in your shift dress - you'll be totally comfortable. The Lilly shift today comes in countless shapes and styles, from print, to solid, to v-neck, to scoop neck, to lace, tassels, ties, and SO much more. There's a shift for EVERY Lilly girl.

Junie Shift Dress in True Navy.



What's great about the shift is the ability to dress it up and down to suit any occasion. Here are some of our favorite shift-worthy moments:

Wedding Season

A shift dress is your answer to a versatile look for surviving (and thriving) during wedding season. Be bold and ro...READ MOREck print for a summer outdoor wedding, or stick with a solid for a dress that's sure to fit every festivity.

Rehearsal Dinner

Searching for the perfect rehearsal dinner dress that's simple, timeless, and most importantly, comfy — because we know those lon...READ MOREg hours of entertaining in-laws are no joke — look no further than a simple Resort White shift dress. Wear lace for a bit of vintage elegance, or stick with cotton for those sticky summer nights.

Happy Hour

Cocktails al fresco call for a style that's going to make a statement. We love a printed shift that stops traffic and turns heads, bec...READ MOREause a Lilly girl is the life of the party.

Styling a Shift: The Finishing Touches

A shift ensemble is NEVER complete without a few glamorous goodies and accessories. Here's how we like to top off our shift style:

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A cardigan for chillier days

When the breeze is blowing, we call on a cashmere cardigan to keep us cozy and warm when we're sporting a shift. We love a sim...READ MOREple and crisp Resort White, but when we're feeling bright, we opt for a pop of pink or blue to complete our look.

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Gold, gold, GOLD.

There's no better way to glam up an outfit than with gold statement jewelry. From earrings, to a necklace, to an armful of ba...READ MOREngles, gold adds that hint of elegance to your shift ensemble.

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Sunnies and a hat, because we are made in the shade.

For those days spent soaking up the sun, we love a pair of oversized sunglasses and a sun hat if we're feeling extra shady. A Lilly gir...READ MOREl is a sunseeker at heart — so don't forget the sunscreen.