History of the Shirt Dress

What came first the button-up shirt or the shirt dress? The button-up shirt, traditionally worn exclusively by men, was common for women to wear as far back as the mid 1800’s.

But when did the shirt dress come into fashion?

In 1939 the Utility Dress was born. Ration Fashion also known as The Utility Clothing Scheme was a result of WWII. It was introduced in the U.K by the British government in response to the shortage of labor and materials due to the requirements of the war effort. Approved utility clothing was then marked the CC41 logo.

This controlled commodity mark designated that the item met the government’s strict regulations.

In 1942 the US followed suit and introduced their version called the General Limitation Order L-85 and American women joined their British counterparts. Shops sold the utility dress in a variety of approved fabrics.

What we know as the shirt dress was first called a shirtwaist dresses when they became fashionable during the 1950’s. The 1950’s Chirstian Dior shirtwaist dress, post WWII, became known as the ‘New Look’ – a full skirt featuring a notched collar and ¾-length sleeves. More informal versions became a staple of many women’s wardrobes.

Today there are many versions of the shirt dress. Meredith Banzhoff, most notably known for her tailored shirting that eliminates the gape at the bust, has created her version of the shirt dress.

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Meredith Banzhoff
Meredith Banzhoff

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