How to Wear a Shirt over a Maxi Dress

Women shopping for Maxi dresses and shirts
Any colored maxi dress will go well with a button-up shirt or a simple tee over it. Use these styling tips, to rock your shirt over a maxi dress any time.

When you wear maxi dresses so much like me, styling them comes with the territory. It’s the only way to have maximum wear of your dresses without looking like you repeat the same dress every day. Besides, you can only have so many maxi dresses.

One of the best ways to style a maxi dress is to temporarily turn it into a long skirt by wearing a shirt over it (for other outwear styling tips – click here). It’s a great casual look for warm weather, and the shirt brightens up the outfit and your entire demeanor. And because you can wear different shirts with the same dress on multiple occasions, it looks like you have so many maxi dresses in your closet.

But there is a method to this madness.

You must find the right shirt and learn to style it properly over the dress.

Types of Shirts to Wear Over a Maxi Dress

A shirt over a maxi dress is a casual outfit ideal for running errands and having lunch with friends. The shirt you choose therefore must be casual and relaxed. This means no formal silk blouses or those crisp shirts you wear with pencil skirts to the office.

So what kind of shirt should you wear?

Well, it should be a tough fabric like cotton, chambray, polyester, and denim. The fabric should also have a bit of stretch in it because you will need to manipulate the shirt to style it. Lastly, the color of the shirt should go with the colors on the maxi dress. I do not recommend mixing and matching, but there should be some coordination.

Speaking of matching, let the fabrics on the dress and the shirt be similar unless the shirt is denim.

With this criterion in mind, here are the shirts I would wear over a maxi dress.

  • Button-down men’s shirt. I specified men’s shirts because they are wider, more textured, and casual on a woman’s body. Blues and whites will be the best option here, and it’s best if the shirt is long sleeve.
  • Basic tee. Yes, your basic round neck t-shirt will work just fine over a maxi dress, provided it’s a bit wide and stretchy.
  •  Denim shirt. There are infinite styles you can create with a nice denim shirt. It is particularly classy worn over a maxi dress.
  •  Maxi shirt dress. A long shirt dress is just as versatile as a denim shirt and can transform a simple maxi dress.

5 Ways to Wear a Shirt over a Maxi Dress

1. Tie a Knot

This trick works with all the shirt options I’ve mentioned above and is incredibly easy and stylish.

  • Put your shirt over the maxi dress and adjust the arms and the neckline to ensure everything is hidden and symmetrical.
  • Slightly tuck the back of the shirt under such that it stops at your natural waistline. (Your real waistline is the narrowest part of your torso between your bust and hips).
  • On the front side, pull the bottom part of the shirt forward and carefully tie it into a knot.
  • Adjust the knot by pulling it looser or tighter depending on your comfort.
  • Feel free to keep the sleeves long or roll them back for a more casual look.
  • One last trick when using this method is to tie the knot in the middle if you are wearing a buttoned shirt and on the side if you wear a t-shirt.

2.  Make a Crop Top

But there is another way to make the knot method work for you. Using a smaller or rather shorter shirt, you can make the knot right below your bust instead of the waist. This will turn the shirt into a crop top making your frame look taller and thinner.

The rule above still applies here, but you can tie your t-shirt in the middle if you want.

Also, I find this style better with a casual, shirt-like blouse instead of a men’s shirt. Blouses have more style and texture, so they look better as crop tops compared to a plain old shirt. Keep in mind that the blouse we are talking about here must have a tough texture such as cotton or denim, so don’t go for anything silky or satin.

For the two knot methods above, you need to keep the entire outfit casual and light. These looks go well with strappy sandals (especially if you have any metallic ones in gold or silver) or embellished open wedges.

To accessorize, feel free to go all out with jewelry such as statement earrings, a sparkly necklace/chain, and a lot of bangles, bracelets, and rings. A pair of statement sunglasses also brings the pop to that simple look, and you can finish it up with a sun hat if it’s too hot. For your belongings, carry a tote handbag or a sling bag to keep things casual.

3.  Belt Up

Another look I like for a shirt over a maxi dress is to wear a belt over the shirt. This style strikes that balance between semi-formal and casual, so it’s very ideal for church, wedding, or outdoor meetings.

To make it work for you,

  •  Choose a structured, well-fitting, and bright-colored shirt to wear over the dress.
  • Get a wide belt with a statement buckle and tie it on your natural waist or where you feel it looks best.

The belt brings all the attention to your waist and makes it look like you are wearing a shirt and a skirt. It’s a simple way to add structure and formality to an otherwise free-flowing dress.

For this look, you want to keep things semi-casual in terms of shoes and accessories. The ideal shoes here are high heel strappy sandals or open flats.

You should also keep accessories modest by donning a classy watch, dainty earrings, a necklace, and maybe a few rings on your fingers. Since it’s a warm weather look, feel free to wear sunglasses and carry an official tote bag or a clutch bag.

4.  Open Shirt

The last way I like to wear a shirt over a maxi dress is to leave it open. Yes, sometimes the simplest things make the biggest impact. I simply choose a chambray or denim shirt and wear it unbuttoned over a straight-cut maxi dress. My favorite look for this style is matching a blue chambray shirt with a black straight maxi dress and white sneakers. I finish the look with a long necklace and rings on my finger and head out the door.

That said, you can button up the shirt halfway if it gets chilly. Do one or two buttons in the middle just to cover your chest, and it will still look fabulous.

5. Maxi Dress Shirt

I can’t say I have tried this look because I don’t have a maxi shirt dress, but I have seen it on other girls and thought it looked great. To pull it off, your maxi dress shirt has to be as long as the dress or longer because of proportions.

You can just wear the shirt over your maxi and leave it open like that, or do a slim belt on the waist to add structure. It’s an amazing look for a girl’s lunch or brunch, and you can accessorize it with lots of jewelry, flat strappy sandals, and shades.

What kind of shirt can you wear over a maxi dress?

You can pair any structured shirt with a maxi dress for a casual, relaxed look. You can also wear a tee or a maxi dress shirt over a maxi dress and style them to bring structure and texture to the dress.

How can you wear a shirt over a maxi dress?

The simplest way to wear a shirt over a maxi dress is to tie a knot on the waist and make the dress look like a maxi skirt. Be sure to fold up the sleeves, so it looks more stylish. You can also put a belt over the shirt for a more semi-casual look.

Lior Shapiro

I love clothes with pockets and dresses, and I think any woman can pull off a good maxi dress.
I believe women's clothes with pockets make the world a better place.