Three Ways: How to Style a Sleeveless Dress

Feb 1, 2016

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Dress: J.Crew Faux Leather Sheath ($168)

While I prefer dresses with sleeves, they are difficult to find.  But since we don’t all have FLOTUS’s arms or work in offices where bare arms are okay, we need to learn how to style sleeveless dresses.

This J.Crew dress has a nice look to it; the leather accent is a nice touch.  My favorite sleeveless dress on the market right now is this blush-colored Ann Taylor sheath.  This bright green Black Halo dress also caught my eye.  And if you still need a basic black dress, try this $79 Tahari v-neck dress.

Plus-size?  I love this white dress from Spenser.  Petite?  Try this Alyx boatneck sheath.

Upper Left, Jacket: Theory Braneve PeplumBlazer ($525) // Bag: Matt & Nat Tia Satchel ($168) // Brooches: North Star Brooch Set ($42)

A sheath dress is the perfect foundation for a peplum blazer.  This Theory jacket is a fabulous option.  If you need something more affordable, H&M has a gorgeous dark grey jacket.  I also like this ivory peplum jacket from Off5th.

Pins and brooches are hot right now.  I love the look of these brooches from Baublebar.  I also like this Glitter Eye brooch and this Bling jewelry pearl brooch.  A brooch is a great way to add sparkle and color to your outfit.

Right, Sweater: Line Barclay Sweater ($119) // Belt: B-Low Ribbon Belt ($98) // Shoes: Sam Edelman Kourtney Bootie ($89)

A chunky sweater is a nice contrast to a sleek sheath.  I love this midnight navy cardigan as a complement to the black and ivory dress.  Thins grey oversized cocoon cardigan and this Mango cardigan comes in several lovely colors for an affordable $60.

To complete the look, I chose a sleek statement belt and a pair of booties.  If you’re looking for a wider belt, this WHBM double buckle belt is a great choice.  I also like this Pieces round buckle belt for $18.

Lower Left, Top: Preen Nita Blouse ($735) // Shoes: Vince Camuto Nihal Pump ($70) // Earrings: Kadin Ear Crawlers ($85)

Wearing a blouse under the sleeveless dress is a great way to cover up if it’s done right.  The blouse needs to be in a light material because a heavy one will look bulky or matronly.  This graphic printed Preen blouse   has the same base color palette as the dress with some additional pops of color.

This petite floral blouse from Wallis is also a nice choice.  This 1 State floral chiffon blouse in shades of blue is also nice.  For something short sleeve, this melted tweed blouse from The Kooples is great.  I also like this geo-print placket blouse.

If you’re wearing a cool printed blouse, you need equally chic earrings.  I thought these Elizabeth and James ear crawlers were a nice choice.  For something more affordable, I recommend these Open Space Greeley ear crawlers.

Three Ways

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  1. LL2727 says:

    As a typical sized woman with an intense pear shape, I’ve always struggled with sheath dresses. To get them to fit my, ehem, lady parts, I’ve always had to go up at least 2-3 sizes to the point where extreme tailoring would have to occur to get a normal look around my waist. I had all but resigned myself to a-line dresses.

    But, based on Belle’s recommendation of m.m.lafleur, I ordered one of their bento boxes and received a Lydia, which looks like a boring sheath dress from the website. However, this might as well be the holy grail of sheath dresses for curvy ladies imo. The dress is stretchy (but not obscenely) and fits perfectly in the waist AND hips. It also doesn’t stretch out or wrinkle. It’s a bit more expensive than my normal dresses (around $200), but it’s completely worth it. I have it in black and great and couldn’t recommend it more.

  2. Shannon says:

    Belle, these are great pairings and exactly what I needed. However, if you go with the blouse-under-the-dress option, how do you style the blouse if it’s a button-down? Since the neckline of the dress is quite high, won’t that interfere with the “two button” rule or the pussybow if left untied?

    • Belle says:

      Depends on which style of blouse you choose. I would try the dress on with a few options to see which you like best. And I would probably tie the bow for this look.

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