That Time I Styled Up A White Shirt Dress 7 Different Ways

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UPDATE: Madewell’s White Courier Shirtdress featured in this post was restocked in all sizes as of 6/13/19. Yay!

A couple of months ago, feeling like I was in a major rut with my wardrobe, I challenged myself to wear a different dress every day for a week. (Truth be told, I was real deep into a Marie Kondo-inspired purge, and the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to part with dozens of dresses I never wore kinda forced the situation.) At the end of the week, I was so impressed by the versatility of all my dresses. With sneakers or a flannel shirt tied around my waist, they were perfectly appropriate for everyday — even the quirky, more formal dresses that I was always “saving” for just the right time. You’d be surprised by how much mileage you can get outta something with a little styling.

Which brings me to today’s post! A little different concept, but similar in its intent: one single wardrobe staple styled for seven different days. Go figure that the white Madewell Courier Shirtdress that I styled for the week sold out between when I ordered the dress and when I snapped the last photos (d’oh!), but I’ve got loads of comparable white shirtdresses linked up below if you want to add the same versatility to your closet.

The Versatile White Shirtdress

White is always tricky for me because I’m *so* prone to stains. I blame half of it on my line of work (I spend quite a few hours in the kitchen) and half of it on parenting, but I know plenty of moms who do what I do and they can manage themselves just fine, so maybe I’m just…uh…klutzy? Anyway, all that is to say, I don’t own many pure white articles of clothing, which is why, when I tried this one on, it immediately looked cooler and crisper than anything else I own.

I got lucky because I ordered this dress online, and it totally delivered: not too sheer with a flattering sleeve length and a versatile shape. But since, as I mentioned above, this particular style is sold out, I’ve rounded up a few alternatives below.

(Updated 6/13/19: If you love this exact Madewell dress, it’s now restocked on the Madewell website! It’s also available here in an XXS NWT, here in an XXS used and here in an XS used, which is the size I’m wearing.)

How to Style 1 Dress 7 Different Ways

I panicked a little when I first put this dress on because 1) it was a little more sheer than I expected — I know, duh, but remember: Mrs. Doesn’t Wear White, here — and 2) it required I break out the iron. And you guys — I do. not. iron. Like, ever. But a quick pressing was actually kinda therapeutic (there’s something super-satisfying about the hiss of the iron). In the name of transparency, I didn’t wear this dress for a full seven consecutive days. I imagine if I had that it would need to be refreshed in the dryer if not quickly pressed a couple more times. (Ugh.) Oh, and thankfully, with a nude bra and undies, there was zero issue with coverage. 

Also, I’m going to apologize in advance for the fact that so many of my accessories are either vintage (thanks, Mom!) or thrifted (thanks, Mom!) or just totally ancient due to my genetic tendency to hang onto things for a good long while (thanks, Mom!). No worries, though — I’ve linked up similar pieces (or at least pieces that I feel would make the same general statement) for each and every item. 

OK, on with the show!

Day 1: Subtly Boho

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Necklace (Old – this one would have a similar effect) // Belt (Similar) // Wedges (Similar vibe)

I knew I wanted an excuse to wear this necklace with this dress even before the dress arrived on my doorstep. I think any big, statement-y bib-style necklace would have been cool, too. (Turquoise maybe?) Kept the rest of the outfit super-simple to let the dress and the jewelry do their thing.

Day 2: 90’s Chic

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Earrings (Similar) // Vest (Similar) // Flannel (Similar or Exact (Used XS)) // Vans

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Earrings (Similar) // Vest (Similar) // Flannel (Similar or Exact (Used XS)) //Leopard Booties

This outfit and the outfit below are probably the most “me” interpretations of all seven days. Kicks, flannel, denim — no one would bat an eye at the playground if I walked up wearing this. If we were running errands or grabbing lunch out, the leopard chelsea boots are a fun swap and still super-comfy. Zero break-in period for those guys (and amazingly, they’re a recent buy, so they’re actually available).

Day 3: Preppy Minimalist

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Earrings (Similar) // Cuff (Similar) // Adidas // Backpack (Similar)

This is the outfit that convinced me just how good this dress can be. ZERO frills. So easy. If you’ve ever wanted to have your own Risky Business moment — but, like, in a way that is totally appropriate for a public setting — this is your ticket. Side note: my Stan Smiths are actually unisex kids’ size 6 (I usually wear a women’s 8) — the easiest way to save on sneakers if you wear up to a size 9(ish)!

Day 4: Summer Stripes

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Sweater (Old – similar here in a different color) // Rattan Bag // Wedges (Similar)

This is admittedly a little more country clubby than I’m used to, but I am LOVING that new rattan bag ($30 on Amazon!) and the whole thing feels kinda preschool-Moms-who-lunch, which I guess I’m OK with. I paired it with some super-classic camel pumps, too, which is definitely how I would have rocked it during my 9-5 days.

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Sweater (Old – similar here in a different color) // Rattan Bag // Camel Pumps (Nearly Identical) // Wedges (Similar)

Day 5: Funky Casual

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.Earrings (Similar) // Sweater (Similar) // Belt (Old – slightly different style, equally versatile) // Leopard Booties

A cool wide belt, an easy cardigan and those boots again make this version unexpectedly chic, but still just edgy enough, and super-comfy. I snagged a pic without the belt, too, which I don’t hate, but the belted version definitely ups the drama. Thoughts?

Day 6: All-American

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Earrings (Similar) // Trucker Jacket // Platform Huaraches

Can’t stop won’t stop wearing these platform huaraches — they’re SO comfy, and they’re one of the first pairs of heels I’ve bought since being a mom that are something I actually would have worn pre-Lana. Little victories, guys. This Levi’s trucker jacket, too, is as versatile as it looks — and under $50! Oversized and slouchy but still somehow flattering and, dare I say, sexy.

Day 7: Safari Prep

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Straw Fedora (Similar) // Belt (Similar) // Shoes (Similar or Exact in Size 10 or Size 11)

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Earrings (Old, but I have these, too, and they have a similar feel) // Jacket (Similar or Exact (Used XS))

Here we are again, very nearly where we started on Day 1. Simple, classic but with more delicate jewelry. (And a fedora. How do we feel about that?) Also, I know you’re thinking I’m a tool who doesn’t put my arms in armholes, so I need to go on the record saying that while I genuinely prefer the *look* of jackets worn over the shoulders, in most practical applications — yeah, my arms go where they should.

Bonus! Pops of Red

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

Earrings (not exactly similar but so pretty — the whole Etsy shop has amazing seed bead earrings at a great price!) // Cuff (Similar) // Belt (Old – slightly different style, equally versatile) // Red Clogs (note: runs small)

These fun red MIA clogs came in just as I was drafting this post (thanks to Linzi for the inspo!), so I snapped a couple of pics. At first take, the red clogs + white shirtdress feels a little nurse-y to me, but with the Native American beaded earrings, the sterling silver cuff and the aged hardware in the belt, I thought we might be able to get away with a vintage-Americana vibe. (Is it working?) These clogs, by the way, are so comfy for a clog with a true wooden sole (read: zero padding). I’m sure it’s not the last you’ll see of them.

Shop All the Pieces Mentioned In This Post

So there you have it! Seven ways to wear one incredibly versatile dress. Did you have a fave? And tell me —  do you have a single garment you love that you’d rock for a week straight? Lord knows I could use another timeless piece to hang onto for all of eternity. 🙂

xo!
Em

Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!

This one’s for the pinners!

The key to your minimalist capsule wardrobe? 1 dress to wear multiple ways. This white shirtdress from Madewell does the trick. Styling it 7 ways here.

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Emily, aka The Pig & Quill, is here to talk all things food with some personal style mixed in. Inspired by her life on California's Northern Coast, she's eager to share real, accessible recipes that your kids will actually eat. Basically, she's magic.

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11 Comments

  1. Yay, I love this concept! I’ve been trying to be a lot more intentional about what I buy, and knowing that a piece can be really versatile as you show here is a great filter through which to consider the wish list. Would love to see more like this!

    • Emily Stoffel on

      Oh, yay! Thanks Carrie! I’m in the same boat — I’ll never be able to truly commit to a capsule wardrobe, but I’m trying to invest in more quality pieces that have timeless appeal. Glad you liked it!

  2. I love all of these! You look great and I love the accessories and styling. Can you fix the link to the belt in “Bonus pops of red”? It’s going to the denim vest…Thanks!

  3. I absolutely LOVE that you include links to used pieces. This is such a fantastic idea and I’ve never seen it before on a fashion blog that’s not specifically about no-waste/sustainable fashion. Thank you SO much for doing this, Would be great if this was the practice site-wide.

    • Emily Stoffel on

      I’m so glad, Ellie! I know I’m always frustrated when I see something I love that’s an older style and I can’t get my hands on the *exact* thing, so I figured if it exists used somewhere, I might as well let you know! (As a thrifter a lot of my recent finds aren’t really recent at all, lol.) And YES — of course there is a major sustainability advantage to buying used — and so many good resources for doing so, so why not!?

  4. This is great, thanks. Good tip about kids sizes for the Stan Smiths. Would love to see more wide belt recommendations – I have some dresses that need one and I’m looking for options

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