Shift dress

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The American TV presenter Campbell Brown poses in a shift dress.

The sheath dress ( english sheath dress ) was in the 1930s and 1960s as a particularly fashionable. The forerunner is the princess dress of the middle 19th century. In the 21st century, the shift dress is considered timeless, business-appropriate and is a classic part of the upscale women's wardrobe. The shift dress is sometimes confused with the shift dress , which is cut wider around the waist and hips .


The hallmark of the shift dress is its tight, figure-hugging fit, which is nonetheless cut without a horizontal waist seam (waist separation). The shift dress has a collarless, mostly horizontal neckline. Round and tapered necklines are also common. The shift dress is worn sleeveless or with very short sleeves ( ball sleeves ). Shift dresses usually reach down to the knee, but slightly longer and shorter versions (mini shift dress) are possible.

The name is derived from the French case (for sheath), which gives an indication of the shape.

The shift dress became famous in the 1960s, especially through prominent wearers such as Jacqueline Kennedy , Édith Piaf and Audrey Hepburn, and now through the former American first lady, Michelle Obama . Due to the simple, no-frills cut and the basically missing or very economical decoration, it is considered noble and particularly elegant. Today it can easily be worn as an evening dress , cocktail dress or business wear , similar to the little black dress to which it is related due to its simple cut .


  • Claudia Piras, Bernhard Roetzel: The Lady. Handbook of classic women's fashion . Nebel, Eggolsheim 2004, ISBN 3-89555-193-7 .
  • Genviève Dariaux: A Guide to Elegance. For every woman who wants to be well and properly dressed on all occasions . Morrow, New York 2004, ISBN 0-06-075734-5 (original edition 1964).
  • Amy Holman Edelman: The Little Black One . Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-423-36212-X (English: The little black dress . Translated by Henriette Zeltner).

Individual evidence

  1. Suzanne D'Amato: Style Vocab: Shift vs. Sheath - And More. In: The Washington Post. February 10, 2008, accessed April 27, 2014 .