On Dress Length

Here at Wear the Shift, we offer 2 lengths: mid-thigh and just above the knee. How do you decide which to order? There are a few things to keep in mind.

Kelly and I are both tall with long legs, so we have a slight bias toward the mini length. But even for us almost 6-footers, there are circumstances where the longer length works better. So let me go through the factors that seem to be involved in length as it relates to the cuteness of the dress.

Most important is where the fabric falls on the scale between stiff and drapey.

• Structured fabrics will look cuter as minis 90% of the time, because they hold their own shape rather than draping against the skin. In these materials, the shift's stylized shape looks awesome as a mini, but can get schlumpy in knee length. (This also depends on the print of the fabric -- see below.)

• Drapey fabrics fall from the shape of your body rather than holding their own shape. So these can work in either length.

• There are fabrics that manage to be both structured and drapey -- like our Rosie dresses, or some of the mid- and heavy-weight double knit polys. I wouldn't call them stiff, but they hold a bit of shape and also fall nicely.

Your build has a lot to do with it, too.

• Apple shaped folks with legs and boobs for days, just go for the short length in a structured fabric and thank me later. (Space Mum! Aloha! Sunny Garden Twill!)

• Pear shaped folks, or anyone who wants to belt the dress, choose something described as drapey and go knee-length. (Something like Once Upon a Fairy Tale, Frequency, or Manana)  It's hard to belt a stiff fabric and you lose a bit of length.

• Folks who want a knee-length dress for other reasons, make sure you choose a nice drapey fabric.

And you have to consider the print of the fabric.

• In general, a bigger and/or wilder pattern looks cuter as a short dress. This is because if your entire body down to the knees is covered with something crazy, it can look kind of crazy! Keeping it short breaks up the pattern so it can be lovely instead of overwhelming to your figure.

• If you are a wide person and you are choosing a horizontal-feeling pattern, I recommend going with the longer length to keep the proportions balanced. I never go for knee-length except in the dress pictured above, because I didn't want the dress to seem wider than it was tall!

There is a lot that goes into deciding on your fabric, and your length, and some of it is hard to decipher through a computer. For that reason, we are going to start recommending a length for each fabric. Override our guidelines at your peril!

No, really, we just want you to have lots of information so you can get the cutest shift possible. And we're always happy to answer any questions you have about any particular fabric.

I should also mention that sometimes we don't have enough of a fabric to make it go all the way to the knee. We'll continue to do our best to include this info in the description so that you get a shift that fits and covers your legs the way you want.