Pre-Fall 2012 trends: short-sleeve shift dresses

In the interim season of Pre-Fall, the weather can be unpredictable and designers know it. To accommodate a heat wave or chilly overcast days, the short-sleeve shift dress makes for a versatile piece that doesn’t skimp on style. The trans-seasonal shift dress discovered short sleeves and a bit of waist definition for Pre-Fall. Designers went with silhouettes of A-lines or relaxed shifts to create a less flirty option than the also popular fit-and-flare dresses. The emphasis was on structure and strength as the short-sleeve shift dress referenced sporty attire as seen in Proenza Schouler or Givenchy’s equestrian styling with riding boots and full leather gloves. It was made for the power businesswoman – or the stylish with a serious attitude that is anything but girly.

Marc by Marc Jacobs’ Lily lace overlay dress is feminine with almond floral lace. The sweet number is detailed with a soft powdered blush banded trim on the sleeves, neckline and hemline. For a more romantic mood, pair with tan fringed booties. Switch to black footwear and accessories to infuse some edge.

Combining intricate graphics with shift dresses, Mary Katrantzou created a high fashion statement. The digital print features a tableau of crystals, Benoite gemstones and gift boxes to showcase a sense of opulence. Balance the busy print with simple pointed toe black pumps and a classic structured tote bag.

Fendi offers a beautiful staple piece with the Alpaca shift dress. The chic style is classic in a soft grey but finds a progressive edge with neon trim peeking out from the seams and black patent lining the pockets. Try a pair of heeled booties for a polished appeal. On cooler days, layer the dress over opaque tights.

Burberry London’s Lindsay dress merges the timeless style with contemporary cool leather. The interesting combination makes for an effortlessly stylish look. Complete the ensemble with hybrid ankle strap pumps, an oversized slouchy clutch and a slew of bracelets for a fun arm party.


McQ Alexander McQueen’s stretch knit dress in magenta has a cool 3-D effect with braided texture. Fitted at the waist, the shift dress flatters the figure and offers legs for days. Finish the ensemble with sleek ankle boots and silver or gold accessories.

The simplest casual chic dress available, Splendid’s cap sleeve shift dress is almost like wearing an oversized tee, but more stylish. The easy silhouette hugs the body in the right places and has an updated touch with an exposed zipper. Perfect for everyday wear, pair with flat sandals, booties or pumps. The piece makes for a versatile canvas to accessorize or leave plain.

Nanette Lepore’s grand prize knit dress is ready for Fall with a green and black intarsia houndstooth print contrasted against panels of solid black. Mix-metal rings accent the pattern, adding a lux detail. Keep the look casual with flats or pair with knee-high boots to create the look of the season.

In Missoni’s iconic print pattern, this A-line knit dress is accented with felt trim. The print boasts a spectrum of colors, including shades of orange, pink, mauve and neutral. Play up the pale tones with an exciting red platform pump. Add on a mustard yellow handbag for a fun contrast.

Read more Pre-Fall 2012 trends.

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