Slip dress slidin’ into summer

Slip dress

The slip dress is everywhere this summer, it seems – and we’ve been looking at style, fabric and pattern options for this classic garment that’s turned into this summer’s must-have.

Scroll down for some inspiration – including styling options for the avoidance of wardrobe malfunctions! You can also find out about our vintage-styled slip dress – we’ve been in satin heaven here at ClothSpot this month…

There’s more of everything our SS16 Slip Dress Pinterest board – or skip straight to some fabric options here.

Slip dress as SS16 staple

The resurgence of the shirt dress last year (which still continues, we’re happy to say) was a big step away from the highly-structured, fitted dress silhouettes a la Roland Mouret that we’d seen populate the catwalks for some time. This year many designers have continued their foray into less structured styles – and the slip dress has been a popular means of developing an even more fluid approach to dresses.

Slip dress SS16 composite
Calvin Klein SS16 (L) and YSL SS16 (R)

Lines are simple; there’s a hint of vintage styling with dropped empire-lines but these are offset with metallic fabrics and simply-draped ribbons. Oh – and tiaras are apparently a ‘thing’…

Isn’t this a bit familiar…?

As ever there’s little that’s completely new under the sun. Even these bias-cut 1930s nightgowns were developing a style of dress originally seen in the 1920s. Those in turn were based on the less structured dress styles of the Arts & Crafts movement….and so it goes.


1930s bias-cut gowns - slip dress inspiration

Although these gown styles were probably intended to be nightwear, they echoed the simple, draping lines much beloved by Schiaparelli and Fortuny among others. Fast forward a few decades and we’d become much more used to the notion of ‘underwear as outerwear’. Gaultier’s cone-breasted corset for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour is possibly the most well-known example of this – and it was followed a soon afterwards by Calvin Klein’s slip dresses.

Calvin Klein slip dress SS94
Calvin Klein SS94 collection

It’s obligatory at this point to reference Kate Moss attending a party in 1993 – following which slip dresses became a staple part of many wardrobes for some years.

Kate Moss in slip dress 1993
Kate Moss parties in a slip dress, 1993

Mostly the high street adaptations of this style were opaque and a little more practical – but the simplicity of the bias cut, spaghetti straps and fluid fabrics were common themes.

I’d love to, but…

Of course that picture of Kate is a scary notion (sorry!) for most of us trying to adapt a style for our purposes – and our real bodies. Hold tight though! We’d like to convince you that the spirit of the slip dress goes way beyond that – and that there are options which don’t require you to put everything on display.

Even in 1994, Winona Ryder (with a very different body type to La Moss) demonstrated the practical solution of layering a flimsy slip dress over a more structured, supportive underlayer.

Winona Ryder slip dress 1994
Winona Ryder layers her slip dress in 1994

Another option is to take the delicacy of lace and the styling of an undergarment and build the structure into it, as Elizabeth Taylor demonstrates here…

Elizabeth Taylor slip dress
Elizabeth Taylor in a slip dress in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

In his SS16 collection, Calvin Klein shows how slip dress styling doesn’t have to be a dress at all. These flowing layers are styled as a trouser, there’s a high neckline and a print pattern breaks up the silhouette – yet there’s still a sense of elegant lingerie here.

Calvin Klein slip dress in layers SS16
Calvin Klein’s alternative approach to the slip dress, SS16

We rather like the approach which Cos has taken here. The front of this silk slip dress is fairly modest and easy to wear – with cool spaghetti straps showing off the model’s back and shoulders.

Cos silk slip dress composite
Cos slip dress alternative, 2016

Alternatively you can take an individual approach to styling your slip dress. Layering over less flimsy garments is quite the thing this season – you can see here how a slip dress has been draped over a fitted t-shirt or even a semi-fitted plain white shirt. And of course there’s always the ‘cosy cardigan’ option which is a favourite of ours. Flash a shoulder, a hint of decolletage – and give a hint of satin seduction beneath that safety-layer.

Slip dress styling options
Style your slip dress according to personal taste and individual comfort levels


Slip dress fabrics

We’ve gathered together a selection of our fabrics which we think would be just perfect as a slip dress. Satins, draping cupro fabrics, crepe de chines and even viscose linings – all of these will billow and drape to your heart’s desire – just click here to take a look.

Slip dress fabric composite
Have a riffle through our slip dress fabric suggestions!


Slip dress patterns

We’ve done the leg work (click-work?) for you and found a delicious selection of slip dress patterns for you to consider. Don’t forget you can find these and more on our SS16 Slip dress Pinterest board.

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi pattern used for slip dress
Tilly & the Buttons ‘Fifi’ Pyjamas

This is the pattern we adapted (simply by lengthening the top) for our slip dress – scroll down to see more of that. Cut on the bias, it drapes beautifully and was easy to make.

Colette slip dress patterns composite
Three slip dress designs by Colette Patterns – (L-R) ‘Lisbon’, ‘Cinnamon’ and ‘Oolong’.

These three Colette patterns all offer a take on the slip dress. We know that the ‘Oolong’ dress isn’t really a slip dress as such but we love the sleeves and delicate ruching and like the Calvin Klein SS16 catwalk variation above, it carries that ‘essence of lingerie’ despite its differences.

Elizabeth Gown by Named Clothing slip dress option
The ‘Elizabeth Gown’ by Named Clothing

The ‘Elizabeth Gown’ by Named Clothing is an elegant ‘occasion-wear’ version of the slip dress. We haven’t used it but we’d love to hear if you have a go!

BurdaStyle slip dress patterns composite
Three patterns by BurdaStyle – (L-R) Lace slip dress, Satin/chiffon slip dress, Simple slip dress

These three BurdaStyle patterns are all fabulous slip dress options. They include the more ‘grown-up’ Satin/chiffon slip dress as well as a classic simple Slip Dress design. We like the idea that the Lace slip dress design could be made up in cotton for a very easy-to-make solution.

Our slip dress

We created a simple, 30s-inspired slip dress from our Vintage-draping peachy pink satin fabric. We used the camisole top from the ‘Fifi Pyjamas’ pattern by Tilly and the Buttons as we especially liked the gathering of the bra cups into the dropped empire line. We also thought the bias cut would suit our delicious satin perfectly – and we weren’t disappointed. We lengthened it to mid-calf and used a commercial satin bias binding for the straps. We cut to a Size 4 on the Tilly pattern sizing – approximately a 12 – and with those adaptations we used 2.5m of our 150cm-wide fabric.

Slip dress on mannequin
Our simple slip dress

We styled our slip dress with a wrap made simply by cutting a length of our Vintage-creased cream stretch lace fabric. It’s a frothy fabric which we felt was the perfect complement to our very simple satin dress design.

ClothSpot slip dress front angle

ClothSpot slip dress full length side

ClothSpot slip dress back
Thank you to the delightful and patient Fiona for acting as our lovely model for the morning. Fiona’s yet another of ClothSpot’s wonderful friends – we let her finish her coffee then took her off her usual perch in the workroom and put her to work!

If you’re going to try a slip dress then do let us know how you get on! We love seeing your makes and it’s always exciting and educative to see how you combine your fabrics and incorporate them into your personal style.


















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