Easy Tutorial: Styling a dress as a skirt

Left: H&M; blouse + bag, Hermes belt, J.Crew floral dress, Target shoes. Center & right details here

One of the easiest ways to get more mileage out of dresses is to style them as skirts. I almost passed on this dress due to the limiting strapless cut, but it has since proven it’s versatility and value for $24. I saw SewPetiteGal’s bright outfit with a pencil skirt in this same print, and skipped to my closet to create a similar look.

I like the extra colorful vibe with the emerald green, but also love this dress toned-down with a casual chambray blouse. It’s great for “in-between” occasions where a strapless floral number is too dressy, and a blazer on top is too formal or hot. I also enjoy the comfort of a non-strapless bra when wearing this dress in a converted form.
After this post on signature style, I’ve received numerous requests for a step-by-step on tucking in the blouse. It’s very simple, and I’ve been pointing readers to Elle’s helpful tutorial. Cee is also the master of possibilities with this trick. I made a tutorial here with nothing to add, except that I usually tuck the back of my blouse in under the belt. It looks less natural, but since my blouses are often balloon-y, this helps me tame excess fabric and keep it secured under the belt. This also prevents the blouse and belt from shifting apart in the back…thus revealing the secret of the converted dress.

I “added” this blouse in an alley after snapping photos for a previous post, thus never got to check the end result in a mirror. It should go without saying to make sure you don’t have a gap between blouse and belt as shown below : )

Nail polish below – from Miniluxe, a small chain. Essie Turquoise and Caicos is a similar one I like.
dress_as_a_skirt2 Readers – have you been trying your dresses as skirts? If so, please share some of your favorite combinations!

56 thoughts on “Easy Tutorial: Styling a dress as a skirt

  • Reply Cassidy Short August 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Love the outfit, and the CLUTCH! It's creative and resourceful how you take inexpensive pieces and make them look so chic!



  • Reply Angie August 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    that's a smart way to tuck in – tie it first! i learned something new. kelly green is also great on you

  • Reply Jackie August 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I love how you styled that top! I've never seen it done THAT way before. Thanks for the tip, Jean!

    I have a little black and white, patterned dress that style as a dress, skirt, or blouse. I like to pair it with a white skirt or a purple top.

  • Reply Kimberly August 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I love doing this – works so well and extends your wardrobe even further! Great tutorial!! 🙂


  • Reply phiphis blog August 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    what a great tutorial! i haven't tried a dress as a skirt yet, but you are definitely inspiring me to!! xox P


  • Reply Shamelessly Overdressed August 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I have the same dress from J. Crew! It looks fantastic on you! 🙂 Love these tips… I suddenly see a new world of possibilities opening up in my closet thanks to your tutorial!

    Love, S


  • Reply Babygrl07ss August 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Please let me know where I can get an affordable authentic Chanel bag???

  • Reply Paris B August 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    This is such a great idea! I would love to give it a go and hopefully stretch my wardrobe further. I do wonder though if you have to constantly check to see if the top remains tucked in nicely especially at the back where I'm sure its likely to come untucked quite quickly if there's a lot of sitting/standing and moving around?

  • Reply 24andNeverBeenKissed August 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Thanks for all the great ideas:)!

  • Reply s August 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ thepearshape.com August 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I don't often wear my dresses as skirts but I have been wearing my dresses as shirts quite often. I have found that if I find dresses on major sale (or accidentally order a non-refundable one on gilt…) I can rework it to act as a top under a more ballooney skirt.

    I'm loving the way you tie your shirts and its a great idea to use a silky top rather than a blazer to reduce the heat.


  • Reply Ann August 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Pretttttty Jean 🙂

  • Reply jenn~the stylish housewife August 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    thanks for the tutorial!!! i think i have only done this when belting "over" the shirt or just tying up a blouse…must try adding the belt & tuck trick! i have a similar strapless dress that i'd love to wear another way!

    xoxo, jenn
    the stylish housewife

  • Reply simplybeccablog August 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I love this trick especially over Maxi dresses :). You look beautiful as always Jean, love the vibrant colours on you.

  • Reply Natasha Fatah August 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    You've done it so neatly here. I'll give this a shot tomorrow.

    ~Natasha Fatah~

  • Reply newpetite August 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

    great tutorial! Ive worn dresses as skirt before but never like the tucked in version. Ive left the top hanging loose.

  • Reply Monica Gava August 29, 2012 at 12:11 am

    You look wonderful! Love the green top and the easy tutorial… I sometimes just tuck in my blouse under the belt and it works too. Nice to know another ways…

    Fashion Koketi

  • Reply Anonymous August 29, 2012 at 12:22 am

    which H&M; top is that? What kind of material? and how much was it? its gorgeous!

  • Reply Melissa August 29, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I also did your trick with a chambray strapless dress and green chiffon top. Only difference is that the top isn't a button down. So I used a hair band to keep the bottom tied while tucked underneath. Worked like a charm! I'll do this again 😀

  • Reply Michelle August 29, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Love this emerald color on you! I have not tried this trick yet…but maybe once it cools down! Last spring I did tuck a tunic/dress into a skirt…that was the closest I have gotten to this combo! 🙂

  • Reply Chloe August 29, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Love it! I actually did something similar for work a couple days ago….belted a button-down over a pleated skirt.


  • Reply Jarka H. August 29, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Bettina August 29, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Love how you styled the dress! I always forget to tuck in the back, next time I won't forget 🙂

  • Reply Tan Fionne August 29, 2012 at 4:03 am

    very pretty combination and practical idea!
    do you mind doing ways of wearing a strapless dress with flared hem in the future!

    love your blog. 😀

  • Reply pinksole August 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Very nice tutorial, love it.

  • Reply Panina(nana) August 29, 2012 at 10:23 am

    The print on that dress is already so pretty by itself, very cool to see you add solid colors on top of it. When you said, "skipped to my closet to create a similar look", I actually imagined you skipping to your closet LOL!

    Love your DIY tips, can't wait to see more!

  • Reply Anonymous August 29, 2012 at 10:42 am

    LOVE your DIY stuff!!!!! Wish I had that belt!!!!

  • Reply theglitterlife August 29, 2012 at 10:51 am


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  • Reply everLESTARIng August 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    This is such a great idea! Your sense of fashion and creativity is so inspiring. I LOVE your blog 🙂

  • Reply Justine August 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I love this! Great tutorial 🙂

  • Reply Bára Rektorová August 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Dear Jean,
    you are my fashion icon. Seriously! I love your style. May I ask you about that Hermés belt you´ve been wearing so much lately? I love it and want to save up and get it. I just think it is a perfect accesorie to lift up any outfit.

  • Reply Petite-ish August 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Love all three outfits! I often love the way strapless dresses look on the hanger, but have had trouble getting them to look good on my relatively wide shoulders, so I'm excited to try out the shirt on top look!

  • Reply Kiwi August 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    How cute!
    I really like the top and the belt detail.

  • Reply Yunstation August 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    love the skirt

  • Reply Lubna August 30, 2012 at 4:47 am
  • Reply lapeace August 30, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Thank you so much for your great inspiration!!!

    I love your blog!



  • Reply handegul guldogan August 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I love the way how you turn a dress into an other!!!!

  • Reply Petitetomatoes August 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Awesome tutorial.

  • Reply Princess Martha August 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I haven't tried it but I absolutely love how it looks!!!
    It also helps that you styled it perfectly!!

  • Reply Lloyd Lim @StyleHills August 31, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Very nice!

  • Reply lisacng @ expandng.com August 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I can't wait to try this! Awesome!!!

  • Reply Alissa September 2, 2012 at 10:27 am

    This is awesome! I have a couple of dresses I have worn a lot and I want to reinvent them and this is the perfect way!

  • Reply lovemydog September 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    like the print on the dress! It's busy but not cheap at all. the color scheme is cheerful and happy 🙂 love your hair! can you share how to curl hair at home?

  • Reply Jessica Buurman September 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Wonderful colorful outfit. Look Pretty in this.


  • Reply Karen (littlepiecefnb) September 4, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Thank you for this tutorial…so helpful and smart way to add mileage to dresses!

    A Little Piece of Fashion and Beauty

  • Reply BLPR September 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    great idea the dress looks great on you either way you wear it !

  • Reply Jessica September 7, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Hi, I'm a student and would love your input on a survey on consumer habits and beliefs. Thank you!

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    Oops, here is the link http://rady.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_01ztbPXpkAS9Jlz – Jessica

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  • Reply Anonymous October 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I LOVE doing this (i.e. changing a dress into a skirt)! I've gotten so much mileage out of summer dress that way. It's also a great way of transitioning a summer dress to Fall, even winter. What I do is a take strapless dress (I had a soft pink lace dress) and put a sweater over top of it. Then wear it with tights and heels, or just ankle boots. It's awesome! Great post!

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