As a millennial, I can actually remember a time when slips were worn underneath dresses. They weren't meant to be fashionable — they were functional, worn like an insurance policy so dresses (or skirts) made from clingy materials could hang properly. Slips were also worn under sheer garments for coverage, or like shapewear to create a smoother look. Then, there were slips that were considered lingerie — the star of the show only behind closed doors.
But at some point in the 1990s, women really began experimenting with how to style a slip dress, realizing that the piece could even work as an outfit on its own. It-girls all around Hollywood were spotted wearing slip dresses everywhere, both for a red carpet event or a night out with friends. You might even say it ladies like Wynona Ryder, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, and Iman paved the way for the slip dress, in all its forms, to become more mainstream — not to mention a closet staple that's flowed in and out of the limelight since.
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Cut to spring 2022, and slip dresses are forecasted to be yet another iconic '90s trend making a comeback this season. It's easy, cute, and continues to be celebrity-approved. For example, remember back in July of 2021, when Rihanna stepped out in a lacy black slip dress for a night in New York City? Weeks later, actress Laura Harrier wore a satin, cream-colored slip to Jennifer Klein's Day of Indulgence party, and more recently, Bella Hadid proved the simple piece was a must-have, posing in a Michael Kors option in Miami.
However, slip dresses don't have to be exclusive to your spring-summer attire. The garment has even proven itself an ideal piece for layering over long-sleeved shirts, so if temperatures are still chilly where you reside, you might want to consider adding one (or five) to your transitional wardrobe while you wait for temperatures to drop. Read on for inspiration on how to wear a slip dress now and in the weeks to come.
Layer, Layer, Layer
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Celebrity stylist Andrew Gelwicks wants you to know there's a lot you can do with a slip dress between the winter and spring seasons, and fellow stylist Tanya Tamburin agrees. The key, they say, is to layer — a lot and often, in a myriad of ways.
"In the winter months don't be afraid to pile on the layers – chunky knits, hooded sweatshirts, tailored blazers, and chic overcoats on top, and thin long-sleeved tops and tights layered underneath," Tamburin tells InStyle. "To begin the transition from winter to spring," she adds, "simply swap those heavier pieces for lighter knits, flannels, denim and leather jackets and basic t-shirts or band tees layered underneath."
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Slip dresses are soft, feminine pieces, so if you're looking to add contrast to your look, incorporate hard, gritty elements, like military boots or an oversized leather blazer. According to celebrity stylist Tiffany Briseno, the combination will feel "balanced and interesting," and can be executed through accessories, too.
"For example, a pearl choker with a silver punk chain will tie in the entire narrative [and] round out your look," she says.
Make It Athleisure
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Attention athleisure fans: Tamburin says a slip dress can absolutely work for your aesthetic, too. Simply start with a lace-trimmed slip dress, as Tamburin suggests, then add your coziest hoodie, a puffer coat, and pair of sneakers or moto boots "for an effortlessly chic, cool-girl look."
Go 90s Grunge
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Slip dresses as stand-alone outfits was a concept born and bred in the '90s. Pay homage to its era of origin by pairing a pastel slip with a substantial leather jacket to give the item "just the right amount of edge," say Tamburin. For even more grungy contrast, she tells InStyle a super-opaque pair of black tights combined with white heels or moto boots will do the trick. Then, once spring rolls around, swap the leather for a flannel.
"Button it up if it's cooler outside and when you get warm tie it around the waist," the stylist adds. "Pair with black leather ankle boots in place of the moto."
Keep It Office-Appropriate
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If you're headed back to the office this spring, Tamburin suggests pairing your favorite slip dress with an oversized blazer and motto boots for a trendy ensemble that's also appropriate for the workplace. "The boots will give the dress an edgy vibe while the blazer will keep you looking professional and polished," Tamburin says.
Opt for Sneakers Over Heels
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Sneakers and dresses are a pairing this writer fully supports, as does CEO and co-founder of Caitlin Jaymes Organizing & Styling Caitlin Jaymes. To make it work, Jaymes tells InStyle "opt for a dress with a slit [to] allow more movement in the dress, so it doesn't get stuck to your hips and thighs. The slit will also add a feminine touch to balance out the masculine style of the sneaker.".
Enhance With Accessories
According to Jaymes, slip dresses are one of the pieces to dress up for an event, since they're typically made of shiny satin, giving them a dressy feel. To spruce up the look even more, just add accessories. Jaymes tells InStyle, "add on layered necklaces, bracelets, statement earrings, a fun ring, and a great pair of heels and you're ready."
Add an Oversized Sweater
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While the weather is still cool, CEO and creative director of Ramy Brook, Ramy Brook Sharp says one way to style a slip dress is to pair a mid-length hem with an oversized sweater, giving the illusion that you're wearing a midi skirt.
"Take a belt and wrap around the smallest part of your waist and then billow out the sweater over top to create a "tucked in" look," Brook tells InStyle. The more the better when it comes to bracelets and rings, she adds, but skip the necklace as the heaviness of the sweater will be enough. Lastly, for shoes, Brook says great knee-high boots are a given, but opt for a short bootie, "preferably with a pointed toe" to mix things up.
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… but not in a way you'd expect. Because slip dresses can sometimes feel a little straight line, Brook tells InStyle she'll add a belt to emphasize her waist — but "not a typical belt," she says. Instead, Brook recommends using a long necklace (bonus points if it is multi-strand) to clasp around your waist.
"Let the tail of the necklace hang loose and pull toward the front side of your hip," Brook advises. "Then load up on the bracelets and rings and add a cute pair of sneakers. This outfit can work for so many places and to dress it up, all you have to do is change the shoes."
Alternatively, you can layer belts to create a unique look.