How to style a silk slip dress

The silk slip dress is one of the few items that's managed to achieve staple status in recent years. The mark of a true capsule piece is not just in its timeless appeal, but the ability to be dressed up and down effortlessly. Versatility is everything.

Back in the Nineties, when designers like Calvin Klein and Narciso Rodriguez introduced us to this 'underwear-as-outerwear' trend, it was seen as a risqué evening look – and most definitely not daywear. Things have since changed: in an increasingly informal society, the boundaries between eveningwear and casualwear are blurring.

By ridding your wardrobe of its 'day' and 'night' limitations, you can get more experimental with weekend looks and shop more sustainably. And the silk slip dress epitomes this kind of fluid styling: cut from lustrous bias-cut fabric and strung from slender spaghetti straps, it has a louche elegance that's both sexy and grungy all at the same time. Depending on what you style it with, of course.

As a minimalist and flirty garment, a silk slip dress is a timeless piece versatile enough in the silk slip dress to wear for a more dressy occasion or street style looks. Learn how to style a silk slip dress year-round with these tips.

What is a silk slip dress?

A silk slip dress is a lightweight dress with spaghetti straps that resembles a slip, an undergarment worn under dresses as an extra layer. Sewn in luxe silk fabrics, silk slip dresses feature a low-cut neckline, like a V-neck or square neck, and vary in length, from short minidresses to long dresses that fall at the ankle. The best silk slip dresses feature a bias cut, a technique used by clothing makers to cut the fabric at a diagonal angle across the weave to give the material more softness and elasticity.

How to wear a silk slip dress

While it’s an obvious choice for a summer holiday or a more formal event due to its slinky, shimmery material, the silk slip dress is much more versatile than that. These are the key wardrobe essentials that will help you style a silk slip dress and transform your look. 

1. How to style a silk slip dress on its own

Worn alone, the silk slip dress is the perfect evening dress, whether you're wondering what to wear on a first date or to a wedding, it's an integral silhouette of any capsule wardrobe. Add a killer pair of designer heels - courts or strappy sandals work well - and a swipe of bright lipstick and you’re ready to go! 

For a more casual look, you can team it with one of the big shoe trends in 2022 - a sporty sandal, or even a pair of trainers.

2. How to style a silk slip dress with a blazer

One of the enduring fashion trends 2022 has brought to the fore is an oversized blazer, which is ideal when learning how to style a silk slip dress. The androgynous shaping of a blazer contrasts nicely with the feminine silhouette of the dress. While silk slip dresses are often midi length, a shorter silk slip dress looks great with a blazer of the same length - giving it an almost overcoat feel. 

If you're still working out how to style a blazer, you can keep your look tonal for a chic look or toughen it up with a black blazer and boots for a directional, pure grunge aesthetic. Utilizing a blazer is an easy way to create a more formal look with a silk slip dress and is also great if you’re conscious about your arms or bottom. If, however, you want to flaunt your waist and legs, choose a cropped jacket for a modern take on the look.

3. How to style a silk slip dress with a T-shirt

A style classic, one again referencing fashion's current favorite era, a silk slip dress over a tee is '90s nostalgia through and through.

This time around however, it’s more glamour and less grunge. The key is to choose a slim-fitting t-shirt that won’t show too much under the silk slip dress. While you can’t go wrong with a black slip and white t-shirt, mixing and matching colors gives it a modern, fresh feel. Alternatively, a striped Breton top or graphic t-shirt will give an added edge to your ensemble. Just add your best white trainers or best Chelsea boots and you’re good to go!

A style tip: Hourglass body shapes or rectangular body shapes can add a belt to emphasize the waist or create one. Choose a statement-buckle design to give it a modern edge.

4. How to style a silk slip dress with a cardigan or hoodie

Need some added warmth? Layer up with a chunky knit or hoodie over your silk slip dress to banish those cold-weather blues. For the transitional months, this is a great way to get more wear out of your silk slip dress- a great brunch outfit idea. Add some chunky boots with your best sweater or some dad trainers with your best hoodie and you’ve got an outfit made for running errands. A lightweight, retro-waisted knitted cardigan over a pastel silk slip dress also makes for a pretty outfit if you're looking for an added layer over the best wedding guest dresses.

A style tip: Keep your silk slip dress going into cooler months with clever layering. Wear your silk slip dress over a t-shirt, add a cardigan and (if needed) finish with a classic trench coat. This will ensure you keep stylish, without compromising on comfort. 

5. How to style a silk slip dress with a shirt

Trying to work out how to style a silk slip dress for the office? Slide your best shirt underneath it, to instantly smarten up your look - just ensure you choose a slim-fitting shirt or a shirt body to ensure there’s no rumpled fabric ruining the line of your dress. 

For a more casual look, you can team your silk slip dress with an oversized shirt, wearing it over the top of your dress and knotting it at the front. 

If you really want to make a style statement, combine two dresses to create a whole new look. Similar to silk slip dresses, shirt dresses are wildly versatile, and when it comes to how to wear a shirt dress, the variations are endless. Choose one of your best shirt dresses, and pop it on over a silk slip dress, leaving it undone like a jacket. You can give it more definition by adding a belt or on-trend belt bag, cinching both layers, or just the silk slip dress underneath.

6. How to style a silk slip dress with a sweater

When does a silk slip dress become a skirt? When you team it with a great sweater of course. Choose a chunky knit - roll necks work really well - to contrast with a silky silk slip dress. This look adds huge amounts of versatility to your silk slip dress transforming it into a skirt that you can wear over and over with multiple knits.

Feeling hot? Tie it over your shoulders Parisian style or around your waist for a preppy finish. This look also pairs well with a graphic sweatshirt for a more casual feel. 

If you have a thinner jumper or polo neck, try wearing it under the silk slip dress in the same way you would a t-shirt to maintain the dress's silhouette.

A style tip: To make this look super luxe, keep everything in neutral shades and choose sensual fabrics such as silk for the dress, teaming it with your best cashmere sweater and suede boots.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are silk slip dresses in style 2022?
  2. Yes, silk slip dresses are still in style in 2022. People are wearing them with all sorts of accessories and clothes in 2022so don’t worry about them being in style just wear a silk slip dress if you want to.
  3. Are silk slip dresses formal?
  4. Yes and no. However, silk slip dresses are mostly formal because of their material and their looks they appear formal. Most of the time people also only wear slip-dresses formally but it is up to the person how they want to wear their dress. If someone wants to wear a big sweater on top of a silk slip dress and top it off with sneakers then it will be a casual look but if they wear a dress with heels and an overcoat it will be formal. It is up to the person’s preference.
  5. Why is a silk dress so soft?

The smooth, soft feel is one of the most appealing qualities of the fabric. It is a strong natural fiber and very comfortable, making it a great choice for dresses.

This silkiness comes from a specific part of the manufacturing process. When sericin is removed from its fiber, the silk becomes softer. This step is called degumming. If the fabric is not degummed, it has a coarser feel to it.

  1. How to wear silk slip dresses in winter?
  2. There are lots of ways to wear silk slip dresses in the winter. The best way is to wear a big chunky knitted sweater on top of a silk slip dress and pair it with chunky boots. Another way would be to wear a dress with an overcoat and then you can also wear a black silk slip dress with a leather jacket. This outfit includes a lot of outfits that will tell you how to wear a silk slip dress in the wintertime.
  3. How long will silk last?

When treated well, the fabric can last more than 10 years. That makes it a great investment for clothing. Being able to wear these pieces over the years saves you from continually buying cheaper, less-well-made pieces that only last a season or two.

If it’s a favorite item in your wardrobe, that’s great to hear that it is made to last! You might even be able to pass down a nice silk piece to your child. That makes it even more special.