This Unexpectedly Versatile Linen Shirt Dress, Styled 4 Ways (Ok, But It's Really More Like 9…) (2024)

I’ve long loved a shirtdress. It’s what I’d consider a wardrobe essential, much like a pair of 501s or a good, cotton sweater. There’s something effortlessly cool about it. Elegant. Easy. A veritable Swiss Army Knife of summer style — and truly as travel-friendly a garment as they come.

I’ve been eyeing a few different linen options for a while now, but when I spied this Baird Mcnu*tt Irish Linen Shirtdress at J.Crew, I was instantly intrigued.

dress (XS) | shoes (size down half)

Leave it to J.Crew to convince me I need not justa linen shirtdress but an Irish linen shirtdress when all of five minutes ago I didn’t know Irish linen was even a thing. (Apparently it’s the best, and Baird Mcnu*tt linen, specifically, is the best of the best.)

The price point — considering, after all, the aforementioned pedigree of said linen — was intriguing, too. Less than half the price of the Frank & Eileen number I’ve been eyeing for months, and it’s got a few sweet details I haven’t seen on similar pieces.

There’s soft, feminine gathering at the shoulders and back yoke that’s balanced out by crisp, cuffed sleeves. And then there’s the boxy shape and side seam pockets.

The whole thing feels really intentionally designed to be a great shirtdress, yes, but also something that can work double or triple duty as an overshirt or a coverup all summer long. So I got to playing and, well, the nine(ish) ideas I put together during the babe’s naptime aren’t rocket science but they are proof that this little linen dress has some serious staying power.

Let’s take a look.

A quick note on sizing before we proceed: I’m 5’5″, typically between an XS-S or a 0-2. This Baird Mcnu*tt Irish Linen Shirtdress is intentionally oversized, but even so, it runs a bit large. I’m wearing an XS here; the dress is currently available in sizes XXXS-3X, and petite sizes.

1. J.Crew’s Irish Linen Shirtdress In All Its Simple Glory

We’ve gotta start somewhere — a reference point, if you will — so here’s the Baird Mcnu*tt Irish Linen Shirtdress, straight-up.

dress (XS) | tan sandals (TTS) | similar bag

The quality shines here. Those teensy tuck details at the shoulder and yoke, and the wide cuff at the sleeves (not too short nor too long, by the way) suggest a hint of effort when really I might as well be wearing a nightgown in public. My favorite way to dress.

1A. With a Belt & Flat Sandals

This takes that suggestion of effort up just one more notch. It’s giving 1990s Banana Republic vibes (which is what 2023 Banana Republic vibes are trying real hard to approximate). Easy, and just a little bit smart. (The leather ring belt warrants a shoutout — it’s great with both high- and low-waisted jeans, plus over dresses and chunky cardigans. Under $50, too.)

dress (XS) | tan sandals (TTS) | belt (S)

1B. With Sneakers & A Backpack

My preferred way to style the dress as an actual dress also happens to be the consummate New Mom Outfit: nursing-friendly dress (in a spit-up friendly color, no less…), cool sneakers, and a playful backpack that doubles as a diaper bag. Mine is a very past-season Rebecca Minkoff Julian in tie-dyed denim, but there are so many timeless colors. The whole team can vouch for this style — it’s probably one of the most beloved pieces here on TME.

dress (XS) | shoes (size down half)

2. J.Crew’s Irish Linen Shirtdress As A Cool, Lightweight Overshirt

Obviously as a dress, it’s a total classic. But what’s really lovely about the shape of this particular dress (or rather, lack thereof) is how well it performs as an overshirt of sorts, without looking at all like you’re wearing a dress dress. In fact, I’m fully convinced that, if this dress had any type of darting or a nipped in waist, it just wouldn’t be as cool as a layering piece.

2A. Over Jeans & a Tank

Hi, no-brainer. I wore a version of this in Austin but with silk pants in place of the jeans. It was ideal for keeping the blazing sun off my shoulders on long walks and taking the chill off when we inevitably showed up to air conditioned restaurants damp with sweat. The bucket bag is a fave of mine, even if it is perhaps a little too on-the-nose in this application. (Only somewhat unrelated, Shana’s fave Clare V. Pot de Miel in a funky check would be ideal here — and all summer long.)

dress (XS) | jeans (size down one) | tan sandals (TTS) | bag (pre-owned here)

2B. Over Shorts & a Tee

I love the idea of this looking like a dress from the back but when you turn around, why oh! she’s hiding a pair of tiny cut-off 501s under there! (I missed the team post, but I’ve been wearing these for years, so clearly I’m a fan.)

dress (XS) | tee (S) | 501s (TTS) | sandals (TTS) | crossbody

2C. Over An Airy Jumpsuit

This is my favorite new vacation duo. The key here is that the cotton-blend jumpsuit is as light as (maybe even lighter than) the dress, so they feel really natural together. Laid back enough for shopping and brunch but with just enough sass to take you into date night. The back of the jumpsuit dips low and cinches for a custom fit — so pretty, but I’m glad I had the dress over the top when walking around in the sun for fear of scorching my entire back. (Sizing note if you’re eyeing up the jumpsuit: order your usual size. If I had followed the sizing suggestions, I would have been swimming in the thing.)

dress (XS) | jumpsuit (size 2 — despite recommendations, go with your usual size) | tan sandals (TTS) | bag (pre-owned here)

3. J.Crew’s Irish Linen Shirtdress As A Tunic Length Button-Down With Jeans

Ok, maybe more of a super tunic, is that a thing? I channeled Amy a little bit for this one — she makes everything look so freaking cool — and I’m so glad I did.

dress (XS) | jeans (size down one) | sandals (TTS) | tote bag

In an ideal world, I’d probably opt for a pair of long and slouchy wide-leg jeans to really make this look sing (these Low Rise Stride jeans, specifically), but they were in the wash the day I shot these, so here ya go. I’d still rock it.

4. J.Crew’s Irish Linen Shirtdress As A Swim Coverup

Talk about a summer workhorse. We’re already three ways in (or is it eight?) and we’ve yet to talk about how stellar this little linen dress performs poolside. Lightweight, light colored, dries quickly, and with pockets for stashing sunnies or collecting seashells. Epic.

dress (XS) | swimsuit (S) | tan sandals (TTS)

(By the way, this ruched one-piece swimsuit, while not a maternity number, saw me through my pregnancy with Elle, and I still reach for it when I need something modest but wholly flattering. Would be great for a larger bust, too. Feels a little like a Mom Suit, but sometimes the occasion calls for just such a thing.)

dress (XS) | swimsuit (S) | tan sandals (TTS) | tote bag

Clearly still smitten with this stripey little two-piece, too. Those itty bitty cabana stripes just scream summer, and I love the pop of red and white from under the sandy linen. Sweet little combo that feels unapologetically classic.

Now the real question is: do I need it in the Vivid Begonia?
Happy summer!


p.s. If you’re hunting more great linen dresses, Anne rounded up some of her faves in this post.

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This Unexpectedly Versatile Linen Shirt Dress, Styled 4 Ways (Ok, But It's Really More Like 9…) (2024)
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