Styling a denim midi dress for winter through Spring

You will have noticed that the denim midi dress is everywhere as Spring starts to come around. This try-on is to offer some examples of how to make a full outfit from a long sleeve denim midi dress, as you may be considering purchasing one too.

It’s an ideal transition item from winter to Spring. I’m trying on a style that can be worn with boots or lighter weight footwear such as sneakers.

Denim is quite a heavy, dense cloth so is warm enough for colder days. The shirtdress design means I can add a tee or scarf too.

The basic look of the dress

If you follow these try-ons you’ll know I am short and square, so a midi dress easily drowns me. So I had 6 inches taken off the hem so that the skirt stops just below my knees. I love the look of mid-calf skirts on the tall slim models retailers show but for my shape that’s just a bit too long.

I’m adding some items I happen to have with me (I’m staying in the UK for a while and don’t of course have my full wardrobe with me.)

The scarf is a charity shop find, the larger pink half-moon bag came from a discount store last summer and the smaller designer bag is now 25 years old! It’s been washed several times but I still like to use it to add a different color from my usual palette. If I’d had a pretty pink or gold belt this would have looked better with such a small purse.

But these try-ons are about getting several outfits from one new item and using whatever you have in your closet to complement it.

Add a French accent with navy stripes

As I often live in France much of the year, you won’t be surprized that I’ve added a touch of the French chic style to this easy-to-wear denim dress.

Without these small additions I think the denim midi dress is just too…well…denim. It has a wide skirt and wide puffed sleeves. Under an open coat this all-over look works really well. But on it’s own I think a few small details make the dress more interesting.

Add white tee and cream jacket for Spring

It comes with a denim tie belt but you’ll mainly find people add a leather belt to a shirtdress today, sometimes even in summer.

The wide sleeves can be difficult to accommodate under a cardigan with regular width sleeves. So I’ve styled it with a very casual cotton jacket I bought for my Coastal Grandmother try-on last summer.

The white sneakers echo the white tee and lighten the look for Spring.

Add a casual blazer and crossbody bag when in town

I tried this denim midi dress on with several jackets.

I found a smarter French style navy blazer didn’t look right at all. The wide, structured shoulders were just too heavy-looking with such a wide skirt.

I think this simple casual navy blazer works much better. And with the contrasting cross-body bag it has a smarter look than the very relaxed cream cotton jacket above.

Boots and a tote bag for shopping

I’ve been looking for some tan suede flat boots for ages without success. But I found these inexpensive dark brown suede boots in Next and, although with the buckles, they are a little heavier than I’d wish, I decided to pair them with the denim midi dress.

This is a colder day look – Spring is often cold in the UK – where I’d likely be wearing a coat over this indoor outfit.

A boxy collarless jacket in a contrasting color can add interest

There are definitely some cute collarless jackets (see Boden for example) that would work better. But I bought this jacket a few months ago and I quite like the look. I do keep meaning to change the buttons to something a little less blingy but…I haven’t managed to actually do that yet!

I bought this denim midi dress from my local supermarket – Sainsbury’s. You can buy it online too.

It’s almost identical to one from Marks and Spencer but I tried both on and decided to go for the Sainsbury one. The fabric is less heavy and the waist is smoother – the M&S dress has an elasticated waist that gathers the wide skirt. I prefer this lighter weight fabric as we get towards Spring. Plus it was less expensive.

You can find links to the M&S dress and some others I like here. I’ve added US and UK online retailers. These are affiliate links and I receive a small commission if you click then buy. There’s no extra cost to you but I appreciate your support.

What to read next

This post is part of a set of try-ons: One new item, 5 new outfits:

Style a Gilet

Style a Long Cardigan

Style Cropped Wide Leg Linen Pants

Style a Striped Shirt

Style Wide Cord Pants

If you’re thinking about ideas for outfits for Spring, take a look back at my capsules for the last three years:

My French Chic capsule, Spring 2023

My Spring capsule wardrobe 2022

My Spring capsule wardrobe 2021

10 thoughts on “Styling a denim midi dress for winter through Spring

  1. Thank you Joni for showing the jean dress so popular this year. I just cannot get on board with this because there just seems to be too much heavy material in the skirt. Like you, I am short and overweight and looking back at your posts for last year, i am going to stick to those clothes rather than the jean dress.

  2. Yes the dress could wear the petite size woman. Like your variations. I’ll consider a less voluminous dress with narrower sleeves for Oz autumn. Certainly follow the variations. Thank you.

    1. Hi Cimmie. As often happens when I do a try-on of a new style, I have to buy the item from the first ones that appear in our stores. By now there are many less voluminous iterations of this dress that would suit older women, and me, better. But if I waited for the market to flood with an item I’d be too late for the season and my readers.

  3. Joni, for an Englishwoman, you look GREAT in anything French! I, too, am somewhat square. I like the running shoe (trainers) look, but sometimes I think they make my legs look like stovepipes, despite having really nice ankles (thanks, mom, for the thin ankles!!). Nevertheless, I have started to wear running shoes with my dresses and I quite like the look. In Canada, it’ll likely take another year or 2 for the denim dress to be in fashion, but I’m looking forward to it.

    1. Hi Jan. You are so fortunate to have those slim ankles! Make the most of them. I guess you probably do. I’d be wearing above ankle pants every day!! As it is my legs, like those of my dear departed Mum, are….chunky!

  4. Hi Joni! Good to hear from you. It is chilly, windy and had a brief shower here in Colorado, USA. As I remember, you are my height at 62” and we both love wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. I live in sneakers! My poor arthritic feet can’t wear anything else anymore. I also love and live in jeans. I’m wearing a medium blue shirt in chambray fabric over a striped tee. Layering keeps m warm. I bought two gilets in cream and one is black with good zippers. They are puffer vests here or padded vests depending upon the amount of filling in them. My shoulders are broad so I stay away from the puffy sleeve that is popular now. I also like to be able to comfortably wear cardigans over my sleeves without bulk. I enjoy your blog very much Joni. Sydney H from Colorado

  5. Great timing for me.. I’ve just bought a similar dress over here in Australia for our Autumn. Thanks for your styling ideas! Cathy in Sydney.

    1. Hi Cathy, all the way round the world from me! Yes, denim works most of the year here too. Enjoy your new frock!

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