The essential shirtdress

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It’s the eternal conundrum this time of year: What do we Midwesterners wear when the temperatures jump and drop 30 degrees in the span of hours, when one day it snows and the next we’re playing in the snowbanks in shorts? (True story from when I was in middle school.)

One of my go-to items when winter still rages: the maxi shirtdress, like this one I picked up last year from Banana Republic. Sure, these photos were taken during warmer months (credit to photographer Caroline McKinney), but even now I pair it with a knee-length cream knit cardigan, tights and boots.

Why it works: Floral prints and patterns with darker background colors are seasonally appropriate for both winter and spring, and you can just as easily match them with black knits in winter as contrasting pastels in spring. And if you’re petite like me, finding a shirtdress in a more fluid fabric (like the silk Banana Republic one) is more likely to eliminate the cost of a tailor.

See more from my photo shoot with Caroline (and count down the days until spring officially arrives):

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