The slip dress is that perfect item to wear when you want to feel barely dressed, but have to be covered up because of those pesky societal standards. Slip dresses are effortlessly sexy and always comfortable. Also known as the cami dress, these slinky garments used to be considered strictly underwear, but fashion was turned upside-down and inside-out in the ‘90s, when rebellious celebs and designers decided they didn’t care about prudish tradition.
We’re having a total ‘90s resurgence these days, with slip dresses being a great way of channeling that era. We’ve selected the best cami slip dresses out in stores right now, in different lengths and styles so you can choose the one that suits you best! We also go into the history of the cami dress, and explain exactly where it came from, and how it came to be fashionable yet again.
I’ll help you pinpoint exactly what kind of slip dress would be right for you and give some awesome styling suggestions so you can rock your slip dress no matter the occasion and never feel like you’re wearing and nightgown!
The Trend of Cami Slip Dresses: Contents
- 13 Best Slip Dresses to Buy
- What Is a Slip Dress and What’s Its History?
- How to Choose the Right Slip Dress for You
- How to Wear a Cami Slip Dress from Day to Night
From the classic satin slip dress to more elaborate designs, here you have 13 cami dresses to embrace the ‘90s in a cool way.
1. Lace-Trimmed Asymmetrical Cami Dress
We wanted to start you off with a slip dress that is elegant with just a small unique touch. That unique touch is the asymmetrical lace trim that shows off a healthy amount of leg. This black slip dress is made of ultra-soft silk charmeuse and can be ordered from Net-a-Porter.
2. Fringe & Sequin Slip Dress
This is one of those slip dresses that you wear on a night when you intend not to be forgotten. This dress is made of a sheer mesh, meaning it shows a lot of skin and is studded with some fabulously shiny black sequins. The sequined fringe at the bottom is guaranteed to glimmer as it moves with you throughout the night.
3. White Mini Slip Dress
This is a demure take on cami dresses, despite the itty-bitty length. It has a loose fit that leaves a bit of room for the imagination to work, with a straight, draped neckline that covers the chest for a touch of modesty. The white color makes this satin slip dress the perfect choice for a look that suggests purity. You can get this lovely dress from Revolve.
4. Embellished Beige Slip Dress
With many slip dresses it takes a bit of work to make it appropriate to wear outside the bedroom, but that’s not the case with this Y/ Project one. This beige slip dress is quite long, reaching down to mid-calf, but true to form, it does have a sexy slit to expose some leg.
Other details that add interest include a feminine lace trim and ribbons hanging from the collar. This slip dress is made primarily of soft, luxurious silk, and can be purchased through Farfetch.
5. Minimalist Black Satin Slip Dress
This delicate slip dress from Prada is made of ultra-soft satin and is as minimalist as it gets. The length is quite short, but the loose design keeps things demure. There is a lovely lace trim both along the hemline and at the neckline, which is cut in a subtle sweetheart shape. This cami dress is short enough to be easily tucked into trousers for daytime wear. It can be ordered online via Net-a-Porter.
6. Twisted Cami Dress
The twisted design of this Alexander Wang cami dress gives it extra bulk, making it an excellent choice for even some fancier occasions. The shade is a soft baby pink that along with a lace trim at the hem and a cinched-in waist ensures that this dress is as feminine as they get. The bust of the slip dress has a unique asymmetrical feel thanks to the way fabric is twisted around the torso. You can buy this silk slip dress from Forward.
7. Power-Clash Layered Slip Dress
If you find most slip dresses a little too revealing for your tastes, this layered option from Coach might be your way to give the style a try! Built into the knee-length slip dress is a blouse top that at first look appears like a separate shirt worn under a dress.
The bottom part is all rustic charm with a quaint print, while the lace-trimmed slip part is colored a dark metallic shade and printed with a colorful pattern. If you’d like to give this slip dress a try, find it at Shopbop.
8. Graphic Red & Black Silk Slip Dress
Slip dresses can absolutely embody a punk or grunge-inspired style, especially considering they had their popularity surge in the ‘90s. This black and red cami dress is covered in a scribbly graphic print that has quite the edge.
The draped neckline itself is not too low, but an open back and short hemline mean that this slip dress is still quite revealing. Pair it with a choker and heavy black boots for that perfect grunge look! You can order this dress online from Net-a-Porter.
9. Royal Blue Ruffled Cami Dress
You know you’ll exude confidence when wearing this royal blue slip dress. Made primarily of silk, this cami dress is luxurious and fancy – a perfect choice for formal events. It hits just below the knee, but a ruffled slit shows a bit of thigh. The ruffles add a bit of bulk, which gives the dress needed weight, while the V-neckline is feminine and sexy. This slip dress is available for purchase through Forward.
10. Floral Maxi Slip Dress
This is another feminine take on the slip dress trend, this time with a refreshing maxi length. The pale pink hue and floral print work well together to showcase a soft, springtime look, but a daring touch comes courtesy of a plunging back and sheer lace details around the cups. You can order this Brock Collection dress from My Theresa.
11. Barely There Lace-Trimmed Slip Dress
This diaphanous design represents the very nature of a cami dress. The ivory shade is pure and soft, and the slip dress also has a loose fit and comfortable mid-calf length. And yet, this Stella McCartney dress is barely there thanks to sheer lace panels and thin straps. An asymmetrical hemline is the final touch, keeping the dress modern. It is sold online through Net-a-Porter.
12. V-Neck Mini Cami Dress
Somehow, this tiny silk slip dress manages to be one of the most easily wearable options on this list. This dress is hot red and studded with little silver beads that add heft. The striking color and touch of shine mean that it reads as outerwear – perfect for a night out clubbing! Buy this dress from Farfetch!
13. Little Black Slip Dress
Combine two fashion must-haves by rocking a little black slip dress! This fascinating little dress has an extreme asymmetrical design that makes the hemline quite long on one side and quite short on the other. Make the most of it by wearing this slip dress when out dancing and watching the fabric twirl. A lace trim adds quite a bit of femininity to the look. You can pick it up from ASOS.
Also known as a cami dress, a slip dress is a lingerie-inspired, underslip-style dress with spaghetti straps, primarily made of silk, satin and other delicate materials. The slip dress has a long history, although the bulk of it is as underwear rather than outerwear.
The Cami Dress in the Middle Ages
Since the early middle ages the ‘chemise’ (alternately known as smock or shift dress) was worn by both men and women under their clothes in order to provide protection from sweat and body oils. This garment was normally sewn by the women in a household out of a single piece of fabric, and was likely the only piece of clothing to be washed regularly.
Most chemises were long-sleeved, although there was also a sleeveless variation. While the poor wore chemises made of linen, the rich could afford ones made of soft silk.
Over the next few hundred years, as corsets were introduced, chemises became only a small part of an elaborate collection of items of underclothing for women.
Underwear on Display in the 1920s-1960s
The slip dress had a sort of comeback in the ‘1920s, when loose-fitting dresses became the norm, and women needed something lightweight and comfortable to wear beneath them.
From then until the ‘60s, wearing a slip dress was the norm, with lengths, silhouettes, and other design elements changing from decade to decade in order to accommodate changing fashions. At this point slips took on a kind of seductive allure – the same kind of allure lacy bras and panties have these days.
Slips fell out of style in the late ‘60s, as trousers became staples of women’s wear and as underwear became more streamlined – though that is not to say that they lost their seductive charm in the collective memory.
The ‘90s Slip Dress Comeback
Fast forward to the ‘90s, and the slip dress is back, baby! This time, however, they will not be hidden. Instead of the slip as underwear, designers like Calvin Klein and John Galliano (for Givenchy) were sending models out on their runways wearing cami dresses as though they were ball gowns.
In addition to being a risque twist on a ‘40s and ‘50s staple, the slip dress was also a revolt against the gaudiness of ‘80s fashions. The slip dresses were the very opposite of the big shouldered, brightly colored dresses of the preceding decade.
The two most memorable ‘90s characters to favor slip dresses, however, were Kate Moss and Courtney Love. The controversial women cemented the place of slip dresses firmly in rebellious grunge territory.
Take for instance the iconic moment when 19-year-old Moss wore a sheer silver slip to a ‘93 modelling agency party. The heavily photographed dress would later show up as totally see-through in the paparazzi’s prints. Moss, who defines ‘90s fashion, would go on to wear slip dresses all throughout the decade to various parties and red carpet events.
Courtney Love was also a fan of the cami dress, which she would pair with a white tiara on one occasion, and other times with heavy black boots. Nearly every female celebrity from the ‘90s would rock a slip dress on multiple occasions, including Winona Ryder, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Coppola, and even Princess Diana, who famously turned heads in a black Dior slip dress that she wore to the Met Gala.
In 2016, the ‘90s comeback unofficially began, and it’s still going strong, with various designers giving us both nostalgic and modern takes on the slip dress. Recently on the red carpet, we’ve seen celebrities as diverse as Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Brie Larson, and Nicole Richie modeling the slinky dresses. How are you going to embrace it?
While slipping into a slip dress sounds quite easy, creating that luxury look means first of all picking the right cami dress. Here is what you need to know when going shopping for the perfect slip dress for you.
Pick Your Length
Slip dresses come in all kinds of lengths, with each length better for a different kind of occasion. If you’re looking for a daywear or clubby option, go shorter but make sure that you’ll still be comfortable.
If you’re looking for a slip dress that you can get away with wearing to more sophisticated formal occasions, go long. Ankle-length is best, but a mid-calf design is also perfectly acceptable – just be aware that mid-calf lengths are most flattering on tall women.
Choose The Fit
Slip dresses come in two types of fit: a loose, shift dress fit, and a tight, curve-hugging fit. The former is a great choice if you want to feel light and airy, especially in the summer, and is also the silhouette that is more true to the ‘90s look. On the other hand a tighter fit is undeniably sexy, especially if you’re wearing your dress to a night out.
Determine Your Style Inspiration
Different kinds of slip dresses can work with different style inspirations, so figure out what look you’re going for before buying your cami dress. If you’re looking for a slip dress that will allow you to channel the ‘90s style, opt for a minimalistic design with a straight neckline and a draped silhouette.
Lace trims, ruffles, and appliqué embellishments are showing more and more on slip dresses these days.
If you’re hoping for that vintage underwear look, look for a slip dress with a lace trim, which has more of a vintage effect that recalls the ‘40s and ‘50s. Ruffles and appliqués will lend the dress a more modern, outerwear feel.
Choose a Color, or Maybe a Print!
Most slips are sold in solid colors, but you can also find some printed cami dresses. Baby pinks, pastels, creams, and whites should only be picked if you’re going for a vintage undergarment look. These shades are supposed to convey purity and innocence, but in the form of a slip dress they somehow manage to convey the opposite.
Reds and blacks, on the other hand, work the other way. These colors are inherently sexy and seductive, but on a slip dress they make it look less intimate.
Other darker solid colors like blue, green, and purple (as well metallics) will give your slip dress sophistication without implying anything, making them an excellent color choice for a longer slip dress you might want to wear to a formal event.
Prints and bright shades are the wild cards! They are fun and bright daytime options that give a modern twist to a cami dress, without making a controversial statement.
No matter what kind of look you are going for, there are certain general rules to keep in mind when it comes to wearing a slip dress.
• Whatever you wear under your slip dress is going to show. Take Kate Moss’ black underwear in ‘93 as an example. Seamless, laser-cut underwear will not show any unflattering lines under a satin slip dress, while nude-colored undergarments will not give a contrasting color under a light-colored cami dress. If you’re feeling particularly daring, you can even go commando.
• Bras can be especially daunting when it comes to slip dresses. The straps on the dress are so thin that bra straps will likely clash, while even a strapless bra might be visible under the thin fabric of a cami. Add all the open-back numbers out there, and it can become a real headache. If you can, your best bet is to go braless, and if you can’t, opt for a self-adhesive bra like this one from Net-a-Porter.
Slip Dresses for Daytime
• If you’re aiming for a feminine style in your slip dress, choose a dress that already has some feminine elements: a pastel shade, a lace trim, ruffles, or a floral print. However, a slip dress is an inherently feminine item, so any color will still be super romantic!
• You can play with lengths – both mini and maxi slip dresses look great in the daytime!
• When layering items or accessorizing your slip dress, the color palette is important. It’s always simplest to opt for shades that are analogous to the color of your dress. Soft neutrals are also an option, as beiges and taupes will work well with any lightly colored slip dress.
• If you would like some extra modesty or warmth, wear a cardigan over your cami dress.
• For a bit of coverage that keeps the slip dress’ allure, layer a kimono-style jacket over the dress and tie it loosely around your waist.
• For an autumnal look that works especially well with longer cami dresses, layer a loose sweater over your dress.
• A more sophisticated layering option would be wearing a shirt under your slip dress. For more of a street style effect, wear a cotton T-shirt underneath, while if you prefer something more classic, wear a collared blouse, a turtleneck, or a button-up.
• Pantyhose and leggings are your friends! Choose pantyhose that is a little bit darker than your slip dress, especially if you feel like the dress is super short. Stick to a monochrome or analog color scheme for an easy look, or try color blocking with an opaque pair of tights if you’re feeling daring.
• A lot of street style influencers love wearing jeans under cami dresses, while others find the look a little jarring.
• When it comes to footwear, all sections of the shoe rack are open to you. Light sneakers and Converses will give a more casual vibe, ballet flats will keep things girly, strappy sandals will keep you cool, and low heels will make you feel glamorous. We do recommend you save the high heels for evening wear, however.
Slip Dresses for a Grunge Street Style
• The slip dress defines the women’s grunge look, so embracing its origins makes for what is very trendy street style these days.
• Opt for a darker colored slip dress with a straight neckline. While ‘90s slip dresses were low on prints or embellishments, we’re all about modernizing the past, so don’t worry too much about finding a solid colored or minimalistically decorated dress – it’s all about how you style it.
• Sheer yet dark pantyhose will help you feel a bit more covered in a mini slip dress while still keeping true to the sexy edge of the look.
• For adding a bit of coverage but also keeping a grunge vibe, layer a dark T-shirt underneath your slip dress.
• You can wear all kinds of jackets over a slip dress for added warmth, including army-green military jackets, black leather jackets, animal print jackets à la Courtney Love, or even a dark or earth-toned cardigan. While a plaid shirt might seem like a natural choice, we think it might be too on the nose.
• To really seal the deal on your grunge look, wear a pair of heavy lace-up boots with your slip dress. A pair of dark Converses or sneakers can also work, especially on hotter days.
• When it comes to accessorizing, it is generally best to keep it simple, with smaller items. Chokers are a classic choice, of course. If you have no shame, however, channel Courtney Love yet again and don a friggin’ tiara.
Cami Dress for Office-Wear
• That’s right, you can totally make a slip dress work as part of your office outfit! It will require clever layering and accessorizing, but making it happen is worth the effort.
• To begin with, make sure your slip dress is appropriate, or that it can be made appropriate with layering – we’ll get into that.
• There is almost no way you can get away with wearing a slip dress with a high slit in an office environment.
• A short cami dress can be tucked into trousers or skirt – it’ll look just like a top, and none will be the wiser. Wear a cardigan or blazer over top for a complete outfit.
• If you don’t intent to tuck your dress into a skirt or pants, make sure its length is office-appropriate. Your slip dress, at the shortest, should still land at least just above the knees.
• If you still think your dress might be a touch too short, chances are that a pair of opaque tights will make all the difference.
• If you’ve found the most perfect slip dress but it has an open back, don’t worry! You can layer a blazer on top for a more sophisticated look, or a cardigan for a cosy, conservative style.
• You can also treat your satin slip dress as though it was a skirt, by layering a sweater or blouse over it. Just make sure that whatever top you choose can look office-appropriate even if it’s not tucked in.
• Slip dresses with low necklines can be problematic, but even here there’s a solution. Wear a button-up blouse underneath your slip dress for a fashion-forward yet work-appropriate look.
• Color blocking with a slip dress can be a way of interjecting an office look with some extra fun! Analogue, triadic, and split-complementary patterns can all look great as long as you keep your shades a little darker.
• Always stick to more office-appropriate shoes when working a risky garment like a cami dress. Stick to something a bit more on the formal side, like Oxfords, low pumps, heeled ballerina shoes or loafers. Ballet flats that would normally work in an office environment might be too casual when paired with a slip.
Slip Dresses at the Club
• Short slip dresses are a natural choice to wear out clubbing, since they are super comfortable to dance in and they give a fun, sexy look!
• Embellished cami dresses and dresses in metallic colors will stand out the most, as will a sexy red slip dress. Brighter colors can also be a lot of fun, not to mention they will add a modern touch to your look.
• You can add a bit of structure as well as sparkle by buckling a shiny belt around your waist. Either opt for an ultra-thin belt, a chain belt, or go in the opposite direction and try a wide corset belt.
• You can steal shoe options from almost every other section in this article! Sneakers, boots, pumps, stilettos, and strappy heels will all look awesome with your clubby cami dress: just decide what you will feel most comfortable in for a long night out.
• This is your time to don big jewelry. A long necklace with a large pendant or a ton of sparkly bracelets will add drama to your look and will move around beautifully as you dance.
Cami Dresses for Formal Occasions
• Opt for slip dresses that have a longer length, as mini dresses will look too casual. With an ankle- or floor-length slip dress you will be golden, but a mid-calf number should also work.
• Ruffles, especially at the hemline, are one of the best ways of giving heft to a cami dress, which makes it more appropriate for formal occasions. Another option is looking for a heavier fabric, like velvet, or looking for a lined slip dress.
• Look for a slip dress in a darker color, with jewel tones being particularly fetching for formal occasions.
• Opt for super elegant and expensive-looking jewelry that is not too complex, and is made of precious metals or colorless stones.
• One of the best ways of adding elegance (as well as warmth) to a slip dress is with a shawl or a stole. Make sure the color of your shawl is either neutral or in the same color family as your slip dress.
• A pair of sleek pumps or strappy heels might be all you need to convince everyone around you that slip dresses really can be sophisticated and elegant.
Photos via Instagram