NY: 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards - Arrivals
Credit: Nicholas Hunt/Patrick Mcmullan

Carolina Herrera has more than a few style tricks up her sleeve. The designer, who is often called “the queen of the white shirt,” also knows the magic power of a shirtdress. She recently appeared in one of her own designs at the CFDA Awards (above) looking so effortlessly elegant that she almost stole the show from the other well-dressed attendees.

Shirtdresses have turned out to be a key piece in my own wardrobe. A silky one can go to a conservative workplace or to a cocktail party with a quick change of accessories. For business, keep the dress buttoned up, add a sling-back or pump, a classic watch, ladylike shoulder bag and, perhaps, a narrow leather belt; for evening, unbutton it a bit at the neck and add a lariat necklace or pendant, a strappy sandal, and a small clutch, and you’re good to go!

Shop Silky Shirtdresses

CWC Age-Wise Style
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From left: Michael Michael Kors, $265; Equipment, $310; Sportmax, $675;

Cotton versions are both cool and comfortable when the temperature and humidity climb. If you work in a casual environment, try wearing one with pointy flats or a cushy wedge, belted or unbelted, and roll up the sleeves. When worn with flat sandals or espadrilles, it’s also a great stylish option for running around doing errands or meeting your friends for lunch. You can even wear one unbuttoned over a swimsuit as a chic cover-up. Add a Panama hat for stolen-from-the-boys panache!

Shop Cotton Shirtdresses

CWC Age-Wise Style
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From left: COS, $115; Vince, $398; Gap, $49;