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Smocked Tops and Dresses: Why They’re Perfect This Summer

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Smocked tops and dresses used to be the stuff of tube tops and toddler dresses. But no more. That’s right — smocking is back and today’s version has an upgraded, more sophisticated vibe. It’s a fun stylistic element that’ll add a little more sass to any wardrobe.

If you’ve never tried a smocked or shirred top or dress, the time is now. Why? Two reasons: it’s on-trend and you might be surprised how much you love it. Smocking is actually incredibly flattering, so that’s a plus. It fits close to the body, but adds enough texture to camouflage imperfections.

Smocking or Shirring?

Here’s a fun fact: smocking is an embroidery technique that’s been around for centuries, literally. Before there was elastic, smocking was the method of choice to keep cuffs, necklines and bodices in place.

And just in case you’re wondering, smocking and shirring are actually different things. If this were a sewing blog, I’d spend time fleshing that out. But since we’re interested in the look of smocking and shirring — and they look very similar — I’ll use the terms interchangeably. Because that look, well, it’s one we love for adding visual interest to our fav summertime garb.

Ready to give smocking a try? Here are smocked tops and dresses we love, along with tips on how to style them.

Smocked Tops to Wear Now

A classic choice is the sleeveless shirred or smocked crop top. It’s a perfect partner for high-waisted denim shorts, a flowy skirt or boyfriend jeans. Add sandals and a delicate necklace to complete this chic, casual ensemble.

Smocking doesn’t always mean skin-tight. This carefree patterned top features smocking around the neckline. That detail creates some weight at the neck and then allows the fabric to drape beautifully with gentle gathers down the body.

Use this top as an outfit maker — the pattern and detail stands out enough that you won’t need a bunch of accessories or fancy bottoms. Pair it with basic jeans and tidy sneakers for a relaxed picnic outfit.

Here, smocking is both practical and stylish. The trim at the neckline holds the top against your shoulders so it doesn’t slide up. And then pairing that smocking up with some tassels gives a kind of festival vibe.

Match this top with a white denim skirt or white skinny jeans. As with the patterned shirt above, this one stands on its own with no accessories necessary.

Smocked Dresses We Love

A simple rayon dress with an easy shape is a welcome addition to any closet. The smocking at the waist adds curves you don’t have or plays up the ones you do have. Team this dress with any almost shoe — sneakers, sandals, wedges — add a pair of earrings or a simple necklace and you’re ready to go.

This baby blue dress is as sweet as pie. And it’s begging to be worn with a floppy hat and sandals, for a stroll on the boardwalk. Don’t forget the sunblock!

Two colors of this sophisticated sundress are already sold out, so move on this sunny yellow version quickly. It’s popular thanks to a figure-flattering length and silhouette. The partial lining is a big bonus, as you can wear it without worry on sunny days. A flat-heeled sandal makes for a nice anchor here, and you could also add a cropped denim jacket when the sun goes down.