i've discovered that dresses are very versatile. they can be mixed with so many different pieces of clothing, completely changing their look.
my favourite discovery combines patterned dresses and lace...
if you wear a lace (or sheer) top over a patterned dress, you can see the pattern of the dress through the top. i love this look, as it not only dubs the dress as a skirt, changing the look of the dress, but it also adds variety to a top.
wearing a dress as a skirt can be a great way to make a maxi dress more casual, show off a detail of a dress, or just really make it look like a skirt.
by wearing it with a cardigan and having it peak through, you're showing it's actually the dress, and you get a nice complimentary look from the 'top'. in the case of the middle photo, by adding in a solid colour at the top, the faux lace detail on the skirt is emphasized. when i wear this as a complete dress, it's actually quite a bit more subtle.
in the third photo, the top and dress are similar in colour, varying from a cream to a very light blush. the dress under the lace top isn't noticeable, and so it actually looks like a skirt.
and finally, the dress as a top. this is something i don't tend to do with many dresses, because a lot of my dresses have an apparent waistline, and so they don't fall at the appropriate place pants/jeans. a shirtdress is perfect though!
a little trick for this look: wear tights under your jeans, and tuck the dress down around your legs under the tights. this helps keep 'tucking bumps' to a minimum and less noticeable.