History of the Shift Dress. The shift dress evolved from the sack dress, a dress that was first shown by designers Hubert de Givenchy and Cristobal Balenciaga in the 1957 Paris collections. Although not dissimilar in cut to the famous flapper dresses of the 1920?s Charleston era, it didn’t have the glitz. The shift dress has become a timeless silhouette. It can be dressed up or dressed down, and can be adapted to wear in any season. The simple styling of the shift dress makes it a versatile piece, lending itself to a variety of fabrics and accessories. A shift dress is a simple, short, above-the-knee dress. The bust is fitted with darts, and the skirt is either cut straight or with a narrow A-line.