Here is a site that explains shirtdresses and their popularity.
Shabby Apple .
It seems that styles return (retro-to those who haven't lived through the earlier fashion) in similarity with adaptations of the present mode. When the off-shoulder styles were in, one could find shirtwaist dresses in a variety of pleated, gathered, flared, gored, straight, and A-lines with a standard two-piece collar, or simple collar, notched collar, mandarin collar, Peter Pan collar, and lace collars. Sleeves were flowing and loose or close fitting and made to all lengths. It was a very comfortale dress to wear. The fabrics were endless and it made one feel feminine. Those were the 80's.
The shirtwaist has returned again and this time with a variety similar to the past. The tops are more closefitting as were those constructed in the 50's and 60's. The lengths are shorter now and the tops have deeper necklines and the buttons don't go as high. Here is a site that shows a variety of styles of the past at least from the '30s - '50s.
For the home seamstress there are many patterns that will lend themselves to a nice, comfortable shirtwaist. McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, and others have usually have some shirtwaist style available in their catalogs.
There is really quite a variety available. If you don't like the sleeve style, use another pattern with something you are more comfortable with. The same goes with the skirt style or any other detail that you would like to change.
There are vintage pattern sites that offer shirtwaists, too. It is fun to look at those older styles to see the uniqueness of each one.
Here are a few that are some of my favorites along with McCalls 4769 that I have had success with.
Nothern Lights by Dana Marie
One final comment, if you don't find the shirtwaist dress pattern you like, you can always use your favorite blouse and add a skirt to it and it becomes a shirtwaist with some adjustments. You could make it button all the way down to the hem of the dress or put a placket in or a side zipper or make a loose waist and gather it in with elastic or a belt. Just be sure to allow yourself room to get in and out easily.