Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to Rock a Maxi Dress (Even if you're petite)

You all know me well enough to know that I do not own a maxi dress and that my preferred hemlines fall at my knees- maybe a little above or below, but generally speaking, the knees are where it's at. Maxi dresses have never been my favorite type of garment because I don't find them to be all that flattering. I look at them as an unfortunate, billow-y cover-up appropriate for very little. However, I also know that I am in the minority when it comes to that opinion. The entire fashion industry seems to disagree with me, actually. I'm ok with that, but I understand that some of my readers may be interested in learning how to wear a maxi dress and I'd hate to alienate those people.

So, even though I'm not interested in wearing one, I'll be happy to help YOU look your best in a maxi dress. Here are my tips for pulling off this look:

1.) Select a maxi with a print that is in proportion to your body. Since the maxi is so long, there is going to be a LOT more print there than with a knee-length dress, so if you are petite, the wrong print can be overwhelming. If you're unsure of what type of print will work for you, select a maxi in a solid, color block or ombre instead.

2.) To avoid looking bottom-heavy, select a maxi with minimum fullness in the skirt. This will help you achieve a long, sleek look, rather than a heavy, prairie-dress effect.

3.) Select a halter, strapless or spaghetti-strap maxi to help the overall effect remain light and airy. Too much fabric will be overwhelming on just about anyone, so show a little skin up top to balance out the look.

4.) Choose a maxi that cinches in at the natural or empire waist. This will emphasize the smallest part of your figure and help maintain the hourglass figure you are striving for.

5.) Avoid heavy fabrics- the lighter the fabric, the more ethereal the effect will be in your maxi dress. Also avoid a slim-fitting jersey fabric as it is a very unforgiving fabric at times, but especially when cut close to the body.

Below are some maxi dresses that I feel would be flattering on just about anyone:

Halter Maxi Dress, Victoria's Secret, $98 
Not only is this print ideal- not too big or too small for anyone- the blue variation that runs down the center will help the elongate the entire look and offer a more slimming effect. 

This maxi not only has a nice monochromatic print, but the majority of the fullness in the skirt is concentrated at the bottom. If the entire skirt were as full as the bottom piece, it could be overwhelming, but since the top half of the skirt is slimmer, it can work on just about anyone. I also like how this one is shorter in the front- it keeps the dress from feeling too heavy. Finally, the details at the neckline draw the eye upward to the face, which is always a good thing. 

You may remember this dress from my post about interesting back details. I also like this maxi because the skirt is slim and the sash at the waist is very flattering. It won't be overwhelming on anyone because of those details. 

Of course, for every maxi that's great, there are five others that should be burned. Here are some maxi dresses I think everyone should avoid like the plague: 

Whispering Forest Maxi Dress, Anthropologie, $138
There is so much wrong with this maxi- it would take a statuesque, rail-thin figure to pull it off and even then I believe there are better choices that could be made. 

I have two words: horizontal stripes. Even if this pattern were vertical, it would be overwhelming on a lot of frames. Petite girls would get lost in it. Tall and large girls would overwhelm everyone around them because it would just be a lot of print to look at. Just say "no" to horizontally-striped maxi dresses. Just say "No." 

In case you're at a loss as to how to style a maxi dress, here are a few ideas to get your started: 

And if it's any consolation, I think that in the process of creating and writing this post, I may have convinced myself to be more open minded toward the maxi dress. Never say never, right? It seems that when I completely dismiss the idea of something (like Uggs), that's exactly when I discover a reason when it might be appropriate to choose that exact thing I just dismissed. Murphy's Law, I suppose. 

Anyway, leave a comment and tell me what YOU think of the maxi dress trend. Do you wear maxi's? How do you style them? Send me a picture and I'll post it on the blog! 

1 comment:

Shannon said...

I like maxi dresses in theory, and I'd love to try one, but they just don't seem practical. I mean, where would I wear it? I'd feel stupid wearing one to work, and if I'm out and about with the husband and kids, jeans, bermuda shorts, or a cute short dress just seem so much more appropriate. I suppose if DH and I went out to a movie or something, it might be nice to have my legs covered in a cold theater, but then, who's going to see the maxi in the dark? I do think the points you made about choosing a maxi are good, and I agree with them. Maybe I'll take a chance this summer and just try one...

Related Posts with Thumbnails