How To Dress: The Maxi Dress

A few of you (and especially Esperanza!) have asked for advice on the Maxi dress and where to find them.

Here’s the scoop on this style. Maxis are (usually) floor-length dresses that flow downward and are not very clingy. They became popular in the late 60s as a reaction to the popularity of the Miniskirt (see? Mini/Maxi!) and between Rachel Zoe championing them and the stylistically popular show Mad Men now entering the late 60s, they are having a bit of a moment.

I was daunted by Maxis for a while, but I also remember my mom in a photo on a beautiful beach looking super glamorous in a purple and yellow number with a fabulous hat. So I decided to track one down for myself.

Maxi dresses can be tricky. If you are petite, you can feel engulfed, overwhelmed by the proportions. If not done right, a Maxi can look like a muumuu. And not in a cool, retro-Hawaiian style.

Here’s some tricks:

Proportion

anthro

Halter Maxi Dress, Anthropologie

If you are wide-hipped (like me!) look for a halter-style top to balance out your hips by widening your shoulders. Want to hide a tummy? Choose an empire waist style, or belt your dress slightly higher than normal. When it comes to belts, a wide one could be super cute, also metallics (like gold!) would be pretty. If you are on the shorter side, you can add pair a pair of wedges/espadrilles to add some extra height if you are feeling overwhelmed by all that fabric. I generally like to wear sandals with mine.

Colors

Pearce

Dress by James Pearce

Solid colored Maxis are going to be more slimming as a general rule. Adding stripes across will add curves (and can emphasize waists nicely) but unless you are perfectly proportioned (hips, bust the same size, waist about 10 inches smaller) it could widen you in odd places.

Prints

Camuto

Dress by Vince Camuto

I think some of the cutest Maxis are the ones with prints, but you have to be careful with the wild prints. Make sure YOU are wearing the dress and the dress isn’t wearing you! Keep it simple with your shoes, bag and accessories if you are going with a wild print.

Where to Shop:

Splurge:

Pucci became widely known for their iconic Maxis with their wild prints and neon colors. I have always wanted a Pucci-printed dress. I would consider it an investment, as they have remained popular and sought-after throughout the decades. Here’s some vintage Pucci Maxis on Etsy.

Anthopologie has some really cute Maxis. A bit pricey, but look for sales. I get almost all of my stuff there on sale. Confession: I am a bit of an Anthro-holic. :/

Vince Camuto has created a bit of a speciality business with his line of Maxis. My dress from Mexico is by Vince Camuto. There’s lots of them at Nordstrom, but I got mine at TJ Maxx for $49. It was marked down from around $300! TJ Maxx actually had tons of Maxis the last time I was there. Please note that Nordstorm also offers Plus Sizes for some really cute Vince Camuto Maxis, like the one featured above.

Save!

Now that summer is here, at least in retail land (sorry about the snow, Colorado and Minnesota!), the major retail outlets are featuring lots of cute Maxis.

Old Navy My old stand-by.

Looking for a Coachella vibe? Urban Outfitters has got THAT covered! Plastic flower headdress and Docs not included.

If you are pregnant right now, Target has some great Maxis for you.

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21 Comments

Filed under personal style

21 responses to “How To Dress: The Maxi Dress

  1. Great post! I almost bought one before BlogHer last year and regretted not getting it. I went back afterwards to the store where I saw it and they were sold out. Just this morning I took a chance, without trying on, and ordered two online from Kohls, great deal with a 30% off coupon and an easy return if its not a good fit. I’ll let you know how they turn out, but definitely want one (or more) to wear this summer! 🙂

  2. I luuurve my maxi dresses!! They’re so comfy and cute. I have four so far, wild prints and solids, and some champagne fabric that’s going to be number five. I guess I have this weekend planned now. 🙂

  3. I have a navy maxi as my go-to. There is nothing better than putting on a dress that you don’t have to tug at and adjust all day.

  4. I tried on a really nice small-print empire-line maxi in Marshall’s yesterday. It was so comfy and forgiving of my waist-area that I wanted to live in it, but unfortunately the top half was making me look way too boobtacular. I need to keep looking.

  5. P.S. This is the style I ordered: http://www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/PRD~1243869/SONOMA-life–style-Floral-Maxi-Sundress.jsp

    I got the Teal Blue and Opal Gray ones, as I couldn’t decide. I may return one or keep them both, depending on how I like them. 🙂

    With the coupon they were $25 each!

  6. What about shoes? I loved all of your shoes when you were sharing your weekly wardrobe plans, and I am in dire need of some summer sandal ideas.

  7. This is a great post – thank you! Since I’m only 5’2″, I feel like maxis are out of my range… inevitably, I just end up swimming in several feet of fabric all over the floor. That said – lots of maternity maxis right now that I just wish I could chop off a few feet and wear as a cocktail length dress! 🙂

    • I should have mentioned this and thanks for pointing this out. You could always hem the bottom? A tailor at your dry cleaners could do that pretty cheaply 🙂

      • The comments on Kohl’s reviews were really helpful in my picking which to buy, as women were sharing their body types and even height and weight and describing how the maxis did or didn’t flatter their figures. There was another style I considered that people were saying was better for taller women. The ones I choose seemed to be a better fit more average height or a bit shorter (I am 5’5″). 🙂

  8. Yay! Thanks so much for this post. I bought two maxi dresses and a maxi shirt online at Target last night and am scheming about when I might hit up Target or Anthropolgie in the near future. Woot!

  9. These look pretty and comfy, but I’m afraid they would just make me look like a house. It is great that you posted a picture of a plus-size one, and also tips for how to get the right one. Thanks.

  10. Thanks for this post!

    Really like your photos and suggestions for the maxis!

    Maxis have always frustrated me – something I want to wear, but can’t find the right one. Being around 5’10” with a super-long torso, it’s been a challenge to find one that flatters and is long enough. Looking forward to more thoroughly checking out the links, and will probably go to my local TJ Maxx to see if I can find one of those Vince Camutos – those are really nice.

    And I looooove Anthropologie too – though I generally can only afford it when it’s very marked-down, or I scour e-bay/consignment/anthropologie trade markets for the good deals on pre-owned items…

  11. Ana

    I’ve been avoiding the Maxis and just recently have been intrigued. As a petite gal with a bit of a belly pooch, its hard to find a style that won’t swallow me NOR draw attention to the “problem area”. (btw, I’ve find that empire waists are horrible for bellies—they accentuate & make people ask if you’re preggo—no joke). Thanks for the advice (and shopping inspiration). I’m on the hunt for a cool stripey, halter-style, drawstring-waist maxi now.

  12. Between Mini & Maxi, there was also the Midi which was more like ankle or calf length. 😉 (I am showing my age here…) 😉

  13. Love the fashion post as always! So…can I wear a maxi to work? Should I look for a cardigan or shrug-like thing to wear with it? A maxi will be an adjustment for me since I typically try to highlight my legs instead of hiding them; however, I hate shaving, so maxi dresses FTW!

    • Yes! A cute option could be a dark cropped denim jacket or a short shrug. I would probably stick with a cropped option because otherwise you might get overwhelmed by too much fabric…

  14. I went out and bought my first maxi dress after reading this post. 🙂 Now if it would only warm up…..

  15. I LIVE in maxis all summer:) I”m petite and love Old navy and target maxis! Loving your blog, keep it up!

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