10 Ways to Make the Maxi Dress Work for Your Body
Simple, super comfy, and stylish: There’s nothing that can brighten up a spring wardrobe like a flowy maxi dress.
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Whether worn casually with chic ballet flats or reaching new heights with wedges, this must-have fashion staple is perfect to look and stay cool during the warmer months. But not every woman is jumping on the style bandwagon. Petite ladies may have a hard time finding one that won’t drag or make them topple over, while others on the curvy side may think twice before adding extra inches with more fabric. And some may feel that the cozy maxi just doesn’t enhance one’s frame enough.
But fortunately, stylists say there are ways to get the most out of a maxi dress no matter what your body type.
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“I think we can all agree that the maxi dress is the most versatile and worn dress that will never stop trending,” says celebrity stylist Ali Levine. “This dress is super ideal for nearly any type of outing. Not only can it be worn many ways, but it can look great on almost every type of body.”
“The maxi dress can easily be dressed down yes, but have fun with your maxi by adding a designer heel that really makes your entire look pop,” Levine says.
READ: 20 Spring Flats Worth Obsessing Over
Several stylists weigh in on the major dos and don’ts for making the maxi work for your body:
Want to stay warm during sudden brisk spring days without appearing wide with too many layers? Simple: wear a sweater or jacket that hits right at the waist. Anything below will only add inches to your figure.
Look for a V-Neck
“V-neck styles will help elongate your body, while waist-cinching drawstrings and belts help define the waist and keep you from looking like a box,” says fashion expert Hilary Kennedy. “For petites who want to appear taller, pair your maxi skirt with a short flowy top, but tuck it in. This will highlight your waist and make your legs look longer, which gives the appearance of being taller and thinner.”
Aim for a Proper Fit
Since a maxi skirt or dress is usually designed with soft, loose-fitting fabric, it’s important to make sure you’re getting a proper fit that accentuates your frame, not overwhelming it. A belt can instantly give your outfit a more polished structure, but it’s just as important to ensure a tailor fixes it for your body. “I especially suggest petite girls to get their maxis hemmed,” says model and fashion expert Jaimie Hilfiger. “There is nothing worse than seeing an already large-fitting garment being dragged around the floor. When buying a high-end maxi, it’s worth it to invest in proper altering.”
Get the Support You Need
“Women with larger busts should stick to V-neck or scooped necklines, as well as make sure that the straps are large enough to completely cover bra straps (for extra support),” says Nicole Verhalen, San Francisco-based personal stylist from Share Some Style. “Smaller chested women have the option of wearing higher necklines, smaller straps, or going strapless.”
Avoid Overpowering Your Frame
If your maxi consists of too much flowy material, giant patterns, or even unnecessary ruffles, it’s time to toss. Katina Brock, Los Angeles-Based personal stylist from Share Some Style, says the secret to obtaining a slimming effect from this fashion staple is keeping it simple. “Keep the print of your maxi dress small or vertical and look for empire waists,” she explains. “Likewise, drop-waisted styles, low sling belts, and wide waistbands in contrasting colors will also stop the eye from traveling vertically and shorten the leg line. And it goes without saying, a platform wedge never hurts!”
Try Sleeves (and a Small Bag)
“If you are self-conscious about your arms, try a maxi dress that has sleeves,” says Kennedy. “Short, long, or loose sleeves could be the perfect answer. And if you wear a printed maxi dress or skirt, keep your handbag to a small/medium size. This will detract from the bulkiness of the print, complimenting your dress nicely.”
Cinch the Waist
“Voluminous dresses and skirts need to be balanced with a defined waistline,” says Verhalen. “Find a dress or skirt that cinches in at the smallest part of your waist if you are curvy or if you have an athletic figure. You can also just add a belt. If you are pear shaped, an empire waist will put the focus on your smaller top half.”
Enhance Your Shape
Plus-size ladies, you too can get in on the trend. Brock advises avoiding dresses that are clingy or have a wide, bell-like shape on the bottom. “While solids can work, they are also less forgiving if the fit is not perfect,” she warns. “Go for prints that keep in proportion to your stature. Look for wider straps on top or a sleeve so you can wear a good, supportive bra.”
Again, Keep it Simple
When it comes to accessories, always keep it simple. Either wear a statement-making necklace or gorgeous new earrings, but never both at the same time. Excessive jewelry will overpower your frame, drawing the eyes at various parts of your body and not the areas you’re looking to enhance. In this case, too much of a good thing can be, well, awful.
Keep Shoes in Mind
Ladies, if you love wearing stilettos and flats, it’s important to get maxis that will complement each individually to look and feel your best. “If you want to wear the dress with flats get it hemmed (for them),” says Brock. “Sorry, but it cannot work both ways. One dress will not work with both flats and heels. A short maxi dress is no more flattering than walking all over the bottom of one that’s too long.”