A maxi dress is a great choice for summer. In this article let’s see how to wear a maxi dress. I will also highlight some of the best maxi dresses online now.
What is a maxi dress?
Well, this may seem like an obvious question, but what is the definition of a maxi dress? Well, generally, a maxi dress is a floor, or ankle, length dress. Any shorter and it would be a midi dress.
Easy to throw on, a maxi dress can exude elegance while still being the ultimate in casual wear. Plus, a maxi dress, unlike any other length, means you don’t have to shave your legs!
How to wear a maxi dress
A maxi dress is a fabulous option for summer but you need to know how to wear it. A maxi dress can end up overpowering you, so the right proportions are key.
Things to keep in mind when you’re wearing a maxi dress
Pay attention to proportions
Be aware of the length of your legs and torso and adjust accordingly. While a floor-skimming maxi dress can be fabulous, you don’t want it so long that it is actually brushing the floor and you are tripping over.
Make sure that the dress is not wide all over
Although a wide, loose style can work for some women, for others the volume will be overpowering.
Make sure there is structure in your look
Emphasizing the waist is usually a very effective way to add structure. This tip goes as well when you are wearing a midi dress.
Georgette (above) looks stunning in her emerald green, tiered maxi dress which is cinched at the waist.
Layer with a short jacket
This is a great way to add structure too. You can opt for a jacket that ends at your waist (for a 1/4 – 3/4 silhouette that makes your legs look extra long). A longer jacket will work too which creates the usually very flattering 1/3 – 2/3 silhouette.
Take advantage of asymmetry and high-low effects
These usually help to make your maxi dress more flattering as they break up the large volume and create flattering vertical lines.
If you prefer a slightly shorter syle, you can read our article on the best midi dresses for women over 40.
12 of the best maxi dresses in stores now
Now that you’re thinking about how to wear your maxi dress, below are the maxi dresses and skirts I love in stores now. I tend to find maxi dresses difficult to wear, but these dresses could definitely tempt me to try this hem length again.
As I’m updating this for summer, I’ve concentrated on pieces you would wear during the warmer months, or for a staycation, a vacation, or just for a barbecue or picnic in your garden.
But there are also some beautiful pieces here that you could take into fall or winter by wearing with boots and a moto jacket, depending on what the weather is like where you are.
1. Long shirt dress
I couldn’t resist included this bright, colorful shirt dress from All Things Mochi, which not only features beautiful rainbow hues, but is made from 100% silk.
The design is inspired by the Pahiyas festival, which is inspired by an event dubbed the most colorful in the Philippines.
2. Maxi dress with sleeves
It can be difficult to find maxi dresses which have sleeves if you prefer to cover-up your upper arms.
But, a shirt style could be a good option. Choose a vibrant color to add some cheer to your summer. Or you could choose pretty pastels.
Also check out this article on the best dresses with sleeves.
3. Floral maxi dress
A floral maxi dress is definitely a classic look for summer. But, you can also easily wear with a moto jacket for fall.
Helen (above) chooses a soft palette and adds pops of red with her shoes and clutch bag.
4. Printed maxi dress
A maxi dress is often the perfect vehicle for adding some prints to your outfit. You could opt for a floral dress as above, or choose a more graphic print such as this dress below from Eliza J.
5. Two tone maxi dress
Another option is to choose a maxi dress which looks like a top and skirt such as the Zattcas tank dress below, which comes in 16 different colors and patterns.
6. Silk maxi dress
Another silk option for you! If you’ve read my article on why I have problem wearing synthetic materials, you will know how much I love natural fabrics.
I think the Equipment dress (below) would look beautiful worn either with red accessories or with gold shoes. Plus, when I checked it had 60% off, making it a bargain buy!
7. Stripe maxi dress
8. V-neck maxi dress
A V-neck tends to be a flattering option for most women, whether you are choosing a top or a dress.
Sam (above) chooses a retro style polka dot dress and teams with shoes to match the dots.
9. White maxi dress
When you think of a long white dress, you probably think of a wedding dress. But, I think a white maxi dress can look beautiful for summer and beyond.
I’d opt for a more casual style like this chic beach dress which you could team with metallic sandals and wear as a swimsuit cover-up for summer.
10. Black maxi dress
Just as the little black dress is a classic, so to is a black maxi dress.
You could wear a black maxi dress with pretty much anything, whether you choose to team it with a denim jacket for casual days, or dress it up with statement jewelry and heels.
Suzie (above) opts for delicate florals and shows off her fantastic legs with the side slit in her ruched maxi.
11. Red maxi dress
A red dress always creates impact and a red maxi dress will definitely get you noticed. I would just add a statement necklace and sandals for summer.
12. Navy maxi dress
Equally as classic as the black dress, is the navy maxi. Navy can be more flattering than black on your skintone and is just as versatile.
Of course, if you are opting for a floor-sweeping look, you could also think about a maxi skirt rather than a maxi dress.
A great way to wear your maxi skirt is to style with a simple tank or white shirt and let your maxi skirt be the focal point of your outfit, or to wear with a more casual t-shirt to mix up your style.
Abi (above) wears a slogan t-shirt and Converse with her floral skirt. However, her skirt is super versatile as it could also be worn with a silk top and heels for a more formal event.
Below are more stylish maxi skirts you may like to consider:
What to wear with your summer maxi dresses
I think a maxi dress makes a stunning statement on its own.
It’s easy to wear yet makes an impact. But, you may well want to add other pieces to your maxi dress either because it is cooler in the evenings during summer, or you want your maxi dress to have seasonal longevity so you can wear it in fall too.
By adding the right accessories, you can take your maxi dress from day to night. Plus, unless you are walking barefoot on the beach, you will definitely need some shoe options for your maxi dress.
Jas (above) opts for a perfect summer look with her metallic sandals and rattan bag, teamed with a floral maxi in a stunning shade of cobalt blue.
How to wear a maxi dress with Coats, jackets and cardigans
You may wish to have an outer layer to go with your maxi dress or skirt – either because the weather cools down in the evening on your vacation, because you are wearing your maxi dress as a transitional layer, or because you prefer to cover your arms.
I think that a jacket or cardigan which ends at waist level or slightly above looks best. Otherwise, you can end up feeling lost in fabric if you have a long dress and also a long jacket. However, this can work if you belt over the top of your cardigan or jacket.
You could opt for a cropped cardigan or denim jacket to add some warmth on vacation evenings.
Or, you could add a moto jacket to take your maxi skirt or dress from summer to fall.
Abi (above) adds a fitted blazer over her printed maxi dress.
Shoes to wear with maxi dresses
I always think that open-toe sandals or shoes work best with maxi dresses. A closed toe ballet pump or heeled pump just doesn’t look right with the informal sweep of a maxi dress.
But, I also think booties look great for fall and winter (either closed or open toe depending on how cold it is), as well as knee-length or over-the-knee boots.
That way, you can get much more use out of your maxi skirts and dresses.
Tanasha (above) chooses lovely tan shoes and accessories with her print maxi.
Accessories to go with your maxi dress
Unless you are opting for a formal ballgown in a maxi length, a maxi dress tends to have a casual air of easy style. I would make sure that your accessories and handbags have the same kind of feel.
So, instead of structured tote bags, you could think about natural materials such as rattan, softer shapes and tassels.
For your jewelry, I would keep that I-haven’t-tried-to-hard vibe by opting for long pendant necklaces, and drop or hoop earrings. Maxi dresses can particularly lend themselves to your outfits if you have a bohemian style personality.
I think maxi skirts and dresses can also have a Grecian feel about them, so you could also go down this route and choose a stack of bracelets or cuff bangles.
You could also add a scarf. Although, I’d make sure it isn’t too long as you will end up swamped in material.
Karen (above) shows how you can style a maxi dress when the weather starts to cool down.
Rag & Bone hobo – O’Neil straw clutch – Nordstrom straw circle cluth – San Diego Hat XL brim sun hat – Argento Vivo hoop earrings – Canvas Jewelry statement earrings – Kendra Scott drop earrings – Gucci gradient cat eye sunglasses
Here is the complete capsule wardrobe with 9 looks using the pieces I featured above
More maxi dress inspiration
Below, you will find a previous maxi dress capsule. While these dresses are from a previous season, you can see you can create a truly timeless look with a maxi dress which you can wear for years to come.
More tips on how to wear a maxi dress
1. Keep it simple
As your maxi dress is a dramatic, flowing piece, you can afford to keep the rest of your look simple. A simple pair of sandals and a rattan bag is a perfect vacation look.
2. Don’t put your maxi dresses away for winter and fall
While maxi dresses are usually thought of as easy, breezy, floaty pieces to wear for summer, they can also make great transitional pieces. You can add a turtleneck sweater underneath, a moto jacket and a pair of booties, knee or over-the-knee boots.
3. You don’t have to choose patterns
If, like me, you tend to opt for block colors rather than patterns, a maxi dress can still be a stylish option. You could opt for a stylish one-color shirt or wrap dress, or a long tunic, which you could belt to add shape.
4. Don’t forget about your body shape
Choose a dress to suit your body shape. For example, if you are an hourglass, you will look best in a style which either comes in at the waist or which you can tie. If you are an apple, you might want to choose an empire style. Try on a number of different styles to see what works best for you.
5. Pay attention to the length
Either go for a floor-length dress (making sure it’s not so long that you trip over it!) or make sure that your dress hits at the slimmest part of your legs as that will be most flattering.
Maxi skirt and dress inspiration from 40+ women
Suzanne really knows how to rock both maxi dresses and a maxi skirt. She looks truly amazing on all of these images (below).
Ana writes that she finds the maxi dress the easiest item to wear of all clothes – just one item and throw it on! Great look!
Lorraine (below) is looking glorious in her two colorful creations that she combines with short cardigans.
Here is what Loraine had to say about her dresses: “I have maxi dresses which I wear on holiday abroad but it’s not something I have worn during the day in the UK. However, I like the feeling of the fabric around my legs so I might give it a try.” I think she should; she looks magnificent in these dresses.
Do you wear maxi dresses or skirts? How do you style yours? Which of the above looks is your favorite?
- The Midi Dress Is Back And We Show You The Best Midi Dresses For Women Over 40
- Best Wrap Dress Styles For Women Over 40 – How To Wear A Wrap Dress
- A Capsule Wardrobe For The Bohemian Style Personality
Feature image by Tanasha
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