Full-length maxi dresses and skirts came back from the 1970s to make a massive impact on the catwalk and the high street throughout 2011. But it wasn’t just a passing fad. The long look is here to stay, with heavier fabrics keeping us warm in winter and vibrant prints, flowing silks and casual cottons keeping us cool when the sun shines. But if you think the Maxi just isn’t for you, think again: versatile, flattering and feminine to the, erm, max, you too can max out on this enduringly chic trend.
Choose your maxi dress style
Petite women suit fitted, structured styles that sit closely to the body. Choose solid blocks of colour rather than large patterns to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and team with wedge sandals for added height and balance. Empire line maxi dresses that flow and ripple downwards from the bustline are pretty and popular – but they don’t always hide a big tummy. Emphasise the curves you want to draw attention to by choosing a dress that fits closely without being clingy, and beware of spaghetti straps if you’re big busted.
While your feet will rarely peep out from under that hemline, footwear is always an issue with a long dress. Strappy, beaded or jewelled sandals – particularly wedges, espadrilles or gladiators – perfectly complement the summertime maxi, while in winter, soft suede boots in neutral colours complete the look. High heels add elegance to special occasion maxis, but stick to flats for daywear. If you opt for a big print maxi, keep jewellery and accessories to a minimum, leaving the dress to do the attention-grabbing talking.
Skirting around the issue
When it comes to maxi skirts, getting the top wrong can lead to frumpish disaster. In winter, a cropped sweatshirt, a soft, loose, waist-length jumper or contrasting layers worn with a heavy skirt is bang on-trend, while for summertime, casual shirts tied on the waist or simple, cotton vests look bright and breezy. Loose-fitting blouses tucked into a voluminous, big-belted skirt make the most of a small waist, and a cropped denim jacket over a floral-print maxi skirt and a plain white T-shirt can be a snapshot of instant, casual, A-list glamour.
When it comes to getting around in your maxi, learn to glide rather than shuffle and remember to hitch the hemline up a bit when you’re tackling staircases or escalators. Once you’ve got the hang of it, the maxi offers maximum impact with minimum effort.