Oh, maxi dress. Let us count the ways that we love thee. They are classic, low-maintenance, easy to toss on and an instant outfit in seconds. They are magic in an easy-to-wear bottle, and we have your complete guide to maxi dresses right here, right now.
How about we kick things off with a quick history lesson on the much-loved maxi dress? Dresses have evolved in many ways over the years. The oldest woven garment ever found was a 5,000 year old dress discovered in an Egyptian tomb. Known as the Takhan dress, it is pleated with beautiful stitching and hits a little past the knee. Since then, many different dress designs have emerged for every occasion and season. At last count, there are over 40 different types of dress selections. From slip, to midi, to cocktail, there are various silhouettes to choose from, but arguably none of them are as versatile, comfortable or wearable as the maxi dress.
Now that we have had our history lesson, let’s find out more about the maxi dress and its many remarkable designs.
What is a maxi dress?
What exactly is a maxi dress, you ask? A taller dress silhouette, longer in length, with the hem typically falling on the top of your feet. While there are many variations of this style of dress, traditionally they are form-fitting on top and cut loosely over the rest of the body, making it a garment that is complementary to many different body types. They are known to have a multi-faceted design easy to dress up or down.
While it isn’t exactly clear when the first maxi dress was created, their popularity erupted in 1968. Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta debuted his innovative design at the Elizabeth Arden Fashion Show, followed by a widely read article that featured the same dress in the New York Times. Both ignited the popularity of the maxi dress and the love for the design continues to this day. Fueled by its demand, a variety of maxi dress modifications emerged on the scene.
What are the different types of maxi dresses?
We have rounded up the top maxi designs for you. From trendy to classic, there are so many amazing designs to choose from. Check out the highlighted options to find the best maxi dress (or dresses) for you.
Style Alert: Off-the-shoulder
The off-the-shoulder style is strapless, and as the name implies—the neckline falls right over the shoulders. It is often accompanied by an empire waistline positioned just under the bust. Pair your off-the-shoulder dress with a gorgeous necklace or your favorite statement earrings for a pop of wow to finish your maxi dress look.
Style Alert: T-Shirt
There is nothing like the comfort of your favorite tried-and-true T-shirt, unless it’s a T-shirt maxi dress. Think of it as the ultimate long, tall tee. From fitted to tank, to a free-flowing traditional short sleeved tee, the T-shirt maxi dress is as comfortable as it is stylish. It’s the perfect way to achieve the trendy athleisure attire that is on point this season. Slip on your favorite pair of sneakers, and you are set with a fresh look for whatever the day brings.
Style Alert: Spaghetti Strap
Next up, is the spaghetti strap maxi dress. This dress still shows off your shoulders but is secured by thin straps that are often adjustable for maximum comfort. The stability of the straps allows this maxi dress to have a variety of necklines. From v-neck to cowl, the spaghetti strap dress comes in many different variations and is the star of warm summer days.
Style Alert: Hi-Lo
The hi-lo maxi dress takes a walk on the wild side with a unique hemline with a shorter length in the front and a longer length in the back. It’s a fun and flirty option and shows off your favorite pair of shoes at the same time. Fun fact: the hi-lo hem is also known as an asymmetrical, waterfall or mullet hem.
Style Alert: Tiered
Tiered maxi dresses are a series of layers of fabric that are sewn together in a waterfall fashion. These lovely dresses are often constructed in a smock-style, or loose-fitting shape. They are in the nap dress family as featured as one of this year’s women’s spring fashion trends. The tiered design is not only a popular style, but also a piece that you will find front and center in cottagecore, a fashion trend that is taking TikTok by storm.
Style Alert: Statement Sleeve
Whether long, short, statement or capped, maxi dresses with sleeves are just as popular as those without. This year’s women’s summer trends feature statement sleeves like balloon, ruffle and flutter and add just the right touch to maxi styles. These unique details add a layer of interest to complete your look and set it apart from the rest.
Stylist tip: Add simple, neutral shoes to your statement-sleeve dresses to give balance to your overall look.
How to style a maxi dress?
When people think of maxi dresses, most often summer is the first season that comes to mind, but these dresses can be styled in numerous ways making them appropriate for many occasions and seasons. Check out these fun and easy ways to style a maxi dress.
Wear to Work
Layering a blazer over your maxi dress instantly elevates your look to professional levels. Add a classic pump or flat, a long statement necklace and pull the look together with a belt. If your dress is printed, find a solid blazer in a vibrant color to pair with the patterned frock. Rocking a solid maxi dress? Add a textured or printed blazer for interest. Will an oversized blazer work? Absolutely! Pairing an oversized blazer with a waist-free dress with a chunky shoe creates an edgy outfit that’s sure to turn heads. Finish the look with a layered necklace for a polished workday ensemble.
Top it Off
Adding a long-sleeved shirt under your maxi dress completely changes the look and makes it appropriate for cooler seasons. In warmer months, increase the versatility of your dresses by adding a light button-up shirt over your outfit. Tie the front of the top in a knot for a cropped look to give the illusion of a high-waisted maxi-skirt with shirt combo. The best way to achieve a sporty look is by simply swapping out the button-up for your favorite graphic tee. Knot the front of the shirt, add sneakers and you are set with another fresh look for the summer.
Layer it Up
What are the best layers to wear with a maxi dress? Throw on a moto, cargo or jean jacket over your dresses to add warmth, texture and dimension to your look. Too hot for a jacket? Layering on a sheer kimono or light vest will achieve the same effect when temperatures rise. Include a crossbody or belt bag with this look for a stylish day of exploring in your maxi dress.
Belt it Out
Use a belt to give your maxi dress a whole new shape and style. Add a pop-of-color to a solid maxi dress and a metallic belt to a printed maxi dress for an instantly transformed outfit. Can’t find the right belt in your closet? Get out your long silky scarves and tie one around your waist to achieve the same look with a boho feel.
What shoes to wear with a maxi dress?
You can’t complete an outfit without shoes. When it comes to what shoes to wear with a maxi dress, anything goes. These dresses are incredibly versatile and are easy to wear with anything from a colorful pair of wedges, to a solid combat boot. The best method of picking a shoe is to gather an array of shoes that complement the activities in your day and have a little try-on sesh.
Shoes that you will see everywhere this summer are fancy flat sandals, chunky clogs, pretty platforms and statement sneakers. Pair these trends with a flowing maxi for an instantly polished look for the season. Create an athleisure look with your favorite pair of sneakers. Adding a printed block heel to a solid maxi creates an even longer, taller silhouette to slay the whole day. There are no rules when it comes to what shoes to wear with maxi dresses.
How do I tie a maxi dress?
Now that you know how to style your maxi dresses, there is one more way to completely transform the look—tie them up. Say what now? Tie a maxi dress? Yes. Simply gather the hem on one of the sides of your dress and knot it for an asymmetrical look. Make the knot as tall or short as you please by creating different lengths and silhouettes. You can also gather and knot the fabric right in the middle of the dress to create a faux midi effect with a waterfall hem. This knotting technique is ideal for trips where you want to pack light because you can create so many different looks with one single maxi dress.
Another option is the convertible maxi dress that takes the tie to new levels. The extra long straps allow you to tie in many different ways to achieve a plethora of looks. From one-shoulder to a criss-cross back, the convertible style is a one-stop-shop for maxi dress looks.
We hope these tips answered all of your questions about maxi dresses, but if not, our team of experts has you covered. Ask a stylist any styling questions you may have, dress or otherwise. We look forward to partnering in style with you soon!