Fab Friday style tip: how to find a maxi dress that flatters

Nikki Parkinson Fashion, How to 74 Comments

Last Saturday I was shopping with a size 6-8 client. Yesterday my client was size 22. They were both convinced they couldn’t wear a maxi dress.

My petite client thought she was too small and that the dress would overwhelm her. My voluptuous client thought the same thing.

It ain’t necessarily so, I told them both. I may also have come over all cheer-squad like in my support of what has become my number one summer wardrobe staple.

And guess what? I’m happy to report that they now both own one or two. And I highly suspect they’ll be wearing them. A. Lot.

Metalicus organic stripe maxi dress $199.95

Metalicus organic stripe maxi dress $199.95. www.metalicus.com

It all got me to thinking. Are there a lot of women out there who run a mile in the other direction rather than try on a maxi dress? A dress that could be their potential summer bestie. A dress that doesn’t require you to remember to shave your legs? (oops, is that just me?)

According to random poll I unscientifically conducted on Styling You’s Facebook wall last weekend, a lot of Stylers are still not so keen to go there.

In this week’s Fab Friday vlog below (click here if you can’t see the clip), I talk you through the hows and whys of finding a winning maxi dress, no matter what your height and shape. Are you with me?

Key styling tips

1. Avoid dresses billowing with metres of fabric (unless, of course you are six foot tall and of wire-like proportions … congrats you are the only person who will NOT look like a tent in these styles).

2. If you see a voluminous dress you really have the hots for, try it on in one or two sizes down from your normal size. That’s what I did with this one from Country Road.

3. DO choose a maxi dress that is a tank style or one that has a slight a-line like this one from Verily. You will be surprised how flattering they are. Ditto, this one I had one my wishlist from Sacha Drake, which I have now featured in this Model and Me post.

4. The other maxi dress style that works is a fitted style top that drops and drapes from immediately under the bust BUT – and it’s a big but – if there is a lot of fabric *draping* from under the bust you will not look streamlined. My client today found the non tent-like variety at Crossroads today at 40% off. We teamed it with a short-sleeved draped bolero in a light t-shirt material that gave her shape at the waist but made her feel comfortable around the arms.

5. Do wear a maxi dress with flat open sandals or wedges for classic summer sartorial elegance. Yep, pass me the G&T. Stat.

6. If the dress is too long, get it taken up. You’d do the same with a pair of pants, wouldn’t you?

7. Yes, you can belt a maxi dress to achieve shape. If you have a short waist like me, a wide belt under the bust is the devil. Those blessed with a long torso, belt away. I’ll watch on in envy.

Shopping suggestions

summer maxi dresses for all shapes and sizes

Click on image to enlarge

1. Sacha Drake Lola dress $219 | 2. Trenery batik jersey maxi $149 | 3. Virtu Bonita dress $79.95 | 4. City Chic Jungle Queen maxi $119.95 | 5. Sussan tribal strapless maxi dress $129.95 | 6. Supre 37×37 striped maxi $40 | 7. Sara mesh maxi dress $119

How many maxi dresses do you have in your wardrobe? Are you yet to take the plunge? What’s holding you back?

Comments 74

  1. Starting to embrace the Maxi (just like the condom dress!) Great to be able to throw it on and not worry about hairy legs or lack of tanning lotion applied.

    Can’t find the Trenery one of the link/web page Niki can you post the direct link? Really find the neckline suits me.

  2. Wow just found you,so happy I did this is great advice can’t wait to come back and read more I’m now following. Have a great day my new friend.

    Always Wendy

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  3. wow, i love all these maxi dresses, my favourites are 1,2, and 7, i love the colours and styles, im a big girl so i like to cover up a bit and these look really comfortable 🙂

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  4. So I purchased a tank style maxi today. Never in a million years would i have thought I could get away with a tank style maxi, let alone one with hori stripes. I also have a beautiful silk Saba maxi from last season that I only wore twice because I looked pregnant in it – it’s one of those tight at the bust lots of fabric ones, also too long for flats. Thanks to this post I now know to get it altered and some of that bellowing silk taken out. I just know it’s going to work and I’ll finally be able to justify the expenditure on that puppy (cost per wear it’s not good at the mo)

    Thanks for the (continuing) education.

    J
    x

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  5. Why is my favourite always the most expensive one??? The Sascha Drake maxi is beautiful. Perhaps its the colour combo. I am lucky in that my abnormal height (me and Khloe Kardashian have always been the tallest with the biggest head in our families) .

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  6. It is great not to worry how my legs look once in awhile. It has been so long since I last wore this style and now that I saw it, I realized how I missed it. Thank you for the fashion tips when wearing a Maxi dress.

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  7. I tried one on once, didn’t suit me. But, EVERY woman I see in a maxi dress looks hot. Not ridiculous at all.

    After seeing all the beautiful selections here, I love number 2. Think I may have to try again. Thanks Nikki!

    X

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  8. Not a maxi girl. I have tried many different styles but all make me look even shorter and emphasize my derriere which I certainly don’t need. And further to that I don’t like having a lot of fabric on during summer as I get quite hot, perhaps would be okay for a cooler evening.
    Each to their own, but give me a short summery dress any day 😉

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  9. I am maxi and I LOVE a maxidress! Talk about cool, comfortable and most importantly, COMFORTABLE! Whack it is with a pair of flats and pile on the accessories and I am outta here!

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  10. I have a maxi skirt from Sussans ( actually have a pic in my latest post) it has a split up the side so it doesn’t overwhelm me.

    Cause my tummy is my least attractive body part (how do you like that for a positive spin on I HATE MY FAT BELLY OMG!) I wore a bat wing cardigan with it.

    I got compliments all day!

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  11. I admire your enthusiasm for the maxi, but it’s not my personal style. I have also practically never seen someone who looks good in it. I reckon that for every 5 women who wear a maxi, 4 of them look ridiculous because they pick the wrong type of maxi, they style it badly and they wear it for the wrong occasion (the latter is the most prevalent).

    I usually see women with maxis wondering around the local shopping centre with thongs. On top of that almost each one is tripping over the fabric and many actually tie a knot at the front of the skirt so that they can walk. Tacky!

    Then there are the women who wear them with summery heels / the new platforms. They have to walk reaaalllly carefully because certain death may result at any moment from tripping over their own fabric.

    I think a maxi is best worn at a casual party / bbq where little movement is necessary.

    But deep down, if I’m to be completely honest, I think they generally look like glorified nightgowns.

    I shall keep an open mind though.

    Really I will!

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      Each very much to their own, Eleanor.

      I do, of course, disagree, given the very topic of this blog post. And I wear maxis everywhere from the shopping centre to cocktail events and everything in between.

      They are more elegant than a short dress worn in summer with flats.

  12. Oh I can’t wait to see the sascha maxi… I have been coveting it since you first mentioned it. Ooh exciting. I think it will be my Christmas day dress. Pls don’t make me wait too long! By the way i LOVE your blog…totally addicted… first thing I do each day is check what fabulousness you have in store. Will be in se qld at Xmas…maybe a styling session might be in order. squeeeeee.

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      Early next week, Melissa! Was going to sneak it in today but it really does deserve a post of its own 😉 Would love to take you shopping at Christmas – thanks for coming to the blog every day.

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  13. I’m a size 14 and love maxi dresses, I have 2. One in black with hot pink and red; one in black with beautiful peacock green and blue. I’d love to get some more but think it’s time to steer away from variations of black!!!!!

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      1. Ah ha! I know the exact one you speak of! I Highly recommend the Verily navy & white stripe that I bought after seeing it in a Model & Me post here. I’m a size 14 & even my hubby thinks it makes me look thinner. WIN!

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  14. Oh Nikki, I have been waiting patiently to hear more of that Sasha Drake maxi since the last time you posted about it! I am also in love with the Metalicus one.

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  15. I love love love maxi’s I have about 6 in my wardrobe and they have been a staple for the last 3 summers. You don’t have to worry about shaving, which is a problem when you go jump into your bathers and are left wondering how it got that bad! Did have a slight mishap at the hairdressers though, the skirt draped around the footrest at the basin so I ended up going A over T as I went to walk away, and I’m always paranoid on escalators that the fabric my get caught & I’ll be left standing in my underwear.

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  16. great tips, I didn’t think I could wear one until last year I bought a black one and rocked it all through the Christmas season, funniest thing was that sssshhhhh I bought it in BigW’s while getting Christmas lollies, threw it in my trolley and thought what the heck…

    every time I wore my $20 dress, people asked me where I got it…the lil LV number on my shoulder not a question, the BW maxi = questions…

    for me the maxi is about plain colours and simplicity…

    nice post

    Sarah

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  17. LOVE a maxi dress (goes without saying really doesn’t it) Cannot rave enough about EVERY SINGLE Sacha Drake maxi I own – they are super-long! (ie. long enough for anyone over 5ft 8) but I totally agree, if they are too long, take them up ladies!
    My tip for the petite ladies out there is find a maxi in ONE colour or pattern (rather than in sections – ie. the bust in one colour and the bottom half in another colour) It makes you look taller because it doesn’t cut your body in half.
    Cannot wait to see your Model and Me post next week, that dress is on my list too – can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    x

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  18. NIL… I’m pear shaped 160 cm who mostly shops online and secretly craves for the perfect maxi dress as I love dresses. SHall give these tips a try. Thanks!~

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  19. I love a good maxi dress!
    After avoiding them for a while (I’m short and petite and like your client, thought they would overwhelm me) I tried one on and it was love at first sight! Since then, I have become a bit of an addict.
    The best thing (apart from not having to shave your legs!) is that a maxi dress thrown on with a nice pair of sandals and a pretty necklace or bracelet makes you look very polished even though it’s taken next to no time to throw the outfit together 🙂

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  20. I have been drooling over the beautiful Maxi’s this season but swore I would never suit one! I have a classic pear shape, so feel like they always make me look larger than I really am. I would LOVE your help on this one PLEASE!!

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  21. Goddamn! Why is my favourite always the most expensive one??? The Sascha Drake maxi is beautiful. Perhaps its the colour combo. I am lucky in that my abnormal height (me and Khloe Kardashian have always been the tallest with the biggest head in our families) that maxi’s are a regular wardrobe staple for me. Love them – own about 10 (not kidding).

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  22. This is something that is a problem for me, so thank you for this! I am going to keep in mind your tips when looking at maxi’s next.
    My issues with maxi’s, and anything flowy in the tummy area really, is that i then look pregnant. Maybe I never lost the waddle? If I wear anything flowy or loose in the tummy I have people coming up asking when i’m due, or am I pregnant. No. But thanks for that *eye roll*
    I’ve been told the trick is to belt it, but you know what? I don’t own a single belt. I am not a belt person, I wouldn’t even know how to belt it and not feel like a dick who is trying to keep her boobs up on her chest, lol.

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