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What is a Maxi Dress?

Updated on January 22, 2016
What is a maxi dress?
What is a maxi dress? | Source

Maxi Dress Definition

A maxi dress is defined as a long gown that reaches to the ankles. They are mostly worn in formal occasions like weddings. However, they can also be worn for work, informal or casual outings. As fashion outfits, maxidresses have in recent times been styled to suit even the street-style conscious girls.

They come in a variety of shapes and styles. Some are formfitting while others are flowing. Due to the large number of designers that currently manufacture these clothes, any body type can find a flattering style. Some styles include button-up, halter-neck, sleeveless, maternity, slits, wrap and pleated. Maxi dresses also come in virtually all colors and prints.

In modern day fashion, ladies have adopted the wearing of outfits that are not too covering. Going out in an ankle-length gown may feel like wearing a pajama to some. To solve this issue, fashion designers have come up with feminine and modern fabrics like satin and chiffon.

Black maxi dress outfit
Black maxi dress outfit | Source

How Long Should a Maxi Dress Be?

The length of the dress itself does not matter. What matters is where the hemline hits on the wearer. The usual height of a maxidress is 1/2 to 1 inch above the ground. The shortest maxi dress falls to about 1 inch above the ankles. If it is shorter than that, it is not a maxi. The longest one should graze the toe nails when standing upright. If a maxi falls to the toe nails, you should try it with the shoes on. The ideal length with high heels may be too long with flats.

Some styles of maxi dresses come with an adjustable height. These include strappy and halter-neck styles. The adjustments are done by way of a snap closure or a drawstring. However, such adjustments are limited by the position of the breasts in comparison with the design of the outfit. Adjusting too low will expose the girls, while too high will not look good.

Green maxi dress
Green maxi dress | Source

Sometimes, women may wear longer dresses in very special occasions. This goes well for VIPs who are invited in certain events as guests of honor. Often, the outfits are dressy and floor-sweeping, making it almost impossible to walk without holding the dress. Although this can be very uncomfortable, they take advantage of the fact that they will have limited movement.

In other instances, ladies may wear long maxi dresses to occasions where they will do a lot of sitting. These include dinners and parties. In summer beach or camp outings, girls can comfortably wear a floor length gown by tying it to make it shorter. This involves holding the hem in one hand and sliding it between the fingers in the other hand and making a tie. The knot may lead to severe creasing in some fabrics like cotton.

Button down maxi dress
Button down maxi dress | Source

Can Short People Wear Maxi Dresses?

Short women and girls can wear a maxi dress without looking overwhelmed by the length. If a small girl below the age of 12 can wear a maxidress, who can’t wear it? But first, you need to find a good style and size that fits your body shape. Though getting maxi dresses for petites is sometimes hard, they are still available in some online stores.

Most clothing designers will assume that targeting the majority of ladies is the ideal thing. Therefore, they forget to make clothes for petites and plus sizes. Retailers and wholesalers on the other hand fear hoarding a lot of dead stock. This makes petite maxis scarce.

If you can’t find shorter dresses for your size, try looking for local clothes designers. Sometimes, buying a gown and taking it to a good tailor is the better option. However, a dress may be difficult to style to your size if it has intricate details at the hemline. Another alternative is to opt for a skirt. You can wear it higher or fold the waistband to prevent it from sweeping the floor.

Maxi dress with heels
Maxi dress with heels | Source

For an outfit to fit shorter ladies better, it should create the illusion of height. Dark colors like black, brown, green and blue go well with long gowns and petite women. A V-neck or halter-neck will also seem to add height. Vertical prints or stripes have the best outcome.

A good belt will add balance and bring a better outcome. If you have big hips, choose a wide belt. If you are skinny, opt for a thin belt. You can also choose a dress with an elastic waist or draw-string tie. A belt can also be used to adjust the height of a dress especially if you are wearing a top over the costume.

Shoes play a big role in styling clothes for short or little ladies. The best shoes for petites are pumps, high wedges or high heels. Espadrilles are particularly good in adding height. Always make sure you are comfortable in high heel shoes before going out. This is particularly so in a floor grazing gown.

A stylish maxi dress is every woman’s wardrobe staple. For most ladies, an item of clothing that is versatile and comfortable is a big treasure. Because of its modesty, femininity and ease of styling, a maxi dress is and will still be a popular outfit in many places around the globe.


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    • Maina Ndungu profile image

      Maina Ndungu 2 years ago from Thika, Kenya

      That's true. You can layer over or underneath maxi dresses to pull out any look you want. What's more, a maxi dress is not only versatile but also is it super comfy.

    • StealTheirStyle profile image

      StealTheirStyle 2 years ago

      You can't go wrong with a maxi! I'm loving maxi dresses with sheer skirt bottoms, they look super stylish and I love the way you can create layered looks with them too.