I’m 5 feet tall. No, I am not a legal midget ( but 2 inches shorter and I’d get handicapped parking…damn!), and yes I tend to get annoyed when I can’t wear certain trends due to my vertically-challenged nature. Overall, I don’t mind my height and, if anything, at least I always have an excuse to wear sky high heels. But there’s one thing that just pushes my miniature buttons. Can somebody tell me why designers insist on using ceiling to floor ballroom drapes to make maxi dresses? Am I supposed to wear stilts just to take these dresses for a little stroll around the block?
Maxi dresses are one of our best weapons against the heat and humidity. They’re loose and airy to allow our skin to breathe, long enough to be office-appropriate, light enough to be comfortable in the scorching temps, and super-cute and trendy to boot. So when I actually find a maxi dress that fits my mini proportions, I get excited. Excited would be an understatement, but I’m not sure how exactly to convey ASDKSDFJSFGSDROTWRFSDFSDFJ!!!!!!!!!! in standard English.
Because I love maxis so much and get myself into such a tizzy when I find one that fits (usually a mid-calf dress for normal sized ladies, let’s be real, I naturally want to wear it all the time. So how do I take a dress that’s fit for Sunday brunch and make it office-ready? How do I wear the same dress out to a bar on a Saturday night and then again for a picnic in the park the next afternoon without looking like a you-know-what? Lucky for us, maxi dresses are versatile and a staple for the season. But we can’t just throw on the same dress and expect to wow everyone no matter the occasion.
Remember all those little people over in lovely cities of Munchkin and Emerald who did all the work to make Dorothy and Co. presentable and respectable? Your maxi dress is Dorothy. Your shoes and accessories and beauty products and hair are the munchkins. Sure, they don’t get as much credit for the overall look, but without them, there would be no look for which to take credit. They make the outfit. They make you shine. Remember? Got it. Good.
Come daytime, take this simple black maxi from H&M. Yes, I am making things easier on myself by working with a neutral dress, but the same rules apply for all dresses. It may just take a bit more skill (or, if you really want to wear your maxi dress as much as possible, shop for more transitional dresses and skip the sunshine-y daytime tribal prints). When the sun is out, pair the dress with flat sandals, a cardigan or denim vest, and a long necklace. Play it easy on the bangles and earrings. You don’t want to overdo it (and you don’t need hot jewelry to stick to you all day). Throw your hair up in a messy top knot and shield your face with some sunnies. Keep the makeup light. You can also try one statement bracelet or a ring. I love pairing black with earth tones to achieve that boho, carefree vibe. Finish off with cross body bag and you’re good to go!
Come nighttime, sleekify it. Turn that denim vest into something more posh, or try a blazer. Kick off the flip flops and slip into some platforms (word to the wise: consider the cut of your dress when choosing heels. Flowy maxi dresses look weird with glam stilettos.) or wedges. Exchange the loose necklace for a statement piece to really decorate your décolletage. Now it’s appropriate to pile on the bangles. If you’re keeping your hair in a bun, make it nighttime-ready with some hairspray, teasing techniques, and add some earrings. Or, pull back your hair in a sleek pony. Don’t forget to glam up those eyes and add some lipstick. Reds and hot pinks are especially attention-grabbing. Swap the cross body for a clutch and get ready to have a few free drinks heading your way.
Do you have other tricks for transitioning the ever-stylish maxi? Share in my tragic tale for being too teeny to always be trendy? I want to hear it all, so drop me a line in the comments section below!
After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year. Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City. For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.