May 15, 2008

How to Wear the Maxi Dress

The prettier sister of the caftan, the maxi dress is now being hailed as the must-have trend for this summer. Who knew this artifact of 70s fabulousness would come back?

But to do it well, there are many things to consider when buying one.

Goals of the Maxi:
Look tall
Look thin
Look elegant
Feel comfortable

If you are petite:
Stick with a straighter cut (no prairie flounces)
Always wear heels
Avoid large prints

If you are voluptuous:
Make sure a bra fits under straps
Avoid horizontal stripes
Keep patterns proportional to your body

If your body is lacking in the curves area:
Avoid straight necks - sweetheart emphasizes the girls
Embrace braless-ness with spaghetti straps, or none at all
Use solids to draw attention to your curves

Rules for All Maxi Dresses:
- Keep patterns proportional to your body size.
- Pair with heels at night, wedges or flat sandals during the day.
- Make sure whatever shoes you wear, the dress is the right length. Embrace a tailor if necessary.
- Don't go too short - the dress should almost skim the floor. The zone between "maxi" and "tea length" is called "frumpy."
- Make sure your girls are locked and loaded.
- Beware of color-blocking: light colors highlight, dark colors disguise.
- Complement with jewelry: solid dresses get statement jewelry, fitting to the neckline. Printed dresses should get simple, small pieces. But a big ol' cocktail ring goes with both!
- Keep your purse complementary as well - no clashing patterns. Let the dress be the main statement, and keep your bag small and neutral.
- To dress up a maxi dress for a night out, max out the metallics, especially gold.
- Avoid details that are too Little House on the Prairie - go for laid back elegance.
- A neutral, solid cardigan looks great when the breeze comes off the ocean.

Rachel Pally, $229 at

Alice + Olivia, $396 at Bloomingdale's

C&C California, $195 at

Diane von Furstenburg, $265 at Lord & Taylor

Lucky Brand, $88 at

Old Navy, $19.99 in stores and

Have fun maxin' it out!

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