August 21st, 2015
On My Mind

Maxi Madness

While driving into Oak Bluffs for ice cream last evening, we spied a gaggle of young women wearing maxi dresses. My mother commented that she just doesn’t understand the appeal of the ankle-grazing trend. I realized that I first posted on the popularity of long-for-day five years ago, yet, I haven’t embraced it myself.

I like a maxi silhouette when it’s done right; not sure why I haven’t bought one. I don’t think it’s an age or height issue.  Thoughts?

Skirt by Isabel Marant.


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  • I love the maxi dress. They are cool and comfortable while looking put together. I have two maxi dresses one gray and the other black. We went to New Orleans this spring and the gray one was all I wore. It took me from sight seeing to dinner. The black dress has been my go to outfit when I don’t know what to wear. They are easy to style, cute sandals you can add jewelry or not. Others options adding a cardigan , jean jacket or scarf. The maxi dress is a perfect solution fo someone like me who likes a minimalistic wardrobe.

    RobynAugust 21st, 2015  5:21 AM

  • Preston- I agree that age is a factor. The same maxi can look carefree and bohemian on a willowy young thing and frumpy and out of date on an older woman. Especially those maxis with an “Eileen Fisher” look.
    That said, with edgier shoes and the right jewelry, I think any woman can pull it off.

    DaphneAugust 21st, 2015  6:12 AM

  • I haven’t embraced that trend either. Although, like you, I love it on others when done right. Really do not like the full skirted, spaghetti strapped versions on most women.

    Sue BurpeeAugust 21st, 2015  6:45 AM

  • Interesting post and interesting question. I’d been getting a little bored with the maxi dress look until I discovered the wonderful (courtesy, of course, of KiC). Their wonderful styling of beautiful vintage dresses has revamped my enthusiasm and is a constant source of new ideas. Recently I nearly bought a vintage YSL tiered maxi-skirt in a local boutique and was only held back by the weight of it: it was surprisingly heavy.

    But before LaDoubleJ re-ignited my enthusiasm, I think I’d come to regard the maxi dress rather like a pair of sensible shoes: you know that its a good basic buy and will get worn but its not the most exciting purchase and often doesn’t set the heart racing when seen on the hanger. But then, its often the “sleeper” items like these that turn out to be the winners.

    NellvoyagerAugust 21st, 2015  7:19 AM

  • I’ve never cared for the maxi look – possibly because it reminds me of the “Granny Gown” fad of the ’60’s which I also disliked. That said, the above photo is quite appealing to me, but it could be because the obi belt is so lovely. I certainly understand why some people like the look, though, and see this as one more example of how we all need to find our own best style and go with it, regardless of what is currently trendy.

    AliAugust 21st, 2015  7:36 AM

  • Tall and slender is key – age doesn’t matter.

    AnnaAugust 21st, 2015  7:40 AM

  • I like it. I’m surprised it goes so in and out of style, especially when it is much more wearable than mini skirts are for the majority of women at any point in time. It can be frumpy on shorter women, but that can generally be minimized with attention to styling. I remember in the late 70s the maxi/midi skirt became the overwhelmingly accepted style for day wear, office and social. It didn’t seem weird or unnatural at all then, but even being a fan, I don’t think it will become that universal this time around. I don’t think the millennials will embrace it to that extent. Love the look in the pic!

    AprilAugust 21st, 2015  7:57 AM

  • I love the easy maxi dress look at the beach. In the city it never looks right to me. I also feel like it’s been done to death. Flowing maxi/wedge sandals/long and curled hair extension…. Just my 2 cents

    JulieAugust 21st, 2015  7:59 AM

  • The length of the skirt in your post is just right but I can’t stand sidewalk sweeping maxis. I like the ease of a maxi in the country, but in the city, they just look sloppy.

    YNYAugust 21st, 2015  8:08 AM

  • This was bound to draw a comment from me! I sort of digressed from the topic of a previous post in a comment I made on how the maxi dress has become the new sweatpants. I think quality fabric and correct proportions are what’s critical to keep the look from getting sloppy. I only own one and agree it can be an easy dress option when you want to be comfortable, but still look pulled together. Heading to dinner last week, after my observations on the maxi dresses in the airport, I threw mine on because it was simple and I could get out the door quickly. However, no scarf, no jean jacket. I opted for a Linen/silk cardigan and suede, fringed Chloe sandles and a gold cuff to keep from looking sloppy and crossed my fingers that I didn’t.

    KellyAugust 21st, 2015  8:12 AM

  • The maxi dress is the new muumuu. I despise the look, especially if too sheer and worn without a slip. Call me old fashioned, but I find them very frumpy. Your selected image contradicts every sentiment I have toward this trend.

    LouisaAugust 21st, 2015  8:51 AM

  • I think it looks good on someone young, but after a certain age, I do think you have to be tall and slim. I don’t like it that I feel this way, and of course, anyone who wants to should wear it.

    KathyAugust 21st, 2015  8:58 AM

  • agree about height of wearer being important. the lovely look here is a maxi skirt and top, perhaps easier to pull off as separates…..

    LeslieAugust 21st, 2015  9:01 AM

  • I think the cotton knit tank ones are are dated and not stylish but there are many pretty options. I have a silk Theory maxi dress I bought this season that I have been wearing a ton. I am not tall (I am slim) and I think they look fine. For those of us who live in hot climates (85 degrees and more 5 months out of the year.) maxi dresses and other loose fitting dresses are a life saver for a cute casual look.

    EBAugust 21st, 2015  9:09 AM

  • I agree with Louisa. I never felt right in this trend and I usually don’t like it on others.

    karenAugust 21st, 2015  9:22 AM

  • Lots of opinions on this. There are so many factors that make a maxi a hit or disaster. The floor dragging spaghetti strap variety has never had any appeal. But a classic sleeveless sheath in a beautiful fabric, like The Row, can be sophisticated. I like less boho and more elegant. I purchased a SEA maxi for spring in black that has a column structure with high side slits for walking. It’s worked for day or night and been a great travel partner. I wear it with flat suede sandals, a ponytail and minimal jewelry basically keeping the rest of the look clean. I also think there has to be a balance of skin exposure. Too covered up can look monastic. A reveal of toned arms or toned legs balances the coverage from so much fabric.

    A Note on StyleAugust 21st, 2015  10:59 AM

  • For Californians, this is a trend we see often. Comfortable in hot weather.
    Marant evokes Calif 70’s style beautifully.
    This style is helpful to cover legs that are in less than perfect shape. Height helps.

    alisonAugust 21st, 2015  11:27 AM

  • I love a great maxi when done right (like above). It is all in the accessories and the proportions. I pull mine out on those days when I don’t feel like showing my legs. It does help if you are tall, but that being said I’ve seen it look fab on friends of mine that aren’t. — Proportions and Accessories!!


    Kristin BungartAugust 21st, 2015  1:06 PM

  • Good points — I agree that a plain maxi looks like I haven’t tried! Needs jewelry ..
    or that belt!

    GayleAugust 21st, 2015  1:26 PM

  • As usual, readers have covered this from all angles with great comments. The overall read I get (and concur with): this look really suits a narrow range of contexts (preferably beach or summer vs. city or all-season); women (preferably tall, slim, and young/bohemian, at least at heart); and really needs just-right styling to work. Interesting to note that the model shown is 5’10” and a size 2. Others, beware: it can go frumpy, sloppy or monastic really fast. I need more versatility than that in my closet, although I have one I use as a bathing suit cover-up for the inevitable business events at resorts. This also reminds of a previous post and reader comments about the challenges of larger chests – even great looks can get mumsy (I admit this is a challenge of mine).

    Lisa MacAugust 21st, 2015  7:24 PM

  • Not for me. I see too many in thin knits revealing much more than their wearers know.

    ChristineAugust 21st, 2015  8:20 PM

  • Trekking around in a long, ankle length dress on a hot summer day feels cumbersome and clumsy to me, not to mention the hem will get destroyed jumping in and out of the car, dashing across streets and parking lots, etc. And who really wants to cover their legs if they are good? The long dresses may be fun for an occasional summer evening soiree, but like other readers, it feels hippy-dippy to me. Tank tops belong in the gym. For me, long skirts and ‘maxi dresses’ lack sensibility and function. I can’t even stand the prefix, “maxi.” I wear long to black tie, where it makes perfect sense, and sometimes wear tea/ankle length for festive late day or parties in friends’ homes.

    PaulaAugust 21st, 2015  11:01 PM

  • P.S. My 24 year old daughter wears looks like the one above and it’s adorable on her.

    PaulaAugust 21st, 2015  11:02 PM

  • For me, once I wore one, I’ve never wanted to go back. I have two, both are narrow with side slits for ease in walking and in black. They keep me cooler than pants in the hot Summer month and they are my most comfortable attire for Summer. I love them. I wear with scrappy sandals and a Helen Kaminsky woven hat, along with my signature gold bangle. It is my Summer uniform.

    LouiseAugust 22nd, 2015  9:14 AM

  • I fell in love with the maxi skirt in Thailand years ago. The streamline sarong is a thing of great beauty. The sillouhette is long and lean belted high at the waist much like your photo. The difference being the volume is kept to a minimum.

    Susan BushmanAugust 23rd, 2015  7:14 AM

  • Love a maxi dress/skirt and it’s definitely not an age or a height issue, everyone can wear them!

    That's Not My AgeAugust 23rd, 2015  10:53 AM

  • I agree with Lisa Mac and I don’t own one, but like you I’m not necessarily opposed.

    PARASeptember 6th, 2015  8:25 AM


Please be courteous. All comments are moderated. Preachy comments about body weight, age, smoking, and furs will not be posted.

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