Tips for Finding Your Perfect Maxi Dress + Outfit Ideas

by - March 23, 2022


Maxi dresses are the perfect Spring transition dress, but they can be tricky. In this post, I'm going to share some tips for how to find the perfect maxi dress for your body type and some ideas for how to wear them as we start moving into warmer weather.

I love a good maxi dress. They make me feel feminine and flirty and usually don't take much effort to turn into an outfit that feels purposeful and complete. Plus, most of them are good to wear as is on their own. But not every maxi dress works for every body.

Here are a few things to consider about your body type:
  • A strapless column maxi dress will play up an hourglass figure.
  • Spaghetti-strap maxis in a column or slight A-line cut will highlight your curves.
  • If you have a bigger bust, try one with cap sleeves and/or a cinched waist to tone it down.
  • Alternatively, for those of us who are less blessed up top, diving necklines, open backs, and details like ruching can help boost your bust.
Color and print will also affect the way a maxi dress looks on your body type. Here are some suggestions for picking the right color and fabric:
  • Choose simple, small prints if you're smaller.
  • Bolder prints or larger floral prints work for those of us who are curvier.
  • Solid colors work for everyone.
Now let's talk about length. Maxi dresses come in a range of lengths, from foot skimming to floor skimming, and it can be difficult to find one that doesn't trip you up...especially if you're petite. The general rule of thumb I follow is that my maxi dresses need to at least be ankle length and no longer than touching the top of my toes (although I do have a few that fall an inch or two above my ankles - too long to be a midi length but not quite maxi length).

Keep in mind that all of these are guidelines, not rules. And when it comes to fashion, pretty much anything goes. Bottom line: If you like something, wear it. But, if you do need some more advice, this article was surprisingly helpful for me.

Now for the fun part of this post - outfit ideas! I rounded up daily outfit pics from the last couple of years to show you ways that I regularly wear my maxi dresses. There are 27 in all, so plenty of inspiration for you to make the most out of your maxi dress collection this Spring.

Before we dive in, I will let you know that these dresses range in size from a small to a large, depending on when I purchased them, and many of them are old enough to not be available anymore. If you've got questions about any of them, you can leave a comment below or email me, and I'll do my best to help!

Sizing info: I'm 5'2" and weigh between 145-150 lbs. I typically wear size small or 6 in clothing and size 7 in shoes.



I'm starting with these four because they are the style of maxi dress that I tend to gravitate to the most. I like a defined waist with a drapey skirt. Bonus points if the skirt is tiered. I also mostly stay away from solid-colored maxi dresses, as they tend to accentuate my shortness more than I like.

Each of these four dresses can stand on their own. In addition to their pretty prints, defined waists, and tiered skirts, they each also have feminine details up top from flutter sleeves to a sweet little tie detail and puffed sleeves. So I kept everything else about these outfits simple by choosing shoes that wouldn't take away from the dresses themselves.


These two dresses are quite literally two of my favorite purchases ever. They have a vintage vibe and I always feel so pretty when I wear them. The buttons on the front are functional and they have a clever little gap prevention system on the top half that I wish all button-up dresses/tops had.


This dress, sadly, is sold out, but I wanted to show you that a strapless dress can work for just about any body type, especially if you pay attention to the details. This one not only has a cinched waist but also a ruffled top, leg slit, and tiered skirt. I wanted to show this two ways to demonstrate how much difference your shoe choice can make, plus what adding a belt can do for a dress.


There's not much to say about these three, other than that I wanted to show you how different types of straps can make a difference. The first dress is not fitted at all, but the adjustable spaghetti straps and the mixed print 'striping' gives it a more structured feel than just a hanging sack.

The dalmatian spotted dress has a smocked top and tie shoulder straps. You can't really tell from the picture, but the skirt is also tiered.

The last dress is a halter neck with a cinched waist and straight skirt, but the different pattern at the bottom gives it almost a Grecian feel.


Now let's talk about adding pieces to your maxi dresses. A denim jacket is always my go-to for colder days. They literally go with just about any dress, regardless of the way it's cut. For example, the first dress is strapless while the second dress has a halter neck.

The real trick is to find one that hits at your natural waist so that it doesn't weigh down the dress.


To me, a dark-wash denim jacket always feels more intentional than a light-wash one, and it's easier to wear with a variety of shoes.

A blazer is a great way to add an office-appropriate layer. You can keep it simple with black or pick one in a color that matches one that's found in the print of the dress.


I love how unexpected a white denim jacket feels when paired with a darker print. And a faux suede moto jacket adds a bit of edge. For a nice in-between layer, reach for a short-sleeve chambray button-up and tie it at your waist.

As a side note, sneakers are a quick way to dress down a maxi dress. And if your dress feels too long for them, add a knot on one side.

I saved my favorite completer piece for last: the denim vest.

These two are actually the same dress, just in different prints. As you can see in the first picture, they are a loose, column style dress. What you can't see is that they have adjustable spaghetti straps. While I wear these dresses on their own plenty enough, most often I add my denim vest. It just gives a little something extra to the outfit, I think.

First, it draws attention to my waist. Second, it keeps attention away from my wide-set shoulders. It also keeps my shoulders from burning.

To add some extra appeal to an outfit like this, try knotting the bottom of your dress or adding a wide belt at your waist. Wearing wedges instead of flat sandals helps keep everything looking long and lean.


I swear this yellow-orange floral-print dress is so versatile. You saw it earlier with both a denim jacket and a blazer, and I couldn't resist throwing in this version with a denim vest.

I also am in love with the blue-on-blue look of the second picture. That dress is a halter style with a high-cinched waist.


These last two are to show you that, like a denim jacket, a denim vest also works with pretty much every style of maxi dress. Just think of it like a jean jacket, just minus the sleeves!

I hope this post helps you to give maxi dresses a try and/or to be creative with the maxi dresses you already own.

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