To the Max

How to take full-length dresses from day to night.

By Eden Dawn June 15, 2012 Published in the July 2012 issue of Portland Monthly

MAE WEST’S TRUISM that “too much of a good thing can be wonderful” applies to many subjects: closet size, tropical vacations, and, this summer, hem length.

The maxi dress swishes to center stage this season, pushing out its scandalous (and ageist) cousin, the miniskirt. An ankle-skimming garment certainly isn’t a new idea—hello, Laura Ingalls—but designers like Roberto Cavalli and Rachel Zoe have given the old trend a modern spin with incarnations like pleated sheer maxis, bold graphic prints, and the hi-low hem. (Also dubbed “the mullet,” this version is shorter in the front.)

The versatility of a maxi makes it an age-neutral trend. Plus, with a few simple steps, you can maxi-mize your wardrobe—and minimize your spending—by taking your floor-length tribal print from daytime casual to nighttime fancy.

For a chic day look, don colorful strappy sandals, your favorite shades, and an old-school denim jacket. (Look for one that hits you at the waist to give you shape.) When you’re ready to sashay on the town, banish the boho look with a pair of open-toed wedges (you want your hem to almost hit the ground, not drag across it) and a lacy shrug or fitted blazer. Add a cocktail ring and some big baubles at the neck, and heads will turn. As West once put it, “It is better to be looked over than overlooked.”

View the slide show above to see completed looks that showcase how to take your maxi dresses from daytime chic to evening elegant 

This Month in Fashion

  • Turquoise
  • Americana
  • Nordstrom anniversary sale
  • Project Runway’s new season
  • Tangerine nails
  • Woven belts


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