Best Maxi Dresses in 2021 Reviews & Buying Guide
A long, flowing maxi dress is enough to make anyone feel as though they’ve stepped out of a Greek myth or a fairytale. The long skirt can help keep you cool and shaded in the summer or warm in the winter, so they’re ideal year-round dresses. With so many styles, colors, and prints available, there’s a maxi dress for everyone, no matter your height or fashion preferences.
The first factor you should consider when buying a maxi dress is the cut. This hugely impacts the overall appearance of the dress and can mean the difference between a classic piece and a trendy one that you might not wear next season. The neckline is another important feature and so is the material the dress is made from. Of course, you’ll need to pick a dress in a color or print you like, too.
In this guide, we’ve collected all our maxi dress knowledge to help you choose the perfect dress. You can also check out our top five maxi dresses for some inspiration.
The cut of your maxi dress affects how it fits and its overall appearance, so choose carefully. You might already know what kinds of cuts you like best, but let’s take a look at some popular options.
- Empire waist: Fitted just below the bust and flowing down from there, empire-waist maxi dresses look floaty and ethereal, with a vintage twist.
- Fit and flare: Perfect for anyone who wants to accentuate their waist, fit-and-flare (or A-line) maxi dresses are tailored in at the natural waistline, then flare out, giving you a full skirt.
- Tunic: Although not as common a cut as it is for shorter dresses, you can find some tunic maxi dresses, which fall straight down from the top with little tucking or tailoring. A tunic maxi dress can give you a relaxed but fashionable look and is particularly flattering with a belt.
- V-waist: With a fitted bodice, V-waist maxi dresses are another great option for accentuating the waist, but they differ from other fitted maxi dresses due to the V-shaped bodice that extends the natural waistline. This is a classic and often more formal choice.
Though slightly less important than the cut, the neckline of your maxi dress is another factor that can greatly affect the overall look and style. Low necklines are great in the summer, especially on strappy dresses, but can be chilly in the cooler months. Plus, extremely low necklines can be inappropriate for the office or religious gatherings. Higher necklines are more conservative and better suited for year-round wear, but they don’t always look as elegant. V-neck, crew neck, scoop neck, boat neck, cowl neck, and off-the-shoulder styles are all popular choices.
Cotton is the ideal fabric for a maxi dress, whether that’s a lightweight cotton, a stretchy cotton jersey, or a heavier variety for the cooler months of the year. Where possible, 100% cotton is the best option, but don’t overlook other fabrics. Dresses made from a blend of cotton and polyester aren’t quite as light and breathable as pure cotton but tend to be cheaper. Rayon usually drapes nicely, but it has a more slippery feel to it than cotton. For formal occasions, lace, silk, and satin maxi dresses are all attractive options.
Solid colors vs. prints
You’ll need to decide whether you prefer a maxi dress in a solid color or a print. If you’re interested in a printed dress, deciding which print you prefer is easier said than done, however. You can find maxi dresses in almost any print. Floral patterns, polka dots, animal prints, stripes, paisley, geometric prints – whatever pattern you can think of, you can probably find a maxi dress sporting it.
Sleeves vs. straps
You can find maxi dresses with spaghetti straps, thick straps, cap sleeves, short sleeves, long sleeves, and practically any other sleeve type that you might find on a dress. If you don’t have a sleeve style in mind, just browse and see what calls to you. There are also strapless maxi dresses for the ultimate beach style.
Women’s clothing is usually underserved in the pocket department, but you can find some maxi dresses with handy and stylish pockets. If you have a maxi dress with pockets deep and secure enough to hold your money and phone, you can leave your purse at home, which can be liberating on a hot day.
MAXI DRESS PRICES
You can find inexpensive maxi dresses for as little as $15 to $30. These might look attractive, but often the materials aren’t as luxe, the cut isn’t as nice, and the overall quality is poorer when compared to more expensive dresses.
Mid-range maxi dresses from fast-fashion and department store brands generally cost between $30 and $80, depending on the material and the extent of any embellishment.
High-end maxi dresses from designer brands can cost anywhere from $100 to over $1,000. The highest-priced maxi dresses are well out of the majority of budgets, but you can find some beautiful, high-quality dresses at the lower end of this range, too.
- Find out the exact length of any maxi dress you’re considering. A maxi dress should sit at around ankle-length, not covering your feet. Depending on your height, not all maxi dresses will be the correct length for you.
- Forget whatever you’ve heard about flattering shapes and prints. Sick of hearing that you can’t wear bold prints if you wear plus sizes or a form-fitting dress if you lack curves? We are, too! Be true to your style and buy a maxi dress that you love, and you’re bound to look like a million bucks.
- Check what type of fastening your chosen maxi dress has. Is it zippered, buttoned, wrap-around, or pull-on? It might not make a huge difference to some buyers, but others have specific preferences.
- Think about when you’ll mainly be wearing your maxi dress. If you only ever wear maxi dresses in the summer, choose a lightweight, breathable material that won’t cause you to overheat. On the other hand, if you’re choosing a maxi dress that will be part of your winter wardrobe, a heavier material would be ideal.
Q. Are maxi dresses versatile?
A. People think of maxi dresses as floaty boho pieces only suitable for summer picnics and festivals, but they’re actually far more varied and versatile than that. A maxi dress in a solid color or simple pattern, such as polka dot, can be dressed up or down to be informal or dressy. With the right accessories, maxi dresses can be suitable office wear or evening wear.
Q. How can I accessorize my maxi dress?
A. Pairing maxi dresses with the right accessories can elevate them from basic to something truly special. The accessories to opt for will depend on what kind of look you want to achieve. For a boho style, choose chunky bracelets and colored bead necklaces. For office wear, try cinching in the waist with a belt, wearing a simple blazer over the top, and pairing the dress with understated jewelry. Ultimately, though, you should stay true to your personal style when choosing accessories.
Q. Do maxi dresses have any specific care requirements?
A. The vast majority of cotton maxi dresses are machine-washable and dryer-friendly. However, you should always check the label before washing because some may be dry clean only, air dry only, or have specific washing requirements, such as needing to be washed cool or separately from dark colors.