Maxi dresses: come back, all is forgiven

They used to seem like a lazy choice but, as the sun continues to shine, maxi-dress snobbery falls by the wayside

High-low maxi dress, €33 at River Island

High-low maxi dress, €33 at River Island


Maxi dresses get a bad rap. In fact – and this is in the interest of full disclosure – they have been robustly derided by this very journalist on these very pages.

Once a fashion item becomes ubiquitous, it loses any allure it had as a seasonal must-have, an essential addition to one’s wardrobe. See also: wedge trainers, khaki jackets with leather sleeves, Varsity jackets.

But those in floor-length dresses shouldn’t throw stones, and as this good weather continues and mini-skirts have yet to reveal themselves as being as comfortable and forgiving as their older, longer sisters, maxi-dress snobbery falls by the wayside.

Cast your minds back five years, before maxi dresses saw a resurgence – when Ryan Gosling was considered a mere mortal, when the One Direction boys were waiting for their voices to break and when Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis were still the dream couple. Full-length skirts were rare, worn only by hardcore hippies of the Woodstock variety.

Then, all of a sudden, it seemed as if there was a free-for-all on the maxi dress – as if we had, as a nation, witnessed the toppling of a lorry full of maxis on to the motorway of life, and we had scrambled, crazed, to grab one each, until every woman in the country owned a maxi dress with a tiered skirt and a bright, neon, Aztec print.

Maxi-mum uses
They seemed a lazy choice. Nothing to wear? Throw on a maxi – you won’t even have to shave your legs. They concealed a multitude of sins and allowed for an even greater multitude of possibilities. The maxi dress could be worn shopping, to the cinema, on a date and to the beach, and, if you forgot the picnic blanket, there was more than enough fabric to go around.

Of course, we don’t care too much that maxi dresses can be slightly impractical, too. If it rains, you’re soaked to the skin in minutes. You can’t cycle in one, or ride a horse, and while they do their best to conceal things (pregnancy, a large lunch, hirsute limbs and granny pants), they also have the unfortunate side effect of implying things (pregnancy, a large lunch, hirsute limbs and granny pants).

They’re not all bad, though. They can be incredibly comfortable and incredibly hassle-free – after all, who really wants to be pulling on jeans in this weather? They can be colourful and seasonal and they often look great with a tan.

The secrets to classy maxi-wearing? Avoid anything “typical”. That means large hoop earrings, jingling bangles and gladiator sandals. Stay away from loud prints in cheap shops: walking past someone in the same dress as you is never fun. Look for block colours and chic prints (blurred animal print is great, and monochrome will always work), and think outside the box – high-low hems, asymmetrical necklines and sleeves are different enough to be noteworthy.

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