My birthday is coming up next month, and because celebrating in my full birthday suit is a little bold for my taste, I’m in the market for a cute birthday dress to commemorate my last birthday before turning a quarter-century old. In a fit of pre-birthday masochism, I’ve decided that I’d like to finally find a maxi dress that doesn’t make me look like the Statue of Liberty.

Who says you can't welcome immigrants in something flattering?
Who says you can’t welcome immigrants in something flattering?

I’m no stranger to sting of maxi dress rejection, but this time I’m going to be more persistent. There’s no reason a maxi dress shouldn’t be hanging in my closet right now. Every day I see regular women of all shapes and sizes wearing maxi dresses with their trendy accessories looking gorgeous, and I want to be one of them, but I think I have the age-old problem all desperate people are familiar with: I want it too badly.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only time a woman can find a cute, figure-flattering maxi dress is when she’s not looking for one. These maxi dresses are like pixies of fashion. Every time I’ve seen a woman buying a maxi dress, she’s always been apprehensively clutching the hanger and length of the dress that would drag on the floor with this look of pure astonishment on her face like, “I can’t believe I finally found a maxi dress. Is this real? DON’T GET TOO CLOSE LADY, THIS IS MINE!”

Let me illustrate this phenomenon with a brief scenario:

A woman will be at Target for no other reason than to buy cereal, face wash, and a perhaps bag of M&Ms and the latest copy of Cosmopolitan if the checkout line is long enough to permit some candy and magazine perusal. After bypassing the carts, she strides past the clothing department with no intention of browsing whatsoever when the loveliest maxi dress she’s ever seen will catch her eye. “Surely this will make me look like a Grecian statute of a woman hiding a baby bump like all maxi dresses do!” she’ll reason, but a tiny voice inside will convince her to find her size and go to the fitting room. There in the dimly lit room full of discarded bras and inside-out pairs of jeans, this unsuspecting woman, who was just taking care of a mindless errand, will be rewarded with the discovery of a stylish maxi dress that doesn’t make her look like Kim Kardashian when she was eight months pregnant.

Now, let me describe the scenario that occurs when someone who wants a maxi dress (me) goes shopping specifically for a maxi dress:

Almost at the dresses… I can see their skirts sweeping the floor. I’M COMING FOR YOU, MAXI DRESS OF MY DREAMS! So many to choose from, what’s the fitting room limit? I don’t want to be that girl. Okay, I’ll try this one, that one, OH THIS ONE IS GOING TO LOOK GREAT I’M SO EXICTED, I’m not sure about this one, but I’ll give it a try, aaaaaaaaaaand, okay this one too. There’s bound to be a winner in here! I’M GOING TO OWN A MAXI DRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fitting room, here I come!

Dress 1: Um, where is my body? I had a body a few minutes ago. Instead of hourglass or pear, I now have a pipe cleaner body type.

Dress 2: Fee-fi-fo-fum, I’m not tall enough to wear this. The bottom of this dress is bound to get stuck somewhere, rip, and leave me standing in my underwear on a day when I was in the mood to wear my casual “nothing to see here folks” undies. (Why is full ass coverage so relaxing sometimes?)

Dress 3: How can this be?! I really saw myself in this one! How can this dress actually look like this when I can see myself in it looking good!?

Dress 4: Oh good, when I walk in this my lower body looks like a baby hippo trapped in a bolt of fabric. Not cute.

Dress 5: If only I went to more sacrificial offerings, I would have somewhere to wear this garment.

Maybe I’m simply not ready to dive into the draped world of maxi dresses. Maybe I don’t look as bad in them as I think or do, or maybe everyone looks bad in them, and I’m just more attuned my own personal looking badness than I am to other people’s. Maybe I’m still a little turned off by the fact that when I hear the word “maxi,” instead of picturing a long, flowing dress, I’m reminded of a long, flowing period that necessitates a maxi pad.

Nevertheless, something compels me onward; the promise of owning a shapeless dress with that highlights my décolletage and also hides my pale, stubbly legs is too enticing to ignore.


I know you’re out there somewhere maxi dress, and maybe this season I’ll finally find you.

Ladies, do you love or hate the maxi dress? Am I missing out? Gents, I’m sorry for the maxi pad reference, and what your thoughts on the maxi dress? Not enough leg?

40 thoughts on “The Mystique of the Maxi Dress

  1. I’m too short for a maxi dress. Yeah, I could just have it hemmed, but I feel like the fact that they don’t make maxi dresses in my size is proof that someone my size would look terrible in a maxi dress. Whether or not that’s true, it’s my primary reason for never having bought one. (That and being too lazy to get it hemmed.)

    1. Yeah, I don’t think I’d get a maxi dress hemmed, either. The hemming would probably cost as much as the dress, anyway. I feel like having dresses tailored is for special occasions only.

      And for rich people.

  2. The creep who comments 8 seconds after you post but…someone’s gotta do it. I am with you on this! I LOVE maxis (dresses, not pads) but feel like most make me look like some kind of weirdo pregnant alien or something and I hate maxi dresses that are strapless because I need a real bra in my life. A long dress + ill-fitting strapless bra somehow is just worse than you can imagine. ANYWHOO purchased this little number from Old Navy. it makes the cleave look great, defines the waist and, as you might see in my newest post, hides coffee spills. Also on-sale and in many patterns. And you can wear a real bra!

    1. Oooh! That’s cute! I gave up on Old Navy a few years ago, because somewhere along the way I just felt like they stopped having clothing I liked, and I used to shop there ALL the time. Maybe it’s time I make my triumphant return.

      I can totally do a strapless bra, but it seems like a lot of maxi dresses are only fitted right below the chest, and then from there on it’s a free-for-all of fabric and unflattering shapes. I need to be cinched somewhere, or I’ll look like a potato person.

  3. I’m too heavy for those, but I always wish I could get away with them when shopping in the summer and seeing someone wearing one and looking cool and comfortable.

    One day… 🙂

  4. I’m 5’7″ and have looked atrocious in every maxi dress I’ve tried on. Yet my itty bitty 5’2″ friend has a wardrobe of them and looks A-MAZ-ING each and every time.. Life is truly not fair.

    1. I KNOW! What is going on?! I’m also 5’7, and I can’t figure out how people that are taller than me and also shorter than me manage to look great in them, but I just look ridiculously formal, pregnant, or both.

  5. Guy perspective: we love everything you ladies do. Maxi, mini, long, short, tight, flowing, whatever…Just smile and wink, and we’re like, “yeah, life is pretty awesome”

    1. Thank you, Lucas! We could always use that little reminder. 🙂 (Especially when we don’t have any luck on the maxi dress front.)

  6. Oh, Katie, dear Katie. Asking us men if we like the maxi dress without providing a photo of a live woman in a maxi dress is like asking us if we want fois grasse pate on the barbecue appetizer menu instead of pigs in a blanket. Whazzat? The Lady Liberty shot does not help. Our imaginations in these matters are good but not that good.

    1. It’s really just a long flowing dress with a fancy name. A long nightgown would probably qualify. It’s nothing that special, but… I WANT ONE. I really want one. Still no luck, yet.

    1. I really think it’s my thighs. When you carry your weight in your thighs and then you drape all that fabric, the results are not good.

  7. I just bought my first maxi (dress, that is), and I am in love with it! It’s a cinch to get dressed, and when I’m working at home, it makes me feel more professional than my usual yoga-esque gear. It’s a super-easy way to feel glamourous, but at the same time, not overly dressed up. P.S. I suggest looking at Modcloth– they have a great selection, and reviews that take a lot of the guesswork out of sizing.

    1. Browsing on ModCloth is actually how this all started! I love their dresses/clothes/everything–they have a lot of great pieces.

      I just wish there was someone with my exact body type/proportions who could upload a pictures. Every time I’d see a dress that might be a contender, I’d see an image of a woman actually wearing it and thought, “Yeaaaaaaaah, there’s no way it’s going to look like that on me” or “WHOA! I don’t want to look like that.”

  8. I totally agree with you about the word ‘maxi’, it’s horrible. I’m not a fan of maxi dresses, I’m not a fan of baggy clothing at all and being short I’m sure they’ll all be inches too long for me and will be yet something else for me to fall over.

    Rosie x

    1. I mean, what was so wrong with just calling it a long dress, anyway? I think baggy clothes only look cute when they’re obviously baggy. When they don’t, it just looks like you were lazy and threw on your boyfriend’s clothes and left the house to go to Walmart.

  9. I have to admit that I have not been thinking about maxi dresses lately, or ever. Aren’t all dresses that aren’t mini dresses maxi dresses or are there mini maxy or max mini’s. Why can’t you just be lazy like us and either choose jeans or shorts?

    1. Because sometimes I don’t like to separate my legs. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you men to constantly have your legs an isolated pants leg. Doesn’t that drive you nuts sometimes?

      That word choice may have been iffy.

  10. I’ve been lusting after maxi dresses for a while now too. Can never find one that makes me not look like I’m a midget in giant’s clothing. I’m 5’2″ so they are probably not “recommended” for my height but I still want one. Maybe one day…. By the way, how come whenever I see anyone in one (maxi dress) they all manage to look great, from the petite to the statuesque ones???

    1. I’ve seen shorter gals wearing them and looking great! I have no idea how everyone else manages to look great in them, and I look completely ridiculous.

  11. I’m a fan. But it’s true that whenever you’re specifically looking for something, you’ll never find it!

    1. Isn’t it soul-crushing? I’m trying to trick the universe now and declare that I’m not looking for a maxi dress…

      (But I totally am looking.)

  12. I LOOOOOOVE maxi’s. They’re like, my second favorite kind of dress. But I’m never the one to buy them…somebody always ends up giving one to me. This is great and all, but I can never find one when i actually go looking for one…and now I’m a little too tall for the ones I have now…yeahhhh

    1. The gift maxi dress… maybe that’s the solution! Maybe if someone gives me a maxi dress I’ll feel obligated to like it so even if it actually looks horrible I’ll have gift-receiver rose colored glasses on, and I’ll love it all the same!

      …I could always just keep looking, too.

  13. I love them! But on other people. I’m pretty clumsy, and I always worry that the dress would get caught in something or I’d step on it as I stand up and fall over. Every year I think I’m brave enough to finally get one, but I can never do it.

    1. Yeah, I do have some concerns about the length, but it’s almost always windy here so I thought, “Finally, I could wear a dress and not have to walk with my arms at my sides holding my dress in place!” But it’s just not working out in my favor.

    1. I have such a weird relationship with shorts. Like, I want to wear them, but I feel like they call attention to my thighs more than dresses even if the shorts and dress are exactly the same length. Does that many any sense whatsoever? Anyway.

      OMG. Just saw the image you linked to and died. I was like, “Oh, let’s see this chick in a maxi dress.” And I died.

      1. Yes! Precisely! It makes perfect sense to me. I’m the same. I don’t even understand it. The length is the same yet somehow I’d never put on the shorts version of that length… A skirt’s hemline is okay… Hm.

        Haha! : D

  14. I totally love Catherine dream’s answer. Because that is literally how I felt one day about maxi’s . But I’m a total pansy so I started off small with a maxi skirt instead. And let me tell you my body is like the epitome of what doesn’t go with a maxi skirt. I’m exactly 5 and a bit on the chubbs side. About 130lbs. But hell here’s me in a maxi skirt. Sporting a smile and being comfortable was pretty enough for me. 😀

    The dreaded picture of me in a maxi!
    Be brave beautiful ladies!

    1. YOU LOOK FABULOUS! I’ve been thinking more about the maxi skirt. At least with separates I feel like I have some kind of control over what’s going on. You’ve inspired me to look into the maxi skirts more!

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