Some say yes and others say no.
While doing a brief scan though the net, I found a couple of DON’Ts when it comes to choosing maxi dresses for petites. Here’s MK Olsen and Rachel Zoe showing how NOT to wear a maxi dress or a kaftan for that matter.
More fabric + Larger prints + Shorter stature = Overwhelmed Frame
Still, there are several maxi dress styles that DO work for petites.
Since “petites” have a different body types even though we’re short, we need proper proportions that will help elongate our frame. Most maxi dresses are made extra long so it can be worn for people of different heights. As long as there is no changing print at the bottom, shortening the length isn’t a big deal.
The standard advice:
- Look for a V-neck or open decollete so the dress feels lighter and gives you presence
- The mid-section of the dress should skim close to the body and rest at the natural waist or have an empire waist
- A column or A-line skirt provides length and structure to the dress. The longer the skirt, the longer your legs will seem.
- Stick to a monochrome dress as other colors can divide up the body line. If you must do a print, choose to a smaller pattern so it doesn’t look too busy and distract from the body line
It seems like Rachel Bilson and Hayden Panettiere know what works for their body type to make them look taller, longer and leaner.
I found a few inspirational pieces have elements of what I’d like in a maxi dress. Since I can’t find these dresses in stores or in my size, I can’t try them on to see how they would look on me. Plus, they are out of my price range.
Though there are plenty of dress choices online, nothing beats going to the store and trying things on. I had my eye on a one-shoulder maxi dress at Arden B in XS, but it was way bigger than I imagined. I also tried the ruffled maxi dress in XS hoping that jersey would be a smaller fit but it was also too big.
Then, I stumbled upon BCBG. They had plenty of long dresses in stock and the SA was really friendly without being overbearing. I hadn’t had much luck with BCBG in the past since some XXS sizes are still too big. Still, I tried on two dresses in size 0 (the smallest numerical dress size).
The first one was low-cut and though it makes my torso look longer, as it starts to hit the darker fabric, I lost some height. If could redesign this dress for petites, I would shorten the shoulder straps, shrink the hip pockets, and cut off the black part to make it more flattering.
The second dress reminded me of an Impressionist painting with its abstract print. The fabric and the print itself is so beautiful, it was like a printed watercolor with gold “scales.” It’s a bit loose in the bust, but if I were to wear a tank underneath, it would be fine. It doesn’t look too long in the photo, but that’s because I was wearing 4 inch heels in the dressing room. I love how the SA provides shoes when you’re trying on clothes. Without the shoes, the dress still provides a lengthening effect even if the bottom is cut.
I think petites can pull of maxi dresses as long as the fit and proportion match your stature and you’re not overwhelmed with large print, excessive details/fabric, and an unflattering cut. I’ve seen so many people of different shapes, heights, and sizes wear maxi dresses to their heart’s content and most look pretty good. As long as you’re confident in what you’re wearing, it’s all gravy.
Though I can’t afford BCBG dresses, I took the advice of an SA on Rodeo Drive who once said, “If you can’t buy the magic, you can at least feel the magic!“
What do you think…can petites wear maxi dresses? What stores do you suggest?
Looking for more ideas to wear maxi dresses? Check out my other posts:
- Gryphon Summer 2011 Part 1
- Styling Chambray – To the Maxi
- Petite Fashion Challenge – Vacation Vogue
- Banana Republic x Trina Turk Maxi Dress
- Stylin’ Summer: Striped Maxi Dress