Summer is the right time invigorate your dress collection. With so many great summer dresses for women on sale this summer, styling each new item can seem like a challenge. It can be hard to choose accessories, shoes, or top layers without knowing how different lengths flatter your form. Once you know what lengths you love, styling will be fun and easy, especially when you’re shopping online. Let’s take a deeper dive into a couple of the most popular summer dress lengths—midi and maxi—so you can create stunning looks every day.
Midi length dresses and skirts have been popular since the 1940s. This hem length usually hits the calf at the midpoint between the knee and the ankle. By the 1960s, it looked like midis would be replaced by mini skirts and dresses, but the legendary publisher of Women’s Wear Daily John Fairchild said 1970 would be “the year of the midi.” While it didn’t happen overnight, by the 1980s, midi length garments were packing women’s closets again. They’ve been a favorite of consumers and designers ever since.
Why has this style stayed fashionable for so long, even with the advent of other lengths? Some say this style has stayed relevant because it looks so sophisticated. Also, it can be incorporated into other popular cuts and fits, like embellished necklines, A-line silhouettes, and wedge hems.
Styling the Midi
When it comes to styling summer dresses for women, accessorizing midi length can be as simple as adding a few key elements. Take our Puff-Sleeve Smocked Midi Dress for example. All you need is a comfortable and chic pair of heeled sandals, and you’re all set for Sunday brunch or date night.
If you’re smaller in stature, you might have heard that midi length is not the best for your height. You’ll be happy to learn that’s not true! It’s all about styling. For instance, try to choose a length that’s just below or just above the mid-calf. Midi length can vary an inch or two in either direction, depending on the dress’s cut and your height.
Since the mid-calf is the thickest point of your lower leg, going an inch above or below helps create a more flattering look. Wearing heels is another option, because they always elongate the legs. Additional tips include buying lightweight fabrics in solid colors. When all else fails, shop petite midi dresses!
It’s said that the maxi length was popularized in 1968 by acclaimed designer Oscar de la Renta. At the time, he created a cotton and lace dress for Elizabeth Arden Salon. Maxi dresses and skirts typically hit at or just above the ankle.
Additional credits to popularizing maxi dresses and skirts include the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago. The length was used when costume designer Phyllis Dalton was tasked with creating dresses that fit the film’s setting in pre-revolutionary Russia. Then, a 1966 Vogue spread featuring Barbra Streisand in a floral print maxi dress created a stir around the new style.
Since the 1960s, maxi lengths have gone in and out of fashion, like most cuts and lengths do. Now, the maxi length is a favorite again, but what makes it so appealing? It’s likely returned to the closets of consumers because it flatters any body type at any height. Whether you’re petite, curvy, lean, or tall, maxi dresses can suit you.
Styling the Maxi
It’s commonly known that maxi lengths are especially great for petite figures, because they lengthen by creating the illusion of longer legs. The most versatile silhouette for a maxi length dress is A-line, but this cut can be designed with other shapes, like straight line and empire waist.
When styling a maxi dress, keep in mind that this length is most-commonly worn with flat sandals. Just in time for summer, we’ve launched a line of high-quality flat sandals that are a perfect match for the maxi dress. If you like a little height, try a low heel of no more than 2”. This length also looks good with ballet flats, strappy low heels, and sometimes even boots.
Maxi length has the benefit of being practical during any season. For the warmer months, consider pieces made of very lightweight fabrics for your wardrobe, like our Tiered Sandwash Maxi Dress. Best of all, maxi dresses come in a range of style, prints, and colors, so you can wear one every day of the week! If you want to add a topper to a sleeveless maxi dress, go with a cropped denim jacket.
Summer dresses for women come in quite a few different lengths and cuts. Based on their history, midi and maxi hemlines are likely to remain an effortless style option for years to come. There’s nothing better than wearing a lightweight dress on a warm day. Now you know exactly how to wear two of the most popular styles. It’s time to get excited about sundresses again!