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How To Style A Maxi Dress

12 January 2022

By Kristen Daly


At Showpo we live for a fancy gown, but there’s more to the full-length dress genre than formal styles.

In 2022, a wave of casual and party-ready maxi dresses have hit the market, offering us options for wearing this silhouette beyond the boring tent-like style of yesteryear. Read on for reasons we love the modern maxi and how to style this season’s best ones.


How To Style a Maxi Dress for the Daytime

Be Playful With Prints and Accessories

This season when shopping maxi dresses, look for the fine print! Your maxi dress provides a generously sized canvas for self expression - so why not make a statement with flirty gingham, edgy floral or retro-tinged stripes? Life’s too short not to wear prints, colour and charming accessories to match. Right now we’re loving 70s-inspired prints in shades evoking a cone of ice cream on a balmy summer’s day. 


Tomica Knit Rib Maxi Dress in Multi Stripe


Alias Mae - Von Heels in Tan Leather


Billini - Wren Shoulder Bag in Bone

Slip a Tee Under Your Maxi

Love that 90s look of a white t-shirt layered underneath your ‘fit? Us too! But it doesn’t just work for singlet tops or spaghetti strap mini dresses. Styled with a lightweight tee, the humble maxi is transformed for a range of casual occasions from spring through to autumn. The aim is to create a soft, fluid silhouette without an awkward contrast between the lines of the top and the dress, so for best results opt for a fitted but relaxed tee and a strappy maxi. It’s an eclectic and cool look, so don’t be shy to pick bright colours and fun accessories!


Charlie Holiday - Senorita Maxi Dress in Apricot


Cools Club - Lettuce Edge Micro Leisure Tee in Off White


Sol Sana - Mila Slide Sandals in Black and Gold

Mix Up Your Look With Sneakers

One of the biggest revelations for fashion fans in recent times is that sneakers actually look amazing with everything - including maxi dresses! A casual maxi paired with white or colourful sneakers is not only a cute look, but one that will see you through coffee dates, shopping trips, holiday strolls and everything in between. We recommend a lightweight but structured maxi with a tiered silhouette and thick shoulder straps to balance out the chunkiness of the shoe. Add jewellery and a tote, and you’re ready for that next adventure!


Charlie Holiday - Lottie Maxi Dress in Pink Gingham


Superga - 2790 Tank Nappa Sneakers in 900 White


Rolla's - Rolling Stone 1981 Tote in Washed Black

How To Dress Up a Maxi for the Evening

Pick Slender Straps and Shoes To Match

The beauty of the modern maxi trend is there’s a style to suit every size, shape and skin-revealing preference. If you want to draw attention to your upper bod, or show off less skin below the waist, choose a sweeping maxi that sits at your ankle but features a low neckline or cut outs up top. For evenings out, we love one with delicate shoulder straps and strappy shoes, a fine-chain pendant necklace and softly styled hair to round out the look.


Alexandrina Maxi Dress in Green


James Smith - Taormina Toe Strap Sandal in Nude

Get Leggy With a Split (and Heels)

Got those legs for days (or want to achieve the effect)? Make a statement at that next party or dinner date with a generous thigh split! We especially love this look for shorter or petite gals, who sometimes avoid maxis altogether for fear of being swamped in fabric. A split or asymmetric hem adds dimension to your look without overwhelming your frame.


Edellen Cut Out Maxi Dress in Chocolate Paisley


Billini - Carmine Heels in Bone

Sheer Is Here This Summer

Three cheers for sheer this season! After lots of time spent indoors, we’re ready to go glam again for those dinners, parties, club nights and date nights - and what better way to say you’re back than in a trendy but wearable sheer dress. Seen here in our bestselling Theia Dress, the combination of a floor-grazing maxi length, bodycon fit and peekaboo sheer finish is especially hard to resist. Finish with sexy stilettos and babe, it’s a best dressed look.


Theia Backless Mermaid Maxi Dress in Black Zebra


Tony Bianco - Lilly in Black Nappa

How to Wear a Maxi in the Summer

Keep It Lightweight and Airy

The sun is blazing outside, temperatures are rising and you want to cover up and look cute without sacrificing comfort. Enter the summer maxi dress! The trick to nailing this look is choosing a chic silhouette that won’t cling to or sit heavy on the skin. For more coverage around the shoulders, we love a floaty style like our Sitting Pretty Dress. It’s a feminine and simple piece that pairs well with flat shoes or chunkier sandals, and even a straw hat.


Sitting Pretty Dress in Natural


Ace Of Something - Silverton Hat in Natural


St Sana - Alias Slide in Tan


Dr. Martens - Blaire Slide Sandal in Black

Have Fun With Pop Colours

Think minimal effort, maxi results. Choosing a summer maxi with one block of bright colour is an easy way to stay cool in the heat while looking fresh and trendy. Buh-bye, flimsy straps or sleeves - pick a strong and structured shape with fun but subtle details like waist cut outs or hardware. Add a chic neutral heel and bold jewellery and you’re ready for that day party!


Karah Waist Detail Maxi Dress in Hot Pink


Novo - Maneater Heels in Buff


Kitte - Amulet Earrings in Gold

Cut Outs, Cut Outs Everywhere

Did someone say day party? Dress up for afternoon cocktails and beyond in a maxi that shows off a lotta skin! Our favourite styles feature an artful symphony of waist cut outs, a thigh split, a deep V-neckline and perhaps an open back for good measure. Style one down with practical sandals and your hair loose or go full siren with slicked back hair and heels.


Runaway The Label - Zahara Maxi Dress in Zebra


Billini - Fraya Sandals in Black


Public Desire - Belle Cross Strap Mule Block Heels in Orange PU

How to Layer a Maxi for Winter

Stick With Clean, Lean Lines

Styling a maxi in the middle of winter is not for the faint of heart. Our first tip? Complement the long lines of your maxi dress by adding pieces of a similar length, like a long coat. Then layer contrasting but complimentary fabrics, and keep it wintry! A fine knit dress will look fab with a long leather or trench coat and heeled boots that end at the ankle or knee. For a final elegant touch, add a shoulder bag and a silk scarf knotted at the neck.


Rue Stiic - Floral Knit Maxi Dress in White


4th & Reckless - Chica Trench in Brown Check


Alias Mae - Jax Boots in Choc Leather

Throw On an Oversized Jumper

Feeling a little dangerous? Go ahead and disrupt the long, clean line of your maxi dress - but do it with panache with an oversized chunky knit jumper and cool-girl footwear. We recommend a maxi dress with strong winter vibes, like a LBD (uh, a long black dress), a moody printed number, or even a satin slip dress. Rounded off with a sturdy pair of Docs or cowboy boots, this look is giving us refined 90s grunge and we love to see it.


Charlie Holiday - Mustang Maxi Dress in Zebra


Josie V Neck Oversized Cable Knit Jumper in Grey Marle


Dr. Martens - 2976 Quad Chelsea Boots in Black Polished Smooth


Therapy - Ranger Boots in Shell

How To Accessorise a Maxi Dress

Cinch Your Waist With a Belt

Like styling a maxi dress in winter, accessorising one throughout the year can feel like a fashion minefield. The trick is to keep your shoes, jewellery and extra pieces minimal and let your incredible dress do the talking. If your maxi is voluminous and drapey, a thick leather or PU belt will give you a very chic waist-cinching effect. For some extra personality, pick one with a big or decorative buckle - and let it shine by opting for a simple matching ankle boot.


Rue Stiic - Faye Maxi Dress in Elle Polka Dot


Peta and Jain - Arrow Belt in Black PU/Gold


Therapy - Dallas Boots in Black

Add a Boxy Jacket

If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a slightly cropped and boxy jacket. This flattering and easily achievable silhouette balances out the length of the dress with the volume of the jacket, and at the same time highlights the waist. We recommend a button-up maxi with refined boho vibes, a leatherette or denim jacket up top and chic heels to complete the look!


Flaming Hot Button Up V Neck Maxi Dress in Green Floral


Garrett Faux Leather Jacket in Cream


Levi's - Ex Boyfriend Trucker Denim Jacket in Soft As Butter


Janka Necklace in Gold

Shop Maxi Dresses.