“I would love some fashion advice. I’m on the smaller end of plus sized (14-16) and I want to get my first maxi dress. Although I am of average height I have always steered away from long dresses because I have felt like they made me look, for lack of better terms, stumpy and dumpy. I’m willing to take a style leap of faith though! My issue is I have no idea what type of maxi dress to look for. I need one that accommodates a combination of short legs, long torso, and large bust. Ideally it could transition from fairly casual office to going out after work. Any tips?” — Mad for Maxis
Dear Mad for Maxis,
It sounds like you and I have a really similar body shape, and I, too, have shied away from maxi dresses because my junior high PE teacher used to call me Stumpy and I’ve had no desire to resurrect that nickname in my adult life. But the fact is I have seen maxi dresses look truly fabulous (and flattering!) on women of all shapes and sizes, so there’s no reason for us to sit on the sidelines anymore. Let’s make this the summer of maxis!
I picked out the three maxi dresses pictured above based on the following criteria: they must be able to accommodate a bra, they’ve got to have a defined waist (AKA no sack-shaped swing dresses), and they must be available in size 14-16. I also tried to keep the prices around $50 or less, because you didn’t specify a budget, but who doesn’t love saving money?
The details, from left to right:
- This Old Navy offering has a lot going for it: great print, flattering v-neck, wide straps, and a defined waistline. I really like gathered waists like this because you can wear them as is or pull them up and blouse them out a little bit–two looks for the price of one! And speaking of price, it’s only 30 bucks. Try it with a cropped jean jacket and wedge sandals. [$30, Old Navy]
- I had to include this one because whenever I see a woman at the grocery store or strolling around the park looking like an effortlessly stylish Greek goddess, she is wearing this exact dress. How do I know? Because I always say, “Oh my god, where did you get your dress?” and these women always say something along the lines of, “Would you believe it’s from Target?” Add dangly earrings and gladiator sandals to complete the look. [$30, Target]
- I love this American Rag dress’s lace sleeves — they give you a little more coverage, but still show a sexy flash of skin. If the black seems a bit too somber for spring and summer, throw on a colorful belt and a statement necklace. [$55, Macy's]
Have a style question of your own? Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com and we’ll help you out!