What Is a Maxi Dress and How to Style It

How to Style the Essential Maxi Dress

Woman in maxi dress

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What would summer be without the maxi dress? The flowy, floor-grazing appeal of a maxi dress is undeniable. So is their extreme comfort, wearable fit that looks good on every body, and versatility. With the right maxi dress in your closet, you've got a go-to piece that you can easily dress up or down, for daytime style, casual weekends, wedding guest attire, beach vacation dressing, and special evenings out. 

Maxi dresses are typically form-fitting at the top and cut to flow loosely over the body at the bottom. Always in style, this wardrobe staple for women is available in so many fabrics, colors and patterns. These days, the key to wearing a maxi dress well is knowing how to style it to stand out. We've rounded up our favorite maxi dress outfits from street style, to show you how fashion girls are wearing this summer closet favorite now.

Add a Belt

Woman wearing maxi dress with belt
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Do you love the forgiving silhouette of a flowing maxi dress for summer, but worry that your figure will get lost in all that fabric? The easiest way to create a flattering silhouette in a loose, billowing dress is to belt it at the waist. You'll not only highlight your torso's slimmest point, and create pretty curves —you'll also add fashion cred. Choose a neutral belt to go with a maxi dress in neutral tones, as seen on this fashion influencer, or opt for one in a clashing or complementary color to really draw attention to your waist.

Wear Sneakers With a Maxi Dress

Street style woman wearing a fancy summer maxi dress with sneakers
Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images 

Are you a fan of the current athleisure trend of working gymwear into your fashion wardrobe? Here's a fresh way to wear the trend for summer, while still looking dressed up enough for dates, parties and other going out occasions. A maxi dress silhouette in a wrap dress fit and silky fabric looks of-the-moment with basic white sneakers, as worn by this fashion influencer. Accessorize with sparkly drop earrings and a trendy clutch, for a dressed up-dressed down look that feels young and cool.

Wear a Maxi Dress to Work

Woman wearing a blazer and a maxi dress
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Here's how you can wear your favorite summer maxi dress to the office, and look chic and polished. Take inspiration from this street style look, and layer on a fitted blazer in a lightweight fabric (think linen or cotton blends). Add fashionable footwear and a quality bag, and you'll be well-dressed for everything from client meetings to presentations.

Go for Pattern

Polka dot summer maxi dress
 Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images

Maxi dresses come in all colors of the rainbow, and about as many patterns as you can imagine, so there's no need to play it safe! A long, maxi dress in an all-over, eye-catching pattern is not only comfortable, it's a fabulous way to turn heads and stand out from the crowd. We're absolutely dotty about this cute maxi dress in polka dots, so trendy for summer this year.

Add a Headscarf

Street style fashion - blue outfit with maxi dress and headscarf
 Christian Vierig/Getty Images

The headscarf is one of those confident, stand-out fashion accessories that adds style cred to your entire look. Try wearing one with a maxi dress this summer to take even the most casual jersey dress to the next level. For the cutest look, take inspiration from this fashion influencer and choose a headscarf that matches a color from your dress.

Wear a Moto Jacket With Your Maxi Dress

Woman wearing biker jacket and maxi dress for street style
 Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Here's one of our all-time favorite outfits for any time of year, when you feel like wearing a dress. Layer a black, biker-style leather or suede jacket over a long, pretty maxi dress anytime you want to add some edgy cool. Wear with ankle boots and classic black frame sunglasses, as pictured on this fashion influencer, for a streetwise outfit that's wearable and stylish for everything from shopping in the city, to meeting friends for dinner.

Style a Summer Dress With Colorful Accessories

Woman wearing colorful maxi dress for summer
 Vanni Bassetti/Getty Images

Got a colorful maxi dress in your closet? You may be tempted to style it with neutral accessories — but here's another idea. You can amplify the beauty of a long, summer dress in a bold hue or pattern, by adding brightly colored accessories that keep the eye moving around your outfit. Take a look at how this fashion influencer does it, by adding colorful sunglasses, a purse and shoes that pick up on the hues in her maxi dress pattern.

Get Knotty

Woman wearing maxi dress at music festival
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A jersey maxi dress, with its effortless, casual vibe, is a perfect choice for wearing to concerts and music festivals this summer. The long, flowy silhouette and lightweight fabric of this favorite summer dress is cooling when the weather gets hot, and is super comfortable and easy to pull on and go. To avoid getting your dress hem dirty, take a page from this concert-goer and tie the bottom in an easy knot.

Go for Pattern

Street style oufit in leopard print coat and maxi dress
 Christian Vierig/Getty Images

When you're wearing something with a lot of pattern, such as a floor-length printed maxi dress, the temptation when you need a jacket or top layer, is to reach for one in a solid color. Why not be more creative, though? Here's an example of how layering pattern on top of pattern can result in a fashion combination that's even more stylish than the sum of its parts! You'll often see fashion influencers pairing floral prints with animal prints, and we think that formula looks super stylish here. Give a try yourself, next time you want to turn heads.

Color Blocking With Separates

Colorful summer dress outfit with a maxi dress
 Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images

A bold, brightly colored cotton maxi dress can look fabulous on its own for summer —but adding layers is the key to creating a street style look. You could go with the expected little denim jacket and look cute, but why not get creative? Try wearing a colorful summer maxi dress with a jacket in a different, bright hue, to create a color blocked outfit that feels just right for summer fashion.

Summer Dress Going Out Outfit

Street style outfit in maxi dress and tweed blazer
Mireya Acierto/Getty Images 

Dressing for summer evenings out sometimes means being prepared for a drop in temperatures. Here's a fashionable way to wear a maxi dress for evening events, as inspired by this street style star, that can work at any time of year. A stylish, fitted jacket in nubby tweed instantly makes a flowing maxi dress feel more fancy. Carry a killer clutch and wear with high heel sandals, for a polished evening look.