Can petite women wear maxi dresses?

Q. This season’s maxi dresses look so fun and comfortable, but at 5’3″, they usually overwhelm my frame. Any suggestions for wearing the maxi dress trend this summer without wearing 6″ heels or looking like I’m drowning in fabric?

Q. Could you suggest a casual maxi dress for me. I’m petite 5’1 (2/4 on top 4/6 on bottom). Most maxis that I am finding have large prints or are shapeless.

A. There’s no avoiding the fact that maxi dresses are a huge trend again this year. Stores are filled with racks of maxis in a variety of silhouettes and prints. The good news is, there is a maxi out there to suit every figure, even petite women. Case in point? It’s arguable that petite celebs Nicole Richie and Mary Kate Olsen, both 5’1″ tall, are largely responsible for the popularity of the maxi dress over the past few years.


Here are some tips for finding the right style maxi for your petite figure:

  • Look for maxi dresses that are suitable for your proportions. Petite departments are a good place to start, otherwise you may be forced to shorten the length of your dress.
  • Avoid overly voluminous styles, too much fabric will overwhelm your figure. Instead, look for lean styles.
  • Choose maxi dresses that are fitted at the top and empire waist. This will help elongate your lower half, making you appear taller.
  • Generally, monochrome colors or small prints and patterns are most flattering for petites, though some larger scale patterns may work.
  • Whenever possible, wear a wedge (even a small one) for a little added height.

Here are some maxi dresses that are suited to petite figures:


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