When I carry out a style consultation with a client I always ask them to bring a selection of their own clothes to the consultation so we can discuss them. By the time we get to talk about them in their consultation I will have given the client all the theory on how to dress themselves best; what cuts, fabrics, details and advice I would give on how to enhance the areas of the body they like and disguise the bits they don’t.
The three items I ask them to bring along would ideally fit into one of the following categories each.
- An item they love wearing
- An item they don’t like so much but they don’t want to throw it away (expensive/sentimental value etc)
- An item they love but no matter what they do they can’t seem to find a way to make it work for them.
The categories are designed to cover a lot of bases and will give me the opportunity to illustrate “real life” examples of the theory I will have just given them about themselves.
In the thirteen years I have been doing this job, I can safely say that one of the most common items that the client brings along with them to illustrate point #3 “An item they love but no matter what they do they can’t seem to find a way to make it work for them”…is a maxi dress!
So loved but so quickly taken off at every attempt to get it out the cupboard and into the daylight, as it is just does not look how they hoped it would. They explain that they can’t work out if it’s the print, the pattern, the scale the detail, but whatever it is – it’s just not doing it for them.
Therefore I thought that now there is an inside chance of the weather warming up, meaning we can get our heads around the breezy possibilities of a maxi dress, it would be helpful to do a blog on the dos and dont’s and list some examples from the high street that illustrate my advice clearly.
Firstly, there are a few general rules….(the operative word here is “general” ….for much more specific advice on the whys and wherefores I would need to see your body shape etc)
General Rule 1:
I am afraid it is a height thing – there is no getting around it – the taller you are the easier it is to wear a maxi dress without getting overwhelmed by fabric and print. Simply put- there is more surface area for the dress to be displayed over so it’s not too concentrated. If you are below 5 ft 5” my advice would be to keep things simple…minimal amount of fabric, print and excess anything (frills, ruffles, embellishment etc) and whack on the heels!
General Rule 2:
If the dress is gathered at the waist- and you don’t have a washboard stomach- the gathers will make your tummy look “round”… ranging from the “I’ve just had a massive curry” to the more extreme “I’m four months pregnant!” So go for flat fronted waist detail with no gathering and you will avoid any searching questions with raised eyebrows from those around you!
General rule 3:
Make sure it is flexible…can you wear it with a biker jacket, tights and boots in the Spring/autumn? Can you wear a cropped cardigan with it if you need an extra layer? Can it be dressed up with some heels and a jacket for a wedding? Maxi dresses don’t just have to be for a family BBQ or a beach holiday- this season they are becoming a wardrobe staple that is a brilliant alternative to trousers if you don’t like getting your legs out.
These next picks are really clear examples of the details to look for when searching for your own maxi dress…according to your body shape.
This shape is brilliant if you have a full bust as the V-neck cut is a much more flattering neckline then a high or slash neck. It could also work well if you are bottom heavy as the fullness of the sleeves will help to balance out your silhouette.
A great dress from Topshop which would work well for you if you have minimal waist definition and a straight body shape. I love the simplicity of the colour combination …work with simple, strappy heels and a fringed shawl for a summer party or it could work equally well dressed down with a cropped biker jacket and strappy flats.
A great little dress from Zara at such a brilliant price. I thought this was a good option if you didn’t like showing the tops of your arms. You can also pull in the drawstrings to create more of a shape so it doesn’t have to look quite so sack-like! I loved it for the ease of just being able to pull it on – it’s essentially a long tee shirt– with some brown or leopard print flats or lace up ballet pumps and a denim jacket… – what’s not to love?!
Empire line love
I just loved the print of this dress…stunning for adding detail to the shoulder area if you are bottom heavy and the cut is so classic and flattering for most body shapes. The fact that it has detail on the bottom of the dress would mean that you would need height on your side to wear this though. A great version of red for all blonds too….a real showstopper for a smarter occasion. Keep accessories fluid and feminine to flatter the style of the dress.
And for the petites…
If you are petite I though this dress was a good option for you as its simple, uncluttered with not too much fabric. I know it doesn’t look the most charismatic of dresses but it could actually be really useful…you just need to get creative! Due to the fact it has no print you can bring the interest to the outfit by your accessories and therefore get much more use out of it as you can style it in so many different ways.
Oversized tassel earrings with a shrug and wedge heals for dinner out / cropped denim jacket and espadrilles for a trip to the park with the kids / suede cropped jacket and strappy heals for a night out with the girls…the options are endless. (NB you don’t have to be petite to wear this dress though…all these options are open to everyone!)
I hope that helps illustrate how you can get the maxi dress to work for you and how to navigate the minefield of style choices out there! Do email me if you have any questions or follow me on Instagram , Facebook and Twitter for more style tips and ideas.
A Guest Blog from Kate Evans
Kate has been a qualified Image Consultant and Life Coach for over 12 years. Her friendly and relaxed approach as well as her understanding of styling means that she knows how to find clothes that truly fit people’s personalities, colouring, body shape and lifestyle. Not only will you look and feel better after a consultation with her, you’ll be able to shop more efficiently and get dressed in the morning without decision fatigue.
Kate works from her studio in Dumbleton, but can do consultations via Skype, virtual shopping trips via Pinterest and will obviously travel to your home if needed.
If you want to know more about any of her services please call for a chat…any questions answered! If you would like to subscribe to Kate’s monthly newsletter full of fashion tips and trends – contact her.”