In the 1940s, stylish socialites and the hottest Hollywood starlets wore brightly colored dresses with long, full-tiered skirts. Designers drew inspiration for these so-called patio, or squaw, dresses from traditional Native American and Southwestern designs. Though the patio dress soon fell out of fashion, this ankle-grazing dress style was revived during the 1960s when women from all walks of life embraced the colorful, free-flowing maxi dress. Unfortunately, by the late '70s, these long, billowing dresses had once again been relegated to the clearance racks.
After the sky-high hemlines of the early 21st century, the maxi dress gained a whole new generation of fans, as women everywhere sought out a comfortable, low-key alternative to the mini-skirts and impossibly short shorts of the period. However, the maxi dress is no longer the voluminous mound of polyester it was in the 1970s. Today's designers rely on cotton and other fine fabrics, which keep the wearer feeling cool and breezy, even on the hottest summer days. Modern maxi dresses also offer a much more flattering fit, with plenty of styles to accentuate any figure.
Dressed up with simple jewelry and heeled shoes, these dresses give the wearer a look of casual sophistication that's appropriate at a summer party or even at the office. Dressed down with flip-flops and some funky bangles, the maxi dress offers the perfect way to stay cool and comfortable at the beach or on vacation.
But what if you're petite or plus-size? Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a runway model to pull off this look. Part of the fun of the maxi dress is that with the right accessories and styling, this dress can work for bodies of all shapes and sizes.
Ready to add this classic wardrobe staple to your closet? Read on to learn how to choose the best maxi dress and accessories for your body type.