Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

June 3, 2009

The Big Question: Maxi Yes or Maxi No?

Filed under: The Big Question,Women of Great Height — Francesca @ 9:09 am

Francesca is of two minds about  the lately-ubiquitous maxi dresses.

On one of the hands, they smack too closely of the 1970’s, and though it was the decade of Francesca’s birth, she feels that, sartorially, they are best left behind.

On the other of the hands, Francesca can see that the tall, bold Big Girl can rock this style.

On the third of the hands, their empire waists and long skirts are a nightmare for Apple-shaped petite girls like the Francescaness.

Maxi dresses: Yes or No? What say you?

If yes, what is your shape and height, and where would you wear this style?


  1. I’m pear-shaped (and rapidly becoming moreso) and just skirting the line between short-normal and petite (5’4″). Honestly, I always looked pregnant in empire maxi style dresses, but now that I am actually pregnant (and in the Deep South all summer!) I think I’m going to go with this style for once and make the most of my belly… and the breeze. :)

    Comment by KESW — June 3, 2009 @ 9:34 am

  2. I am a reasonably tall (5.7), pear-shape and I rock the maxi-dress. As long as it doesn’t have pleats, those are evil.

    Comment by ali — June 3, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  3. Yay maxi dresses! SO excited that they’re everywhere this season. I’m 6’0 and generally pear-shaped, so they work for me.

    Comment by Sarah — June 3, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  4. I love the maxi dress…..I”m about 5-8, and pear shaped.

    It hides my belly, and makes the most of my minimal top portions. Plus they are cool…and this far south, that’s a blessing.

    I actually have 7. I know I know….but they were on sale, and the colors ROCK!!!!

    Comment by Jeanine — June 3, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  5. No no no. I am old enough to have worn maxi dresses and maxi-coats when they last appeared and am therefore too old to wear them now. But still. One of the 20th centuries great achievements was getting women’s skirts off the ground. While these long but casual dresses might be nice at an outdoor party, they are being worn as street wear and I see them dragging on city sidewalks. Also, it has been nice to have the immediate distinction: long=formal; short=not formal.

    Comment by LindaRuth — June 3, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  6. I’m 5’4″ and shaped like a double-scoop ice cream cone. I own exactly one maxi dress, and I love it.

    The ones I don’t like, though, are the halter and tube styles because I can’t put a supportive bra under it. I am also not a fan of the color-blocking because I feel like the visual oomph of the maxi dress is lost by not being one continuous color or pattern.

    Comment by ChloeMireille — June 3, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  7. NO! I am 5’3 and very apple shaped. The high waists on these make me feel like I look like I am way pregnant. So that’s a definite no for me.

    Comment by Sandy — June 3, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  8. You’ll never catch me in a maxi-dress, although I’m 5’8″. There is no way I am covering my legs in a million miles of fabric.

    I get lots of compliments on my legs, and NOT the kind end “…for your age.”

    Comment by sasha — June 3, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  9. 5’6″ and hourglass-leaning-to-pear. I’m not convinced I’m tall enough to rock the maxi. Besides, I haven’t worn a dress or skirt (or shorts) in years; I’m trousers all the way.

    Comment by Wendy — June 3, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  10. I’m 5’3″ and a short-waisted apple (perhaps another two-scoop cone?), so the dresses shown would not work for me at all.

    The idea of maxi dresses intrigues me — I mean, little short women used to wear long dresses all the time, right? And they look so nice and fresh and comfy on the women I see wearing them. But perhaps not for me — I mean, I like that color-block one above on the model, but it would make me look like a very short parade float.

    As far as the maxis of the ’70s — well, at least the prairie dress hasn’t come around again yet.

    Comment by Mifty — June 3, 2009 @ 11:15 am

  11. 5’3″ apple, also short-waisted, also look pregnant in empire waists. I have several long-skirted sundresses and something long and sleeveless from (thanks to this site) and I love them. None of them are empire waisted, though, nor color-blocked. Are they not maxi-dresses?

    Comment by TeleriB — June 3, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  12. 5’2 1/2″, appular, if I didn’t have boobs, my natural waistline would quite literally be in my armpits, and I was just barely old enough to wear them the last time around. You’d think that would be a no, wouldn’t you? But it’s a yes.

    The key is cut combined with attitude. There are empire cuts and empire cuts, and – as a couple of folk have pointed out – empire is not the only potential waistline for a maxi dress. Find the cut that flatters your shape, and then wear it with confidence.

    I may be one of the itty bitty Shetland people, but nobody ever pegs me as too short to wear anything. Why? Because I don’t present short. Confidence adds imaginary inches.

    And if this is a trend you prefer to ignore, then by all means do so. It’s a fashion, not a royal command.

    As for where, well, don’t wear it to the office. I love them for hanging around the house, casual parties, and making Mr. Twistie salivate.

    Comment by Twistie — June 3, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  13. 5’4″ and big everywhere, and I can’t stand them. They make me feel like I’m swimming in fabric, or I’m a lost extra from Little House On The Prairie. The straps never fit right, the “waistline” always hits me in the wrong spot, and being on the petite side, these things drag on the ground when I try them on. I’ve got plenty of taller sistren who can rock the look, but it’s not for me at all.

    Comment by Dez — June 3, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  14. I love maxi-dresses, but at just under 5′ 2”, I admit they really aren’t the most flattering thing on me. Also, the loathsome empire waist… ugh. I hate to hide my hourglassy torso under a tablecloth. Still, I have one empire-waisted maxi that was too cheap to resist – it is cool and relaxed, and lets me show off my strong arms and smooth shoulders and decolletage, which makes up somewhat for the pregnant lady look. With some digging, I also found a lovely printed wrap maxi that has this cool seventies’ hostess vibe – like someone said, these really are best for backyard/pool parties and such, not so much for trailing along all over filthy city streets.

    Comment by Maggiethecat — June 3, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  15. thank you for addressing this important topic.

    i’m 5’6″, pear but with hips AND a belly (oh joy) and i don’t think they’re the most flattering look for me. but i ahve a couple because they’re comfy! and i don’t have to shave my legs! whoo! i agree that the less empire-y, more waist-y ones are more flattering.

    Comment by marjorie — June 3, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  16. It’s not a horrible look, but it’s definitely not for me. Like many others have noted, 99% of empire waists make me look pregnant (as others have also noted, there are empire waists and then there are empire waists, so I never say never, just mostly never).

    I’m also short, short-waisted, and hourglass-shaped. Dresses like these make me look like a sloppy drain pipe. There are looks that work far better on my shape.

    What this all means is that if you rock this look, there’s more for you to rock :).

    Comment by TropicalChrome — June 3, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  17. Here you bring up the central dilemma of plus size fashion design: plus size women have way more body types than a single style can account for. I’m pear-ish but I have enough of a shape that I can get away with certain styles, although I do better with a drop-waist dress.

    We may need to appeal to our lovely indie designers to give us something summery and sweet that works on an apple shape!

    Comment by Diana — June 3, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  18. I am a big busted apple and have not yet found a maxi dress that does not make me pop out all over! I vote NO!

    Comment by EvilScienceChick — June 3, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  19. 5’7, apple with huge boobs, and YES. The girls do tend to pop out a bit, but I’m 21 so it’s ok. They just make me feel so deliciously Ladies Who Lunch.

    Comment by harveypenguin — June 3, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

  20. I love the idea of the maxi dress, but practically speaking, I need to wear a bra, and they rarely have accommodating straps.

    Comment by Gryph — June 3, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

  21. I love maxi dresses, I do not own one as I am a short Nectarine (I like them better than apples…what!?) but I do keep looking to try to find one that doesn’t look like a nightgown or a hospital gown on me. I would only wear it around the house or in the yard for partays and such. I do like them so much on my taller compatriots, alas I do think my height is pretty much set for life… le sigh.

    Comment by AmazonAngelle — June 3, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  22. Not for me. Im a severe pear and the voluminous fabric reminds me of a mumu.

    Comment by Peaches — June 3, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  23. No. They are for the small of boob, because their summery/beauty comes from how bare they are on top as a contrast with the fabric on the bottom.

    Disqualified by my awesome rack.

    Comment by JenniferP — June 3, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

  24. I don’t know how they would work on me normally, but now that I’m almost 7 months pregnant, I’m desperately trying to find one (that doesn’t have cleavage down to my bellybutton, kthxbai!) I tried one on recently, and frankly, I think I looked really damn cute. I’m going to get a non-maternity one in a stretchy fabric, so I can wear it post-pregnancy to see if it still works or not.

    Comment by La Petite Acadiene — June 3, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  25. I’m a 5’8, and I am a slightly apple. I have a strapless maxi dress I bought at Target, and I L-O-V-E it. I had to get a great strapless bra though. My favorite thing about the dress is that it is less flowy than most so I don’t feel like I am wearing a parachute.

    Comment by Amber — June 3, 2009 @ 9:45 pm

  26. I love maxi dresses and long skirts, even though mid-calf is one of my best body-balances, I’ll never stop loving the flow of extra cloth down to my feet. LOVE them.

    Comment by MissSpite — June 3, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  27. I have a policy of ‘don’t wear a trend that’s come back if you wore it the first time’. Yeah, I’m that old (51), but I look mid 40s (or younger, depending on who you talk to and what I wear). On the other hand, I picked up an empire maxi (I”m a 5’9″ pear….but it works…as long as I wear a shrug to cover my arms and a little bit of skin. A single color seems a bit formal…or pajama-ish….it’s a fine line.

    Give it a try. Attitude is everything.

    Comment by that redhead — June 4, 2009 @ 12:38 am

  28. 5’10” and an apple here, and while I don’t like the maxi-dresses that are out there now, it’s because of the empire waists and halter-style tops on most of them. I do like long, full, floaty skirts, though, because while my ankles are ok, my calves are thick and without any taper. So for me a skirt that hits just above the ankle is the perfect length.

    Comment by Rabrab — June 4, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

  29. I’m 5’9″ and pretty hourglassy. I’m not a big fan of the maxi dress mostly just because any time I wear something like that I feel like I’m playing dress up. Like it’s a costume and not “real” clothes. Also, as with many others here, the empire waist and flowy/ voluminous skirt doesn’t really work for me. I don’t really look pregnant so much as just big and bulky all over. I might be down if I could find a nice one with a natural waist and a not too voluminous skirt, but even then there’s something about the long skirt that just feels weird to me.

    Comment by Beth C. — June 4, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  30. I am 5’3 with an hourglass figure and think the maxi dress just makes me look like I am wearing a maternity dress- If I were pregnant this season I would be all over these things- I have thought about hemming one to hit at the ankles so I would not have to have it drag n the ground- but think it would still feel like a maternity dress. I tried one on a few weeks ago and my husband just looked at me and shook his head—- not a good sign- and I found myself wanting to pat my tummy, like I did when I was pregnant.

    I’ll wear a peasant skirt and a fitted Tee to get the long coverage without the pregnant effect.

    Comment by Kimks — June 4, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  31. I’m 5’9, 230 lbs, with big boobs and an appley tummy and almost no hips.

    I love empire tops and dresses, and I LOVE maxi dresses. The accentuate the boobage, and create the impression of hips to match. As long as it’s not TOO full in the tummy area, it looks awesome on me, and most of all, fits my internal “hippy” vibe.

    Comment by ZaftigWendy — June 5, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  32. I’m rather tall — close to 5’9″ — and like maxidresses, although my personal style usually runs to the tailored. Maxidresses work well in warmer weather.

    Comment by OCCaliAKA — June 8, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  33. Love love love the maxi — my legs are not suited for public consumption, and anything that covers them is an excellent thing. Also I’m 5’7″ and pear-shaped, so the maxi helps draw attention upward and provides a pleasant, breezy coverup for those days so hot you can barely stand to wear anything at all.

    Comment by Jane — June 20, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  34. I am 5’10” and have a thick waist and smallish hips. I wore one to a dinner theater performance with heels and everyone loved it. I am 50 in a few weeks and remember when these were out in the 70s and don’t think I had one then so I am happy to have one now. I do think it being black made me look a bit more formal than most of the other guests, but I am “all that” and can pull almost any look off. It is all about how you feel and act, not your physical dimensions.

    Comment by Sherlock — October 2, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress