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

July 20, 2012

Plus Size Maxi Dresses Under $50

Filed under: How To Wear It,Maxi Dresses,You Asked For It — Miss Plumcake @ 1:16 pm


THAT, my friends, was a rough two days.

I’m fine, everything’s fine.

I’m sitting here in Plumcake Cottage making eyes at the leftover half of my Texas-shaped waffle (I’m a slow eater and everything west of Abilene got cold while I was working my way down from Texarkana), Hot Latin Boy is on the beach playing football and Dozer just scared the daylights out of the puka shell necklace-wearing maintenance guy who uses the empty house in front of ours as a tryst with a woman who is almost certainly Not His Wife.

So, as I said, everything is fine.

Everything was NOT fine yesterday, when a routine medical appointment in the states was preceded by your elegant hostess yakking her guts out on a winding mountain pass and an ill-timed fainting spell and succeeded by a Mexican military flashlight shining in my sleeping face at a routine stop where I had to explain to the Very Nice Men With Guns that no, HLB didn’t steal my car and roofie me up with the intention of selling me –possibly by the kilo– to the highest bidder, he was just driving me home.

Thus the blankie…
and the pillow…
and the fact that I wasn’t screaming even though I woke up in Mexico.

Much showing of bandages and kissycute iPhone selfies later, hilarity ensued HLB was freed and we finally got home, where I slept for the next 20 hours.

That brings us up to now.

So. Maxi dresses.

When I asked you what you wanted in a maxi dress post, many of you wanted something with sleeves under fifty dollars.

These don’t all have sleeves –don’t worry there will be more sleeves coming your way before I’m through– but all ring in under fifty bucks from designers who’ve provided me with some decent togs in the past.

HSN is a crapshoot.

Either they knock it out of the park or they…don’t. At all.

But when they’re good, they’re very very good and you get an extremely well-made garment for a ridiculous-in-the-good-way price. I first turned to them for their excellent costume jewelry, much of which is offered in extended sizes, and have had solid enough luck with them to return a few times a year.

(click on photos for links)

I cringed a little in the video for this dress when designer Antthony, in describing the slightly Grecian detailing of the dress talked about how big a fan he is of “Madam Gray” –he obviously meant Madame Grès who is responsible for the draped dress taking form in the 1940s– but it was probably just a slip of the tongue.

Regardless, possibly influenced by last summer’s retrospective “Madame Grès: Couture at Work” at the Musée Bourdelle, the Grès fingerprint is all over this dress. What Grès viewed as sculpture, Anttony understands as visual trickery.

The asymmetrical offset draping pulls in the eye and creates a smaller waist.

Unlike his austere counterpart, the draping on this dress is gentle. Though sleeveless, the straps are wide enough to wear a bra and the neckline isn’t perilously low, although a camisole –make sure it’s slightly blousoned to keep with the feel of the dress– works here as well.

One Antthony deserves another, and apples, I’m looking at you here.

Okay, look at the draping from the center of the bust down the front.

That’s one of those design elements that when you see it on a skinny girl or on the hanger you say Not Now Not Ever, right?
Except that waterfall is going to look amazing on you.

It’s going to start right between the girls –I believe those are molded cups, a nice touch– and go lalalalalalanothingtoseehere all over your stomach.

Be advised, sometimes it takes a little fiddling in the morning to get it to drape just so, but once you get it, you’ll be grand.

Pattern? You want pattern? How about this ikat print from Twiggy (yes that Twiggy) London?

Ikat is one of those prints I’m convinced works better on big girls than on straighties. Little wisps of things just don’t have the mass or the presence to really carry off a full length ikat print.

Since this pattern is already fuzzy it’s going to blur over things you might enjoy having blurred (and also hide stains if you’re clumsy) and –contrary to many prints– make you look taller. All of these dresses are available in multiple colors, but I like the earth tones of this one. It’s so much more chic and will transition nicely into the cooler months.

Finally we’ve got two from Liz Lange that are simple simple simple and perfect perfect perfect.

First the flutter sleeves.

Some variation on this theme is what I wear most of the days here at Plumcake Cottage. It’s dead easy, looks fantastic and can be styled this way or that for just slapping along the malecon watching the sunburned tourists take photos of our resident lazy sea lions or a dressy dinner of forced conviviality with new neighbors.

I’m not generally a fan of the flutter sleeve, but the neckline and shoulder are so widely set, the flutter sleeve works. Plus it’s not chiffon, so it’s more of a draped sleeve than a fluttery one.

Lastly, we’ve got a more evening-appropriate maxi that can be styled for day.

There’s something about a long sleeve maxi that I love. It’s just a little more formal, but still incredibly easy. These bracelet length sleeves do it for me big time, but what I really love is Lange’s signature inset waist. She takes a panel of material in the waist, sets it inside where the normal seams would traditionally go, adds a wide-to-narrow ruching element and drapes it down from there. End result? The Scarlett O’Hara treatment, no bedpost hugging required.


  1. Hello Miss P,
    I hope you are feeling better. Thank you for another highly amusing post. QVC also has some hit or miss choices as far as the maxi dress. I like that their sizing is consistent whatever the brand and that the sizing goes from xxs to 3x. Also, 3x here is a 26-28. The following link is one that has been featured a lot in shows and is a rare breed dress with sleeves, but while I am tempted, I wonder if it is just too much for one of us.$uslarge$

    Comment by Miss Lou — July 20, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  2. @Miss Lou: It’s a lot of fabric, that’s for sure, and I don’t especially like the looks of the fabrication itself. A little crisper than a maxi dress should be. Plus that waist is going to give you fits. It’s going to roll up on itself when you move and then you’ll have a weird pleated look going on. Not Cute. Could a large woman pull it off? Technically I guess, but I can’t imagine why she’d want to.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — July 20, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  3. Is anyone still reading? No? Okay, well, just in case…

    Coldwater Creek is having a 40% off the whole site for three more hours, and they have a limited range of plus sizes, and in those sizes they have maxi dresses with wide straps:

    Comment by AnthroK8 — July 23, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  4. Just wanted to thank you for this post. I’ve been looking for a sleeved maxi for ages, and the Liz Lange flutter sleeved one looks perfect. I ordered it in the blue since oranges make me look jaundiced and/or feverish…

    Comment by Louise — July 25, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

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