Maxi dresses—a staple for some petites, while a little scary for others. If you already own a few, you’ve probably realized that with the right fit and length, maxi’s can easily create the look of a taller petite frame. With spring continuing to roll in and summer just a couple of months away, maxi dresses are also ideal for helping you keep cool during the warmer seasons, so if you’re on the fence, you should definitely consider giving them a shot before completely setting them to the side.

But what kind of maxi dress suits you best? What truly shows off your personality and makes you feel really good and most like yourself? Today, I'm covering the most common style categories maxi dresses fall under, many of which overlap in style characteristics, like classic & preppy, romantic & boho, or edgy & glam.


Classic

Effortless and timeless, the more classic shorty loves simpler silhouettes, no-fuss details, and versatile styles that are easily deemed wardrobe staples. Remember though, classic doesn’t have to mean boring. While more classic maxi dresses are usually one color, colorblocked designs or more mod prints are a perfect way to add a bit of interest to your look. Given their versatility, classic maxi’s are some of the best styles to dress up or down. Throw on a denim jacket and you’re set for a casual day out, or skip the layer and throw on some heels for a more dressed up feel.

What to look for: solids, simple prints, fitted or straight silhouettes

photo: Crystalin Marie, 5'0" (CRYSTALINMARIE)
photo: Kim Le, 5'0" (LACE & LOCKS)

Preppy

For the preppy petite, classic and simple prints are a perfect way to show off your style. The key is to keep it clean and polished, so try to avoid prints that are too busy. Instead, opt for classic stripes or polka dots! While vertical stripes can help to add the look of extra inches, you can also try out a fun chevron look, like the dress below. Since the stripes aren’t full-on horizontal, the eye is still led in a downward direction, giving your petite stature a bit of a boost.

What to look for: timeless patterns, nautical vibes, modest necklines

photo: Jean Wang, 5'0" (EXTRA PETITE)
photo: Sydne Summer, 5'3" (SYDNESTYLE)

Romantic

When your style is more on the romantic side, don’t be afraid to try out playful styles with flirty feminine details—think ruffles, lace, eyelet fabric, and pretty florals. Try to keep your look on the softer side with lighter colors, like pastels and neutrals. Romantic styles also usually have more intricate details to them, so style your look with dainty jewelry for a good balance.

What to look for: ruffles, florals, light & sheer fabrics, pastels

photo: Crystalin Marie, 5'0" (CRYSTALINMARIE)
photo: Brooke, 4'10" (Pumps & PUSH UPS)

Boho

The boho-chic girl, similar to the romantic fashionista, probably has the most fun when it comes to maxi dresses. Silhouette possibilities are endless as long as you’ve got a good boho print going! Be it tropical, floral, or even Aztec, boho shorties have tons of options. To really get that boho vibe, stick to earthy tones and try out styles with fun details, like crochet trims or interesting embroidery designs. Layered necklaces and stacked bracelets really tie a boho look together, so look for deep v-necklines, wrap styles, and flowy mid length sleeves to show off your accessories.

What to look for: boho patterns, crochet trims, flowy silhouettes, earthy colors

photo: Kileen, 5'0" (cute & little)
photo: Natalie Craig, 5'2" (NATALIE in the city)

Laidback

Now when it comes to the laidback petite gal, comfort is definitely key. Outfits don’t just look effortless, but they actually feel effortless too. These maxi dresses usually have more casual fabrication, like jersey knits, cottons, and linens that are super comfy. Silhouettes are more relaxed or fitted with a lot of stretch, providing more ease in movement, so you'll still look effortlessly cool and stylish when chasing the kiddies around!

What to look for: relaxed silhouettes, comfy fabrics, classic patterns

photo: Christine, 5'2" (THE VIEW FROM 5'2")
photo: Crystalin Marie, 5'0" (CRYSTALINMARIE)

Edgy

The best part about going edgy with a maxi dress is that it can include details usually associated with other style categories, like ruffles or sheer fabric, because it most often boils down to color—the darker, the better! Black is an absolute staple for the edgy shorty, but if you decide to go lighter, skip feminine details and try out edgier elements, like bold necklines, trendy cut-outs, and unique sleeves. Really add some edge to your maxi dress with leather accessories and metal hardware to "toughen" up your look.

What to look for: black or dark colors, interesting necklines, leather & hardware

photo: Wendy Nguyen, 5'0" (Wendy's LOOKBOOK)
photo: Wendy Nguyen, 5'0" (Wendy's LOOKBOOK)

Glam

When it comes to going more glam with your maxi dresses, the right fabrication makes all the difference. You can definitely put together a solid glam look with classic or edgy maxi dresses styled with the right accessories, but if you’re keeping accessories to a minimum or on the simpler side, look for maxi dresses with fabrics that stand out and especially have some sort of shine or luster to them. Velvets are perfect for colder months, while silky satins keep you more comfortable during warmer seasons. A staple for the petite glam girl? Sequins!

What to look for: shiny fabrics, interesting textures, deep necklines, statement details

photo: Sheryl Luke, 5'2" (WALK IN WONDERLAND)
photo: Wendy Nguyen, 5'0" (Wendy's LOOKBOOK)

Thinking of incorporating maxi dresses into your wardrobe? Take the Style Quiz to get started!

Already took the style quiz and want to order a box? Shoot us a message at hey@shortstorybox.com. We can't wait to style you!

*cover photo credit: WALK IN WONDERLAND