20 Ways to Wear a Maxi Dress

When we think of summer staples, our minds go straight to the beach, channeling bikinis and jean shorts. But equally as important for collegiettes’ summer wardrobes are items that can be worn for multiple occasions, like a part-time gig, a family barbeque, a graduation party, an internship, or drinks with friends. While we’re big fans of separates, another of the most versatile and easy-to-style clothing items is the maxi dress. In an effort to make a maxi dress appropriate for any occasion, we’ve compiled a list of 20 ways to strut your floor-length stuff.

1. Throw on a fedora: Top off your maxi with a cute fedora for instant trendiness. A loose and natural hairstyle underneath adds to the maxi’s relaxed vibe and helps your look stay effortlessly cool.

2. Carry a killer handbag: Fashion consultant Colin McDonald suggests kicking things up a notch with a “clutch in a bold color like neon or exotic skin” with a solid maxi. Think about adding embellishments like studs or bold patterns to turn what might be a simple column frock into a fierce and stylish ensemble.

3. Bust out the bling: Nothing completes an outfit like a little bit of sparkle. Whether you prefer a chunky cocktail ring, a glitzy pair of earrings, or a statement necklace, layer your favorite jewels over your maxi dress for a glamorous look.

4. Go chic and sleek in black: Stylist Elizabeth Kamm suggests sticking to the most basic hue: “Black! It is sometimes really refreshing to step away from bright colors and vibrant florals and wear a sleek black maxi dress in the middle of summer. It always looks good, especially if you find the perfect long dress which toes the line of casual and formal.” There’s no need to overdo this look with accessories, either. Keep it easy with a pair of flat thong sandals.

5. Layer it with a blazer: Sure, in the prime of summer we’re not really in need of extra layers. But in the event that you want to dress a maxi up or are just a little chilled, a sophisticated blazer can do the trick. “Look for a dress with a small print (also called a foulard print),” Kamm suggests. “Keep it mainly monochromatic, with a structured bodice seamed and darted around the waist.  Style it with a white fitted blazer and chunky gold bracelets.  Perfect shoes for a dress like this would be a wedge.”

6. Channel ancient Greece: Think of it as playing dress-up, but in a practical way. A solid column maxi in a color like emerald, orange, or peach is perfect for a Grecian goddess look. Kamm suggests wearing this with “a one-inch thick belt in white or cream to highlight your waist. Wear with your chain strap bag or metallic clutch.” And, obviously, gladiator sandals.

7. Color block like crazy: Choose a dress that does the work for you, or create your own color-blocked look by adding a solid-colored sweater or jacket to a vibrant maxi. You can also layer your maxi under a different colored T-shirt or camisole. Introduce more bold colors by adding a statement necklace, a bold handbag, or bright wedges.

8. Embrace flower power: Choose a dress with a small floral or geometric print. High waists and/or ruffled hems also scream “hippie-chic.” Complete the look with “a cowboy hat [and] drape strands upon strands of beads around your neck and around your wrist,” says Kamm. Finish off the look with a floral headscarf and leather boots or sandals.

9. Sexify sporty: Because they offer such a clean and simple silhouette, maxi dresses offer the perfect opportunity to achieve a sporty look (even if you’re not at all athletic). Look for a fitted jersey dress with a racer back. “They can usually be found in bold or thin stripes, or solid or color blocked versions,” says Kamm. Keep your hairdo sleek by tying it into a ponytail or blowing it out pin-straight.

10. Flip-flop to the beach: You can’t have one without the other—the beach and flip-flops just go together. For days at the beach, go for a voluminous maxi in a bold print that screams fun and add a pair of your favorite flip-flops. This is also an easy go-to look for after a day at the beach and is practical for any summery event. Don’t forget to add sunnies!