The maxi has long been an elusive silhouette for many. While it makes sense for formal situations or on vacation, everyday versions can confound even the savviest of dressers. And yet, for the Spring/Summer 2022 season, ankle-grazing dresses and skirts are moving in on the ever-popular midi, from cotton and crocheted designs to fluid silks, playful fringe, and figure-skimming ribbed fabrics. In stark contrast, micro-minis are doing the same. However, if a thigh-baring shape isn’t your taste, mastering the maxi is of the utmost importance when refreshing your warm-weather wardrobe. And yes, you can, indeed, pull off a floor-sweeping hem as effortlessly as your favorite pair of jeans.
“We’re seeing a shift from the midi length into more extreme proportions that are all about color and cut in the maxi,” Ashley Petrie, senior vice president of merchandising at Fred Segal, tells TZR. “The longer, the better, with hemlines sweeping and accentuating the body through interesting details such as high slits, cutouts, mixed fabrications, and tighter fits.”
Petrie says the new maxi movement is universal, highlighting the range of casual and formal designer iterations that debuted in Khaite, Peter Do, and Christopher Esber’s spring collections. “It elongates the body and can easily be incorporated into your closet as a day or night option, also helping with transitional weather this season,” she says.
“The polished tailoring of Peter Do’s collection that included a variety of longer skirts and dress lengths in a neutral, effortless color palette can be paired back to a T-shirt or a voluminous blouse for a more casual look,” the Fred Segal SVP explains of the trend’s versatility. “Christopher Esber continues to give us all the amazing colors and cutouts we need this spring, with pops of green and orange and exposed skin in all the right places.”
For something more romantic and occasion-worthy, Petrie points to Khaite’s leather maxi dresses, silk skirts, and sheer flowing longer lengths. “These shapes and floor-sweeping silhouettes provide a perfect balance for work or play if that’s your home, office, or you’re out living freely,” she says.
On the same note, Irene Yuan, Ba&sh’s vice president of marketing in North America, says fresh and inspiring takes in sumptuous hues and flirty prints beckon to 2022’s lighter, brighter days ahead. “Our Noma maxi is one of our favorites, mastering the soft, romantic, ’70s vibe with an off-the-shoulder, flowing silhouette — casual yet elevated for sunset strolls or seaside happy hours,” she shares. “We also brought back the cutout maxi dress, refreshed in super lightweight fabrics and shades perfect for warmer weather, like our Baloma maxi dress and our Alula maxi dress.”
Petrie says length, fit, and fabrication are essential when determining a fitted maxi silhouette. “This season, we’re seeing this silhouette slim down and become more universally flattering, eliminating a lot of the volume we have seen in the past that presented challenges for different body types,” she explains. Yuan adds, “A dress with a relaxed, flowing silhouette like our Isolde works well for various body types. Belt it to accentuate the waist and bring up the hemline slightly for taller frames. Or look for an elastic waistband like our Becky maxi, which is comfortable and forgiving.”
The Fred Segal merchandiser says longer, drapey silks, cotton blends, and even heavier fabrications such as leather in floor-length proportions suit tall frames best. At the same time, body-hugging silks and options with more stretch that don’t exceed the ankle — unless you’re wearing heels to help elongate your line — are best for petites. “You don’t want to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of fabric on the bottom half of your body — it should feel tailored and complementary to your body’s natural shape,” she advises. Yuan has another tip for shorter frames. “Consider shopping for a midi-silhouette instead, like our Benja, which should hit perfectly as a maxi.”
Additionally, Petrie has a few favorites for those who shop by brands. “Simon Miller is giving us a playful approach to this trend with body-hugging layered mesh skirts and dresses that appeal to almost every body type in a ton of fun hues this season,” she tells TZR. “Nanushka is another favorite for more unique and novelty prints and fabrics. “Their vegan leather is so soft and buttery and comes in various color options and lengths,” Petrie says. Adding, “If you don’t want to break the bank, I love Sir for their fabrication and fit. These maxi dresses and skirts [come in] opulent colors with interesting proportions and cutout details — I’ve been living in their Anje asymmetrical dress.”
Ahead, discover six fresh ways to master the maxi for spring and summer. Each outfit includes the pieces to shop for, with more expert insight from Yuan and Petrie.
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Summer Whites + Bright
Petrie suggests a cropped long-sleeve T-shirt and crisp cotton maxi skirt, like Staud’s Wells silhouette, to refresh your approach to summer whites. Finish with a woven bag and delicate gold jewelry for a breezy yet polished mood.
For work, Yuan tells TZR, “Try a printed maxi with a sweater layered on top — it passes as a skirt and sweater combo. Then slip the sweater off and over your shoulders for post-work drinks with friends.” Finally, accentuate the polished effect with a leather bag, sandal, and glimmering chain necklace.
Petrie advocates for the cutout knitted or stretch maxi for a downplayed approach to occasion attire, like Simon Miller’s Solar dress paired back with platform clogs. The Fred Segal VP suggests a vibrant comfy sandal — like Birkenstock’s hotly anticipated Manolo Blahnik collaboration — to add an unexpected pop of color for an even more casual look.
Add A Denim Layer
“For weekend outings or casual dinner with friends, toss on an open denim shirt over your maxi for an effortless transitional vibe,” Yuan suggests. Complete the look with choice accessories like a woven clutch, leather sandals, and bright earrings.
Sleek In Silk
“A more elevated casual pairing is the SVNR silk Vee maxi skirt with the Nanushka Danique black crop top paired back to your favorite sneakers or flats,” says Petrie. “Or throw on a strappy sandal if you’re going out.” It exudes cool-girl attitude with minimal effort.
For vacation, Yuan suggests a skin-baring maxi, be it a cutout silhouette or open-weave design. “Pieces like our Baloma make for perfect travel companions because the material doesn’t wrinkle easily — and make it the center of attention with strappy sandals to accentuate,” she says. A sun hat, woven tote, and sunglasses are additional on-holiday extras.