How To Maximize A Maxi Skirt This Summer

If minis aren’t your thing.

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The maxi skirt trend is back in the zeitgeist. But if you are old enough to remember the silhouette from the early aughts — best paired with a handkerchief top and newsboy cap, naturally — you may be skittish about round two. Fortunately, today’s options are not your typical Y2K “boho-chic” tragedy. Rather, the look has evolved to be a refined, sophisticated way to dress for the summer. Just look to the runways, where heavy hitter designers like Michael Kors, Max Mara, and Altuzarra are leading the way by offering floor-sweeping styles with longevity and lasting closet appeal in mind.

“Clients are gravitating toward everything long this summer season,” Stacy Smallwood, founder and owner of Hampden, tells TZR. “Maxi skirts feel particularly fresh as a new styling staple that offers an option other than grabbing the jeans you have been wearing all year. People want ease and comfort without sacrificing their style.” She continues, “It’s all about the proportions. We saw so many crop tops and cut outs for Spring ‘23 and the maxi skirt allows you to look effortlessly cool without feeling overtly sexy.”

Altuzzara Spring/Summer 2023Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Michael Kors Fall 2023Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Getty Images
Max Mara Spring/Summer 2023WWD/Penske Media/Getty Images

For some brands, such as beloved Italian label La DoubleJ, the maxi skirt length has always been more than a passing fad. “I am tall, so it is just a practical thing. I am lucky enough that I can wear long hemlines without thinking twice about it,” admits JJ Martin, the label’s creative director. “I do believe that most women can wear a maxi skirt, though — you just need to chop it to your proportions.” Her advice? “Try it and get it to your ankles.” She adds, “I think a maxi skirt is so feminine and glamorous, but you don’t have your butt out or your thighs out, so there is an element of modesty that I really love.”

Another designer with a penchant for a longer skirt length is Carolina Castiglioni, the creative director of Plan C. “When it comes to skirts, I don’t have a middle ground. Either it’s a mini or very long,” she says. And for the designer, practicality is key in everything she creates. “Functionality continues to become a priority for shoppers. We want to make the most of the items in our closet. And a maxi skirt enables us to be playful with styling all year round.”

Katie Sturino, body acceptance advocate and founder of Megababe, is also a maxi skirt stan. “I absolutely love and wear them throughout the year,” she says. “During the summer you can wear them with a top or tee, and during the fall it is fun to dress them up with boots or a sweater.” Martin adds, “[Versatility] is what is so great about these designs. They’re an essential summer item, but then you carry them into fall. I love wearing them with long cardigans or long coats, so I will do super layering over these in the cooler winter months.”

When it comes to styling the silhouette, the options are many. “I love a maxi skirt with flats. For me that feels the chicest, the most carefree and effortless [look], and you really get a ‘70s vibe with it,” Martin explains. “I understand if you are shorter and you want a little lift, of course they look good with a heel. [If I’m going that route,] I prefer maxi lengths with more of a platform or wedge.” Castiglione also adds, “A cotton printed design can be worn during the day with a top or a T-shirt or a printed organza with heels for evening.”

All our experts agree: Versatility is a key characteristic of maxi skirts and just the reason to give one a try this summer. Keep scrolling for their tips and tricks on making the style your own.

Pair It With A Gen Z Baby Tee

Gen-Z celebs like Olivia Rodrigo and Zendaya have fully embraced the ‘90s side of the maxi skirt trend. Their ensembles include a vintage baby tee (props if it features a sports team’s logo or a random retro graphic), an oversized maxi skirt — usually white with tons of flair, a trendy flat shoe like Mary Janes or a ballet flat, a pair of 2000s dad-esque sunglasses, and all the chunky Y2K jewelry you can find. If you can’t find a cute vintage baby tee at your local thrift store, look no further than the options below.

Get Trendy With Denim

This summer, instead of reaching for a pair of ripped denim shorts or a jean mini skirt, experiment with Spring 2023’s fresh variation of denim — denim maxi skirts. Denim maxi skirts provide that effortless model off-duty look, beloved by celebrities like Gigi and Bella Hadid. Similar to the baby tee maxi skirt combo, denim maxi skirts pair best with a tighter top — we recommend a halter or a bandeau top. Take a note from Altuzarra’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection and play around with layers like cropped jackets to complete the look.

Try Print On Print

A matching set is a key part of Martin’s capsule wardrobe and a maxi skirt paired with a matching blouse is so adorable for the summer. “You’ve got the print on the top and the bottom, and you tuck it in. It looks like you’re wearing a full length dress and you’re not even aware it is two pieces, so that makes it dressier,” says Martin explaining her favorite ways to wear print-covered maxi skirts. “I love to have a silk blouse that’s unbuttoned, and the sleeves are rolled up. It looks really, really elegant and you throw on a bunch of necklaces or great earrings and a cool shoe and that’s a way to elevate it.”

Crop Top It

“The maxi skirt goes with every kind of top,” Martin says. “It goes with a men’s style shirt, a frilly blouse, a tank top, a T-shirt. It looks great with crop tops, especially if you’ve got one with voluminous sleeves a — great look for the summer.”

Tie-Up A Button Down

“We are also seeing maxi skirts as an option for day worn with a flat sandal and a button down tied at the waist,” Smallwood says. Look for cottons and linen button downs that will tie effortlessly and keep you cool on the hottest of days. Or you can test out a pre-tied style top as well, to channel that La Dolce Vita lifestyle wherever summer takes you.

Play With Texture

Crochet is having a moment again this season, and many designers are leaning into the knit maxi as a staple silhouette this season. It features skirts that are a slimmer cut and hang straight, rather than their frilly, free-spirited tiered counterparts. When searching for yours, look for shades of beige and cream or natural neutrals that feel modern and work well for summer. Whether you have your eye on a matching knit set, or want to mix and match, crochet and sweater textured pieces will add texture and depth to the trend.

Pair With A Tee

Castigilioni encourages maxi skirt lovers to experiment with prints and patterns, especially in the warmer months. “For summer, I would pair a patterned maxi skirt with a white shirt, but always carry my favorite sweater with me so that I can layer onto it for chillier nights. I would also pair it with funky platform sandals,” she says. The lesson here? T-shirts add a casual feel to any maxi, printed or plain, making for an easy outfit solution.

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