Fall is ushering a wave of new trends from denim to jewelry and, of course, boots. But before we can dive headfirst into an all-out autumn wardrobe, we’re faced with the in-between weather—aka transition season—when it’s still a little too warm to bust out all the layers. One of our favorite pieces to lean on, well, all year round is a dress (shocking, we know) and, luckily for us, maxi dresses are the thing for fall.
Like with skirts, hems are hovering over the floor in the dress department, but in more ways than the bohemian and formal iterations you’re likely imagining. Yes, free-flowing styles are still in the mix, but designers like Jacquemus, Simon Miller, Ellery, and Calvin Klein steered longer lengths in the direction of prairie-inspired cuts and knitted and crêpe fabrics on the fall runways. “We’ve noticed sleeker and slicker variations on the maxi length for fall,” says Yasmin Sewell, vice president of style and creative at Farfetch. “On the runway, it was done best by one of our favorite new designers, Marine Serre, who showed floor-length pleated skirts that were modernized with sporty, second-skin tops. It’s less floaty and more streamlined.”
While summer is peak leg-baring season, Sewell explains how longer maxi lengths are just right for those in the mood for a demure twist, and we agree. “There’s a rising interest in a more modest approach to fashion this season. Some of the most alluring looks were covered from head to toe. It feels refreshing after spending the whole summer with our shoulders and legs bared.”
Regardless of the season, maxi dresses generally require minimal styling — a shoe, bag, and some jewelry, and you’re good to go. While it’s still warm out, sandals serve as an easy-to-wear shoe option, but the new-season way is about going against the grain with heftier footwear. “This isn’t about a bohemian fantasy so forget the gladiator sandals,” Sewell explains. “I’d pair [a maxi dress] with chunky sneakers to stop it from feeling too feminine.” You know we love a little juxtaposition. Cowboy boots are another great option, too.
If you’re petite, you’re probably accustomed to voluminous silhouettes and longer lengths overwhelming your frame. But maxi dresses don’t have to fall into this problematic category. Sewell says to avoid styles with a fluted hem as the proportions will look “off” and to befriend your tailor to keep proportions in check.
Ready to go long with your next dress? Ahead, 15 styles to do so, for every budget and aesthetic.
Puffy sleeves give this checked dress a feminine spin.