Short Girls Can Rock Maxis: Seven Dress Looks

By Emily from Modern Midwest Maven

Hi everyone, Please say hello to Emily. She is the author and my guest blogger. Loved her post on Maxi’s Check it out…

Let’s face it, not all of us are Amazonian models with legs for days straight off the runway.  We come in all different shapes and sizes, and it should be embraced!  I am proud I’m wrapped up in a short package – one that packs quite a punch.  While being petite is great in lots of situations, such as getting a front row seat, or always being able to wear sky-high heels and never being taller than your date (well almost always!), clothes were definitely not made for our short and sweet frames.  Jeans, skirts and dresses are often inches to even a foot too long for my five foot one stature.  This can make shopping for these items frustrating.  I’m not always able to purchase and wear, instead having to wait for alterations and hemming to be done to the items. The last few springs and summers have brought the maxi dress trend front and center.  I think its a classic and glamorous way to feel pulled together and chic.  They come in all types of cuts, colors, and patterns.  This can cause some confusion and frustration when trying to find one that flatters your figure, and in my case, doesn’t swallow my frame and make me look short and stocky.  I’ve been lucky enough to find seven maxi dresses to add to my wardrobe over the past few years and I wanted to share them with you all to provide you some tips and inspiration when you decide to take the plunge and add one to your closet as well!




This dress was something I stumbled upon at one of my many visits to Nordstom Rack (if you haven’t noticed already, this is one of my favorite shopping haunts where I can always find great deals and the latest styles) and it ended up being my birthday outing dress last May.  When I saw it on the rack I was struck by the gorgeous red/coral color and the petite tiered detailing.  On the hanger it looked like I would have to chop off the bottom four or five tiers, but once I was in the fitting room, I realized the stretch lycra material hugged my curves and would be perfect with a pair of platform wedges.  To break up the solid color, I grabbed bold accessories in maize to pop and define my waist and accentuate my hourglass figure.  The braided leather belt, is also from Nordstrom Rack, and the maize and gold multi-strand statement necklace was from a new boutique in Ann Arbor, Hot Mama.  With everything together, the maxi gives a great summer pop of color, and is work or play appropriate – definitely a staple item I reach for often in the warm months!



This dress was an unexpected score when I was in Atlanta last spring for the Final Four NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with my dad watching Michigan make its run all the way to the championship game!  We were out and about shopping in the Atlanta downtown and suburbs and found so many wonderful boutiques and stores that aren’t prevalent in the Midwest.  When walking into the shop, I spotted this dress immediately and thought how perfect it was, given the purpose of our trip.  Again, looking at the dress on the hanger, it looked miles too long, but once I had it on, and adjusted the bandeau strapless top up conservatively, I was pleased to figure out the dress would be perfect with a heel.  I love this look because the flowing empire-waist maxi is flattering on all figures!  It floats away from the body and minimizes your hips and legs, while emphasizing the upper body and bare arms.  I’ve worn this dress to different school functions, and think it would be a blast to wear to a beginning of the season football tailgate and channel all of those southern belle beauties of the south!  Pairing the dress with my Hot Mama beaded necklace is the perfect added touch to feel covered and appropriate with bare shoulders, but I have also thrown on a navy cardigan, or ivory blazer for a more covered, corporate look.




Yet another score from Nordstrom Rack, I have loved this dress and its versatility in my maxi collection.  With a slight twist, and altered hi-lo hemline, this maxi shows off a little extra leg and elongates a shorty like me!  With the bold emerald and navy chevron print, interesting cut-out back, and playful hem, this dress is truly a home run.  The dressy satin material is a great feature to make this dress cocktail appropriate if needed, yet is airy and summery enough to be worn with wedges and sported for a grad party, wedding or bridal shower, or even a bar-b-q.  The sleeveless style has an empire elastic band waist which is the most flattering cut when it comes to maxis.  The key is to show off your waist, and create shape, despite the extensive amount of fabric the dress contains.  Here, I’ve paired the chevron print with cognac Steve Madden Wedges and a double-around matching braided belt from American Eagle.  These colors are a great neutral to add to your spring and summer accessory palette, are much less harsh than black, and look great when you’ve got a tan (I’m working on it!).  Unexpected touches are great, and this peek-a-boo  petal back detailing is just enough sexy while still being appropriate, and doesn’t require special undergarments.


This sophisticated maxi was a steal from Banana Republic last summer!  My best friend, Marie, had been online shopping and let me know they had an insane 50% off online sale happening.  I had seen this dress in-store at the mall and couldn’t bring myself to spend almost $160 on it, and had been waiting for a situation just like this one to get it at a reduced price.  It was just my luck that Banana Republic had just marked down the dress to $120, and even sale items were a part of their deal, so I scored this dress for only $60 and free shipping!  I couldn’t believe my luck, and was thrilled when it arrived a week later.  The detailing is impeccable – from the triangle neckline, to the accordion pleat color block skirt, the dress just oozes sophistication and effortless glam.  The thick strap is a great feature, and I love the ribbon sash that gives me the ability to cinch the waist as tight as I’d like to define my shape and ensure I don’t look stocky or boxy.  The white, teal, and navy color palette has a hint of nautical appeal, and is great for any type of summer event such as weddings, cocktail parties, or vacations!  I’m even able to get away with wearing this with flats or a shorter heel, since the dress came in a petite.  Be sure to check for that option in-store or online, as it definitely helps when you are vertically challenged such as myself.



This bold print maxi dress was a steal at Target for only $24.  Their juniors and women’s clothing area has greatly improved in the past few years, especially with the different guest celebrity and designer collections they bring in and feature on occasion.  I loved the bold print and coloring of this maxi, knowing I would have lots of options for layering with my existing wardrobe.  The cotton stretch dress is casual, and perfect for a day running errands or a daytime party.  The coral, nude, and blue color palette is perfect for spring and summer, and all of these colors are popular in stores currently.  I happen to have a coral cardigan sweater that I pair with this dress often to wear to work to stay warm in the air conditioning.  The three-quarter length sleeves are covering enough on their own as well, and the dress can definitely be worn alone.  Here I have paired the maxi with my coral Coach purse, and blue chunky stone necklace from Francesca’s.  The length was perfect for me to wear with flats, and I am looking forward to looking for some fun coral sandals for the summer!



Another steal from Target, this watercolor bandeau maxi dress was less than $20!  I immediately loved the unique print and coloring of this dress, and thought for sure it wouldn’t be too long for me to wear.  Boy was I right!  The stretch/elastic bandeau strapless top allows for adjusting to your comfort level, and the empire waist is great.  The skirt flows away from the body nicely and has side vent slits up to the knee for movement and ease when walking or sitting in the dress.  The watercolor floral abstract print has been very popular the last few seasons, and this blown-out look fits in perfectly with the trend.  The teals and mint greens contrast perfectly with the blacks and burnt reds.  I’ve added a beaded teal tassel necklace for some color coordination, and a bit of attention up towards the bare neckline.  This dress would be great to wear to the beach, or to a pool party as a cover up, and is definitely a vacation must!  You can always dress it up with a black cardigan, or bold teal blazer for a more dramatic evening-ready look.




This final maxi look was another vacation score.  While on spring break in Cancun in college with one of my best friends, and fellow cheerleaders, Leslie, I stumbled upon this maxi and took a chance.  This was my first ever maxi dress purchase, and was shocked when in the fitting room I discovered I would be able to wear this with a medium heel.  I couldn’t believe my luck!  I loved the bold zig-zag striped pattern and the halter/empire waist was very flattering to my petite frame.  I wasn’t swallowed by the fabric, and actually had a shape accentuated by the black waist band and flowing skirt.  The halter criss-cross back was an added fun summery detail.  The top has built in cups and padding so you are able to wear the dress au natural and not feel uncomfortable or scandalous.  It features plenty of coverage and while there is a plunging neckline, the maxi skirt provides an adequate balance and creates an overall classy look.
I hope you all enjoyed this post and have learned a little bit more about how to make maxis work for YOU!  Don’t let trendy styles intimidate you, and don’t be afraid to experiment and try on tons of styles until you find one that makes you feel fabulous.  Everyone deserves to feel like a million bucks and you definitely don’t have to spend nearly that much to accomplish it!  Enjoy the warmer weather, and try out some maxi styles just in time for summer.


About Emily Emily Ray, a sassy and sophisticated socialite with simplicity in her soul, writes her lifestyle look book Modern Midwest Maven, for the everyday fashionista who believes as she believes that life itself is a red carpet moment. Wolverine State born and bred and a former University of Michigan cheerleader (Go Blue), Emily is obsessed with make-up, shoes, and most importantly shopping. She enjoys spicy food, sports and she loves her furry four legged daughter, a dachshund named Sadie.
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