5 Tips for Wearing Maxi Dresses If You're Over 50, Stylists Say
Consider this your cheat sheet for easy summer dressing.
The easiest way to simplify your summer style if you're over 50 is with lots and lots of maxi dresses. These pieces are cool and comfortable and make getting dressed as easy as selecting one from your closet and adding a few accessories. Maxi dresses have been on trend for a while now, but we don't blame you if you haven't invested in one yet.
Just a few years ago, fashion magazines had many of us under the impression that maxis were only for those with long limbs and tall heights. But don't pay attention to that myth any longer—maxi dresses are for everyone. Here, personal stylists tell us their favorite tips for styling them in your 50s and beyond. You might just find you prefer these long, elegant dresses to their shorter counterparts.
Choose an empire waist.
One of the first things to consider when looking for a maxi dress is its waistline. Michelle Barrett, stylist and founder of Capsule Closet Stylist, suggests one that comes in under the bust and gently flares out.
"The reason for this is that it draws in at the slimmest part of your body and skims over the tummy, which is an area many women are a little uncomfortable with as menopause can add extra weight in this area," she says.
Carol Davidson, NYC-based mid-life stylist and founder of Life.Style.Strategy, also suggests this style. She adds that it has a welcome bonus. "It gives the bustline a visual lift, which my over 50 clients appreciate."
If you don't want to go full empire, choose a dress with a waist between the under-bust area and the natural waist.
Show some skin up top.
By its very nature, a maxi dress will cover up the majority of your legs. To keep things balanced, show skin elsewhere.
Davidson suggests an off-shoulder dress if you love your shoulders, a low-cut neckline to play up your bust, or a spaghetti strap dress to show off your arms.
"The bonus with a slightly thicker tank strap is that it covers bra straps, which is an important consideration for my 50-plus clients, who often dislike strapless bras," she says.
It's also OK if you want more coverage. "For my more clients who don't want to showcase their upper arms, a flutter sleeve offers a feminine and flirty option, with coverage," says Davidson.
"If opting for a shorter sleeve, I often advise clients to look for a cap sleeve that is wider and cut on the diagonal—instead of horizontally across—as these traits will offer a narrowing effect," she adds.
Look for these materials.
Maxi dresses are often worn in the summer, so the material matters.
"My favorites are natural ones such as cotton, linen, and washable silk, which will let the skin breathe during warm weather months or when experiencing personal temperature fluctuations," says Davidson. She adds that they're also easy to maintain.
A few fabrics to skip are lycra or anything shiny. "It will cling in all the places you do not want it to," she says.
Pair with these shoes.
You can wear pretty much any shoe with a maxi dress, but if you really want to make a statement, choose something chunky.
"If you are petite, choose block sandals or wedges to give yourself that extra height," suggests Barrett, who notes that thinner heels can get lost in a maxi dress. "Alternatively, if you prefer flats, opt for trainers, espadrilles, or chunky sandals like Birkenstocks."
If you choose something like a flip-flop, ensure the dress doesn't get stuck in them as you go up the stairs. That could be a recipe for trips and falls.
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Add protective accessories.
Accessories can bring your look to the next level—so you might as well choose ones that serve a double purpose.
"Because my more seasoned clients can be a bit more sun-sensitive, no daytime maxi look is complete without expressive sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat," says Davidson. "Add a few gold bangles, a wider cuff or statement ring, and a straw bag to give a nod to some of this season's biggest accessory trends." Your simple summer look is now complete.