If you are petite like me (I’m 5’2″), maxi dresses can be one of the most flattering styles for short women like us! The reason is if you are short, creating length in your outfit is one of the key factors to make you look taller. The easiest way to achieve that is through wearing a long dress, as it forms a vertical line to lengthen your statue and effectively extend your frame. Besides, they are so forgiving! You can save on razor time, to state the obvious.
Over the years, I have tried numerous maxi dresses, and these are the best for short women that I keep wearing again and again every year, no matter how the trend changes.
Maxi with slits
Maxi dresses with side slits look the best on short girls! You can try this Asymmetrical Hem Maxi Slip Dress ($108.00)
Because of its continuous color and pattern, a maxi dress can effectively elongate your body frame. However, since they are very long, they do run the risk of potentially overwhelming someone who is petite! By showing part of your legs, the side slit makes you less likely to look swamped by the fabrics and can make you look taller.
High/low hem dress
High/low hem dresses are great options for petite women because you can enjoy the best of the two worlds- the short hem in the front to make you appear taller and the long dress from the back to create an unbroken vertical line that lengthens! You can try this One Shoulder Midi Dress ($89.00)
Maxi dresses are available in all kinds of prints and patterns, which oftentimes are so romantic and we cannot say no. Floral prints are especially the favorite of many because they are simply irresistible, like this Animal Print Dress ($69.00)
If you are a lover of maxi dresses, you would feel something is missing if you don’t own a piece with florals in the summer!
So, how can you wear prints without looking swamped?
The size of the prints is the key. Generally speaking, small prints are the best choice for petite women. Be very careful with large prints on maxi dresses. Given the big area maxi dresses cover on your body, large prints may look too busy and overwhelm your small frame.
If you are invited to a summer wedding, they are probably your best bet. Maxi is one of the top-rated petite wedding guest dresses, because they are automatically dressy and are acceptable with most of the wedding dress codes.
Wrap maxi dress
Wrap dresses in general are quite flattering to women of any body shape, especially if you happen to have a bigger bust. The reason is they can really accentuate your “assets”, and flatter women with curves! Wrap dresses are also my personal favorite, and I have an entire collection of different fabrics and prints!
The good news is that wrap dresses also come in maxi length! This is the best of two worlds for petite women. Not only you can elongate your legs by wearing these wrap dresses, but also they look so flattering on your curves, like this Petite Printed Ruffle Maxi Dress ($61.99)
Of all the dress silhouettes, A-line is universally flattering, as it suits women of all age groups and all body shapes. That is true regardless of the length of the A-line dress. Since the letter A shape does not cling to your thighs or hips, they are much more forgiving compared with a lot of other dress silhouettes.
Fortunately, Aline dresses also come in maxi length. This is great news for us short girls because pretty much everyone can feel confident in this dress shape, even if you happen to have a bigger belly, or if you have wider hips. You can try this Petite Belted A-line Dress ($69.00)
Ankle length dress
The length of the maxi dress is one of the most important factors that determine if it fits you or not. If the maxi dress is too long, your shoes can get caught in the fabric and you can fall! I love ankle-length maxi dresses because I can wear them with both flat shoes or heels.
It is critical that you should shop at the petite designers for maxi-length dresses. Plus, you should pay attention to the specification of the petite length maxi dresses, even if they are labeled as petite sizing.
The reason is each brand may make petite size maxi dresses of different lengths. When maxi dresses first became a summer trend, they were only available in regular sizes, so the only way a short girl could pull it off was to first send it to the tailors and cut off the extra inches. Fortunately, there are now brands (ASOS, Nordstrom, Macy’s, etc) that offer petite-length maxi dresses so that you do not have to pay for a tailor.
The best length obviously varies because of your height. a 4’9” petite woman should wear a different length than a 5’2” petite woman. One good benchmark is that the dress should fall just around your ankle, even if you are wearing flats. That way, you don’t have to worry about tripping over the maxi dress when you happen to not be wearing heels one day.
Dresses with an elevated waistline
Waistline plays a big role in whether the maxi dress looks good on a short woman. Why? It divides your body into different proportions, thus it can break you or make you. When the waistline sits higher on your dresses, they make your torso look shorter and your legs look longer. Vice versa, when the dress waistline is lower, like the drop-waist dresses, it does quite the opposite! You can try this
Maxi dresses with an elevated waistline are most flattering to short girls, as they can make you look taller and leaner. Since the waist of the dress is higher than your natural waistline, they make your legs look longer than they are, like this Puff Sleeve Maxi Dress ($180.00).
This is my number one criteria whenever I am looking for a maxi dress. Since the dress is so long, it is critical that the waist of the dress should be in the right position. Not all maxi dresses are created equal. When you pay attention to this, you’ll notice some dresses have higher and some have a lower waistlines. Try on both in front of the mirror, and you will notice a huge difference when you wear the one with a higher waistline!
Flowy maxi dresses
The fabric is very important for petite maxi dresses. The point of wearing petite maxi dresses is they move as you move. Therefore, you definitely want to go with something soft and flowy. The best petite length maxi dresses’ fabrics should hug your body’s natural curve just right (not too loose or too tight) and create a feminine and flattering silhouette. Avoid stiff materials, which have their own shape and will not flow as well as the drapery fabrics.
If you are wondering what you should wear for vacation, flowy maxi dresses should be on your packing list! They are so comfortable you can just throw them on and wear them and hang them by the beach or the pool all day. That is why they are one of our top 5 choices for resort wear for petites. Whether you are searching for a versatile piece to wear to Caribbean cruise or just driving to a local beach, you can never go wrong with it. You can try this Petite Blue Stripped Maxi Dress ($79.00)
Belted maxi dress
If you are petite, a maxi dress with a self-belt is very flattering. The reason is it defines your waist and draws the attention up! If you happen to have very little natural waist definition like myself, then going with a dress that already has a belt is the easiest option for you.
You can go in a dress with a belt or a tie waist. Or, if your dress does not come with a belt, you can also add your own belt to it, and you can achieve the same result! You can try this Belted Maxi Dress ($108.00)
Fitted maxi dress
Like anything else in petite fashion, the fit is always important. Of course, maxi dresses should be comfortable and flowy, but that doesn’t mean they should be baggy and shapeless. Think about it- maxi dresses are so long they can easily overwhelm your petite frame. If they are not well fitted, they could make you look like swamped in endless fabrics.
Therefore, petite women should definitely stay away from maxi dresses that are too loose. Even though they are petite in length, that kind of design will not flatter you. They will make it look like the dress is wearing you instead of you wearing the dress.
The oversized trend has been going on for many years now, and they are not the best option for short women. Even though they may seem comfortable, if they are too oversized, they can look like a sleeping bag on someone who is petite. That is especially true if you happen to be short and skinny.
If you are short and curvy, well, an oversized dress only adds more bulk to your body and makes you look even heavier!
Find a good tailor
Even though it is ideal to find the petite size maxi dresses that fit you like a glove, chances are you might need alterations sometimes. You may be happy with everything else about the petite maxi dress, but it could be a couple of inches longer than what you want. Or, if you are under 5 feet tall, you might find even the petite size maxi dresses are still too long for you. In that case, sending them to the tailor and spend extra $15 on it will make the dress fit you just right.
That said, these are the things you generally should not try to change about the dress:
The bodice- It is almost like redoing the dress, if you need to change the construction of the bodice. We are not saying the tailors won’t accept the request, it is just too complicated and probably too expensive to do so.
The waistline- This is tricky to reconstruct. Your best bet is to find the ideal petite maxi dress that has a waistline sitting where you want it to be.
Complete the look with the right shoes
Wearing the right shoes with petite maxi dresses is important, because they can change the whole look of the outfit from casual to polished instantly.
If you are wondering what you should wear to a wedding, then wearing a maxi dress with heels is probably an appropriate outfit for a celebratory occasion like weddings. Maxi dresses look feminine and polished when you wear them with slender high heeled sandals.
If you want a casual and laid back look, then wedges or flats are perfect choices to go with maxi dresses for short girls.
Pro tips: when you are trying on maxi dresses, wear the shoes you intend to wear with the dress. The reason is how high your heels are (or no heel at all) can impact how long the maxi dress you need to be. If you think you will be wearing the dress with heels for the most part, then add a couple of inches to your normal length.
Everything else you need to know about petite dresses
- 6 Best Dresses for Petite Women
- How to Find the Best Petite Casual Dresses
- Best Petite Sundresses
- Best Petite Cocktail Dresses: 7 must know tips
- How to Choose Petite Prom Dresses
- How to Choose Petite Formal Long Dresses
- Petite Mother of the Bride Dresses: 11 Must Know Tips
- How to Choose Petite Wedding Guest Dresses
- How to Choose Petite Evening Gowns
- How to Choose Petite Dresses for Special Occasions