Are Maxi Dresses Flattering for Plus Size Women?

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Are Maxi Dresses Flattering for Plus Size Women?

Apparently, someone out there is telling plus size women that they shouldn't be wearing maxi dresses. You will not be shocked to hear that I disagree. I guess there's a concern that maxi dresses are so voluminous that they make us look too big. (Too big for what? I was never clear on that one.) Let's unpack that, shall we?

Flattering is for Chumps

"Flattering clothing" is code for "clothing that makes you look thinner". If you're new around here, I'm about to blow your mind and break your heart all at once. Clothing isn't magic. Dark colors or certain cuts aren't really going to make you look smaller than you are. Someone decided that women should want to look as small as possible, so they came up with style advice that sort of kinda has that effect if you squint and tilt your head to the side and wish really hard.


woman wearing a print maxi tank dress
I'm not saying that clothing can't make you look good. It absolutely can. Clothes can make you glow with happiness. Clothes can make you look fabulous. But it's a lot easier to find clothing that has that effect on you when you stop shying away from clothes that might not make you look smaller.

Voluminous Clothes Aren't the Enemy - Shapeless Clothes Are

Maxi dresses may seem like a risky proposition because of all the excess fabric. But strictly speaking, any piece of clothing that's not skin tight has excess fabric. The "extra" volume of a maxi dress (or the maxi dress's sister, the caftan) has a shape to it. They're made with fabric that has a nice drape to it.

I still cringe when I think of the baggy shirts I wore through the 90s. I'd call them boxy, but boxy is a shape and these things were as shapeless as it gets. You know the shirts I'm talking about. Those shirts were baggy and tragic. Picturing them makes it easy to see how maxi dresses are fabulously voluminous and not even a little bit shapeless.



woman wearing a print faux wrap maxi dress
Maxi Dresses are in Style

Maxi dresses used to be called Hostess Dresses because they were comfortable and easy to wear, leaving women able to focus on throwing a party. If nothing else, a maxi dress lets you skip shaving your legs.

Sometimes maxi dresses are extremely On Trend. But they're never really out of style.

Maxi Dresses are for Petite Women Too

If you're petite like I am, you may need to hem a maxi dress before you can wear it safely. A hem so long that you keep stepping on it is a recipe for disaster. But there's nothing wrong with the shorter ladies wearing something full length. No, it won't make you look super short - that's just another myth perpetuated by...I don't know, tall people maybe?


You Do You

If you want to wear a maxi dress, go for it! If they're not your thing, that's OK too. I just don't want you thinking that you can't. Maxi dresses are a quick and easy way to look fabulous, so don't be shy about wearing one.

Check out our other posts about plus size style.


I found this article really informative and you have mentioned some amazing facts. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for more of your amazing articles. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this amazing article.

—Jostar online,

Thank you, Jen, for calling such positive attention to the maxi dress. I have been wearing maxi length dresses and skirts for decades, throughout my professional life and for casual. I never cared if it was in-style or considered out-of-style;maxi has always been MY style. At my most lean size to my heaviest, maxi has always been my go-to choice. I have a waist, but legs and ankles have never been my best feature. Vikki Vi tank dresses are my perfect basic “canvas” to dress up or down, to feel comfortable, and to look and feel ready for any occasion. Grateful for Vikki Vi options!

—Donna davis,

I’ve always liked a maxi dress! They are comfortable and easy to wear. Thank you for mentioning them.

—Judy minkoff,

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