036073_89The fabulous thing about maxi dresses is that they really can flatter any body shape. They are so versatile, it’s just about understanding your figure and making sure you pick the right style for the occasion.

Full length skirts were traditionally associated with formal evening wear, but thankfully the last couple of seasons have really seen the style take off in the casual zone. It’s just about how you wear it.

Maxi dresses are comfortable, easy chic dressing that’s so low maintenance. Just pick the right accessories and you’re good to go. It is important to remember though that lower hemlines run the risk of looking frumpy if you don’t define you’re silhouette in the right way.

So from petite to curvy, day to night – whatever the weather read on for the definitive guide to finding the perfect maxi dress for your summer.

Petite

This usually means you’re 5’4″ or below. The common risk with being small and wearing a maxi is that you’re going to make yourself look even shorter. This can happen if the waistline isn’t falling in the right place for example, or if there’s too much fabric swamping your frame.

Empire lines which begin just below the bust are a classic, beautifying cut for smaller figures because they give the impression of very long legs. Alternatively, a snug fit around the waist and hips will give your figure the definition it needs to avoid looking like you’re wearing a tent.

036096_09V-necks are handy because they expose a dart of skin that creates a long lean look, encouraging the eye to move up and down and streamlining the silhouette. Kylie Minogue is a shining example of this rule – using the V-neck trick with maxi dresses and then raising the neck line when she’s showing leg to balance the look.

Obviously, wearing heels is going to give you the extra height and the low hem will mean the look will remain subtle. For the daytime choose a wedge or espadrille, turning to a delicate high heeled sandal or mule for a touch of glamour in the evening.

Shorter figures can’t take too much embellishment, basically because there’s less canvas to work with so you can easily end up looking cluttered. Prints need to be scaled too and if you’re a plus-size petite go for prints of a medium scale to flatter and ignite curves.

Choose prints that are verticle and slim and be confident that long dresses are an excellent way to give the illusion of slimmer hips and legs. Deep greens, plums and chocolate browns always make people look taller, with minimal fuss again creating longer, leaner lines. Avoid colour blocking as this can stunt the line of your figure.

Plus-sized

So like we said, the maxi is you’re secret weapon to slimmer legs and bum while still maintaining the stunning curves of your shape. Opting for a wide strap will balance the upper body where many women carry a little more weight. Spaghetti straps are only going to 036075_53exaggerate this and will do nothing for your curves. There is the argument that dresses of a similar tone to your skin can work to elongate and give a ‘strapless’ effect however, if that tone is beige or peach then it’s not going to be flattering for your figure, these can hard colours to pull off.

When it comes to prints, go for large scale to maintain the ‘wow’ factor – tiny detailed florals or polka dots create a sense of abundance, so basically look like ther’s more of you. Colours such as black, chocolate and olive greens again are wonderfully flattering, no matter what you’re height, or choose a deep purple for easy day to night transition.

A classic tips for fuller figures is to wear a wide, black or brown belt around the thinnest part of your waist to balance your frame and accentuate the waist. Bonmarche have a beautiful array of maxi dresses primed for summer in a range of prints and styles, all designed with attention to figure flattering, wearable shapes.

As with the petites, V-necks are a great way to create long, lean lines that draw the eye up and down as opposed to sideways. Make sure the maxi is snug to the waist and bum and don’t try to hide your curves – ill fitting, billowing shapes will give you a swamped, boxy shape. Actress Jennifer Hudson often cinches in her waist with wide belts and chooses browns with beige and gold detailing to complement her skin tone and streamline the overall silhouette.

When it comes to accessories, the rule of ‘less is more’ is always applicable, but if you’ve chosen a simple one-toned colour then you’ve got free reign. Up the glamour stakes with bejeweled sandals and bracelets, create colour pops with an envelope clutch or go completely boho with chunky beads and gladiator sandals.

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