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The maxi dress: 5 ways to try out the hottest trend of the season without looking frumpy

What was one every woman’s favourite sleeping suit is now the most radical summer silhouette.

brunch Updated: Mar 31, 2019 10:25 IST
Drishti Vij
Drishti Vij
Hindustan Times
maxi dresses,maxis,fashionable maxis
Maxis have made a reappearance recently on runways, brunches and the red carpet (Styling by Drishti Vij; location courtesy: Cafe Inside Stories, Delhi; Make-up and hair: Leeview Biswas; model: Sravanthi Mamillapalli; dress and coat, H&M; earrings, De’anma)(Photos shot exclusively for HT Brunch by Hari Nair)

How is it that maxis – super-sized summer dresses worn by grannies and mums the world over – have somehow made a mysterious reappearance recently? Elaborately styled on the runway, casually worn at brunches or even on the red carpet, the silhouette is somehow finding its way back. Fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani answers the question. “Maxis cover everything; they are as comfortable as a nightie and that’s precisely why you see them coming back.”

Over the years, various celebrities have sported the maxi dress in a fashionable way on different occasions

Birth of the maxi

The maxi dress was introduced by Dominican-born designer Oscar de la Renta – the master of old-school American glamour (and many head-line-making interviews). Considered the most ubiquitous hemlines during the late 1960s and early 1970s alongside the Hippie Movement, maxis were welcomed by the biggies of the fashion world, like YSL and Dior. This was, of course, after a decade-long reign of the mini-skirt when shorter hemlines and even trousers were finding favour.

In India, actors like Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi, who were loved for their edgy sense of dressing, embraced the maxi trend more than once.

Maxi vs gown

Fashion experts and industry stalwarts support the return of the maxi dress. Award-winning fashion stylist and fashion director at Vogue India, Anaita Shroff Adajania believes that the silhouette is a forgiving one and looks good on all body types. Unlike a gown, it gives more room to experiment. “The silhouette usually flares out and touches the hips without emphasising them. It’s not like an evening gown and does not have to be formal,” she says.

A maxi for everyone

Fashion director at Elle India, Malini Banerji, says the silhouette keeps resurfacing because it’s comfortable, easy-to-wear and feminine. “It works in prints like paisleys, sheer fabrics, A-line silhouettes or even something that’s boxy. It really depends on the individual’s taste, height and body type. For instance, someone who is petite might choose to wear a plunging neckline but someone who is heavy on the top might not choose to wear the same (beware of this fashion faux pas),” she says.

Anaita adds, that an influence of the countryside can be seen on maxis now with the prairie-chic look and one can easily swap flats with heels along with a statement bag, making it an easy day-to-night outfit.

Certainly we’ve now entered a tricky time where covering-up or showing off your body is a conundrum most women battle on a daily basis. But these roomy, often utilitarian dresses – from dainty Victorian gowns (like in Sofia Coppola’s Beguiled) to body-contouring slip dresses (think Kim Kardashian) – can surprisingly help you glide easily to either side.

The maxi slip dress: Pose in a pared-down chic look

Maxi slip dresses are for the curvy yet the well-toned

Maxi slip dresses are essentially floor-length numbers with spaghetti straps and were once worn privately at home.

The slip maxi dress is best suited for a brunch. (Dress and coat, H&M; earrings, De’anma) ( Hari Nair )

“Since this isn’t a very forgiving silhouette as it takes the shape of your body while highlighting your problem areas, it must be worn by someone who is body-confident and not afraid to show off their curves,” says fashion designer Rina Singh of Eka.

Wear this minimal dress to: “A brunch. Your white maxi is like a blank canvas. It has endless possibilities. It’s ideal for a place where you need to look soft but glamorous,” says celebrity stylist Eshaa Amiin.

Pair it with: “Linen trousers, keds and a denim jacket for an urban look. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bohemian look,” says Rina Singh.

Accessorise with: “Some gold accents like long dainty necklaces. They give a Grecian look,” says Eshaa.

Remember to: “Check the length of the maxi. If you’re too tall then don’t wear heels,” opines Eshaa.

The voluminous maxi: Go retro to look contemporary

The frilly or the prairie-chic dress is for the fusion-fanatic

Pair the frilly maxi dress with strappy sandals or classic sneakers. (Dress, Péro; shoes, Vanilla Moon; earrings, De’anma) ( Hari Nair )

A roomy, body-obscuring, often frilly maxi dress (known as the prairie-chic dress) with high-necked collars is the most contemporary way to wear a maxi, feels Anaita Shroff Adajania. The best thing is that it can hide your problem areas!

Wear the voluminous dress to: “A casual occasion like a day out with your girlfriends. It is one of those pieces of clothing that is trans-seasonal and can easily go from day to night,” says fashion designer Resham Karamchandani.

Pair it with: “Strappy sandals or classic sneakers,” she says. (Cue: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja has mastered this style.)

Accessorise with: “Contemporary brass jewellery,” suggests Resham.

Remember to: “Let the maxi shine. Let it be the hero of your look. You don’t need to accessorise a lot,” says Resham.

The anti-fit maxi: Be powerful and pretty

The boxy maxi dress is for the edgy power dresser

Junk cumbersome power suits and make a statement in a boxy maxi dress. (Dress, Yavi; coat, Bodice; footwear, Vanilla Moon; earrings, De’anma) ( Hari Nair )

Look out-of-the-box (literally) in office by slipping into this easy-to-wear boxy maxi dress. “These are best-suited for athletic body types,” feels Sanya Suri, and says that it works wonders for women with petite frames in that this silhouette is anti-fit and therefore adds more volume to the look. So, junk cumbersome power suits and make a statement in these boxy maxi dresses in the sweltering summer, instead.

Power dress at: “Work. The idea is to balance the flow of the maxi with something formal or corporate,” says fashion designer Sanya Suri.

Pair it with: “A solid-coloured blazer and heels,” she says. Like Kiran Rao would wear.

Accessorise with: “Minimal metal jewellery,” says Sanya.

Remember to: “Use solid colours as opposed to loud prints as they won’t work for a formal setting,” she recommends.

The belted maxi: Be the centre of attention

The classic belted maxi is for the diva at the do

The best thing about the belted maxi dress is that it looks good on all body types. (Dress, Amrich; shoes, H&M; earrings, De’anma) ( Hari Nair )

A belted maxi dress is a classic piece that can act as a staple piece in every woman’s wardrobe! Why? Because it is super figure flattering. “It is a summer staple that clinches the waist for a pear-shaped woman while accentuating her curves,” feels fashion designer Kanika Goyal

Stand out in this classic dress at: “An evening out. A maxi in a deep jewel tone can be a great, effortless look for a casual evening out. The best thing about the maxi is that it looks good on all body types,” feels Kanika.

Pair it with: “A belt,” she says.

Accessorise with: “Just long earrings or maybe even chunky silver jewellery,” says Kanika.

Remember to: “Be cautious of the length of the maxi. You have to see what works for your body type,” concludes Kanika.

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From HT Brunch, March 31, 2019

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First Published: Mar 30, 2019 23:44 IST