Wednesday is upon us, so it’s once again time to think about how to swap, switch, and snazz up a basic! “Basics…Anything But” today is all about a maxi dress! To begin with, let’s have a little heart to heart about maxi dresses, shall we? I remember watching an episode of The Rachel Zoe Project years ago when she was meeting with buyers for some major department stores to find out what pieces from her line they were going to purchase. To her shock and horror (being a MAJOR maxi dress lover), NO ONE was ordering the maxis. Actually, they were ordering everything BUT the maxi dresses. She asked them why on earth this was the case, and they gave her their honest answer: because they just aren’t big sellers. Because a lot of women are afraid of the maxi or they just don’t know how to wear it. This really got me thinking. I’ve always loved maxi skirts and dresses…I’ve worn them my whole life, and I haven’t really thought twice about it. But now after spending some time in a clothing store, I’ve realized that this is actually fairly true. I wouldn’t say that MOST women don’t wear them, but I would say that A LOT of women are not drawn to this length. The skirts that sell out are the shorter lengths by FAR. This is the funny thing…maxi dresses and skirts, if they are the correct fit, are actually quite flattering, comfortable, and versatile. So regardless if you’re a long dress lover or not, let’s try and have some fun with one!
THE DRESS: Okay so fit is really important on a maxi, just as it is in most dresses. Floor length dresses tend to be a LOT of fabric (I think this is one of the things that can scare women away to be quite honest) so if this is an issue for you, stay away from a higher waist empire style for SURE. If the waistline starts just under your boobs, that’s going to be a much longer, fuller skirt than if it starts lower down on your waist, or closer to it. If you happen to love the empire waist, then go for it! But if not, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of skirt that is happening! In order to pull off these swaps and switches successfully, the best style of dress will be a strappy (or strapless) simple maxi that’s a bit more fitted at the top and fuller at the bottom. The dress I chose is from Free People and it’s got quite a full skirt on it. (I gotta say, I bought it because Sasha of @snafierce wore it and DANG she rocks it, check out her post!) You can EASILY do this exact same styling with a simpler dress if you don’t want the huge ruffles! HERE is a super cute option that’s got some pattern variation and is nice and relaxed and HERE is a super simple budget friendly option (I know it’s called “empire waist” but it’s not full skirted, so it’s much more slimming than the average!)
Let’s start styling! The beauty of this switch up is that if you have summer events or weddings to attend, you could potentially buy one dress and re wear it multiple ways (including to an everyday non formal function) without wearing the exact same outfit! Apparently that’s all the rage now (I read about it in the Wall Street Journal this week so I know it’s true!).
HI! I’M SERENA VANDERWOODSEN (IN MY DREAMS)
Something about this dress reminds me of Gossip Girl! It’s got a Grecian feel but it’s not quite as fancy as that dress Serena wore in the Hamptons!
I paired this dress with some gladiator sandals (HERE is a great pair for $54!) and some bohemian beachy macrame jewelry to give it a dressed down but still classy feel. This is a great look for a beach wedding or party!
THRIFTY TIP: This look is VERY similar to the look I put together a few posts ago when I did one about maxi skirts! So if you don’t have a good long dress or can’t seem to find one, find two long skirts and layer them just like I did on that post!
CRAFTY DIY: If you know how to make macrame plant holders and the like, make yourself a great necklace! Otherwise, you can totally buy shells at the craft store and hang them on a chain to make your own necklace and it will look super boho beach ready!
SWAP IT OUT: Fringe sandals, or a basic scrappy sandal will also be very beachy keen with this look. You could also use beaded necklaces instead of shells to add color and change the vibe of the outfit.
DO YOU CROCHET?
Here’s an easy way to change the look of your dress without layering on too much in the hot weather! It adds a little coverage also if you’re looking to cover your arms or shoulders.
This look is still beachy but it’s a little classier. It’s a very monochromatic look with this dress, but you could TOTALLY change that by using a different dress or shoes or top! The crochet top needs to be short typically so that it hits at the right spot and leaves you a bit of a waist with the maxi dress. HERE is one option, but it will depend on the top of your dress what style works best with it! HERE is a few color options on the wedges for you (the ticket is that stretchy top because it’s SO comfortable!).
THRIFTY TIP: HERE is a fabulous (and nice retro reproduction too!) steal of an option for a crochet top that comes in black and white to give you a choice of colors! And while you’re at it, HERE is a great cheap gold collar to give you a pop of metallic for this look!
CRAFTY DIY: Another way to make this look super cool and a little bit tough, is to thrift a bunch of gold chains (or make some at the craft store!) and layer a bunch of them. That way you have an instant gold collar necklace!
SWAP IT OUT: Swap the cream crochet for black and use silver jewelry and black wedges. It’ll be more of a nighttime look, a little bit tougher, and less beach ready.
I JUST LOOK LIKE I RIDE
A great way to make almost ANYTHING look more casual and daytime? A graphic tee. They layer over or under most anything and everything and they really relax the whole vibe of the outfit! My answer to most everything is (yes a kimono, but in this outfit that doesn’t apply!) is a graphic tee and cowboy boots. You can pretty much go anywhere with a casual dress code in those two things.
In this case, I used a tee from Bandit Brand, which is a GREAT place to get graphic tees if you want to splurge and grab something that really does look vintage. (HERE is my exact shirt). You could totally grab one of the same prints in many different styles (I just happen to love the muscle tee but sleeves totally work too!) and even some in different colors. Also, Midnight Rider is another go-to for vintage reproduction tees!
THRIFTY TIP: So when I started hunting at thrift shops for graphic tees, I realized why they are typically so expensive when you find them online or at a vintage shop. The good ones are pretty darn hard to find. But do look when you’re thrifting, just focus on the MEN’S SECTION because that’s where the good ones, if they exist, will be. The great news is that places like Target have been ROCKING the vintage shirt game and even Forever 21 is getting up to speed too. Check out THIS ONE and THIS ONE because I know it can be kind of shocking, but I never expect to pay less than around $50 for a good graphic tee and these ones totally fit the bill and come in way under that price!
CRAFTY DIY: I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. A borderline lame or not so hot tee from the thrift store can be saved by stretching the heck out of it, cutting the hems open, and ripping a few holes in it. Heck I even got one that was basically ugly and I cut a v out of the front and grommeted and laced it up. Totally changed the shirt into one of my favorites! Here’s a YouTube tutorial on it!
SWAP IT OUT: You could easily use a cute tee and tennis shoes to liven up this look and make it super fun! THIS ONE and some white tennis shoes would be fun!
YETI IN A DRESS
I know, I know, who in their right mind wears a summer dress with fur right? I DO!!!! I love the neutrals and the sort of haute couture of the loafers, gold, and the fur vest with this ruffled goodness.
This is a super easy layering option…throw on a vest, slip on some loafers, and go.
THRIFTY TIP: Fur is one of those things that it’s honestly better to get new…faux fur is preferable usually, and places like Target and Forever 21 and H&M tend to have a plethora of them in the fall. The great news is that it’s totally off season for fur vests so they’re all on sale! THIS ONE is under $20!
CRAFTY DIY: HERE is a FABULOUS post on how to make your own statement necklaces out of stuff like ribbon and chain and stuff so that you can create your own bling for much cheaper than the store bought ones!
SWAP IT OUT: Too hot for fur? A denim vest or even a funky brocade one would be really fun over a maxi dress! You could also swap booties for the loafers or even simple ballet or lace up flats for them as well!
We MADE IT! Now do you wanna try a maxi? I promise these looks will be cool over a sleeker dress if the ruffles feel like too much for you. Even a kimono (gasp!) would look amazing over one as well, so GO NUTS!
And happy midweek day y’all we made it this far hallelujah!