Ditch The Minis For These 12 Comfy, Flowy Maxi Dresses

We’re in love with the versatility of Dôen’s Siena Dress

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Best Maxi Dresses

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No matter where you’re headed — to a picnic in the park, a backyard wedding, or the post office — a maxi dress is always a good idea. They’re comfortable and versatile, while instantly elevating any look, no matter how casual. The only problem? The sheer amount of them on the market. Because narrowing them down can be daunting, we did the work for you. 

We consulted a few experts, including a stylist, an interior designer, and two fashion designers, to help us choose the nine best maxi dresses that you’ll love now and for many years to come, no matter your price range, body type, or style, there’s an option for you. Taking the top spot is Dôen’s Siena Dress, a flowy floral dress that’s truly timeless, with eight others all worthy of your wardrobe close behind. 

Whether you prefer slim and sleek or bold and oversized, here are the nine best maxi dresses you can add to your cart right now. 

Best Overall: Dôen Siena Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

Dôen

What we love: The smocked bodice allows for ample stretch and comfort.

What we don’t love: If you have narrow shoulders, the sleeves may easily slip off. 

This Dôen dress, with its puffed sleeves and smocked bodice, is the epitome of an airy summer maxi. It’s as comfortable, as it is versatile — you can wear the sleeves on, or slip them off the shoulder for a more romantic look. Cinch the waist with the functional tie to enhance the skirt’s flow, or leave it loose for an easy fit. 

The petite floral motif winks to vintage charm without being too cottagecore, while the square neckline is decidedly modern. This dress will take you from morning to night, no matter what your day entails, all summer long. The fact that it’s responsibly made in India with certified organic materials? All the better. 

Size Range: XXS-XXL | Color: Pink and blue floral | Material: Organic cotton, viscose voile

Best Value: Zara Geometric Print Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

Zara

What we love: Its bold print gives you a standout look with an easy-to-swallow price tag.
What we don’t love:
With long sleeves, it might be too warm to wear on summer’s hottest days. 

This Zara maxi is a lot of dress: it features an oversized geometric pattern, long cuffed sleeves, and a tiered, to-the-floor skirt. It’s not, however, a lot of money. Button it up to the top for a professional look, or show off your decolletage when tossing it on over a swimsuit. The empire waist won’t fit snugly, sticking to a wet bathing suit or show sweat when temperatures rise. If you take good care of this dress, following the care tag and using gentle washing practices, you’ll be throwing this one on for years to come.

Size Range: XS-XXL | Color: Green and white | Material: Cotton

Best Splurge: La Réunion La Réunion Custom Patchworked Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

La Réunion

What we love: These one-of-a-kind patchwork dresses are a true labor of love with a meaningful backstory.
What we don’t love:
With so much fabric, the dresses can feel a bit heavy. 

While the price might be daunting, there’s a very good reason why La Réunion’s dresses cost what they do — and they’re worth every penny. The patchwork maxis are one-of-a-kind, created from vintage and deadstock fabric. Early in her business, when designer Sarah Nsikak was assembling each one herself, each dress took 10 hours to sew. Nsikak was inspired to create the patchwork dresses as homage to her African heritage, and the need to do so thoughtfully. 

“There isn’t much representation of African women in my corner of the fashion world, and it was important to show that it can be done responsibly with the excess around us,” says Nsikak. “The sad truth is that we will never lack for deadstock or antique fabric to repair and use, and I hope the urgency to use and reuse is translated through the work.” I wear mine time and time again — to Christmas dinner over a turtleneck, an outdoor dinner on a Texas ranch, and even the grocery store. The dress feels heavy because it is a lot of fabric, but that’s easy to look past, considering how extraordinarily special each dress is.

Size Range: Bust size 28” to 56” | Color: Varies | Material: Vintage and deadstock fabric 

Best Plus-Size: Eloquii Eyelet Tie Front Maxi Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

Eloquii

What we love: The unexpected floral embroidery and full skirt pair up to make an extraordinary maxi dress.
What we don’t love:
The fabric is substantial, which is ideal for cool summer nights, but not-so great for hot days. Customers also say it’s too long for shorter heights. 

Leave it to Eloquii to create an unforgettable maxi dress, and one that is available in a truly inclusive size range, no less. It’s hard to pick a favorite feature of this dress. Is it the woven floral eyelet detail? Or the sweetheart neckline? Maybe it’s the easy, comfortable fit. Either way, it’ll become your new favorite maxi. Elloquii also offers a rental option for their new arrivals, which lets you try on up to four must-have styles in the comfort of your home before fully committing. 

Size Range: 14-28 | Color: Rose Pink, Soft White | Material: Cotton

Best Evening: Malibu Road Madison B Maxi

Best Maxi Dresses

Malibu Road

What we love: Regardless of the dark color, it still has a breezy, summer vibe but can easily transition to cooler months.
What we don’t love: The back is very low, so plan your bra strategy accordingly or just go braless. 

Imagining a long dress for an upscale event can evoke images of prom dresses gone awry and bridesmaid dresses rotting in the back of your closet. Not this maxi dress. It’s far from overly formal. Andréa Bernholtz, founder of Swiminista, has worn this dress in Paris and in Mexico, with strappy sandals in the height of summertime and, a few months later, paired with a belted blazer and boots in the winter. That versatility is its biggest asset. 

“I love how easy this dress can go from a black tie to the beach,” she says. The low (and we mean low) back is highlighted with a Gucci-esque bee, and the high side slit shows off some serious leg, but still, its sexiness is subtle. It’s even easy to accessorize: Bernholtz recommends adding a long necklace and sandals in the warmer months, or layering it over a turtleneck with chunky Doc Martens in the winter. The fabric is lightweight — “But not too light that you feel like you’re in a nightgown,” says Bernholtz — and doesn’t pill or fade. Viscose is notoriously delicate though, so keep a close eye on its care directions and dry clean it as necessary. 

Size Range: P-L | Color: Black | Material: Viscose 

Best for Petite Women: Mille Victoria Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

Mille

What we love: The small flourishes of ruffles are feminine without being fussy.
What we don’t love: The tiers can feel like a lot of fabric. 

At 5’2”, Victoria Sass, principal designer and owner of interior design firm Prospect Refuge Studio, has spent a lifetime battling against too-long hems. Maxi dresses, in particular, can be a tripping hazard for someone on the shorter side, but not this one. “As a petite person, my all-time favorite maxi dress is the Victoria — no relation! — by Mille,” says Sass. “I love that there is a little sleeve for the office or when you want some sun protection.” 

While tiered dresses can feel like swimming (or drowning) in fabric for a petite person, Sass adamantly thinks this dress is different. “The removable belt gives the piece a bit of shape and allows it to look great on a variety of body types,” she says. Sass’s advice: size down, as Mille pieces tend to run a bit large. And if Mother Nature didn’t gift you height, pair the Victoria dress with a platform for a little lift. This dress is available in a variety of colors and patterns, from flouncy florals to sleek black, so if you buy two, we don’t blame you. 

Size Range: XXS-XL | Color: Clay | Material: 100% Cotton 

Best for Tall Women: Totême Espera Ribbed-Knit Maxi Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

What we love: The ribbed design enhances height without drawing too much attention to it. 
What we don’t love: It’s cut for a body-hugging fit, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when choosing undergarments.

Los Angeles-based costume designer and wardrobe stylist Caroline Sebastian, who is 5’9”, constantly hunts for maxi dresses. “I’m always looking for more easy, throw-on-and-go summer dresses, and this knit maxi by Totême fits the bill,” says Sebastian. “It’s comfortable, the color works on a lot of skin tones, and the rib reminds me of fortuny pleats.” Those subtle, vertical pleats highlight your height without screaming, “Look how tall I am!” 

As for styling this column dress, there’s really no going wrong, but “in the spirit of French girl minimalism,” Sebastian says, she envisions it paired with flat Grecian sandals that wrap around the ankle, a straw bag, and minimal jewelry. Picture it casually thrown on as a beach cover-up, worn with sneakers for a farmer’s market run, or turning everyone’s heads at a cocktail party. Just opt for seamless or no-show underwear because anything else will definitely show through.

Size Range: XS-L | Color: Yellow | Material: Viscose, polyamide

Maria Stanley Belen Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

What we love: It’s ethically created and full of fine details. 
What we don’t love: The side cut-outs might not be appropriate for professional settings.

Maria Stanley thoughtfully designed and created this maxi dress. Made of 100 percent hand-spun organic cotton khadi, which has been dyed with sea salt and natural enzymes, this maxi dress is ethically made by artisans in Delhi, India.

Its design is just as intricate; with delicate hand embroidery around the bodice and bottom hem, it has an antique feel that juxtaposes beautifully with the subtly sexy cutouts and deep v-neck neckline. Don’t worry about sheerness either; this dress is lined, so nobody will spy anything you don’t want them to. 

Size Range: XS-L | Color: White | Material: Organic Cotton

Best Strapless: Free People Rio Sweater Maxi

Best Maxi Dresses

Free People

What we love: This dress is as comfortable as strapless dresses come.

What we don’t love: It stretches out over time, requiring a bit more tugging and twisting than customers would like.

For better or worse, all things Y2K are back. That includes (for the better) strapless dresses, especially the polarizing tube-shaped ones. But we say embrace it. Evoke your best early 2000s Jennifer Aniston with this oh-so effortless strapless sweater dress from Free People. The knit fabric gives it a nubby texture that makes the otherwise simple dress a standout. 

If citrus tones aren’t your favorite, this dress is available in eight other colorways, including all kinds of neutrals. Pair it with a delicate necklace and colorful block heels, then consider your look complete. Just be sure to hand wash it in cold water and lay flat to dry. You don’t want a hot washing machine to turn this dress into a leg warmer or allow gravity to stretch it out.

Size Range: XS-XL | Color: Saffron | Material: Cotton, acrylic, polyamide, elastane 

Best Crochet: Farm Rio Striped Multicolor Crochet Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

Farm Rio

What We Love: The lightweight crochet makes this a breezy choice from throwing on over a bathing suit before and after a dip in the ocean.

What We Don’t Love: You can’t cinch the waist for a customized fit.

Don’t be intimidated by the personality of this dress. Just like the brand itself, this multicolor maxi from Farm Rio is full of Brazilian spirit. Wear it has a beach cover up over an equally colorful bathing suit, or on its own to stay cool on those extra hot days. The beaded tassels at the front add a fun flare to its rainbow stripes, while the long sleeves and flowy fit make it cozy enough to wear all summer long. 

Size Range: XS-XL | Color: Multicolor | Material: Cotton

Best Print: Anthropologie The Somerset Maxi Dress

Best Maxi Dresses

Anthropologie

What We Love: The vibrant print makes it simple to dress up or down for both the night and day. 

What We Don’t Love: Reviewers say it runs large.

Coming in plus, petite, and standard sizes, this dress looks good on everyone — and we really mean it. Thanks to the smocked waist and subtle V-neck, the flattering silhouette will complement any body type. The floral print might feel daunting, but don’t worry, it comes in more subtle prints (as well as a few solid colors), too, in case you’d prefer to tone it down. 

Because we know maxi dresses can feel heavy with tiers of fabric, the lightweight cotton material will actually be functional enough to wear during a heatwave without forcing you to hide in the AC all day. The pullover style can easily be slipped on when you’re on the go. And if you’re still not convinced, it even has pockets.

Size Range: XXS-XL | Color: Varies | Material: Cotton

Best Halter: Free People Extratropical Maxi Dress

Extratropical Maxi Dress

Free People

What We Love: It’s versatile enough to wear over a swimsuit or as a going out dress. 

What We Don’t Love: Customers recommend sizing down to avoid a boxy fit. 

No matter if you make going to the beach a lifestyle or not, this Free People dress will be the perfect addition to your summer wardrobe. It has a stretchy smocked bodice, halter neck tie, and low back for a fit that is effortless and flattering to wear. Raw seam detailing on the hem gives the dress that typical boho vibe we’ve come to expect from Free People, while the small tiers in the skirt gives the dress more flow. We like the taupe shade that can transition through different seasons, but it also comes in seven other summer-approved colors, like fuschia and bright yellow. 

Size Range: XS-XL | Color: Varies | Material: Rayon

What to Keep in Mind


Length

Ideally, a maxi dress falls between your ankle and the top of your toes. If it happens to be too long, you risk tripping over yourself. Before you faceplant in public, consider taking your too-long maxi dress to the tailor for a quick hem or consider wearing it with a heel — think a casual block-heeled sandal or wedge — for additional height. 

It can be a bit tricky to find one for the tall folks out there, so search for one specifically intended for tall women or one with a thick hem that can be easily let down.


Material 


For breezy summer maxis, opt for ones made of cotton, viscose, or a blend of the two. They’ll be the most lightweight and breathable. Silk maxis makes for perfectly slinky formal dresses, and if you want a hint of stretch, keep an eye out for elastane in the material makeup. No matter which material you choose though, read the maxi dress’s washing instructions carefully so you can commit to caring for it properly to extend the dress’s lifespan. 


Fit


Maxi dresses can consist of a lot of fabric. (“Maxi” is in the name, after all...) If your height or body type is easily overwhelmed by oversized dresses, opt for a slimmer maxi dress, like a column dress. Alternatively, if you want to embrace the volume of a maxi dress, shop for one with bold lines, like ruffles and tiers. There are plenty of maxi dresses on the market no matter what shape you prefer — just be intentional about fit as you’re shopping, so you know you’ll reach for the maxi over and over.

Your Questions, Answered

What shoes do you wear with maxi dresses?


What type of shoes you wear with a maxi dress depends on the weather, occasion, and overall look you’re going for. A chunky pair of Chelsea boots will give you a bit of an edgy twist, especially to a typically feminine dress, while a slinky pair of sandals adds a careless summer vibe. Don’t be afraid to experiment. 


What’s the best way to hang maxi dresses in a closet?


As you’re considering how to hang a maxi dress, take two things into consideration: the material and the weight of the dress. A lightweight cotton or linen dress is best hung the traditional way, as you would a shirt, on a velvet hanger in a tall hanging storage space. If a dress is too long for your closet, hang it on the back of a door with a hook. For strapless dresses, or ones made of a stretchy knit or heavy material, fold it over the hanger. You don’t want the shoulders (if there are any) to stretch. 

Why Trust InStyle

Megan McCarty is a full-time freelancer who consistently writes about fashion and beauty for People, USA Today’s Reviewed, Bustle, Well+Good, and more. She included her own style expertise within this story, but she also spoke with style experts, like designer Sarah Nsikak, costume designer and wardrobe stylist Caroline Sebastian, and petite expert Victoria Sass.

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