According to my doctor, I’m 5ft 2in-and-a-half which I typically round up to 5ft 3in, since I know I tend to slouch…a lot. Either way it’s very clear that I come in a “fun-sized package”—AKA, a petite plus babe. (I have a younger brother that is just an inch shy of 6 ft, so at least one of us lucked out genetically.) The reason why I mention this is because, while some brands have finally made steps towards including petite plus options for their customers, the truth is shopping while being petite-plus is still a major challenge.

And then we have the spring/summer staple—the maxi dress. There is such an elegant ease to this piece that I feel many petite plus babes, including myself, sometimes miss out on it because of our height. Honestly, depending on the length and fabric of the maxi dress it can be challenging for anyone to style. Yet, not all is lost!

Here are my tips for shopping maxi dresses and skirts, that work for all heights! I hope that you give at least one of these a try so that you make maxi dresses a part of your spring/summer rotation as well.

Fold It & Belt It

Most of my friends like to call me “the belt queen” and it doesn’t have to do with just the number of belts that I own, but the number of outfits I style with them. Contrary to popular belief, my use of belts isn’t so much meant to define my waist, but rather to hide some intricate folds that I do when I get dressed. Allow me to explain.

I have a short torso, which can be a fit challenge regardless of height. It leads me to having to fold dresses, skirts and even some tops either in or out for a better fit. I then accessorize with the appropriate belt to hide as well as hold the folds in place. In the process the length of the dress or top does get shorter and this is a godsend when it comes to maxi dresses since the overall process gets the hem to stop dragging on the floor.

Knot the Hem

This is a trick that is used even by everyone, as it creates a stylish draping effect that adds an interesting detail to your look. Depending on the fabric and structure of the dress, you can do multiple knot styles that can change the length. I tend to just tie a simple knot to the side, but you can definitely find some more inspiration for other kinds of knots on Pinterest and YouTube.

Whenever Possible, Size Down

When it comes to plus size clothing (or really women’s clothing in general if we want to be honest) there are size inconsistencies everywhere. The lengths of certain items tend to change when you size up or down. Most summer maxis dresses and skirts are made of jersey knit fabric that tends to be very stretchy. This stretchiness allows for a more relaxed fit, even if you go down a size or two. That said, if you should find a dress that is made of a non-stretch material, don’t let that discourage you, either.

Go for the Hi-Lo Option

Granted hi-lo dresses could be considered a bit of a “cop-out” considering the fact that it’s an entirely different cut/style of dress. However, these dresses are still very much in the same vein as a maxi, given the length of the back train. If anything, the hi-lo dress gives you all the drama of your typical maxi without the headache of trying to figure out how to walk and not trip or step on the excess fabric.

Get the Dress Altered

Of course that non-stretchy maxi you love can always be taken to a tailor in order to have the hem cut to your specific length. Alterations also provide you the opportunity to have some more fun with your options. For example it can even give you a chance to take a maxi you love and have it made into a cute swimsuit coverup for the beach by simply opening up the front to create a duster. The possibilities are endless!

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