I love maxi skirts and dresses in the summer.  They’re easy, breezy, I can bend, don’t have to worry about how white my legs are and, honestly, if I bothered shaving.  You’ve been warned, if you see me in a maxi skirt or dress during the warmer months don’t touch my legs, there is a good chance you’ll get stubble.  In today’s One Item, Five Fashionable Ways I am going to give you my tips on how to wear a summer maxi skirt.

Take a look at yourself from behind

While the ease of a maxi skirt can seem like such a no-brainer, this style does come with its share of challenges.  For one, have you ever looked at yourself from the back in a maxi skirt?  It’s not always good.  Often, maxi skirts are in flimsy fabrics, like thin cotton jersey, which can lead to visible wiggles and jiggles.  I know it seems like a contradiction on the ease of a maxi, but I never leave the house wearing a maxi skirt without thinking about shapewear, or at least the right panties under my skirt.  Before you leave the house in a maxi skirt take a quick look at yourself from the back.  Alternatively, you can also think about purchasing maxi skirts in fabrics that aren’t so thin and clingy, like drapey chiffon or knit skirts in fuller silhouettes, which may be more camouflaging.

Don’t let a summer maxi drag you down

Next, maxi skirts can drag the eye downward and make you look short or bottom heavy.  If you are petite a midi skirt may be a better alternative.  If you are bottom heavy, try tops that widen your shoulders, like boatnecks, to counterbalance your hips and thighs and, therefore make them look slimmer, or eye-catching jewelry that brings the eye upward.  A halter top with a maxi skirt may make you look like a big ol’ triangle.

What to wear with a summer maxi skirt?

Next, what do you wear with a maxi skirt?  Maxi skirts may seem like a covetable silhouette for summer, but what do you do once you get it home?  Check out the five ways I styled this floral summer maxi skirt from Topshop to get some styling ideas.

Outfit #1- Casually, with a white top

The first and easiest way to style a maxi skirt is to do it with a simple white top.  No matter what the skirt looks like a top like this, from Boden, will work.  I chose this style because it is elevated from a simple t-shirt or tank top, it’s a little dressier.  Plus, it has shape, which is important when wearing a long skirt, show off your waist.  Additionally, the fabric is beefy enough to cover any belly lumps and bumps.

With the deep v-neck, this coral Banana Republic necklace fills in the neckline, brings the colors of the print up near the face and finishes the look.  If a white top isn’t your best color, coral can be.  Considered a universal color, meaning that all skin tones look good in coral.  The outfits is finished with gold Vince Camuto sandals and a straw MICHAEL Michael Kors bag.

Outfit #2- A maxi skirt to work

I’ve been asked many times how to wear a maxi skirt to work.  Extra care needs to be taken when wearing a maxi skirt this way because the skirt can be very casual.  In corporate work environments a maxi skirt is a definite no, don’t even consider it.  However, with the right coordinating pieces, a maxi skirt can be worn in a business casual environment.  In the case of wearing a maxi skirt to work it is important that what you style this skirt with professional pieces.

As you can see, in this outfit I chose more tailored pieces with the skirt to make it more professional.  By pairing tailored with soft the skirt looks more work ready. I chose a simple layering top in olive, a belted linen blazer from Mango that cinches the waist (remember the waist is important), a professional work sandal from Anthropologie (if you can wear maxi skirts to the office you can probably wear open toe shoes) a structured work handbag and simple orange drop earrings.  Remember, when wearing a maxi skirt to work, it’s work, not a vacation.

Outfit #3- With a chambray shirt

As I always say about chambray or denim shirts, when you wear them it’s like turning an outfit upside down, the denim is on the top and the color or print is on the bottom.  Therefore, a chambray shirt, like this one from Modcloth, is a great option to wear with a summer maxi because it will go with whatever your maxi skirt looks like.  It’s a great fail-safe, like the white shirt.

To give this outfit some shape (reiterating the importance of shape again), I belted the top with this belt from MICHAEL Michael Kors, used the same coral necklace and straw bag again and added some height with these heeled summer sandals from Anthropologie.

Outfit #4- With a drapey top

I wanted to style this summer maxi skirt with a drapey top to give you some tips about doing this.  Unless you are super thin and tall, a loose top and maxi skirt seldom works.  From a proportion perspective, most women will look like a big, diaphanous mess, heavier than they really are, short and wide– not exactly what most women are going for in a look.  Usually, however, especially when a woman is feeling particularly bloated and fat, she will think she is hiding her feelings of fatness underneath tons of loose layers.  Sadly, the opposite is true.  Shapeless clothing usually just makes a woman look shapeless unless she is built like a coat hanger and clothing drapes off of her beautifully.  I caution you from too much drape on top when you’ve got a lot of drape going on down below.  However,  chose this top with this skirt because I’ve seen in in person (one of my clients bought it) and the way it is constructed offers ease and shape at the same time.

In this blush pink top, from T. Tahari, there is a shaped cotton layer underneath the chiffon outer layer which creates the appearance of shape.  So, what I will say to you when considering a loose top with a long summer maxi skirt is to try the entire look out and see if, proportionately it works.  However, as a go-to look to hide out underneath, be warned, again, shapeless will just make you look shapeless.

The outfit is finished with a long necklace from Stella & Dot, to add more easy drape, the same gold Vince Camuto sandals, as used earlier, and, to play on pattern, and even I admit it is risky, this striped clutch from Aldo.  As you see, the hues in the stripe of the bag matches perfectly to the colors in the skirt.  But if it seems too wack-a-doo for your taste, a simple gold clutch would work just fine.

Outfit #5- Over a swimsuit

The older I get the more I think less about my swimsuit and more about how the heck I will cover my pale blubbery body up once I get out of the water.  Okay, that’s not entirely true, I worry about all of it from the swimsuit to the cover up.  I am still working on the perfect bathing suit but one thing I have nailed is looking stylish when I cover up.  It’s a serious pet peeve of mine when I see beautiful women in ugly misshapen unflattering things for pool or beach-side.  Come on, ladies, think beyond an oversized t-shirt, a ugly terrycloth zipper muumuu or a pair of drawstring gym shorts!  It’s so easy to put a stylish cover-up look together.

While my strategy is an oversized men’s button down, that I either tie in front or drape open, and a big pareo tied around my waist, a maxi skirt can work just fine in place of a sarong, especially if you aren’t just hanging around the pool or beach and want to hit the street.  Here, I styled this summer maxi skirt with a swimsuit from J. Crew and chose a white crinkle blouse from Boden to layer over your swimsuit.  The beauty of the crinkles is it can get jammed in your beach bag and won’t wrinkle, it already is.  Finishing the look is a straw hat, straw bag and coral flip flops from Splendid.

Last tips on summer maxi skirts

When hemming a maxi skirt it shouldn’t drag on the floor.  The key length is to your ankle bone.  If you plan on wearing this skirt with different heels heights and need a hem, bring different heel heights to your tailor and have him or her find a length that works for all the shoes you plan on wearing.  If you’re petite you can go a bit shorter.

Next, obviously, the maxi skirt you wear to the beach won’t be the same maxi skirt you wear to work.  Well, it could be, but one thing you can do is down-cycle your maxi skirts.  Maybe a skirt starts out for dressier events and then gets cycled down the next season for more casual plans.

Shop for a summer maxi skirt

Now that you know what to look for in a maxi skirt and how to style it check out these maxi skirts available all over the web.