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Maxi dresses with heels: Can you or can’t you?

Want to wear a maxi dress with heels? The trend can be trickier than you think. But fear not. We have the scoop on how to make the look work and some maxi mistakes to avoid.

Celebrity wearing maxi dress and heels

Shauna Miller, style expert, budget fashionista and founder of Penny Chic, shares her tips for making the maxi dress and heels trend work for you this summer.

Maxi dress and heels: Making it work

“The key to pulling off a maxi dress with heels is having the perfect length to floor ratio,” Miller explains. “You want the hem of the dress to be no more than half an inch off the ground. Any longer and it drags, or worse, makes you trip, and any shorter, it’s no longer a true maxi.”

Make a style note: A maxi dress is more versatile than you might think and can easily be transformed from casual to elegant to workplace-ready depending on how you accessorize. “The heels will definitely take the look up a notch, but to up the ante even more, rock out with an updo, statement earrings and a clutch,” suggests Miller. “To make your maxi work-proof, pair it with kitten heels, a blazer or cardigan and keep the jewelry to no more than a watch or bracelet.”

The right heel with the right maxi

Not all heels are going to pair well with every maxi dress so making the right match is important. “Wedges are a comfortable option for giving you a lift while still staying true to the casual essence of the maxi,” says Miller. “For a more formal take, wear a peep-toe pump or strappy heeled sandal. Both are good choices for summer.”

More casual maxis (something tie dye, striped or floral) call for more casual heels like wedges, espadrilles, and platform sandals, notes Miller. Maxi dresses in more luxe fabrics can be transformed into something more elegant by wearing more sophisticated heels. “The key is matching the formalness of the shoe to the formalness of the dress,” she explains. “Adjustable spaghetti straps and halters suggest casual footwear, while maxis with gathered sleeves, V-necks and empire waists can work with a decked out heel.”


Casual maxi dress with heels

Pair this striped scoop back maxi dress (, $58) with these strappy wedge sandals (, $118).


Formal maxi dress with heels

Pair this elegant silk trim maxi dress (, $110) with these suede strappy sandals (, $120).

What doesn’t work?

Never wear a tattered maxi, warns Miller. “When you’re trying to elevate a maxi dress with heels, it’s crucial for the garment to be in tip-top shape. Because it’s floor-length, the hem of your maxi dress can easily have wear, tear and stains from catching grime and dirt off the ground.” To revitalize the dress, she suggests presoaking it in a mixture of water and OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder. “It’s chlorine-free so it’s safe to use on your colorful, bright summer dresses. Once your dress is renewed and looking vibrant, it will look heel-appropriate and a lot more expensive.”

Make a style note: As we all know, maxis have a lot of fabric head to toe. Petite women can sometimes get swallowed in all the material. Heels definitely help balance it out, but if you’re not sold on the look, try opting for a dress that shows off your legs and makes you appear taller.

More style tips and trends

The ultimate summer shoe roundup
Get the look: Outfits inspired by Star Trek: Into Darkness
Outfit inspiration for any given Saturday

Photo credits:, Michael Wright/,

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