City Pulse

By Lili Sarnyai

It may very well be the best thing since sliced bread. It comes in every color, design, fabric and price range; it is comfortable yet chic, mysterious yet sexy. And it is everywhere; after a tentative first year in 2008, the MAXI DRESS has now quite literally swathed the fashion forward ladies of Manhattan. From the edgy bars of Chelsea to the pristine sidewalks of the Upper East Side, women everywhere can be seen parading in the garment du jour. Yet far from indicating the mass onset of conformity and fashion laissez faire, this trend instead hints at the possibility of a world where clothes can be indulged in with pure, unadulterated joy; where the trials of fitting into skinny jeans three sizes too small are but distant memories; where sky-high heels are merely an option for daywear, not a necessity; and where women of all shapes, sizes, colors and zip codes can express themselves through clothes that flatter – without having to resort to wearing garments causing enough embarrassment to merit a Vogue subscription cancellation.

Maxi dresses were seen on the Spring/Summer 2009 ready to wear runways from Vera Wang to Andre Lieberman, and have rapidly appeared in the more wallet-friendly Topshop, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21. The secret to the widespread success of this rediscovered hot-weather staple is the sheer variety: from elegant jewel tones to shades reminiscent of a Hamptons sunset, from chic nudes to timeless and versatile black and white, from tribal prints to flouncy florals, the maxi dress is the true chameleon of summer fashion. Indeed, not only are maxis available in more colors than there are Tasti D Lite flavors, but they come in myriad styles: strapless, halter, racerback; body-hugging, flowing, bubble – you name it, it’s here.

Wear the maxi to the office, with a sharp blazer and elegant, refined jewelry; let it take you from work to play, by slipping on a neon party frock and accessorizing with a flawless tan, vertigo-inducing platforms, and Swarovski charms; or pop out for some grocery shopping in a soft pastel number, leather gladiator sandals and some clunky chunky jewelry – when it comes to bangles and cuffs, size really does matter.

And just remember: although you may feel rather like a Victorian lady, as you try to gracefully hold your impossibly long garment off the ground, it is a far smaller sacrifice than what goes into being body-ready for a micro mini. So rest assured – there is a maxi dress – or two, or three (or more than I personally dare to count) – for everyone.

Originally published August 2009
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