Skip to main content

Style Tips on How to Wear a Maxi Skirt

Maina Ndung'u is a fashion enthusiast and has been a fashion consultant and blogger since February 2015.

This white maxi skirt is styled with a t-shirt and a hat.

This white maxi skirt is styled with a t-shirt and a hat.

The maxi skirt is perhaps the most comfortable, flattering, and versatile piece of women’s clothing. Unfortunately, it is not the easiest one to style. Even though it's trendy, making the wrong choices can take away from their glamour. The style you choose and how you wear your long skirt can make a big difference. With these tips, even the plainest maxi can look amazing.

A Maxi Skirt for Any Occasion

Maxi skirts can be worn for work, casual, formal, street fashion, maternity, and even as modesty wear. Styles include flowy, form-fitting, pleated, circular, A-line, and slitted. You can wear a maxi skirt either low on the waist or high-waisted. They come in a variety of fabrics, though most women prefer the more fashionable soft feminine materials of chiffon and satin. Colors range from solids to prints and patterns.

Styling a maxi skirt involves the proper blending of colors and styles. Wearing a maxi skirt by day entails simple and neutral pairing. However, you can choose bright and stunning tops and accessories in warm weather. For a night out, pair with fashionable and attractive tops and accessories. You can match up with checked and simple colors for business occasions, small prints for formal events, and anything goes when going casual.

Who Can Wear Maxi Skirts?

Petites and plus sizes sometimes fear wearing long skirts as they can make them look dwarfy or overwhelmed. But the right styling tricks can create a taller and leaner look. Here are some good silhouettes for different body types.

  • Short ladies who want to appear taller should wear darker colored skirts and brighter tops to appear taller.
  • A halter or V-neck top paired with a skirt in vertical stripes is also elongating.
  • You can also add a broad belt and high heels for more height.
  • For the best outcome, opt for a skirt that is neither too loose nor too tight.
  • A cropped top with a maxi skirt will also create the illusion of height.
  • A shirt that hits at the hip looks great on tall women. If you are tall, try wearing a button-down shirt tied at the waist.
  • A pencil-type maxi skirt looks great on tall slim women.
  • If you are slim and tall, choose a maxi skirt that has horizontal stripes. They create a wider and shorter look. Billowy maxis are perfect for lean girls, particularly if paired with sleeveless or spaghetti tops.

Choose a Maxi Skirt Length

The correct length of a maxi skirt depends on your height. At its shortest, it should hit a couple of inches above the ankle. Extra long maxis can be floor-length or barely touching the toenails. To ensure ease of walking, avoid floor-sweeping skirts. When trying one on, walk with your normal stride to see if it's comfortable.

Long skirt fashion is always a good look.

Long skirt fashion is always a good look.

What to Wear Under a Maxi Dress

You can wear your maxi skirt with your normal underwear. This may be bike shorts, panties or both. Some things to consider:

  • Full back-coverage underwear (as opposed to a thong or going commando) is ideal for maxi skirts to avoid the garment from getting stuck between the cheeks of your buttocks.
  • For a sheer maxi skirt, there is no need to wear other clothing underneath if you don't want to. Select a sheer maxi that shows what you’re comfortable showing. Also note that some sheer maxi skirts are see-through despite being lined.
  • Some ladies argue that see-through skirts are designed to show the underwear and therefore wear them without worrying that others can view their under-garments. In a futile attempt to keep their underwear from the glare of the public, others have opted to go without any underwear at all, but your mileage may vary on that one.
  • Another alternative is to wear tights, leggings, or a pettipant. This is a no-go for many as it would spoil the thrill of enjoying a maxi skirt. Yet another choice is wearing a mini, mid, bodycon or bandage skirt under the maxi. This may be uncomfortable and too dressy to many, especially with two thick waist bands competing for space.

Slip Under Maxi Skirts

Perhaps the best option is to wear your skirt over a half slip, also sometimes called waist slip. They are cheap and available in a variety of materials. The exact color may not be necessary. A close match will normally do.

Though slips are thin, they do not show through even with translucent dresses unless they are worn out. Full slips that strap from the shoulders are also available. But because of their bulky nature, they are usually used by older women, or for special occasion dresses.

Lengths vary from above knee to just over ankle. But if you like, you may also choose a formal/maxi slip. Slips make you warmer and might sometimes make you to sweat. Try different fabrics for the summer to see which makes you cooler. Avoid wearing slips that are too dark with light-colored dresses and skirts.

Maxi dresses are great for formal occasions.

Maxi dresses are great for formal occasions.

Benefits of Slips and Half Slips

  • Thin elasticized waists that go well with the skirt’s waist
  • They are lightweight, easy to clean and also dry
  • They make you warmer
  • One is enough to wear with all your see-through skirts and dresses
  • They enable your skirt or dress to hang out nicely, and not cling
  • They protect your skin from chaffing, especially if the skirt is of tough fabric like wool
  • If you wear your waistband over the slip, it will be guarded against sweat—you can therefore wear your outfit longer with minimal washing
  • Styling sheer outfits—wear a slip that covers the thighs to show the silhouette of your lower legs

What to Wear on Top

The choice of a top to pair with your maxi skirt means a lot to your overall appearance.

  • A billowy skirt goes best with a fitting top, while a tight skirt pairs well with a loose top.
  • A printed top is better paired with a solid-color outfit, while a single color top is perfect with a print skirt.
  • A layered top is also fine. You can tuck in one layer and let the other one flow.
  • In the winter, you'll want to feel warm. Layering your top with a T-shirt inside will increase warmth. Choose a shirt that is long-sleeved.
  • Another option is a chambray, tucked in, underneath a cardigan. This pairing is marvelous.
  • In the fall, try a buttoned shirt and a jersey if necessary.
  • Try a blazer. A patterned blazer looks great with a plain skirt, while solid-colored blazers are better suited for business affairs. Try a glossy blazer and a loose skirt.
  • Denim and jeans jackets will make you elegantly casual. Most of them are lightweight and not too hot for day wear, making them great accessories for spring and summer.
  • A white t-shirt is good for summer. Should you plan to spend your day in the sun, opt for any top that is short-sleeved.
This black maxi skirt outfit flows quite well.

This black maxi skirt outfit flows quite well.

What Shoes to Wear With a Maxi Skirt

In selecting what shoes to wear with a maxi skirt, key issues to consider are climate, style of your skirt, and occasion.

  • Opt for closed-toed shoes in snowy weather, and aerated shoes for hotter weather.
  • Match your shoes to your top. If you can't do that, wear plain colors like black and brown for the shoes because they will go with most colors.
  • Heels are elegant and also feel and look amazing.
  • Pear-shaped and petite women will find high heeled footwear to be perfect for that elongating look. A maxi skirt with heels is perfect for almost any event.
  • Peep-toe pumps are especially cute with maxi skirts.
  • Short and medium-height women look great in maxi skirts with wedges.
  • Flats are good for tall women. For special occasions, choose flats that are neither too casual nor masculine. With long dresses and skirts, opt for strappy flats.
  • Wearing a maxi skirt and boots gives a tough impression. Boots are best-suited for the winter.
  • For ordinary outings, opt for fancy printed or lace-up boots. It’s better to choose boots that fall higher than your hemline, but you can choose low or high heeled boots depending on your taste.
  • Avoid over-the-knee boots if your skirt is made of a soft fabric.
  • A maxi skirt with sneakers is a good combination for casual wear. It results in a young, girlish look. For summer casual wear, you can wear canvas sneakers with a t-shirt.
  • Low- and high-top Converse sneakers. Low tops look better with long outfits. Should you opt for high tops, choose a patterned pair. Avoid for casual outings.

The length of your skirt is important in determining what shoes to wear. For example, floor-grazing skirts go better with heels. If you wear above-the-ankle skirts in winter, you can pair them with tights, socks, or leggings.

The cat added a nice touch to this outfit.

The cat added a nice touch to this outfit.

How to Wear a Sheer Maxi Skirt

Maxi skirts ideally cover the whole leg, but it’s not unfashionable to show them off. Accessorized the right way, a long sheer skirt can be incredibly sexy and well-aerated for hot weather.

  • If you don’t mind showing the silhouette of your legs, you can just pair it with a tunic or a long button-up shirt, sweater, or jacket.
  • If you'd rather not show the outline of their legs, you can opt for a mock sheer maxi. These are crafted just like an ordinary sheer gown, but thanks to an opaque lining underneath the sheer layer, nothing actually shows through. The two materials can either be closely matched or in contrasting colors.
  • A still better option is to take the skirt to a tailor and ask them to put in a lining, or, if you're an adept sewer you can try doing it yourself. You can get linings, which are usually made of nylon, in a variety of colors. Find one that best fits your skirt’s tint. Be sure the lining is straightened up, especially if it’s for a form fitting skirt. Clothes with creased linings underneath are terrible.
  • Another great option for coverage is to wear a half slip, also sometimes called waist slip or petticoat. They are cheap and are available mostly in cotton, nylon, and polyester. The exact color you need may not be available, but a close match will normally do. Though a slip may be thin, it will normally not show through. Full slips that strap from the shoulders are available but mostly favored by older women.

If you feel that your sheer maxi is too revealing and you need a bit of coverage, you can wear lace bike shorts or a slip underneath. Biker shorts will look better than leggings or tights with sheer outfits. Slips or half-slips, especially the laced varieties, can be very stylish.

There's a maxi dress for every style.

There's a maxi dress for every style.

Proper blending of accessories can transform maxi skirts from one event to another, and still fit in both. How you wear your skirt matters to a great extent on what you feel. For instance, a tight skirt in the summer will make you unnecessarily hot. A single or double split look sexy and decent especially if the skirt is loose enough.

The versatility of a maxi skirt cannot be underestimated. Wearing a belt, thick or thin, is amazing. A belt emphasizes the figure-8 and also makes legs look longer. Apart from considering what to wear with your maxi skirt, always make the best choice of skirt. Poor selection of skirts results in not being able to dress it properly. Longer than necessary height means a limited choice for shoes, and may also be a safety hazard. Following the right outfit ideas will ensure you with the comfort of a pajama, and a lavish show of good taste. I hope that these style tips will give you a clearer picture of what to wear with a maxi skirt.


Maina Ndungu (author) from Thika, Kenya on June 17, 2014:

Thanks for your compliment. I feel more than repaid if my work helps you in any way.