Here's How To Pull Off Trendy Maxi Styles Even If You're Short

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Some of the coolest — both literally and figuratively — wardrobe staples for the summer season have always been the maxi skirt and the maxi dress. These pieces are lightweight, breezy, and easy to wear. Yet, for those of us who are on the shorter side, we sometimes feel challenged when it comes to feeling our best in a floor-length skirt or dress. If this notion is familiar to you, or if it's made you steer clear of sporting maxi styles entirely, you're definitely not alone in this. Yet, if you happen to believe that maxi skirts and dresses were only designed with extra tall folks in mind, then we have some very good news.


Maxi skirts and dresses can look amazing on folks of any height; it's all about finding the right piece for you and styling it wisely. We've gotten to the bottom of how to make maxi styles work for the shorter fashionistas among us. Our conclusion? No matter your style or your size, the wonderful world of maxi has plenty of options for you. 

Accentuate the waist

One easy way to make a long skirt or dress work for a shorter frame is to manipulate the look of the silhouette in other ways. The best way to do this is by making sure that you accentuate your waist. Wearing a low-waisted maxi skirt or a big, shapeless maxi dress is a surefire way to make yourself look shorter since these pieces will either make your legs look shorter or make your proportions hard to identify beneath lots of fabric. 


When you accentuate the waist, either with a high-waisted skirt or a dress that cinches you in, it shapes your silhouette in a way that makes it appear that your legs are longer than they actually are. And, when your legs look longer, it creates the optical illusion that you're taller than you really are. Of course, not everything about rocking a maxi skirt is with the goal of looking taller in mind. What's more important is not looking swallowed up or overwhelmed by what we're wearing. As a result, choosing a piece that shows your shape, rather than just adding volume to your silhouette, can help to make you wear the maxi style, rather than the maxi style wearing you. 

Create sleek silhouettes

Some of the most popular maxi skirts of trend cycles past are flowy, free, and full of volume. This summer, though, we're seeing a rise in sleeker silhouettes and straighter, slimmer skirts. This is a great development for those of us who are on the shorter side. Maxi skirts and dresses that skim your frame create balance, so while the maxi length adds more fabric and bulk than shorts or a shorter skirt would, a straight skirt adds less extra fabric and coverage than something flowy and full. 


Lots of today's trends make way for sleek maxi skirt options. One example is the trend of transforming your pencil skirt into a going-out staple and rocking slim skirts for all occasions. You've likely also noticed that, according to the fashion world, it's time to give the denim maxi skirt a second chance. Denim maxi skirts may be long, but they're also sleek and ideal for letting your proportions shine, rather than burying them. And, if you do choose to embrace the denim skirt trend, keep in mind that denim-on-denim has come a long way since the early aughts, and a long denim skirt and shirt or jean jacket is a great way to do it. 

When in doubt, belt

Most of us already have a maxi dress or ten in our closets waiting for the summer season to arrive each year. If you've invested in a super cute maxi dress in the past but never pull it out because while you love it, you feel it doesn't quite suit you when it's on, you are definitely not alone. There's one simple hack, though, that can make these dresses a very usable part of your wardrobe, as well as opening up a new world of outfit options. The trick is all in the belt. 


If your maxi dress doesn't cinch you in at the waist on its own, you can easily make this happen by adding the right accessories. Skinny belts are the easiest option to throw on any dress right at the waist or under the bust line. This will create that silhouette you're looking for without it needing to be built into the dress, itself. For an edgier, on-trend option, opt for a super-popular harness, which will have a similar effect. Depending on the style and neckline of your dress, you can even style a trendy corset on top to help to add shape to your dress. 

Crop it up

We know that putting emphasis on the waist can help to make us look taller when we're sporting maxi styles. Besides adding a fitted belt to a dress or opting for high-waisted skirts that cinch in the torso's center, you can also accentuate your waist by choosing the right top to pair with your maxi skirt. The best style of top for this situation? That would be the ever-popular crop top. 


Tucking your shirt in or sporting a bodysuit under a maxi skirt will accentuate your waist, rather than burying it like a longer shirt would. By the same token, a crop top that bares your midriff acts to visually cinch in your waist, as well. Styling your maxi skirt with a crop top can also help to create balance with the covered-up nature of the skirt and a bit more skin showing up top. Balancing pieces this way can help you to have control over the look of your silhouette. 

Sheer is your friend

There's one way to cheat the visuals a bit and get the best of both worlds when it comes to your skirt. A maxi skirt with sheerness can give you the lightness and elongating effect of a skirt that exposes your legs without actually exposing your legs and losing the long lines and easy breezy chic vibes of a maxi skirt. Luckily for us, sheer maxi skirts are here to stay. 


There are plenty of different options from crochet fabrics that are semi-see-through to skirts with mesh panels. This mermaid maxi skirt is a great example of a skirt with some sheerness, as well as opaque portions. You can also opt for a skirt that's more entirely sheer like this polka dot number. Of course, since not every occasion lends itself to exposing your underwear, you can always style an entirely sheer maxi skirt with a pair of biker shorts or a midi-length slip to cover up a bit while still getting the effect of the sheerness. 

Show some ankle

What makes a maxi skirt a maxi skirt is all about its length. Yet, anyone who's tried on maxi skirts or dresses before knows that the length from skirt to skirt or dress to dress can still vary quite a bit. For many of us who are on the shorter side, it can be common to find ourselves trying on a maxi style that we love that drags on the floor or requires heels to make it the right length. Shopping for a maxi style in a length that's actually right for us is important, and sometimes, this can even mean opting for a midi dress or skirt that lands more like a maxi style on a shorter frame. Alternatively, looking for maxi skirts in petite styles can be a game-changer. 


Going a bit shorter with maxi styles and showing our ankles can be a big help when it comes to making us look a bit taller and letting our frames feel less overwhelmed in our outfits. And, may we add that summer is officially anklet season, so don't be shy about adding one to your slightly shorter maxi look to put a little extra emphasis on your ankles. 

Add height

Our last piece of advice for looking taller in maxi skirts and dresses? Wear heels. Yes — as short girlies, we have all heard this advice. As they say, though, "Classic is classic for a reason," and while popping on a pair of heels isn't the only way to make a maxi skirt work for shorter folks, it's always a good option. Not only can wearing high heels allow longer skirts to fit you properly and actually be wearable, but they're basically the most direct way of making you look like you're actually taller. You look taller when wearing high heels, because well, you actually are taller.


Keep in mind that heels don't all have to be extra tall or skinny to have the effect you want. Just getting your feet a bit further off the ground can add to your height and give you a lighter, easier look. Of course, don't opt for shoes that make you feel too wobbly or that you aren't comfortable wearing. Comfort is key, regardless of the height of your heels or the length of your skirt.