How to Wear a Maxi Dress: Dressed Up or Down

Due to its versatility, the maxi dress is a wardrobe staple. It can be dressed up or down, making it ideal for all occasions. Whether you want to wear it as one of your favorite beach dresses over your favorite sexy designer bikini or layered underneath a light jacket or sweater, it’s a style of clothing you can take with you throughout the seasons. 

If you are wondering what is a maxi dress, we have you covered. We’re sharing a few of our go-to style tips for how to wear a maxi dress when you’re dressing up, going casual, or looking for a comfortable summer dress for the beach. Read on.

Maxi Dress Style When You’re Feeling Fancy

Model wearing a red Cindy dress with golden details


Dresses are a great way to dress up, especially when you go with a flowy maxi dress outfit. When deciding on how to wear a maxi dress, keep in mind that they’re usually made with lighter materials, like cotton or silk, which feels great against the skin. Because of this, they’re not often considered a dress-up option. However, as you’re headed on your next resort vacation, the right maxi dress design will work perfectly with a fancier dress code when you want something elegant, chic, but still comfortable. For that, a breezy maxi dress is your best option. 

Sleek Black Maxi Dress for an Elevated Look

Wondering where to start when deciding how to dress up a maxi dress? Black instantly adds polish to any look and is a go-to neutral color for everyone. A little black dress is a closet must-have to fit any occasion, and the same goes for a black maxi dress as well. The Stripe Dot Bia Long Dress is a classic example of a dress that’s both timeless and trendy. It elevates the simplicity of a beautiful black dress by adding special details to keep the look fresh. 

The scalloped hemline, cutout detail, and front tie at the front, plus the delicate horizontal white stripes, add texture and movement. A pair of metallic sandals or wedges, an armful of bangles, and sparkly, dangly earrings can dress up the look even more. However, the cut and design of this particular pattern are sophisticated enough on its own. 

Wear it for a romantic dinner al fresco or to an outdoor wedding. Swap out flat sandals for a pair of strappy stilettos and layer on a silk jacket to change the dress’s aesthetic. You can never go wrong when it comes to black, and the Stripe Dot Bia style is a dream for any occasion.

Maxi Dress Style for Casual Comfort

Knowing how to wear a maxi dress casually means embracing comfort without compromising style. A maxi dress is perfect for that casual style. Light, neutral colors and simplistic designs are key elements of casual wear, although bright prints have their fair share of style moments, too. A breezy yet polished design that captures a laid-back vibe is the Off White Joana Long Dress. 

Light-colored or White Maxi Dress for Breezy, Casual Wear

The softness of the off white color paired with thin vertical stripes and a sweet tie at the waist make this dress ideal for exploring a coastal town, a low-key lunch by the water, or a throw-it-on-and-go outfit that looks effortlessly pulled together. The side slits also keep it cool and comfortable to wear in the warmest of temperatures and give movement to the dress as well. The dress’s lightweight fabric and the skirt’s partial sheerness make it ready to wear for nearly any low-key situation. 

Keep the boho outfit style ultra-cool by pairing with designer flip-flops in Midnight, Gold, or Military. Gladiator sandals, ankle-tie espadrilles, or bright white tennis shoes also maintain the dress’s casual appeal while keeping the outfit stylish. Don a beach hat and simple gold hoops and necklace to complete the look, or let the dress speak for itself and skip the accessories altogether. 

Choosing a Maxi Dress As Your Beach Cover Up

Model by the pool wearing Tricia long dress in gorgeous tulum color


Take the casual aspect even further by wearing a maxi dress as a chic beach cover up. It allows you to head straight from the sand to a lunch date, shopping spree, or a stroll to check out the rest of your surroundings. It folds up nicely to store in a tote and allows you to be stylishly dressed in an instant. 

The beautiful color of the Aqua Tess Dress creates a breezy look when you need a cover up you can wear beyond the beach or pool. The light and airy fabric and the serene sea color were designed to become part of your tropical vacation wardrobe. The way the fabric flows resembles a designer sarong’s appeal but with everything intact and ready to go. 

The sweet knot detail at the front, side slits, and strapless bodice allows you to easily slip it on over your swimsuit and head to whatever is next on your agenda. Plus, the crinkle crepe fabric means less worrying about wrinkles and more focus on enjoying your time in the sun. Step up your resort dresses with maxi dresses even when you’re at the beach or pool. It’s such a comfortable clothing option, and it’ll feel just as good as it looks.

How to Layer Your Maxi Dress

Another benefit of having multiple maxi dresses in your wardrobe is that you can layer and adapt to the season or change in temperature during the day. These are two factors to consider when deciding what to wear over a maxi dress. When transitioning from spring to summer or summer to fall and there’s a slight chill in the air, a maxi dress is ideal for layering. 

Pick a seasonal color

Start with a color or print that speaks to the season. Lighter, pastel colors are better for spring, while warmer, richer tones work well for autumn. A versatile, gorgeous stunner is the Fiorella Cutout Dress with its unique, dark red design. The flowy, side slit skirt and cutout detail keep the style flirty, while the v-shape neckline and back-tie bow adds an extra fashionable flair.

Add a cardigan, blazer or jacket

A cream button-up cardigan, denim jacket, or oversized blazer pair nicely without taking away from the striking print. Or, a cropped moto jacket adds edge when heading into the cooler months. Rather than sandals, pair with elegant slides in a neutral color or knee-high boots to take this look right from summer into fall.

Or layer on lighter clothing

Other layering pieces that work well with a maxi dress are a button-up denim shirt tied at the waist for a classically cool option, an oversized shawl wrapped around the shoulders for cozy appeal, or a zip-up hoodie for a laid-back weekend look. 

These all allow you to transform your maxi dresses into various outfits for when you’re traveling, transitioning to cooler temperatures, or when the occasion or location calls for extra material to cover up.

Ways to Accessorize Your Maxi Dress

Model wearing brightly colored, low back, light maxi dress

Deciding what to wear with maxi dress depends on if you want to dress it up or dress it down, the location and activity, and your style. In addition to wearing jackets as layering pieces for your dresses, shoes, and jewelry, you also make a difference in achieving your ideal look. 

Dressy Heels or Casual Shoes

Heels and sparkly jewels help elevate your outfit and appear more formal. Neutral tones like black or gray keep the style sophisticated. Whereas, a pop of color like red or pink adds an attention-grabbing touch. On the other hand, slides, heeled sandals, and clean, white tennis shoes create a more casual look when you want to dress down your maxi. If you’ve planned a day exploring a new city, this is the route you want to go to keep things comfy but still polished.


Jewelry is another way to express your personal style through accessories. Understated pieces like a delicate gold chain or pretty diamond earrings are standard pieces for everyday wear, but the options are endless, depending on how you’re matching the jewelry to your dress. 

Metallic Accessories

Metallics go with everything. Whether you like hoop or stud earrings, thin bracelets or a solid cuff, gold, silver, and rose gold work well when paired with any style of maxi dress. Alternatively, turquoise or colorful jewels look striking against a black or white maxi dress. The question is whether you want chunky, layered pieces or keep the jewelry slim and understated. Also, do you want multiple matching pieces or pieces that complement each other but have their own special appeal? 

Handbags and Hats

After you’ve chosen the various shoes and jewelry that’ll complete your maxi dress outfits, there’s also the decision of handbags and hats to consider. Straw totes and wide-brimmed beach hats are best for a resort getaway. Tie a silk scarf through one of the bag handles or around the base of your hat for extra style. 

Pick one or two in color and style that will work with multiple options. Fortunately, most choices are timeless when it comes to accessories and will coordinate with what’s currently in your wardrobe and what may be added in the future.

Dress It Up or Dress it Down

Every closet needs a maxi dress, regardless of whether you’re dressing it up or down. The one thing to remember when learning how to wear a maxi dress is to stick with makes you feel the most beautiful and comfortable. Don't know how to style a maxi dress? Get inspiration from our style tips to help you create the perfect beach maxi dress look. Everything else will fall into place when you start with fashion that you like best.