Summer may technically be a month away, but it certainly felt like it last Saturday with temps creeping up to the 90s! I talk a lot about basics, so some of my must-have basics for warmer weather is a comfortable maxi dress (bonus if it can be worn with both flats and heels), a neutral hat to protect your face from the sun, and a pair of block-heeled sandals. When shopping for maxi dresses online, here are a few tips on things to look for that can help with fit:
1. I don't mind getting alterations, but if you want to avoid them, a "blouson" gathered-style waistline (either elasticized or drawstring) is the easiest to adjust in terms of a customized length. You can tuck in the waistline and let more fabric hang over it in order to effectively shorten the total dress length. A bonus about blouson-waist dresses is they can adjust to accommodate shoes of various heights!
2. If length measurements are provided online, compare them to the measurement from the top of your shoulder down to the ground (put on heels or flats based on what you intend to wear with the dress). Keep in mind though that online measurements are usually taken on a size in the middle of the full range, so actual length could skew shorter or longer based on size. With heels, I know I would need hemming alterations on anything longer than 54."
3. Adjustable shoulder straps are great for customizing the neckline, armholes, and torso fit, and can also effectively raise up the total length. This dress does not have them, but a shortcut to quickly shorten shoulder straps is to use a ribbon or same-colored safety pin to secure the straps together in the back, which results in a criss-crossed look and raises the torso up.
4. Dresses that look midi or ankle-length on stock photo models may work as full-length maxis on petite women. There are several maxi dresses available in petites these days but I don't like to limit myself to just those, plus there are some dresses in petite sizing that still run long while some in regular sizing may run short.
This Lush maxi dress looked ankle length on the model and also has that forgiving blouson waist. I can tuck the longer back in more at the waist to wear this with flats, or let all the material hang out for it to be long enough for heels. The cross-over drape front, side slits, and partial sheer overlay keep a simple piece from being plain. The neckline is a little low on me so I'll be shortening the straps. Tag says dry clean, but I own several items from this brand with the same-feeling material (which all says dry clean), but I wash them in the delicates cycle on cold in a mesh bag, then hang dry with no issues.
Also since I always get bra questions, I am wearing my regular CK bra here (runs small) just with the straps converted into a cross-back - the nude straps show a little but are camouflaged for the most part!
Nordstrom asked me to share a few other wardrobe essentials for summer - here are some alternatives similar to staples in my closet, all available in extended sizing:
- V-neck bodice maxi dress that comes in petites, in over 8 colors
- maxi dress with sheer overlay similar to the one I'm wearing, which comes in petites & is on sale
- striped maxi dress with drawstring foldover waist, also comes in regular and petites
- neutral block-heeled platform sandals with a similar silhouette to my sold-out ones. I tried these on and they were a good fit in size 5, and makes legs look miles long!
I adore the look of an elegant bow sash on the back of a simple summer hat. I saw this hat in store and loved the huge bow, but the brim was a little wide on me for everyday wear (better as a pool or beach hat). This smaller hat however was a more versatile size, and I liked the darker oat color. It was super easy to tie my own sash around the top, which you can glue-gun down to keep it permanently secured. Thank you to Nordstrom for partnering on this post!
PS - Totally unrelated, but who watched Bachelorette last night? That show is my guilty pleasure but I was irked by all the jokes on social media (and from the contestants - but no surprise there) about how short Alex is. The guy is 5'7" which is pretty average in some other parts of the world but that's besides the point. I'm thankful height on women is not as big a deal in our society, but I feel for the men who get judged on something they have no control over!