How to Style: The Maxi Skirt (& Petite Fashion Challenge #14)

This month’s Petite Fashion Challenge is hosted by Couture Coco. The challenge:

Holiday Emergency: You have a pre-booked dinner date on the first day of your holiday (vacation), but your luggage is delayed. This month’s challenge is to style your travel outfit into a special evening look using whatever you carry in your purse and anything else immediately at hand.”

Please visit Couture Coco’s post to see the other ladies’ outfits. The participant list is short, as this was a true styling challenge requiring resourcefulness and/or creativity (I loved reading ktrstyle‘s entry). The scenario may not be realistic for everyone (I never check luggage when flying), but it certainly is for some…I’m always hearing about people’s luggage getting lost or delayed while on vacation. Here’s my travel outfit:

Old Navy maxi skirt (runs big), H&M; shell & belt, LV Speedy 25
Michael Kors tortoise watch, Gap hat (similar), Prada sandals, F21 necklace

Maxi skirts and dresses are perfect for traveling, and transition nicely for casual daytime outfits after reaching your destination. The jersey fabric and elastic waistband on this are super comfy, plus the length will keep legs warm on chilly flights. I usually bring my LV Speedy on trips because it folds nice and flat into my carry-on tote. Be sure to take off all your metal accessories before going through the scanner and put them into your purse (to avoid leaving anything behind).

My dinner date outfit came to mind almost immediately. Before reading the challenge, I had conveniently just tried on this maxi skirt as a tube dress. Nick was fooled and gave my new dress a thumbs-up, which is good enough for me to wear something in public.

I know this isn’t a “special evening look” – more like a casual dinner outfit. When I think of vacation, I dream of sunset walks along the beach and al-fresco dining, so I kept the look fairly relaxed. I used the exact same accessories except swapped the satchel for a clutch. When traveling, I usually bring this H&M; convertible clutch/messenger bag along for holding my wallet, passport, tickets, etc. – it’s one of my best purchases ever for $17! Scroll to the bottom of this post to see a second, simpler variation of outfits I did with this maxi skirt.

Old Navy chiffon bow tie top (XS), Old Navy maxi skirt (XS petite, taken in)

I wanted to take a moment and discuss how lengthening long skirts and dresses can actually be on shorter women. The piece just has to be not full or poofy and not too fitted – it should graze your figure and create a seamless line almost to the ground. A skirt that sits higher up on your waist will create a longer line than a low-rise one…

When I initially posted about this skirt, several of you seemed intrigued and asked for styling ideas. The possibilities to me are endless – patterns, stripes, dots, solids plus a necklace and belt…I really like how it looks with the green print top above, kind of like a peacock effect.
An XS in this blouse runs generously and is sheer and thin (all as expected). I could have made it work, but one thing that bothered me was how low the neckline dipped underneath the bow. It was not going to be simple to take up via the shoulders due to the bow neckline, thus I returned it.

The skirt in Petite XS also ran very generously. It may run even bigger than typical ON sizing, because a store associate saw me holding it and hollered at me to size down. The waist measures 13.4″ across on a Petite XS and the length is 33″ – perfect when the waistband was hoisted up to my natural waist. The material is on the thinner side and may show undie bulges if it’s too fitted. I took the waist/side in along one side, and will get lots of wear out of this come warmer weather.

I wanted to show how easy it really is to style a maxi skirt, and thus did a simple second variation for this challenge using super-affordable pieces that every woman has in their wardrobe:


 Tee: Gap, Belt, tube top & clutch: H&M;, Necklace: F21, Sandals: Target

Including shoes and accessories, each of these outfits are under $50. For daytime, you can pair a maxi skirt simply with a solid, print or patterned tee (if solid, add interest with a belt and necklace). For evening, you can transform your look by:

– sweeping your hair into an updo or tousled, voluminous high ponytail
– adding statement earrings
– adding sultry smokey eyes, and/or lipstick

You can also escalate the date night look by baring your shoulders with a tube top or tube dress. When I wear white or clothes that might get easily stained, I actually do carry a back-up in my purse. This is a super fitted and short H&M; tube dress that has seen better days at the club, and now I’m looking forward to reviving it under some conservative bottoms.

This has been a Petite Fashion Challenge. To find out more about these challenges, please visit here.

85 thoughts on “How to Style: The Maxi Skirt (& Petite Fashion Challenge #14)

  • Reply newpetite March 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Awesome! one of the best PFC!

  • Reply jen chung March 28, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Jean, random question. Why do you have curtains behind your bed that has walls? Is it to block out sound from your neighbors or is it to just add decorative flair?

  • Reply With Each Passing Day March 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Jean, you never cease to amaze on how you style your outfits. I always look forward to your post and this one was a good one. I love all your outfits.

  • Reply Urban Mantra March 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I'm just in awe of how you put together the maxi skirt with the different white tops. You look stunning and chic! Love, love, love! 🙂

  • Reply Lindsey A. Turner March 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    This is one of the best, and most helpful posts I have read in a long time! I am only 5ft tall and I've tried maxi skirts before without much success but from your tutorial I've realized that they were all too full! Thank you!

    Lindsey Turner

  • Reply Kim March 28, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Oooh maxi skirts! It's a new obsession for me! They are so slimming and lengthening, especially if they nip at the waist.

    You look amazing and thanks for the tops!


  • Reply Anonymous March 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    I love the skirt!! Only by the time I looked, Old Navy has XS or S sold out for petites in that color! Have you seen a similar skirt sold elsewhere by any chance?

    Awesome outfit as always 🙂


  • Reply IStylemantra March 29, 2012 at 1:43 am

    What a creative post, love all your outfit ideas. This is how I like to style my outfits, make the most of out everything I own. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.


  • Reply Jacqui March 29, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Great post! Long time reader, rare commenter here 😛 I too believe maximum skirts are versatile and flattering for us petites when fitted and styled correctly! Love the blue, it has a quiet boldness to it 🙂 I want to run to ON now to get me one!!

  • Reply e March 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I'm not petite in the least (5' 9"), but I love your style so much… Plus I'm too tall for regular sizes, and too short for tall sizes, so your alteration tips come in handy 🙂

  • Reply hautegamer March 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    great post on making your maxi skirt a very versatile piece in your summer wardrobe!

  • Reply Vanessa March 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I wasn't sold on the outfits (for me) until I saw the last dinner date one! I absolutely love it with the tube top. Is the top recent H&M;? I wish I looked good with my hair pulled up like that but unfortunately my face is too narrow.

  • Reply Jinny March 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    You are so creative! I absolutely LOVE how you are so versatile!
    Did you buy the white tube top recently from H&M;??

  • Reply Jessica Harris March 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Someone pinned this and I found myself at your blog. Great site! I made it my pin of the day. check it out here:

    Will definitely be coming back to browse…you've got some great tips here.


  • Reply Millie March 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I too had my eye on this blouse!

  • Reply SewPetiteGal March 30, 2012 at 3:32 am

    This challenge truly had me stumped and I could not for the life of me figure out how to make my travel gear (yoga pants + button down) into something acceptable for a nice dinner. I loved seeing everyone's posts about it though! My favorite look here is the bustier (?) plus the skirt 🙂

  • Reply Wendyslookbook March 30, 2012 at 5:27 am

    You did an incredible job with this challenge! The looks are so different. And maybe… we need to see pics of the height of your clubbing days 😉

  • Reply Arts March 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    hey Jean

    Quick (silly) question, did you just pull up the skirt for the 'dinner' date, in the first picture?

  • Reply Mae March 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Dear Jean, prom is coming so soon! Would you mind giving me a few fashion,makeup, hair and etc. tips? Thank you very much! Mae

  • Reply Anonymous March 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I'd also like to know what kind of bra you are wearing under the tube top? As a petite girl, I find it hard to find a good strapless bra that doesn't completely flatten me on top.

  • Reply Lily March 31, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    You look really beautiful.

  • Reply Kris H. March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Please please do a post on how you slimmed the skirt!! I have this exact skirt and I love it, but I definitely need to slim it a bit and while I know how to sew/use a sewing machine (my knowledge is pretty basic). I'm nervous to start taking things apart and am not really sure how to deal with the waistband…
    Also, this was one of my favourite posts by you! I love how you use everything in your wardrobe in such creative ways!!! I always come away with great inspiration after reading your blog 🙂

    Thanks for the awesomeness!

  • Reply Rinny March 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I love the daytime to nighttime looks you created! The maxi skirt looks great on you. I've always stayed away from longer skirts because I thought it would only make me look shorter than I already am. Thank you for sharing the tips though! I think I might give maxi skirts/dresses another try 🙂

  • Reply Corina April 1, 2012 at 3:26 am

    These are adorable. I love the first and last look the most. Really pretty!

  • Reply Kitch April 2, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Thanks for this post Jean! I cannot wait to get my hands on those ON maxi skirts. I have been struggling with styling maxi skirts for a while now so I will definitely give this a try. If after this, a maxi skirt still doesn't look nice on me, then that's it, I give up! Hahahha

  • Reply PD April 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Hey Jean! When I first read this post last week I was so impressed with how you styled the skirt and immediately ordered it for myself. 🙂 Just wanted to leave this comment to share with you and others about my experience. I got the blue one in XS petite and the black in XS regular. Sadly I don't think this particular skirt works for me; XS is still a bit big for my waist and I don't like the skirt enough to get it altered. The petite length is also better than the regular for my height (5'4) since it doesn't sweep the floor – there was about 4 inches of difference between the petite and regular lengths. This was my first time trying a maxi skirt/dress and I can't tell if it looks frumpy or comfy, haha!

  • Reply Vickie April 4, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I would also like to know how you altered the dress!! I would be so grateful if you did a tutorial. Thanks so much for this wonderful blog entry!

  • Reply Blue Dog Belle April 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    You are adorable! I love all the blue!

  • Reply Crystalin April 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I'm so glad you introduced yourself over on ITCWC! You are such a talent in all your DIY's, I'm so envious. I don't know if I have the patience to do any type of alterations on my own… I need some lessons lol. I love love how you styled this maxi dress, especially love it as a skirt.

    For the record, the Zara cap toe pumps are way bigger than I thought. I use like 9 shoe inserts every time I wear them, but I HAD to have them. This is the story of my life…

    If you ever have anything your selling (esp in terms of shoes) let me know 🙂
    Thanks again for introducing yourself. Can't wait to dive into more of your posts this weekend.

  • Reply Elaine June 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Love how creative you are with that maxi skirt! I love that Old Navy has petite clothes now, but they are mostly online only and not at my local stores.

  • Reply katjeanna June 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    so glad i stumbled on your blog when i googled "how long should a maxi skirt be?"! as a fellow <5footer, it was a revelation to see how you style "average" clothes on a "petite" frame. i just pinned this to my board on pinterest!

  • Reply Evie Eve June 29, 2012 at 2:20 am

    This is so awesome. Do you usually go to a tailor to tailor everything? How do we do this in an affordable way? Would really appreciate your help! I <3 this blog sooo much!

  • Reply Hayley July 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Hi Jean, I love reading your blog. I am your same measurements so it is very hard for me to find clothes, especially business attire. I wanted to share a maxi dress that I found that fits so well without alterations. It is very flattering on me and the length is perfect with heels… it makes me look curvy but still thin which is amazing. I bought 1 in blue but just ordered 3 more online (1 orange and 2 patterned).

  • Reply PetiteAsianGirl July 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Hi Hayley! I love it, esp that emerald green color. Thanks so much for sharing about this find!

  • Reply NBA jerseys August 27, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Love your vacation looks – especially the white blouse + maxi skirt look, will definitely have to try it some time. 🙂

    Last week's weather made me want to go out and buy every single maxi dress + skirt I see. I sometimes enjoy deceiving people into thinking I am actually five inches taller…hehe. No one sees my five inch wedges under flowy skirts! :DDDD

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