Classic Black with a Bow

blaxk maxi dress fishtail braid summer outfit

Lush maxi dress xs (comes in 4 pretty prints! similar in petites), Hermes belt
BP sunhat with DIY bow, WHBM heels c/o (similar – elongating & true to size)

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:
summer black maxi dress for petite women bow hat
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!
elegant black long dress_summer outfit petites

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.
boston summer wedding guest maxi dress outfit
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!
straw summer sun hat DIY ribbon sash bow
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!

lush black maxi dress nordstrom straw bow hat
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!


43 thoughts on “Classic Black with a Bow

  • Reply Olivia DiTomaso May 31, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Loving your maxi dress for the summer.


  • Reply Sarah Kristen May 31, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Do you have a tutorial on how to make such a perfect looking bow?!

  • Reply Christina May 31, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Your braid is beautiful! Would you do a tutorial?

  • Reply Unknown May 31, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Love the entire outfit, especially your belt + hair! As for the short guys comment, I really agree with that. I'm pretty short myself, but luckily as a girl it's not necessarily seen as a bad trait. I really feel for my older brother though, who's 5'8" himself and faces a lot of crap because of that. 🙁

  • Reply Meghan May 31, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Absolutely loving this hat. I've been on a search for a hat like this myself. I am so excited for the summer as well and wearing more maxi dresses and sun dresses!

    Meghan |

  • Reply Jen May 31, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Love the bow on that hat!

    Jen | affecionada

  • Reply Heather May 31, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    I love the outfit Jean! I have seen you wear a couple different Hermes belts in your posts and love how versatile they are. I am curious about what size you wear! I am perusing eBay to find a similar one to yours but am confused about how to find one that fits me! Your response would be greatly appreciated!

  • Reply Rachelle May 31, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    LOVE this outfit, so chic and lovely! Where are your sunglasses from?! LOVE!!!!!

  • Reply Kelly May 31, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    This dress is SO pretty, I love the layers!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Reply Kblossoms May 31, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Beautiful dress and hat

  • Reply La Bijoux Bella | by mia May 31, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Simply dreamy and beautiful! 🙂

    La Bijoux Bella | by mia

  • Reply Caroline June 1, 2016 at 1:15 am

    I feel like 5'7" is a good height for men.

  • Reply Trang Do June 1, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Love your dress!! Looks so beautiful!!
    Love from {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  • Reply Petite&Minimal June 1, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Love your hair and the bow on your hat! I was looking forward to a hat like this, so would love to see how you make the bow to go with it too.

    Annie | Petite&Minimal;

  • Reply mybeautrip June 1, 2016 at 8:33 am

    You look wonderful! Nice outfit!

  • Reply lifestylespiration June 1, 2016 at 8:47 am

    This dress and hat are everything! Absolutely stunning is how you look.

  • Reply Cheyanne Jordan June 1, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Love your outfit! That braid is phenomenal!!

  • Reply thevagabondwayfarer June 1, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Love the hat and the braid. looking great!

  • Reply Deasy Noel June 1, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Ah! That bow hat is so darling!! I'd gladly wear that to the beach.

  • Reply Maggie Zemanek June 1, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    This dress with that hat is perfection!

  • Reply put June 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    love the hat! could you please show a tutorial on the DIY bow?

  • Reply Camille June 2, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    I mean the outfit is gorgeous of course, but my garden-obsessed self immediately noticed the blossoming rhododendron behind you – and that fabulous fishtail was a close second. Beautiful photos!

  • Reply Julia Mazzucato June 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    The outfit, location, and hairstyle are all perfection! Those late-spring blooms are stunning, and I love the simple color palette. The hat is super cute too!
    Julia // Little Miss Haute Couture

  • Reply Renée Do June 3, 2016 at 3:06 am

    This was a much needed post for the shorter gals! Thanks so much 🙂 also what brand of sunglasses are you wearing?

  • Reply Anonymous June 3, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I was wondering if you'd mind sharing where your sunglasses are from! Love this look

  • Reply Anonymous June 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Extremely elegant and classy! I always look forward to your posts. Thank you for sharing your tips and being so informative!

  • Reply Lisa Foster June 3, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    LOVE the braid. Tutorial Please!! 🙂 🙂

  • Reply Vera Sawicki June 5, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Beautiful look!

    Blonde in Cashmere

  • Reply Serein Wu June 5, 2016 at 1:00 am

    I'm in love with this look because I absolutely love the way you styled it with the fishtail braid and the sun hat! You look amazing!


  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Sarah – I just tied the most basic bow like with shoelaces! But in order to secure it down exactly how you'd like it, a tip is to use a hot glue gun or needle and thread to tack down corners of the bow and ribbon to the hat, in the shape you want.

  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    THank you! If you search on YouTube for a basic fishtail brand tutorial, there are some good instructional videos!

  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Ugh, that's so frustrating to hear! Not to mention, I've never thought of 5'8" as short at all…

  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Heather! One of mine is size 65cm and the others were custom cut to fit by Hermes. They do that free of charge for belts that you purchase in their store. You can gauge what size you need by comparing the cm measurement to your actual waist measurement on a measuring tape. I have different belt measurement needs for wearing high up at my waist vs for wearing lower around my hips (with pants), so I'd suggest figuring out how high up you want to wear it first.

  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Thank you! They're Thierry Lasry "lively" sunglasses, I've worn them in a bunch of posts before this too : )

  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you! Honestly it's just a ribbon tied in a regular bow like with shoelaces…I just used needle and thread to tack down the corners of the bow to the hat itself and the base ribbon, so that it would stay in a full shape.

  • Reply Extra Petite Blog June 5, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Renée & anonymous below – they are by Theirry Lasry, "lively" style

  • Reply Georgia Sunray June 6, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Such a lovely post! The hat is a must have!


  • Reply MODENOVA June 6, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Great outfit! We especially like your beautiful hat. Continue the good work!
    Best, MODENOVA I

  • Reply Maggie Krol June 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Absolutely love everything about this look! Stunning all around including the photography. Your petite like me 🙂 Looking forward to seeing more posts!
    Xoxo, Maggie

  • Reply Sharan Kaur June 7, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    You look so pretty! Love the dress!


  • Reply Trish Pearson June 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I'm still swooning over this hat (and outfit)! Do you mind sharing what material the bow is made of and perhaps where you found the fabric/ribbon? I'd like to try and make one! 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous June 22, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Jean, what a beautiful outfit! A bit off topic, but is there a non-awkward way to wear a wide brimmed hat with office wear for sun protection? I live in a city and walk/take public transit to work, and my fair skin is suffering! Would love some styling tips so I don't look ridiculous. Also, any experience with parasols? Thanks in advance 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer Messina April 30, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Love the whole look and love your DIY-ing! What type of ribbon did you use? Definitely would love to add one to my floppy hat before my July vacation! 😀

    PS I feel you re Alex! Poor guy. Reminded me of my best guy friend, who is 5' 5" and endured way too much stupidity over his height during high school. I thought being in our 30s we were past that kind of mentality… ugh Chad.

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