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!

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  1. Jane wrote:

    LOVE LOVE this dress – it looks like this is sold out but do you have any recommendations for a similar look??

    Posted 3.6.20 Reply
  2. 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.

    Posted 4.30.17 Reply
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    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 🙂

    Posted 6.22.16 Reply
  4. Trish Pearson wrote:

    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! 🙂

    Posted 6.16.16 Reply
  5. You look so pretty! Love the dress!


    Posted 6.7.16 Reply
  6. Absolutely love everything about this look! Stunning all around including the photography. Your petite like me 🙂 Looking forward to seeing more posts!
    Xoxo, Maggie

    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  7. MODENOVA wrote:

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

    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  8. Such a lovely post! The hat is a must have!


    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  9. Hi Renée & anonymous below – they are by Theirry Lasry, "lively" style

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  10. 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.

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  11. Thank you! They're Thierry Lasry "lively" sunglasses, I've worn them in a bunch of posts before this too : )

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  12. 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.

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  13. Ugh, that's so frustrating to hear! Not to mention, I've never thought of 5'8" as short at all…

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  14. THank you! If you search on YouTube for a basic fishtail brand tutorial, there are some good instructional videos!

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  15. 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.

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  16. Serein Wu wrote:

    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!


    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  17. Beautiful look!

    Blonde in Cashmere

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  18. LOVE the braid. Tutorial Please!! 🙂 🙂

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  19. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  21. Renée Do wrote:

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

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  22. 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

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  23. Camille wrote:

    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!

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  24. put wrote:

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

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  25. This dress with that hat is perfection!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  26. Deasy Noel wrote:

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

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  27. Love the hat and the braid. looking great!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  28. Love your outfit! That braid is phenomenal!!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  29. This dress and hat are everything! Absolutely stunning is how you look.

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  30. mybeautrip wrote:

    You look wonderful! Nice outfit!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  31. 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;

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  32. Trang Do wrote:

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

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  33. Caroline wrote:

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

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  34. La Bijoux Bella | by mia wrote:

    Simply dreamy and beautiful! 🙂

    La Bijoux Bella | by mia

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  35. Kblossoms wrote:

    Beautiful dress and hat

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  36. Kelly wrote:

    This dress is SO pretty, I love the layers!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  37. Rachelle wrote:

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

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  38. Heather wrote:

    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!

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  39. Jen wrote:

    Love the bow on that hat!

    Jen | affecionada

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  40. Meghan wrote:

    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 |

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  41. Unknown wrote:

    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. 🙁

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  42. Christina wrote:

    Your braid is beautiful! Would you do a tutorial?

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  43. Do you have a tutorial on how to make such a perfect looking bow?!

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  44. Loving your maxi dress for the summer.


    Posted 5.31.16 Reply

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