[Trendzilla] Taking the Maxi Dress to the Max

I'm bored.

With a lot of things really, but especially clothing.

From carousing the sloppy racks at Forever 21 to the designer stuff at Barney's, the same styles still run rampant: You've got the smock dress with puckering or front-tie; you've got the floral prints, the plaids; the high waists; the truly grotesque tube dress with elastic top; the flouncy sheer blouse; and, if you're adventurous, the one-piece romper. See? Boring.

While it's nice that everything you wore last summer can still be worn, there are a couple of new silhouettes on the warm-weather scene that can mix up your wardrobe.

The maxi dress is usually a casual dress with a tighter fit on the top and a long, flowy skirt that reveals only toes. Lots of celebrities have been photographed in them lately, but it's pregnant gals such as Gwen Stefani who've really popularized them. They've been appearing on the runways since spring/summer '07, but maxi dresses are still going strong for the current season, like at DKNY (pictured here).

With hemlines that have crept up the past five years and the 2 percent of women who can actually pull off minis, you'd think the advent of the floor-reaching maxi dress would be more welcomed. But despite the fact that maxis are in just about every store this summer, many women are avoiding them.

They can be daunting. A few things to keep in mind: those with, er, disproportionate frames should keep away, lest you want to draw attention to some awkward stubbularness. Shorter gals can even pull off the maxi—just make sure you choose dresses with an empire waist to create the illusion of longer legs and avoid the tiered skirts. Prints are fine, but remember, this works best as a casual look that's still an unexpected shape for the daytime. Flat sandals go well with maxis, but if you really want to transition the look from day to night, the dress shouldn't be made from cotton jersey material, which should be reserved for informal occasions.

The second new silhouette is the antithesis of the maxi—and definitely not as practical. It's what many are calling the "body conscious" dress, but I just call it the "really, really, really tight" dress. A dissident from the long-term shapeless trend, Max Azria's Herve Leger label is solely responsible for bringing the tight mini back. The dresses come in a variety of colors—solid, striped, even rainbow—but basically look like a series of fancy ACE bandages wrapped tightly around the frame. Think Kelly Bundy, but sliiiightly more chic. The look is probably too revealing for both everyday wear and the everyday gal, which is fine, anyway: a Herve Leger dress can cost anywhere from $770 to $1,298.

Just wait a few more weeks for the $39.95 Forever 21 knock-off.


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