To The Max

Nadya Maxi Dress
Banana Republic

One of the earliest appearances of the “Maxi-Dress” was in 1968. The New York Times highlighted a cotton lace version by Osca de La Renta that he created for Elizabeth Arden Salon. More notable designers such as YSL, Dior, Cardin, Biba, Halston and others would latch on to the style as well.

Maxi-length skirts had begun to outdo the mini skirt in 1967, and the dress (as well as the maxi-coat) soon followed. Maxi styles quickly grabbed hold in London. Doctor Zhivago (1965) is often credited with igniting the craze for Maxi style (along with the tandem trend for “Midi” style skirts) due to its use of large flared coats over suit trousers. Initially, Maxi-dresses appeared lacey and slightly shorter than ankle length (while today’s versions seem to be mostly cotton jersey and down to the heel).

Striped jersey maxi dress
 Gap Canada
However, it was not until the 1970s that the Maxi-dress lodged itself firmly in the American mind (in all its polyester splendor), along with similar caftan and boho styles. By the late 1970s, it had become associated with the unfashionable and out of date (such as Mrs. Roper on Three’s Company).

Rachel Wrap Dress
J. Crew
Our designers love this fabric, a printed slub linen and silk blend that’s incredibly light and airy, with a subtle texture that can be noticed through the print (which, by the way, is exclusive to J.Crew). Favorite details include side-seam pockets and picot-edge detailing along the skirt.
Amie Stripe Maxi Dress
J. Crew
A sleek, strapless silhouette made modern in see-worthy stripes. Styled blissfully soft with a drawstring waist and a sultry, body-skimming drape. Rayon/spandex. Slight A-line skirt. Elastic waistband
XOXO printed beaded maxi dress ($78), available at jcpenney stores and

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