Noticed: Belting a Loose Maxi Dress

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Silky, billowy maxi dresses are great for getting out the door in approximately five seconds, but with just five more seconds, you can add a waist-cinching belt that packs a lot of punch. Here’s how and why.

After a long winter of multilayered outfits, the maxi dress feels refreshingly easy. We challenge you to find something that’ll get you out the door and into the sunshine quicker. But sometimes you want a feminine finishing touch. If the stylish women we’ve seen on the streets are any indicator, there’s no better remedy than a belt.

So why does it work? We’re not exactly scientists, but we do consider ourselves style anthropologists. Here’s a little history: While the maxi now comes in all sorts of styles, it started out pretty formal and formfitting. In fact, one of the first maxi dress patterns sold to consumers, dating back to 1972, was called the “Look Slimmer Pattern.” Today, even silk maxi dresses have loosened up—they’re elegantly low-key, but sometimes you may want to, you know, cut a more defined silhouette. A belt will do that for you.

This brings us to the how. Slip into your silkiest loose maxi and buckle a leather belt around your waist. The key to avoiding a corset look is to tuck the slack behind the belt’s band. If you tug lightly at the dress above the belt, it’ll gracefully gather around you and raise the hemline to expose some shoe. It’s an unexpected pairing of opposites: tough wrapped leather with billowing silk. Sling a tote over your shoulder or toss on a hat and you’re finished (and feminine).

Emma is wearing a Madewell Ikat Brush Maxi Dress with a Straw Mesa Hat, Backcountry Belt and The Sightseer Slide Sandal.

Shop our entire assortment of dresses here and see more style tweaks we’ve noticed here.