The maxi skirt

Sunday December 9 2012

By CAROL ODERO [email protected]

Last year I got this complex-looking designer dress that I only wore once and then didn’t know what to do with it. Good thing is it had a long, full skirt, so I chopped off the top half and turned it into a semi-pleated maxi skirt.

It is now one of my favourite things. I’ve noticed Kenyan women love their maxi dresses, but maxi skirts are yet to gain traction. They are incredibly versatile — mine has attended dinners, cocktails, fashion events, work and church.

Maxis vary from lycra, beach wear, sheer with underwear showing (the correct way to wear a sheer skirt is with the vintage kind of underwear that fits like high-leg hot pants), the slitted maxi (be it a side or back slit), the A-line, the wide hem, the box pleat, the body-skimmer, the florals — perfect for Christmas at the beach, the vertical and horizontal stripes for length and curves, silk, lace, satin, tribal print and the list goes on. You can make any look work for you and here’s how.

Waist: When it comes to wearing a maxi skirt, always fit it below your below button, or if you are keen on belting it, at the narrowest part of your waist. For some interesting reason, maxis favour skinny and medium-sized belts. Highlighting your waist creates a break in your silhouette that is necessary to give your look polish and definition.

Getting shod: Figure out what shoes to wear with your maxi skirt. Your shoes should be visible only when you walk or sit down. You can’t wear a maxi skirt designed for 4-inch heels with flat shoes because that looks sloppy, and if you wear a maxi that goes as far as your ankles, it can sometimes look like your clothes shrunk in the wash. Length is critical so get it right from the get go.

There are two speeds with a maxi skirt; just above your ankle bone or below your ankles and skimming the floor. When it comes to selecting your shoes, ankle boots are an excellent choice as are platform heels. Weekend skirts work with wedges and sandals.

Try something with a slight heel to improve your walk and to add an elegant sway to it. The side slit is made for knee-high boots, if that is your kind of thing

Check your assets: What to wear with a maxi skirt is a challenge, but take a look at your attributes for some clues. Do you want to look laid-back? Are you more comfortable with the boho-chic look? In that case, consider a loose sweater with a fitted maxi skirt. That balances you out.

If you have amazing arms and shoulders, try a sleeveless top. If your bust line is impressive, and not just because it is large but because it is visually appealing, wear a top that is well-fitted — not tight — across your chest.

If your waistline is your best feature, tuck in your top or wear a well-fitted vest that shows off your abdominals. Do you have well-toned thighs or legs? A slit that runs up the side would be eye-catching.

Slender women should get maxis that fit snugly around the hips and thighs and form a long, fitted line down the body. The same goes for the petite woman. That way, you are not engulfed by volume.

What’s the occasion?: If you are heading to the beach, white is a great choice, as are pastels. If you have a trim body, you can wear these colours with a bandeau top. If it’s a casual Sunday outing, a print skirt would do well. For evenings, sheer is a great look as is the high slit.

At work, go with solid colours that have a good fit and pleats. For a glamourous factor, try a high-waisted maxi skirt and wear it with a fitted top. This is a great look for the evening.

Texturise: Mix your textures. Soft and flowy skirts can be worn with T-shirts, soft, satiny camisoles, a structured, cropped blazer or a cropped leather jacket.

A herringbone print skirt (black and white print) that skims the body can be worn with a cashmere sweater and belted with a skinny belt. A loosely fitted skirt works best with a fitted top.

No panty lines: Underwear is critical with a maxi skirt. You want shape and definition even when you are going for the sheer skirt. Get panties that allow the maxi skirt to fall seamlessly. Your choice of fabric determines this, of course. The soft, sweatshirt-like material is unforgiving. This is why a lot of maxi skirts will come with lining.

Height: Tall women can look like nothing but legs with a maxi, so aim for more than a single colour. One shade can fade into another. Ombre skirts work wonders.

Petite women can get floor skimmers, but always keep them fitted close to the body. Pear-shaped women should avoid clingy fabrics as these make you look squat, stout or simply chubby rather than deliciously curvy.