Shop Your Closet: Winterize Your Maxi Dress



I know we've talked about winterizing maxi dresses before.  And I especially loved reader Amber's method for shortening hers.  But.  Sometimes, the details matter.  And if you don't have that one specific necklace, or a jacket *quite* like the one in your inspiration pic…the outfit doesn't seem to come together.  

This was the case with my stand-by J.Crew maxi.  I just couldn't seem to winterize it in an interesting, yet comfortable way.  And then I found these old pics.

These pics are actually from last Fall.  I had somehow forgotten to post them.  Even worse, I also forgot the styling that I had already worked out.  Sigh.  Mom brain?  I suspect that the whole skirt knotting thing must have been in the back of my mind when I was styling Sarah's maternity maxi dress recently.

Anyway.  My issue with this particular maxi dress is that when covered up, it's pretty snooze-worthy.  The fabulous drape gets lost, as does the waist, as does the sexy flash of bare shoulder.  Additionally, I have trouble with boots and maxi dresses.  Sandals always work, but boots?  So often they look strange.  And nothing was cohesive.  It looked like I was wearing a very boring, too-summer-y dress with a long cardigan and clumpy shoes.  I hate when my outfits scream I AM DETERMINED TO WEAR THIS SUMMER DRESS IN WINTER BECAUSE I AM A CREATIVE FASHION BLOGGING TYPE. 

You know?


(wearing: J.Crew Aimee Maxi dress and scarf, ancient long cardigan and belt, Banana Republic boots – but am thinking these would be rad, fringed bag - another cool onePlush tights)


So here's the thing:  The knot helps to reveal that I'm actually wearing cute boots.  This year, I'll probably swap out the tall boots for ankle booties.  But either one works.

The belt helps to define my waist (even under a washed-too-many-times cardigan) and the ruggedness of the belt keeps things cohesive.  The overall take-away is Fall, not Summer-wanting-to-be-Fall.

A cute bag and a woolly scarf tie finish off the look.

Mamas, are you still wearing your maxi dresses?  Any other styling ideas?




  1. I can stretch my maxis through fall but they don’t cut it in the winter. Erie just has too brutal of winters and I can’t be dealing with a soggy hem. I agree that a knot definitely helps up the cuteness factor (actually I think that works in the summer also!) and I like the idea of the ankle booties … very this season.

  2. My only maxi dress is a pink floral print, so… no. It gets a last hurrah in early fall with a white jacket, and then goes into hibernation for the winter.
    My black maxi skirt with a large but subtle flower detail… THAT gets worn year round. 🙂

  3. Thought I could rock a black maxi skirt with a sweater and black wedge desert booties, but midway through the day I looked down and felt more halloween witch costume than cute fall style.
    Maybe I just needed a chunkier sweater (I must have done a sweater purge this past spring, my pile is pretty slim pickings) time to shop again…

  4. Love your outfit and I am pretty sure you are right around the corner from my house in that photo! Are you in Wilmington there?

  5. This is a sincere question from a not very fashionable person. Why do you want to winterize your maxi dress? I have a summer wardrobe and a winter one with some pieces (tops mainly) that cross over. Except for wearing a cardigan or jacket in spring and fall, I don’t give any thought to wearing something that is out of season. I’m asking because I wonder if it’s just the difference of being a fashion seeker/trend setter and not being one.
    Also, the knot seems very…youthful. Have you seen other women do this? I know I would get funny looks if I did that where I live.

  6. I’m super excited to try some layering. I’m tall, so might not need to knot since maxi dresses don’t hide my ankles all that well anyway.
    I wonder if a snazzy pin or brooch could work instead of a knot? (holes in fabric, i know. but???)

  7. YES!! A brooch would be great. I actually wanted to try that with Sarah (for the wedding) but we didn’t have one handy. I was trying to figure out how to gather up enough fabric, though to make it look good. And uh, avoid holes. If you figure this out, send us a pic!

  8. Olivia – I don’t have the closet or storage space (or, actually, the budget) for a separate summer/winter wardrobe. I mean yeah – there are some sweaters I put away every summer and a few summery things I pack away come winter, but it’s pretty much just one box of stuff. Stretching key wardrobe pieces into lasting multiple seasons just means I can get by with fewer pieces overall. Plus, it’s fun. 🙂

  9. I live outside of Boston, MA and yesterday I was shopping at Whole Foods. I spied a beautiful woman wearing a long maxi dress bunched up on one side, a cropped denim jacket and fun patterned scarf. She looked amazing- so channeling my inner ANMJ I ran up to her to ask her about her look. She told me she was 60! She “just uses a few stitches” to bunch up the side of the dress and then in the summer snips the stitches. I only wish I had my phone to snap a picture. As I was explaining this to her she laughed- her daughter follows ANMJ and had just told her mom that she was officially “hip” after seeing this post! Thought I would share.
    And, S I am with you. I have a very limited wardrobe and try to re-use my pieces. I lived in this skirt this summer but I am stumped as to finding 3-4 ways to style it for fall and winter. It is a beautiful skirt- flows as I walk and feels like I am wearing pj’s. I always get compliments when wearing it. Any thoughts? I have BOTH colors- yeah, I am that girl who buys multiple colors of my favorite styles!

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