Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Style a Maxi Dress or Skirt for Business Casual

How to Style a Maxi Dress or Skirt for Business Casual

I have to admit that this post is a bit of a lie. I'm going to write about how to hypothetically style a floor-length skirt or dress to wear to the office, but I have never actually done it. I see women wear floor length to work now and then, but I don't personally do it. I have a bit of a complex around not looking too young in my conservative office setting because I am often the youngest person in every meeting-by an average of 30 years. I often think a maxi would make me look shorter and younger so I just avoid them at work. But, after writing this maybe (just maybe, on a Friday?) I'll change my tune.

If you work in an office that's heavier on the casual part of business casual, we could talk for days. Once summer hits, let's maxi it up with sandals and bare feet, Toms, or little slip on shoes and little else aside from a straw hat. But for business casual in an office that's hard on the conservative dressing? It's tricky!

Pick a solid color or a classic print

There are a lot of wild maxi dresses out there that would be perfect for the beach-this is not the time for that, I don't think. Leave the paisley or tie dye at home and choose something in a solid print or a classic pattern like a stripe.

This is a beautiful option. Yes, I'd add a tank underneath to calm down that deep V neck and likely a cardigan or blazer on top, too. 

Balance out the length with covered up arms

This isn't full length (but a gorgeous length on her that would work for all ages/shapes/sizes!), but I love how the 3/4 sleeves balance out the skirt on the bottom, which is quite full. This same concept would be great with a maxi skirt. You could also put a button down shirt over a maxi dress and belt it for a similar effect.


Another gorgeous look is to add a jacket or blazer over a longer length skirt. Again, not maxi length here, but a great look to copy!


Keep the shoes professional

Ok, so I've just figured out the number one reason why I don't wear maxi dresses to work: the shoes! I love to wear a long dress with boots, but I don't feel that it's the most professional look. And I still haven't mastered the whole walking in a long dress with heels on thing. What are the alternatives?

I'd go with a flat shoe that won't show much but will look professional when it does.

Sole Society

 I'm kind of partial to a pointier toe, actually, so that you don't look like you're wearing sandals. I think the footless look that happens with a maxi length can read as overly casual for the office.


Beware high slits, low necklines, almost-nightgowns, and peep show legs

Maxis are tricky ones! This Anthro number above seems great-classic print, nice modest neckline, not too tight...but look at that slit. Even with tights underneath, it's too beachy for my liking. This can also happen with white, pink, or other light colors in a maxi dress or skirt; beware of anything that reads at all like a nightgown.

Another common issue? Spot it here.

If she buttoned the blouse more, the whole concept is perfect for work: solid color, covered arms, not tight. But, the see through gauze is too much information for the office, I'm afraid. She could add a slip, but I find a long flowing skirt to be very uncomfortable with a slip.

That's my two cents! I would be really interested in seeing pictures if anyone wears a maxi length to a business casual office. I'd love to feature you!

Want more work wear ideas? I've got a Pinterest board full of them!


  1. I've done my striped grey and navy blue maxi skirt with wity riding boots, a silky t shirt and a chambray button up with a belt over it. But we couldn't be more casual.

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