While you probably never thought the ankle-length styles of the late 90s would return to the forefront, summer 2011’s been all about maxis, modesty and channeling your inner Winona. But of course, to wear a long dress isn’t as simple as designers would imply, so to help you make the most of this sweltering season, here’s how you can make long dresses your own.
Avoid the empire
Empire waists are few and far between, but while Sense and Sensibility reminds us that at one time the classic look reigned supreme, this season you may want to avoid the style that defined the mid-2000s. By abolishing your waistline, a long dress will only make you look shapeless; creating an unflattering silhouette that evokes all the worst parts of the 1990s. Thus, if you’re opting for an ankle-length style, either stick to a slip dress (with little-to-know definition at all), or a design that cinches your waist. After all, even Sandra and Nicole paired tank tops with ankle skirts to keep themselves balanced.
Say no to socks
We’ve advocated shoes, socks and skirts since fall 2010, but when it comes to long summer dresses, it’s only appropriate to say no. Since shoes and socks can seem to chop up a figure, they work well with legs, but will only bring you down if your skirt grazes your ankle. (That, and you’ll only be evoking images of school marms of the past and present.) Therefore, if you’re embracing the long summer dress, stick to sandals or even flats “ and avoid socks at all costs. That way, you’ll not only stay cool metaphorically, but in the literal sense too.
Since you’re already covering roughly three quarters of your figure, it’s best to opt for a strapless or tube dress to prevent looking overly covered or free of a figure. Like you’d pair sleeves with a shorter skirt, embracing a long dress with a more-exposed top will create a balanced, modern look evoking the best parts of the 1990s without channeling the pioneer era.
Though this isn’t permission to be indecent: showing off too much cleavage or opting for an ill-fitted top will also make you look imbalanced, since combining exhibitionism and covered calves will only confuse anyone that crosses your path. That, and we’re all better than nearly popping out of our shirts.