September 28th, 2011 / posted by paularath

Whether it’s the economy, the onset of cooler weather or a reaction to recent seasons’ shrink-wrap dresses, maxi skirts are being seen a lot more on runways as well as on the streets.

Many women assume they can’t wear a long skirt, especially if they’re petite. But I believe a maxi can work for most women, provided the proportion is just right. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing me say it: PROPORTION IS KEY.

Choose long skirts that just skim the body, as voluminous maxi skirts with no contours can make anyone look frumpy. Skirts cut on the bias can often seem to cut inches off your frame, as do just the right stripes, especially stripes on the bias.

The basic rule of thumb with a long skirt is: If you carry more weight in your hips and thighs, you will probably find a fuller skirt more flattering. If you carry more weight on top, a narrow skirt will likely be the better choice.

If you choose a fuller skirt, wear something narrow on top. If you can carry off a tank top or halter top, it can be a great look. All that skin helps balance the fabric below. Otherwise, try a trim pullover or fitted tailored blouse. Cropped jackets or light weight sweaters can also be beautiful when paired with a long skirt.

For a narrow skirt, a long tunic or cardigan can work, as long as it doesn’t add volume. A belt at the most narrow part of your waist or hips can add pizzazz.

A personal fave with either skirt, as long as it’s fitted and contoured, is a denim jacket.

As for accessories, keep the length going with long necklaces or scarves that can make you look taller and thinner.

There’s quite a debate in the fashion world regarding what shoes to wear with maxi skirts. Many believe you simply must wear heels, the higher the better. I don’t agree. I think a pair of flat strappy sandals looks perfect in Hawaii with a maxi skirt. Ditto a pair ballet flats or of peep-toes. I particularly like ankle straps with maxi skirts.

What doesn’t work is closed toed pumps. Ugh. Lace-up boots, which are hot this season, can also complement a maxi.

In her book “Dressing the Petite Woman,” Ellen York had this to say: A long, straight skirt in a basic color is an essential piece of clothing in your closet….To make the long skirt work, you’ll need 2″ heels in boots or shoes, and a jacket no longer than mid-hip. The boots should have a pointed toe and no wide, clunky heels, please!”

I love what Haider Ackermann (you guessed it - my new favorite designer) did for Tilda Swinton on the red carpet. Watch what he does at Paris Fashion Week.

Tomorrow: If you have done the unthinkable (as I have many times) and cut a long skirt down to change its appearance and update its look, fear not. Tomorrow I will offer a few methods for making that shorter skirt long again.

– Paula Rath

Fun and flirty maxi.

I usually love Anthropologie but this is so wrong....

This skirt could go either way, but Anthropologie gets it right this time. Wouldn't a narrow belt or chain belt be great?

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