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Types of Maxi Dresses (With Pictures)

Maxi dresses fall in different categories, with most fitting in more than one class. Though hemlines are diverse, all of them have one thing in common, they are long. The shortest dress that may be defined as a maxi dress is one that hits a few inches above the ankles.

Types of maxi dresses

Though Maxi dresses hardly show any part of the legs, they are very fashionable. Many women consider them the most versatile dresses because they can be dressed up or down to fit various events and seasons.

Below, you’ll find the various types of maxi dresses.

Strapless Maxi Dresses

Strapless maxi dress

A Strapless Maxi Dress has no sleeves and no kind of fastening on or around the shoulders. To avoid falling, theses types of dresses are usually fastened just above the bust. The dress might be cinched at the waist, or free flowing.

The area around the natural waist may also be tightened with a zipper, buttons or drawstring tie to keep the dress up. It therefore supports itself like a corset. Other varieties feature a built-in bra that doubles-up as bust support and also keeps the dress from falling.

Halter Neck/Halter Top

Halter neck maxi dress

A Halter Neck Maxi Dress is like a strapless dress but comes with a strap which is sewn onto the chest area and goes all the way to the back of the neck. The strap may be a single pullover, or two separate ones that the wearer wraps around the neck and joins them with a snap or button at the nape. When wearing this kind of dress, a substantial part of your back will be left exposed.


Off shoulder maxi dress

An Off-Shoulder Maxi Dress has no straps or fastening on the shoulders. It differs from a strapless gown in that it mainly passes above the arms. Some styles will reach to below the armpits. But they must have sleeves of whichever kind to be defined as off-shoulder.

Backless Maxi Dresses

Backless maxi dressT

There are so many styles of Backless Maxi Dresses. Any dress which shows some part of the back is considered to be backless. However, there is debate on whether some dresses with plunging V or U-back are backless, low-back, or normal outfits.

V-Neck Style

V neck maxi dress

V-Neck Maxi Dresses have 2 lines which drop from the shoulders and connect at the centre of the chest. The V may end above the bust, or below it, or lower. The two dropping lines may originate from near the neck, or further away. Some styles will also have a V-back.

Plunge/Front plunge

Plunge maxi dress

Plunge Maxi Dresses feature a dropped neckline in styles like deep V, deep U or a low square. The plunge is usually at the front but some outfits will also have the same shape at the back. These dresses are meant to show some part of the cleavage, or a contrasting piece like a camisole. The plunging lines usually meet between the breasts, but sometimes as low as the waist.

Spaghetti Straps

Spaghetti strap maxi dress

Spaghetti Maxi Dresses are designed like a camisole or tank top but feature very thin shoulder straps. Some of the straps are adjustable, while others are separate and have to be tied together. These outfits are popular in evenings and parties.

Tank Styles

Tank maxi dress

A Tank Maxi Dress is designed like a vest or tank top, hence the name. The neckline and armholes can be minimal or plunging. They are ideal for warm weather.

Drop Waist/Low Waist

Low waist maxi dress

The waistline of Low-Waist Maxi Dresses falls way below the navel and somewhere around the waistband of low waisted underwear. This style creates a lengthening effect, as it seems produce a sense of balance between the lower and upper parts of the body.

High Waisted/High Rise

High waist maxi dress

Waistlines of High-Waist Maxi Dresses can be as low as barely showing the belly button, or as high as up to 3 inches above it. This type of gown is popular among women with big bellies. A simple belt or drawstring tie cinches the waist to create a more balanced look.

Empire Waist

Empire waist maxi dress

The waist of an Empire Waist Maxi Dress is positioned just below the bust and enhanced with elastic, drawstring or some kind of a waistband. The bodice is usually fitted, save for bust accommodation. The skirt is typically gathered at the waist and flows all the way to the ankles. The aim of this fashion is to draw attention to the bust and away from the midsection.

Free Flowing/With No Waist/Tent

Maxi dress with no waist

The main point of styling a Maxi Dress with No Waist is to create a long streamlined effect. The fabric flows from the shoulders in an A-line format without cinching at the waist. Just like a button shirt, a tent maxi dress bridges the gaps between the bust and the tummy. This seams to conceal the protrusions and therefore for a flattering effect. Some gowns feature Princess Seams to enable some shaping around the curves.

Long Sleeved

Long sleeve maxi dress

A Long Sleeved Maxi Dress must have sleeves that cover the entire arms up to the wrists. This style is very popular in the cold seasons like winter. To add some style, cold shoulder long sleeves have some garment cut off to leave the shoulder exposed. Sheer or mesh fabrics are used to create sleeves that make the dress look more appropriate for summer.

Short Sleeves

Short sleeve maxi dress

Short Sleeve Maxi Dresses have sleeves that extend to above the elbows. The term is used to mean longer than cap sleeve and shorter than ¾ sleeve. Short sleeves must cover, or seem to cover, the armpit for them to be differentiated from cap sleeves. Puff Sleeves are short sleeves which are gathered at the end and sometimes even at the beginning.


Sleeveless maxi dress

A Sleeveless Maxi Dress is just like a normal dress with the sleeves cut off. It is different from a tank maxi dress in that it has ordinary shoulders and not styled straps. If the shoulders are shaped in certain ways, it may be difficult to categorize it either as a tank or sleeveless.

Three Quarter Sleeves

3/4 sleeve maxi dress

¾ Sleeve Maxi Dresses have sleeves that end somewhere between the wrist and the elbow. They are ideal for ladies who like long sleeves but don’t love clothes with garments around the wrists.

Cap sleeves

Cap sleeve maxi dress

A Cap Sleeve Maxi Dress has a small piece of fabric covering only just the shoulders but leaving the armpits exposed. It looks rather like a sleeveless dress but with the shoulders and extended and slightly bent.

Pencil Style

Pencil maxi dress

Pencil Maxi Dresses are form-fitting from the shoulders to the hem. To ease walking, they may be stretchy, pleated, slit at the back or sides. They are not suitable for summer weather as they offer little ventilation. Most ladies love them when going to windy areas as they do not flow with the wind.

Fit And Flare

Fit and flare maxi dress

Fit & Flare Maxi Dresses are flowy with a fitted bodice. This style borrows heavily from A-line skirts. However, these dresses are wider at the hem. Circular designs are narrower at the hips, while gathered ones have a wider mid-section to conceal thick hips and thighs. Mermaid Maxi Dresses flare from the knees down.

Maxi Dresses with Slits

Slit maxi dress

Slit Maxi Dresses are designed to ease movement in a pencil outfit, increase ventilation or provide a sexy glance of leg. Slits are cut from the hem to the knees, or higher towards the natural waist.

Pleated Maxi Dresses

Pleated maxi dress

Different types and sizes of pleats are used to engineer a voluminous gown into a more fitted silhouette. The bodice is normally fitted and the pleats are added to the skirt. The point of making Pleated Maxi Dresses is to ease movement or to achieve a particular outcome, while hiding the volume. Though these dresses look great on all body shapes, they are not popular as they look more conservative than fashionable.


Crinkle  maxi dress

Crinkle Maxi Dresses have very small creases that can not be classified as pleats. Unlike pleats, their purpose is not to hide volume but rather to produce a certain look. Dresses are crinkled on the whole length, the skirt only, or just on the bodice.

Wrap Style

Wrap maxi dress

Wrap Maxi Dresses have a front closure with a wide overlap, just like a dressing gown. The fastening is done by one button, and sometimes several. If the overlap is wide enough, a drawstring tie may be used. The result is a V-shaped neckline and a figure-hugging but flowy outfit. They are perfect for casual wear.

Button up

Button up maxi dress

Also sometimes called a shirtdress, a Button-Up Maxi Dress is designed like a man’s shirt. They have different necklines and not all have collars. Some come with an attached belt while others have no waist. Buttons start at the chest, or below the bust, and end at the knees.

Solid Colors

Solid maxi dress

Solid Color Maxi Dresses are made of a single color, usually dark, to form a basis for adding colors. The main advantage of these simple & neutral colors is that they pair easily with most outfits, shoes and other accessories. They are also at times available in striking colors like white, yellow and orange.


Floral print maxi dress

Printed Maxi Dresses range from simple to intricate prints. Patterns can mimic animals, art, floral prints, images, flowers, drawings etc. In today’s world, digital textile printing has enabled designers to use their craziest ideas to print garments with maximum ease.


Striped maxi dress

Striped Maxi Dresses feature lines of differing widths in a color different from the background color. These stripes can run vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or mixed in complex patterns. The lines may be of many colors, with the possibility of hiding the background color. If the stripes cross, the item is known as checked.


Sheer maxi dress

Sheer Maxi Dresses are worn for style rather than coverage. They are normally mini/midi dresses disguised as maxis with a translucent long skirt over a shorter one attached on the waistband. The outer one is made of mesh, lace or netting fabric whose job is to style rather than cover the one underneath. The inner layer may also be maxi length.

Some sheer maxi dresses are not lined. They are designed to reveal your skirt, dress or even underwear. Some girls wear them over miniskirts or leggings and a crop top to unleash the mid-section. You can wear them over a mini or midi skirt of your choice, or use as beach cover-up.

Semi Sheer Maxi Dresses are made to show the silhouette of your legs.


Stretch maxi dress

Stretch Maxi Dresses are made of fabric which is blended with elastic material for figure hugging elegance. The whole dress may be stretchy, but some are made of a stretchy bodice and a flowy skirt. Lovers of these gowns say they are comfy and relaxed.


Lace maxi dress

Unlike sheer, Lace Maxi Dresses are lined all the way to the hem. They are sewn from matching or contrasting fabrics with the outer one in an elegant lace detail. Other features like embellishments may be added to nice up the lace.

Though lace maxi dresses are meant to be opaque, some end up being see-through due to the transparency of the outer layer. It’s not uncommon to find a lace gown with an unlined bodice.


Denim maxi dress

Denim Maxi Dresses are well liked because they do not go with the wind and don’t require layering underneath. The most popular styles are A-line tank or sleeveless. Trendy details include front buttons, side slits, raw hem and drawstring waist. Skater styles are not admired because they would be too heavy.

Combo Maxi Dress

Combo maxi dress

Combo Maxi Dresses are made of different fabrics or colors for the bodice and skirt. For instance, a dress with a chiffon bodice may have a cotton skirt. Another example is a gown with a white top and a black bottom. This creates the illusion of a crop top and a high-waisted skirt. Some color combos feature a print bodice and solid skirt, or vice versa.

High-Low Maxi Dresses

High low maxi dress

These are maxi length dresses with part of the hem (mostly at the front or side) cropped to mid-calf or below knee. Some people don’t consider High-Low Maxi Dresses as maxis. Another style of high low is whereby a midi dress is layered with a maxi length material attached at the back of the waistline and flows to the ankles.

Tiered Maxi Dress

Tiered maxi dress

Tiered Maxi Dresses are made of tiered layers sewn horizontally to add volume and style. The layers are mostly of the same material. Despite being voluminous, they can be made of light-weight fabric to be incredibly light. The tiers start from the waist and run downwards but ruffles may be added at the bust to create uniformity.
Types of Maxi Dresses

If you believe there are more types of maxi dresses that are not included in this list, feel free to speak out in the comment section. It will be our pleasure to add them.

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