x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Katie Trotter: Maximize the maxi dress this season

Less is more? No more. Katie Trotter tells us why mastering the maxi skirt is nothing short of tricky

Admit it. When you think of the maxi dress, memories of ankle-grazing iterations to "Big Love" spring to mind. As do the over-tanned wags of the Nineties, or worse still a frantic attempt to hide from fast-approaching middle-age spread.

Yet there is no denying, now that the dust has settled on the Autumn/Winter shows and as editors are beginning to break down the trends, the maxi is creating a bit of a hoo-ha.

The maxi skirt and its painfully awkward little sister, the midi length, have - after a couple of seasons of treading water - finally hit the news-stands. The question is, are we ready to tackle them?

You see, while in print they sound like a wonderful idea - grown-up, elegant, flattering and feminine - in reality they are downright difficult to wear.

So why are we all so scared? Well, for a start, for the last five seasons we have been used to slinging on one piece. Be it the smock or the jumpsuit, it seems we have forgotten how to put outfits together anymore. All of a sudden we have to start thinking colour combinations, to tuck in or not to tuck in, and what to pair with what. In short, we are flummoxed by separates, stuck in a cycle of less is more.

Yet if we rationalise, there is nothing remotely prim or staid about the new maxi. Forget flouncy, Holly Golightly beach dresses, as the current versions are actually rather modern - fun, even.

Think in opposites. If your bottom half is strong and structured, go loose on top. If you lean towards a more ballet-inspired style, go for a tightly buttoned-up shirt in order to balance. Speaking of tucking in, make sure to do it; this is the key to mastering the maxi. An untucked top half will only add unwanted bulk and lose impact to the finished look.

When it comes to shoes, they have, have, have to be flat. If you are desperate, perhaps a wedge, but any sort of a heel and you cross back into Nineties territory. Or tartiness. Or, worst case, both.

So now that summer - that thick fog of unbearable heat that's gaining momentum as fast as tumbleweed - is well and truly on its way, perhaps this is exactly the right time to give the new length a whirl.

Because before we know it, being able to experiment with anything more than a cotton smock will be nothing more than melancholy.

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This week's highs and lows

A PERFECT FIT The Ex-Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld will join the team at Barneys New York. Way to spruce up their look.

ON THIN ICE Why has Dsquared2 come up with these wacky skate shoes? They're a bit much.

SHOE WARS Jimmy Choo's bid for his brand of shoes is reported to be backed by the Malaysian government. We'll keep our fingers crossed for him.

SHOULDER BURDEN It's all about rucksacks and across-the-body bags now.

TRESS TO IMPRESS Will Jennifer Aniston's new bob cause as much of a riot as her famous "The Rachel"?