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Is the maxi dress a modern must-have item?

Long, flowy, frocks are often thought of as evening wear, but these days a gal can turn a gown into a casual everyday favorite. TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas offers her take on the floor-length trend.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Long, flowy, frocks are often thought of as evening wear, but these days a gal can turn a gown into a casual everyday favorite. Remember, less is more, and it’s stylish to be simple, so keep things clean with a fresh face, flats and a ponytail. You’ll see these sweeping styles popping up in every possible print, fabric and silhouette — so now it’s only a matter of finding the most flattering floor-length dress for you!

Fabric and flowThis garment is all about being airy and comfortable — perfect for the beach or a balmy night! Heavier, stiff fabrics will feel more formal and less free-spirited, so you’ll want to look for materials that move, such as soft cotton, jersey, silk or chiffon, in order to ensure better drape.

The major appeal of this goddesslike trend is all about the loose, lightweight flow, but beware of unwanted volume, since extra fabric can also add inches. Old Navy’s Smocked Jersey Maxi Dress ($20-$30;, and Rachel Pally’s regular and plus-size dresses ($115-$260; are just a few casual examples of soft, fluid styles that will also be slimming.

Prints and patterns
Floor-length frocks have become fabulous canvases for some of the most compelling prints this season has to offer. From lovely florals to bold abstracts, this is a great way to show off an inspiring pattern from head to toe. Contemporary brand Gypsy ’05 has expanded last summer’s cult-favorite solid maxi gowns into this season’s gorgeous line of tie-dyed silk styles ($99-$209;, and T-bags has more than 15 different maxi-dress silhouettes and 18 bold prints, ranging from the floral-printed Green Bloom to the geometric Ocean Plaid ($148-$220; 

While classic and vibrant solid colors will work for all, taller women can test out horizontal-based patterns like Forever 21’s Boho Floral Maxi Dress ($22.80;; smaller ladies can elongate their frame with vertical-based patterns and textures such as Ella Moss Black Label’s Bridgette Long Dress ($282; accents
As for toppers, cropped jackets such as J. Crew’s Nolita denim jacket ($98; or Spiegel's Shirred Metallic Jacket ($89; tend to work best. Avoid boxy blazers or anything that will cut your silhouette in half. Soft, thin sweaters in longer lengths like a cardi-wrap can also work, but be sure to avoid bulk by selecting lightweight knits that skim close to the body. 

A leather or canvas belt can help fancy fabrics feel more casual, and also create shape, while wedges can help those who are petite add a few extra inches and the illusion of longer legs!  Eva Mendes wore Stuart Weitzman for Scoop’s Alex espadrille wedges with a variety of long dresses during a recent trip to Italy. But if you’ve got the gams, don’t hesitate to go for flats, flip-flops or fun sandals to instantly add a carefree, chic touch.