Ultimate Dress Length Guide: Mini, Maxi, and More

November 01, 2021 5 min read 1 Comment

What's the difference between a midi dress and knee length dress? That's the detail that has 90% of women scratching their heads. For most the terms are interchangable. The fact is, they're not the same thing, and when shopping online it's important to know the difference. See below to find out more.

From medieval ballgowns to midis, dresses have withstood the test of time. As a result, styles of dresses have developed and evolved, along with a unique set of terms to go along with each of them. With all of the dress lengths and styles available, it can be confusing to keep track of which term corresponds to which length. Knowing and understanding dress terminology can be helpful, especially when dress shopping online. In this dress length guide, we’ve compiled a list of the most common terms you should know when it comes to dress lengths and how to style them.

Mini Length Dresses

Mini dresses are the ones that scream, “She’s got legs and she knows how to use them!" They typically reach to about midthigh in length. While they're fun for some occasions, it's important to note that they may not be appropriate for all occasions. A night out with the girls is a great time to wear one, whereas meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time may not be.

Mini length dresses are much more popular in summer months, when you're trying to stay cool. A good balance in cooler months would be a long sleeve mini dress, like in the image above, or to add leggings or tights, to keep you warm. As a summer dress, mini dresses tend to be more popular in summer colors like white, pink, green, and cream.

Above the Knee Dresses

Above the knee dresses are becoming more popular amongst celebrities with many opting to wear this hemline over a floor length gown for special occasions. These versatile hemlines work well with heels or flats, day or night. They come in all sorts of styles to meet your fashion needs--, from a straight line to a voluminous skirt. Above the knee dress lengths are short enough to be flirty, but still long enough to be appropriate for most events. Add lace-up gladiator sandals for a fun play on proportions.

Above the knee length dresses tend to be popular in summer months for weddings, bridesmaids, attending a wedding, bridal showers, and other special occasions.

Knee Length Dresses

Often called a midi dress, knee length dresses are a more specific length in the broader midi dress category.

Knee length hemlines are perhaps one of the most conservative hemline of all. Many times this dress length is interchangable with midi dresses, as they are very similar. These hemlines lend themselves to being more professional and put together. Knee length dresses are perfect for daytime occasions, as well as office and professional wear.

Knee length dresses tend to be more conservative, or modest dresses. These dresses are typically worn all year round for work environments, church services, and family gatherings.

Cocktail Dresses

The appropriate length for a cocktail dress varies depending on who you ask. Typically, these dresses fall anywhere from above the knee to just below the knee with longer dresses for more formal events, and shorter cocktail dresses forformal or semi-formal events.

Cocktail dresses are elegant, sleek, and perfect for most events. These dresses pair well with high heels and dress up well.

Cocktail dresses are the ultimate flirty dress and tend to be worn year round for that night out, trips, bachelorette parties, or dates. The most popular color for a cocktail dress is black, which includes the typical "little black dress" for that night out.

Midi Length Dresses

Midi dresses, also known as mid dresses, or knee-length dresses, are are a broad term for describing any dress that stops anywhere from above the knee to about mid-calf. This includes the above the knee dress, below the knee dress, knee length dress, or in general a midi dress. A broad term to describe a dress as a midi dress is a way to communicate the region where the dress is designed to stop on the body. If you're a taller person, the dress will likely land a little higher. If you're on the shorter side, expect the dress to be a tad longer.

Midi dresses are a great style as a transitional piece, and are popular from spring through fall. The cut is just above the length of a maxi length dress. Keep it cool and classy with a midi dress, or add a more sexy look with a slit or one shoulder look like the dress shown above.

Maxi Length Dresses

Arguably the most popular type of dress in our dress length guide, maxi dresses are so fun to wear and are so versatile! The length of these dresses is typically slightly higher than one’s shoes. These hemlines can be worn to any event from weddings to the beach to the office. Play with the waistline of your stylish maxi dress for different occasions--just under the bust for a wedding, loose and flowy for the beach, and a waist-accentuating style for the office.

These versatile dresses pair perfectly with sandals or heels depending on the style of the dress. Maxi dresses tend to be worn year round, and are the dress of choice during colder winter months.

Floor Length Dresses

Reserve floor length and evening gowns for your fancier, Cinderella occasions such as black tie events, evening art performances like the symphony or opera, and of course, weddings. Make sure to pair with beautiful jewelry (make it sparkly jewelry to really make an impression) and rock a killer pair of heels. Bonus points if your dress has a slit down its side to show off your shoes.

Now that you know how to style these different types of dresses, you're ready to dress to impress for any occasion.. Start your dress journey by checking out boutique dresses that fit your style and the impression you want to make at the office, at your friend's wedding, or just at a casual Saturday outing. Whatever the occasion, there's a dress out there waiting for you.

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1 Response


March 04, 2020

Thank you for this wonderful blog about different short dresses.

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