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 with 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 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. The strikingness of a mini dress hemline can easily be toned down with opaque tights.
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.
Knee length hemlines are perhaps one of the most conservative hemline of all. 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. If you're looking to tick to a more conservative feel, make sure your neckline fits that criteria, or be bolder and try a neckline that challenges the rules. High heels are a must for this hemline and will do wonders to make your legs look longer (definitely something you want as this look has a tendency to make your legs appear shorter).
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 for semi-formal events. Cocktail dresses are elegant, sleek, and perfect for most events. These dresses pair well with high heels, but if you're more of a flats kind of gal, make sure they're on the dressier side to maintain the formal feel of the look.
Midi dress lengths are exactly what they sound like--they hit right in the middle of the lower leg. This style may end up making things look a little out of proportion depending on your body type (nobody wants their legs to look shorter than they are). Combat this by pairing your midi dress or skirt with a pair of pumps to really accentuate your legs. Nude heels especially do wonders for elongating the legs!
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 are perfect for summertime and can be easily converted to a winter dress by adding a stylish jacket.
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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Jazmin is a Florida native with a love for the Utah mountains. She loves getting lost in a book or a good movie, but she also doesn't mind a friendly game of ultimate frisbee on the weekends with friends. Pizza and dancing are her favorite pastimes.
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