How to Accessorize a Long Sleeve Maxi Dress

A woman in a yellow and white long sleeved maxi dress
Long sleeve maxi dresses are a staple for day and night, a favorite for many women. Here are our top tips for styling this dress for a chic stylish look.

This black maxi dress worn by J-lo is probably not what comes to mind when you think about long sleeve maxi dresses. It is chic, feminine, sexy, and hitting all the right spots.

Many long sleeve maxi dresses we see are the complete opposite. They are flabby, unflattering, and quite honestly unsightly.

Maybe the problem is the wearers because, as it turns out, a long sleeve maxi can be quite sexy.

The secret lies in accessorizing.

Ready to transform that flabby dress at the back of your closet into your favorite piece? Here are the tips.

Choose the Right Dress

I would love to tell you that you can transform any long sleeve maxi dress into a masterpiece with some accessories, but I would be lying. You first have to choose a dress that’s easy to work with.

  • Fabric. From my experience, light fabrics like sheer, chiffon and cotton are best because they give that airy feminine look instead of overwhelming you with fabric.
  • Colors and prints. You will also do well to choose trendy colors and prints that brighten you up. Dark bold colors like black are fine but if you want to do prints and florals, ensure they are bright, trendy and big. A contrast of dark colors such as blue with white and pink flowers is a great example of what I mean by bright, trendy colors.
  • V-neck and Slit. Lastly, choose a dress that shows some skin. A long sleeve maxi dress covers your entire arms and body, which can give the image of an Amish woman. Counteract this by showing off some skin on the legs and neck area. This means choosing a dress with a V-neck, as deep as you like, or a shirt dress so you can release some buttons on top and at the bottom. A maxi dress with a slit is also great for showing off some leg.

Cinch in the Waist

Long sleeve maxi dresses look flabby and uninteresting because most lack structure. However, you can easily create some structure with waist definition using a belt. Ideally, you should get a long-sleeve maxi that crisscrosses at the bust and draws in at the waist to give you that youthful, feminine shape.

But if you can’t get that, get a slightly wide belt and cinch in the waist to create the same hourglass look. A belt that has a statement feminine buckle works better because it draws attention to your waist.

Leave the Feet Open

Again, we are trying to show off some skin here and neutralize the overwhelming effect of a long sleeve maxi. Wearing open shoes lets you show off your feet and possibly your well-pedicured nails as a plus. It’s a small section considering maxi dresses touch the top of your feet, but it makes a big difference.

Any open shoes will do, so feel free to wear sandals, wedges, or stiletto heels, depending on the occasion.

You should only consider wearing closed shoes if the dress has a long front slit or if it’s a shirt dress where you leave many buttons open. In this case, even if you wear long boots, the slit will expose some part of the leg, giving a sexy peek and leaving everything else to the imagination. 

It’s a great way to style a maxi in winter or fall when you need your legs to stay warm but stylish as well.

Go Gold

Yes, I mean gold jewelry. I cannot insist enough on how important it is to brighten up a long sleeve maxi dress and draw attention to other aspects of the body. Gold jewelry such as a necklace, bracelet, watch, and anklet will sparkle and bring light to parts of your body that aren’t covered by the dress. Wear multiple gold chains that layer and drape your neck elegantly if you can.

The exception to this gold rule is if you are wearing black. Black tends to look better with silver, as you can see from the J-Lo picture above.

I like to fold back my dress arms just a little bit, so the gold watch or bracelets I am wearing are visible. Folding up your arms also gives the dress a casual, laid-back look and exposes more skin.

Layer Up with Bright Colors

Long sleeve maxi dresses are perfect for cold weather because they offer plenty of coverage. If the dress is light though, you may need to wear something warmer over the dress. The rule I go with when choosing outerwear for maxis is bright is always better. Go for a light-colored chunky sweater and match that with black boots, leaving the dress just a little unbuttoned.

A loose-knit cardigan cinched at the waist with a belt is also a fabulous option because it gives you a perfect feminine figure. If it’s too cold, throw on a light-colored wool jacket and match that with sneakers or boots.

Speaking of wool jackets, I love wearing a wool vest over a long sleeve maxi dress. It’s a less overwhelming and stylish look, but it’s still warm. Feel free to rock other weather-appropriate accessories, such as a warm hat during winter and sunglasses when it’s sunny.

Carry a Quilted Bag

The one thing you should remember when choosing a handbag to go with a long sleeve maxi is the smaller the better. You want to keep the arms as free as possible, and a big shoulder bag would ruin that look. Instead, opt for something you can hold or carry with your hand, like a clutch bag or a quilted bag, or a small sling bag on your shoulders.

What do you wear with a long sleeve maxi dress?

When wearing a long sleeve maxi dress, ensure you show off some skin by wearing open shoes and don plenty of jewelry. You also can’t go wrong with a statement belt to cinch in the waist and some stylish accessories such as sunglasses, a hat, and a scarf.

How do you layer a sleeveless maxi dress?

Try pairing the dress with a bright wool jacket if it’s too cold or a wool vest during the fall season. You can also throw on a white or grey chunky sweater over the dress or a thick knit cardigan and wear a belt over it to structure the waist-hip area.

Lior Shapiro

I love clothes with pockets and dresses, and I think any woman can pull off a good maxi dress.
I believe women's clothes with pockets make the world a better place.