Maxi vs. Midi vs. Mini Dress

Women wearing different types of dresses
Midi vs. maxi vs. mini: what’s the difference? Here’s a comprehensive look into the different dress lengths and their styling options.

Maxi, midi, and mini dresses. These are words we rarely think about when shopping for a dress, but they are somewhere in the back of our minds. As it turns out, the length of a dress can make or break an ensemble and completely change the look.

Imagine if evening gowns were short or cocktail dresses went all the way to the ankle. It would ruin the essence of that dress. The length of a dress also affects where you can wear it to, which is why we don’t show up with micro minis in church or the office.

But more importantly, the length of a dress affects how it looks on you and what kind of shoes and accessories you wear with it. Unfortunately, this is the aspect many women get wrong and end up wearing dresses the wrong way.

Read on as we explore more about the different dress lengths and how to wear them correctly for every occasion.

Mini Dresses

A mini dress is the shortest length, where the hemline sits above your knees. Ideally, the mini dress should fall at least 4 inches below the buttocks so the wearer can bend and sit comfortably. Anything shorter than this is micro length, but that’s a story for another day. I always advise ladies to wear the dress and try sitting down and bending to see how much skin you reveal. Whatever you do, don’t buy a dress that stops at the widest part of your thigh; it is not a flattering look.

Naturally, mini dresses are best suited for warm weather, and they can achieve a sweet casual look or turn you into a sexy vixen. Some silhouettes of this length include shift, body con, wrap, babydoll, and slip.

As far as the occasion is concerned, this is not the length you want to wear anywhere serious. We reserve mini dresses for casual, mindless occasions like hanging out in the house, beach days, night parties, and hot dates. If you live in hot climates like Miami and Hawaii, wearing a shift mini dress during the day will not look out of place.

But how do you dress up a mini dress?

Well, it depends on the silhouette of the dress and where you wear it to. Loose silhouettes like the shift dress look great with a pair of sandals or wedges as you run around during the day, and you can throw on a nice denim or leather jacket for warmth.

But if you decide to wear a form-fitting silhouette, think about sneakers instead, though sandals would still work for casual daytime wear. I like wearing body con minis to date night, and they go great with a nice heel, a trench coat, and a clutch bag. For a night out with the girls, replace the heels with ankle or knee-length boots and wear a waist-length jacket instead.

Mini dresses are really cool, and they make you feel ten years younger, so don’t be afraid to let your younger self shine through.

Midi Dresses

Midi dresses are the most popular length, falling anywhere between the knees and the ankles. This length is so common because it’s the middle point between a really short dress and a long one. They are modest, and you can wear them anywhere, including office, family gatherings, or church.

I love midi dresses because of their broad range of necklines and hemlines, which makes them more versatile and fit for a wider range of occasions. You can comfortably rock a midi dress to the office and another to the club. It all depends on how you style the dress.

That said, the length of a midi dress is a plus and a risk factor to fashion. No dress length showcases your long legs like a midi dress, but it can also cut short your legs and make you look shorter or cut off. If it were up to me, midi dresses would only be reserved for tall women.

Luckily there’s a way around that- the best midi dress length should end at the top of the largest part of your calf or below it. This accentuates the wearer’s legs and makes them look taller.

If you are short, I recommend wearing a midi dress with high heel shoes of whatever kind. The high heel will elongate your legs and frame your body better. Midi dresses look good in most high-heel shoes, including pumps, stilettos, and even knee-high boots.

You can pull off a formal midi dress to the office by wearing a blazer, nude pumps, minimal jewelry, and a tote bag. If the dress has sleeves, a simple belt and the right shoes will work just fine.

A midi dress rocked with a denim or leather jacket, and a pair of high heel boots is also a really cool look for a girl’s day out. You can switch this out with some stilettos and a shawl or a long coat for an evening date.

If ever there was a dress fit for wedding guests, it would be a flowy midi dress with high-heel pumps or stilettos, a pair of sunglasses, and a statement clutch bag.

If you are not too short, feel free to wear a midi dress casually with low shoes such as sneakers or sandals. In fact, one of my favorite ensembles is a straight, black midi dress with a denim jacket and white sneakers. This look will work with a shift dress too, but it can also work with sandals or slip-ons. Throw on a crossbody bag, and you can run errands, visit friends and even do brunch in style.

Maxi Dresses

The final length is the maxi dress which stops at the ankle or the top of your feet. A perfect maxi dress is only an inch from the ground when you wear flats or are barefoot. This length doesn’t sweep the floors or trip you, but it’s long enough to make you look like a queen.

Maxi dresses are extremely versatile in terms of styling, and they also come in different silhouettes and designs fit for many different occasions. Contrary to popular belief, short women can rock maxi dresses just fine, and they don’t even need to wear high heels for that. I would recommend buying a maxi dress at the petite section if you are short so it fits you perfectly, but you can always tailor it to fit.

Maxi dresses are also not casual wear only though many of them are. One of my favorite long dresses is a knee length pleated maxi which works great for both formal and casual situations. It’s a self-contained dress that needs nothing to accessorize, but I wear it with a blazer sometimes or a shawl. If you have a similarly formal-looking dress, don some high-heel pumps, dainty jewelry, and a formal bag to the office.

The area where maxi dresses shine most though, is casual wear. They are perfect for beach days, girl’s day out around town, weddings, family gatherings, and anything that requires a relaxed but respectable fit. The occasion and the dress’s silhouette pretty much dictate what you wear with the dress and the accessories.

For example, a straight maxi dress looks amazing paired with a denim jacket and sneakers for those relaxed days. You can duplicate this look by switching the bold-colored straight dress with a more colorful, looser type and wear sandals instead.

Instead of a denim jacket, sometimes I do a shirt and tie a knot or two at the waist. It’s casual, stylish, and simple. And if it’s cold, wear a warm chunky sweater and long boots. You can also hide warm stockings and a turtleneck underneath the dress.

Maxi dresses are also fabulous for weddings; all you have to do is dress them up with nice high shoes, a denim jacket or classy wrap, and a clutch bag.


Just like mini dresses have micro-minis, maxi dresses also have gowns. These are elegant, floor-sweeping dresses worn to classy events like formal dinners, award ceremonies, prom, and red carpet events.

To style a gown, you only need to wear classy high heel shoes, a statement clutch bag, and dazzling jewelry. Make-up and hair also make part of accessorizing the gown because everything has to be over the top.

If it’s a cold evening, feel free to throw on a warm, classy pashmina or wrap around you or wear a trench coat.

What’s the difference between a midi and a maxi dress?

Midi-length dresses fall between the knees and the ankles, while maxi dresses stand just after the ankle. The ideal length for maxi dresses is touching the top of your feet, but they can also flow all the way to the floor. Even if a dress is long enough to be considered a maxi, it is still not a maxi if it doesn’t touch the ankle.

Can a petite person wear a midi dress?

Yes, a petite woman can wear a midi dress, provided the hem doesn’t stop at the largest part of the calf. It would also be best for a short woman to wear high heel shoes with a midi dress just to make the legs look longer and slimmer.

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.