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The maxi dress has played an iconic role in society throughout history. The phrase “maxi dress” refers to ankle length, informal dresses that were popularized in the west during the 1970s. It was first introduced in 1966, and Welsh fashion designer Laura Ashley helped popularize the trend, which set its mark in the ‘70s as a versatile fashion statement.
In its earliest form, the dress was ankle length and made in cotton and lace by fashion designer Oscar de la Renta for Elizabeth Arden Salon. After his successful introduction of the gown, other key designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Cardin, Biba, and Halston reinterpreted the style as well. As the dress evolved, the length changed, reaching down to the floor, and the designs shifted from plain to bold prints, stripes, and floral designs in enticing colours. Different fabrics dressed the style up or down, in cotton, lace, satin silk, and chiffon. Princess Grace of Monaco (formerly Actress Grace Kelly) wore the style to at least one event in the 1970s, at the peak of its popularity. During this time, the maxi dress was a staple in women’s closets all over Europe and North America, and the thought of it going away was inconceivable to many.
But as fashion trends come, they also go, and a few years later, the maxi dress fell from grace and was deemed unfashionable and undesirable, vanishing from the spotlight. However, times change, and the same cannot be said today. The maxi dress has made a comeback into the fashion world and on the shelves, as many ‘70s fashions are reappearing on catwalks and in modern fashion designs and movies all over the globe. This trendy dress is both a comfortable staple for the summer and a cooling alternative to shorts and tees. Although length may be an issue for those of us who are not tall like amazons, there are certain lines who offer the same styles in petite sizes, thus making it a dress many can appreciate and wear through the hot months to come.
The revolution of the maxi dress can be worn all year round, sewn and crafted in thicker material, different colours, and fabrics appropriate to the season. In sleeveless or long sleeves, this fashionable dress has materialized back into society, capturing many women’s hearts and attention. Proven to be both versatile and comfortable, many are saying this trend will stay this time — and flourish. In a vibrant colour it is attention-getting; in black or white it is a classic style for a barbecue or a lunch date; in cotton and linen it is great for a day trip to the city; in chiffon or silk it is alluring for a night of fun.
Whatever the occasion, maxi dresses are a lot of fun and flattering on almost every body shape and size. And for those of you who are taking summer classes, what better way to hit the books than wear a comfortable dress in class. So try a maxi dress this summer and stay cool!