What Shoes To Wear With Maxi Dresses?

Maxi dresses are a perennial wardrobe favorite -- versatile, comfortable, and always in style.  Whether you're spending a day at the beach, running errands, or dressing up for a night on the town, there's a maxi dress for any occasion!  Accessorizing is key to creating a fabulous look... and there's no more important accessory than your shoes.  So, what kinds of shoes can you wear with a maxi dress?  We've done the research, and we have the answers for you!

In deciding what shoes to wear with your maxi dress, you have virtually unlimited options.  The key is to select shoes that fit the occasion, dressing your outfit up or down.  Here are some of the most popular types of shoes to pair with a maxi dress:

  • Sandals: strappy, gladiator, simple slides
  • Heels: stiletto, block heel, stacked heel, wedges
  • Pumps: low or high heel
  • Flats: ballet, pointed-toe, espadrilles, mules 
  • Boots: ankle, knee, cowboy, combat
  • Sneakers

Of course, you can't just throw on any old pair of shoes: creating a show-stopping look requires strategy.  You'll want to consider the occasion you're dressing for, the fabric and color of the dress itself, your own size and shape, and even what time of year it is.  Read on, and we'll guide you through the process of picking the perfect shoes to pair with your maxi dress for any occasion!

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

A woman wearing a red polka dot maxi dress pairing it with a blue blazer while standing on a red background, What Shoes To Wear With Maxi Dresses?

What To Consider When Pairing Shoes With A Maxi Dress

A woman holding two gorgeous shoes wondering what to buy for her to pair with her maxi dress

Shoe Height

Flats, stilettos, or something in between?  Keep three factors in mind when deciding what height your shoes should be:

  • Consider your own shape: a maxi dress can make you look wider and shorter, but wearing heels can help by lengthening and slenderizing your profile.
  • Gauge the length of the dress: the hem should not trail on the floor or rise to your ankles.
  • Match the height of your shoes to the occasion: higher heels dress up and formalize an outfit, while flats lend a more casual air.

Occasion

Maxi dresses can be worn for practically any occasion, from a picnic in the park to a formal church wedding.  The shoes and other accessories you pair with your dress can transform it from casual to office-appropriate to ballroom-ready.

Casual

For general daytime wear, dress it down with simple sandals, flats, or sneakers.  The low profile of these shoes gives your outfit a comfortable look and feel. Daring fashionistas can try cowboy boots or combat boots for a head-turning look.

Flat Sandals

From gladiators to simple slides, casual flat sandals can pair with virtually any maxi dress for daytime wear, with a couple of caveats.  Be aware that Birkenstocks and other clunky sandals work best in earthy, bohemian ensembles.  And avoid flip-flops unless you're going to the beach because they tend to catch on the hems of long dresses.

A woman sitting on a wheel wearing a maxi dress

Simple, flat sandals give this maxi dress a comfortable, day-around-town look.

Click here for Gladiator Sandals on Amazon.

Casual Flats

All kinds of casual flats, from ballet shoes to modern mules, look great with maxi dresses.  The delicacy of ballet flats makes them ideal for a feminine look, while mules create a more powerful effect.

A woman wearing a yellow maxi dress while riding a bike

Lace-up flats add to the hipster flair of this stylish outfit.

A woman wearing a blue maxi dress while sitting on a velvet brown ottoman

These flats keep the look casual.  A pair of shiny stiletto pumps, a matching clutch, and jewelry would dress this outfit up.

Click here for Skechers espadrille flats on Amazon.

Sneakers

Sneakers paired with maxi dresses are typically solid white or black canvas, providing a slim profile and a youthful look.  However, sometimes the shoes themselves make the statement: running shoes whose accent colors match the dress's hue, or high-tops paired with a costly fabric.  Unusual combinations like these are tricky, but if you get them just right, they can be a powerful expression of your personality.

A woman posing while wearing her maxi dress on a white background

White sneakers with a solid color maxi dress provide a comfortable look and feel.

A beautiful blonde woman wearing a maxi dress and black sneakers while posing on the street

Solid black sneakers lend a casual feel to this dress.  It could easily be suitable for an office if paired with shiny black pumps or even for a low-key dinner with strappy, heeled sandals.

https://depositphotos.com/stock-photos/long-dress-with-sneakers.html?offset=100&filter=all&qview=325871630

A woman wearing a red polka dot maxi dress pairing it with a blue blazer while standing on a red background

The sneakers are part of the statement in this unusual pairing.  Note how the color of the shoes picks up the accent color in the dress.

Click here for Converse sneakers on Amazon.

Cowboy or Combat Boots

It takes a daring spirit to pair these casual boots with a maxi dress, but the effect can be riveting if you do it right!

A woman wearing cowboy boots and pleated denim skirt while standing on grass

Cowboy boots add a frontier feel to this outfit.

A woman wearing a maxi dress while holding her guitar inside an abandoned old Mexican house

Combat boots look most dramatic when paired with a delicate fabric... like this gauzy, feminine dress.

Click here for Doc Martens combat boots on Amazon.

Office

Maxi dresses can make great workwear, as long as you pair them with pumps or boots.  Adding a belt, a jacket, and understated jewelry can transform a casual dress into a chic professional ensemble.

Pumps

Pumps immediately lend professionalism to a maxi dress.  They come in a wide variety of colors, materials, and heel heights.  In general, higher heels and glossier finishes equate with a more formal look.  In a less formal office, lower heels and matte finishes are fine.

A manikin wearing a denim maxi dress

Polished pointed-toe pumps dress up this denim for office wear.

Click here for pumps on Amazon.

Ankle- and Knee-Boots

Boots add elegance and polish to a maxi dress.  Dress up the outfit with a jacket, belt, and/or understated jewelry to create a professional vibe appropriate to the workplace.

A woman wearing a blue maxi dress while holding her expensive purse

White ankle boots call attention to the dramatic hi-low hemline of this maxi dress.  The jacket adds professionalism.

A woman wearing a long coat covering her inner maxi dress and holding her pink purse

Shiny black boots, understated jewelry, and classic wool coat make this maxi suitable for a dressy day at the office.

Click here for ankle boots on Amazon.

Formal

Formal occasions, such as weddings or galas, call for dramatic shoes: stilettos or high-heeled strappy sandals.

An Asian woman wearing a maxi dress while standing on a stage

Stiletto heels add to the formal appearance of this velvet dress.

A woman wearing a long red dress and high heeled black shoes

High-heeled strappy sandals add height and leanness; the black color contrasts with the red of the dress.

Click here for stilettos on Amazon.

Patterned Vs. Solid Color Shoes

When deciding whether to wear solid-color or patterned shoes, consider the overall visual effect you're trying to achieve.  In most cases, the shoes should complement the dress, not fight it for attention; so, generally, you should choose solid-color shoes without a lot of embellishments.  However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and those exceptions often make the boldest fashion statements.  Don't be afraid to try something different!

Patterned Shoes

Patterned shoes go best with a monochrome dress.  In these cases, the shoes and coordinated accessories can make a dramatic statement, while the dress fades into the background.

A woman wearing a gray maxi dress and floral high heeled shoes

The boots' snakeskin pattern makes a strong statement.  Note that the hues in the boots compliment the color of the dress.

Embellished Shoes

Embellishments on your shoes are fine, especially when paired with simple and/or monotone dresses.  If you wear embellished shoes with a patterned dress, as pictured below, the shoes' designs should echo a feature of the dress.

A beautiful Caucasian woman wearing a colorful floral dress lying on a wooden bench with a lavender field on the side

The embellishments on these shoes pick up on the floral motif in the dress.

Solid Color Shoes

The busier the dress, the calmer the shoes should be.  Solid color shoes work best with patterned or embellished dresses.

A woman wearing a hippie maxi dress

Platform sandals, socks, and belt complement the dress's colors; jacket and hat complete the bohemian ensemble.

Matte Vs. Shiny Shoes

Shiny shoes project greater formality and dressiness than matte shoes.  Casual occasions generally call for a matte finish, while a glossy finish is best for formal offices and occasions like weddings.

How Long Should A Maxi Dress Be?

The hem of a maxi dress should hang 1/2 to one inch above the floor, just brushing the tops of your feet.  Any longer, and it will drag on the floor and might trip you.  Any shorter, and it will expose your ankles and appear ill-fitting.

Can Short People Wear Maxi Dresses?

Absolutely!  If you're short, you can still wear a maxi dress -- just make sure the hem doesn't drag on the floor.  You might want to add some height to your look by choosing stacked wedges or stacked-heel sandals.

Can You Wear A Maxi Dress In Winter?

You can wear a maxi dress in any season just adapt your footwear accordingly.  If you live in a snowy region, pair your dress with stylish ankle- or knee-length boots.  If you're in an area where it gets chilly but not downright cold in winter, trade-in your sandals for flats, pumps, or sneakers.

In Conclusion

A maxi dress can be one of the most versatile items in your wardrobe.  By pairing it with the right shoes and accessories, you can adapt it for casual daywear, work, or evening wear.  Just follow a few simple guidelines, and your maxi dress will look great on any occasion!

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