Casual maxi dresses weren’t really a thing during the 1930’s-1950’s. You do see longer dresses and gowns for formal occasions, but for casual wear, it seemed lengths around the knee were more common. However, given Australia’s extreme weather, maxi dresses are some of the most wearable items you can have in a wardrobe. So let’s see if we can find a number of dresses that are both maxi and retro friendly.
For casual maxi dresses there’s always the basic retro patterns (stripes, polkadots, and florals), but I personally prefer dresses in one colour. This dress offers a relaxed shape with a fitted waist and a v-neck, combine it with a vintage belt and sandal wedges. Here’s an option that uses florals combined with a casual top which draws focus to the waist. This classic colour and relaxed fit looks like a good combination for a hot day, just add some nautical accessories. For a dress that you can wear over swimwear, I’d probably opt for this one.
By mid level I mean going out for lunch with a group of friends, a somewhat casual date, or just an occasion where you would normally dress one or a few steps above your casual look. It’s elegant rather than casual but not as elaborate or eye catching as the formal options. Due to its elegant cut I’d put this blue dress with white stripes in the middle category rather than the casual one as it follows the body a bit more closely. This is one I’ve ordered but haven’t tried yet, the draping around the bust and the deep colour means that it looks more formal than causal but due to the fabric it ends up in this category. This classical black dress can be worn to almost any occasion and it looks very easy to dress up or down. Love the unusual prints from modern retro styles? This one has pineapples on it, which reminds me of the tropical prints common in retro dresses.
Formal includes a range of formal occasions, I’d say cocktail and above. One thing that can bring back the luxurious elegance we tend to associate with vintage formal wear is to use a fabric with metallic inlays as they look similar to embroidery. If you’re like me and prefer some sort of sleeve or straps, there’s the option of using a dress with lace as lace overlays don’t make the dress too warm and can still be used to create straps or sleeves. If you want to be a little daring, I’d go for a bold typical pinup pattern but a cut that’s traditionally formal. This black polkadot dress will certainly not be forgotten. This dress feels like a hybrid of the 1920’s and 1930’s and is a good option if you prefer a dress with sparkles. Out of all the dresses I’ve looked at for this post, this is probably the one with the most late 1940’s-1950’s resemblance due to the cut. This one is another option with a very vintage friendly cut.