How to Dress Up a Maxi Dress for Evening

| | Reviewed by: Rose Smith
Updated: June 29, 2023 | Published:

Maxi dresses are versatile, casual dresses that can be dressed up for a semi-formal vibe when needed. This means that if you have a maxi dress you love in your closet, you can wear it to any semi-formal event with the right accessories, shoes, and style accompaniments.

Our article gives you more details and tells you how to wear a maxi dress for evening or formal event use.

Why Dress Up a Maxi Dress?

Maxi dresses are casual, versatile outfits that can be worn on many occasions. Depending on the style of the maxi dress at your disposal, you may be able to elevate your outfit for a more formal look.

Dressing up a maxi dress for evening use saves you time and money when purchasing an evening gown. Plus, it helps you utilize what’s in your wardrobe without adding more options, especially if you only wear a real evening gown once or twice.

Dressing up in a maxi dress is also a great way to ensure your outfit matches the event or occasion you are attending. Maxi dresses can adhere to many dress codes while still being timeless, comfortable dresses that you know flatters your natural features.

Maxi Dress Versus Evening Gown

A few important differences exist between a maxi dress and an evening gown. Understanding these will help you tell the difference between both types of dresses and decide if an elevated maxi dress or a true evening gown will be best for your circumstances.

Maxi dresses are casual, often made from more casual materials such as cotton, cotton blend, and polyester. Some maxi dresses might have fabrics like chiffon or satin, which are likely more semi-formal in appearance. Maxi dresses fall around the ankle and typically have sleeves or straps.

On the other hand, evening gowns are more formal. They tend to be full-length, covering the feet, and they are commonly created from materials such as chiffon, satin, and tulle. Evening gowns typically have more adornments and embellishments like lace embroidery, corset-style bodices, and jewels or sequins on the dress.

In terms of colors, you can find maxi dresses and evening gowns in a range of colors, though patterns on maxi dresses are often more casual and beachier in appearance. Evening gowns tend to be neutral colors like red, black, and navy, but you can find evening gowns in brighter colors.

Maxi dresses usually have a more casual A-line or loose and flowy style. You may also find evening gowns in this style, in addition to evening gowns with tighter mermaid-style silhouettes or ball gowns with full skirts.

Ways to Dress Up Your Maxi Dress for the Evening

Adding the following items to your maxi dress will help you elevate your dress for the evening and give your simple, more casual maxi dress a semi-formal vibe when needed. Mix and match the items below based on your style and what best works with the maxi dress you have on hand.


Evening Dress Black Shoes

Shoes are one of the best ways to ensure your maxi dress looks stylish and suitable for evening wear. Most of the time, a pair of high heels in a neutral color like black or tan is a great way to bring your maxi dress from casual to classy. You might also be able to offset the color of your maxi dress with a brightly colored pair of heels to make an evening fashion statement.


The right jewelry makes an outfit, and adding delicate necklaces, earrings, or bracelets to your maxi dress outfit will help make it more appropriate for evening use. Typically smaller, more understated pieces will help set the subtle tone of a semi-formal look for your maxi dress.


Evening gloves are often worn with evening dresses, and you can add a pair of gloves to your maxi dress to elevate your style. However, when adding evening gloves, it’s important to ensure that the style and material match your maxi dress so you don’t look out of place or mismatched.

A neutral color such as black, brown, or tan is the best for a pair of evening gloves, depending on the color and style of your maxi dress.

Jackets and Belts

Jackets and belts help bring your maxi dress to a more semi-formal outfit. You should carefully consider if a belt will help enhance your natural features and bring evening style into the dress.

A longer coat in fall and winter or a shorter leather-style jacket in spring or summer are great ways to dress up your maxi dress for the evening.

Hair and Makeup

The proper hair and makeup set the tone for your outfit. Investing time creating a semi-formal updo with your hair or a more elaborate and evening-centric makeup look will help dress up your overall style.

When combined with the right jewelry, shoes, jackets, and other accessories, your hair and makeup will help complete your evening maxi dress look.

When Should I Invest in an Evening Gown?

Investing in an evening gown is a more personal choice, and it’s important to keep in mind that a flattering evening gown is always a good addition to your closet.

You should consider investing in a true evening gown if you know that the event or occasion you are attending requires formal or black-tie attire. You may also want to consider it if you are routinely invited to semi-formal events or if you want to add an evening dress to your wardrobe when needed.

You can browse through different styles, colors, and materials of evening gowns to find one that is versatile enough to suit your needs.

Can I Wear a Maxi Dress to an Evening Wedding?

In most cases, using our tips above, you can wear a maxi dress to an evening wedding, especially if you dress up your maxi dress for the evening.

However, you should always double-check specific dress code requirements for the wedding you are attending. If formal or black-tie attire is requested, invest in a more formal evening gown.

Tailoring Your Outfit to the Occasion

When it comes to dressing up your maxi dress, there are several items you can add to create a semi-formal or evening look with your casual maxi dress.

Mix and match items to create the perfect tailored evening look for your maxi dress. Don’t hesitate to invest in a true evening gown if you must attend a formal occasion with a stricter black tie or formal dress code.


About Amy Smith

Amy, an award-winning journalist with a Master's in Journalism from Columbia University, has excelled for over twelve years, specializing in parenting, pregnancy, nursing, fashion, and health.

Her acclaimed blog, AmyandRose, demonstrates profound expertise shaped by her journey from pregnancy to nurturing a teenager and a toddler. Recognized by several parenting awards, Amy's work has been featured in top-tier health and lifestyle magazines, underscoring her authority in these fields.

Her contributions, grounded in evidence-based research and personal experience, provide invaluable, credible insights for parents navigating the complexities of modern child-rearing and personal well-being.

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