Dressed to the max

Barely there hemlines have made all the fashion headlines so far this season, but a new summer staple on the block is going to great lengths to buck the leggy trend.

Barely there hemlines have made all the fashion headlines so far this season, but a new summer staple on the block is going to great lengths to buck the leggy trend.

Maxi dresses are flying off the rails for high summer. If you're not keen on parading your pins, forget bum-skimming minis and hotpants - the floor-sweeping maxi is all set to be this season's statement piece.

Grazia magazine's fashion contributor Angela Buttolph says: "While the style wasn't huge on the catwalks this season, the maxi dress is going to be the ultimate fashion-forward purchase for summer. "We love the glamour of wearing super-long dresses for day - and not just because they're the perfect solution to our pre-tanned legs and all this quick-change weather."

Paris Hilton, Kate Moss, Ashley Olsen and Milla Jovovich are all celebrity coverts to maxi magic. Try maxi-mising your style with this summer's desirable ultra-long dress.

Print perfect

THERE'S a neckline (halter, strap, bandeau) and shape (super floaty to straight-cut) to appeal to all maxi fans this season, but the really agonising decision lies in the pretty colours and prints brightening up high street aisles.

If floral prints take your fancy, you're in luck with a vast array of summery blooms to look beautiful in. No chance of being branded a fashion wallflower in Warehouse's floral printed maxi, £45, Butterfly by Mathew Williamson Limited Edition floral print maxi dress, £160, at Debenhams, or the coveted Miss Selfridge's Festival maxi dress, £45. Even Coleen McLoughlin revealed she had problems bagging one.

Retro swirls are another print that works perfectly in the hippie chic trend easing its way into high summer collections. Try Primark's Ibiza maxi dress, £14, or Peacocks retro floorsweeper, £25. Go delicate but delightful in pretty paisley for some Bohemian summer spirit. Get the look with Principles Wow border paisley print maxi dress, £79, or Marks & Spencer's Autograph paisley maxi dress, £125.

Colour crazy

FOR chic simplicity, choose one colour and go all out with your maxi manifesto. This summer is all about statement colours, so try to steer well clear of classic black. Check out Cherokee's purple maxi dress, £20, or Wallis's magenta jersey maxi dress, £40. For night-time glamour head for Oasis's cobalt blue maxi halter dress, £45, or go Grecian goddess with Warehouse's glamorous silver metallic babydoll maxi, £90.

Tiered colour block dresses are in big demand this summer, thanks to their figure flattering qualities. Choose the lighter colours for the areas of your bod you want to flaunt and use darker shades to disguise.

Look to Dorothy Perkins's colour block maxi, £25, Freemans's block colour dress, £39, Miss Selfridge's colour block maxi dress, £50, or Evans's cotton tiered maxi, £38, which is fab for enhancing curves.

Dress delight

MAXI dresses are oh-so-wearable, whatever your size. Just follow these simple styling tips to make your mark in a maxi.

DO - Team with heels or high wedges if you're lacking in height, otherwise the dress will drown you and lose its impact.

DO - Wear one that nips under the bust in an empire line if you want to accentuate your cleavage. Avoid low-cut halternecks if you need added support.

DO - Accessorise with oversized shades and a headscarf and you'll have the LA look down to a tee.

DON'T - Accessorise with a belt - it will ruin the shape and long flowing lines of your maxi dress.

DON'T - Opt for a heavily printed maxi dress if you're curvier. Opt for plain or cool block colours.

DON'T - Overdo it by layering your clothes. Stick to a cropped cardigan or fitted jacket to avoid a hemline clash.

STOCKISTS

Cherokee - 0800 505555/www.clothingattesco.com

Debenhams - 08445 616161/www.debenhams.com

Dorothy Perkins - 0870 122-8801/www.dorothyperkins.co.uk

Evans - 0845 121-4516/www.evans.co.uk

Freemans - 0800 900200/www.freemans.com

Marks & Spencer - 0845 302-1234/www.marksandspencer.com

Miss Selfridge - 0845 121-4517/www.missselfridge.co.uk

Oasis - (01865) 881986/www.oasis-stores.com

Peacocks - www.peacocks.co.uk

Primark - www.primark.co.uk

Principles - 0870 122-8802/www.principles.co.uk

Wallis - 0845 121-4520/www.wallis-fashion.com

Warehouse - 0870 122-8813/www.warehouse.co.uk

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