A Maxi dress (also known as a frock or a gown) is a garment sometimes consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice (or a matching bodice giving the effect of a one-piece garment). Maxi dresses entails a top piece that covers the torso and hangs down over to the legs. A maxi dress can also be a one-piece garment containing a skirt of any length. Maxi Dresses can be formal or informal. In many cultures, maxi dresses are more often worn by young women and teenage girls.
In the early 20th century, the look promoted by the Gibson Girl became trendy & fashionable. The upper part of women's maxi dresses in the Edwardian era included a "pigeon breast" look that was presented with a corseted waist and an S-shaped silhouette. These maxi dresses were much looser and made up of expensive fabric and laces.
Waistlines were set higher and by 1915 they became below than the natural waist. By 1920, waistlines reached hip-level. During the era of 1910 and 1920 necklines were lower and dresses were made short-sleeved or sleeveless. Women who used to work during World War I preferred shorter dresses, which eventually set the trend worldwide. Furthermore during that era maxi dresses were made shorter, looser and the dominant colours were black, white and grey.
By 1920, the trend of lighter fabrics and dresses that were easier to put on was introduced. Younger women started the trends that older women started to follow. The dresses of the 1920s were made short and straight that could be easily pulled off through head without zips. It was suitable to wear sleeveless dresses during the day time. Flapper dresses became popular until the end of the decade.
During World War II, dresses became slimmer as inspired by military uniforms. After WWII, the new look endorsed by Christian Dior made its stance on fashion and the look of women's dresses for about a decade.
Maxi is a term used since the late 1960s for ankle-length long and informal dresses.
Short and ankle-length styles often appeared side-by-side in fashion magazines and catalogs since 1970s.
Maxi dresses come in a variety of formal dress codes in Western cultures, a dress of an appropriate style is mandatory for women. These dresses are popular to be worn on special occasions such as proms or weddings. For such occasions they are stitched with a combo of a blouse and skirt, remains the de facto standard attire for many girls and women.