The floral midi dress

If there’s any length of dress that is the most awkward and hard to style for most petites, it’s the midi dress.

I admit, I have a longstanding prejudice against midi dresses. More than mini, knee-length or maxi, I find that the mid-calf length of skirt or dress hits women awkwardly, shortening the leg length and cutting off the body at a strange place. I’ve long wondered whether midi or mid-calf items are the result of the fashion industry playing a joke on women.

It’s particularly challenging for us petites to carry off this midi length; it’s why I almost always opt for skirts and dresses that hit at or above the knee. So even though midi dresses have been in style for a while now, I’ve always resisted this trend, opting instead to hunt or thrift for more flattering styles for me.

But Banana Republic was having a clearance sale on this absolutely gorgeous ruffled floral midi dress last Black Friday, and there was only one left, and it was in my size! It felt like a sign. In a deliberate effort to try something different, I decided on a whim to buy it, figuring I could always return it if it didn’t work.

Since we’re still in COVID lockdown here in Quebec, I don’t get much occasion to dress up anymore. So even though I bought this dress last November, it’s been hanging unworn in my closet ever since. Bored with pyjama pants and feeling motivated by the fresh springtime air, I decided on a whim to get completely overdressed for a Zoom Easter dinner with my fiance’s family and finally decided to wear this, even though I’m not actually going anywhere. But sometimes the point of fashion is just to feel good about yourself, so it really doesn’t matter if you’re going to the ball or just to the living room.

What I like

  • The fit is great, as with most Banana Republic items. As I mentioned in this post, BR uses petite fit models who are actually very close to my proportions, meaning that I quite often get an excellent fit with items from their petite line.
  • The flutter cap sleeves are a great shape for petite pears; they broaden my narrow shoulderline and draw the eye up away from my hip area.
  • The shape of this dress works well for petites who are pear-shaped, like me. The fit-and-flare shape gently skims my hips to minimize them, while the cinched waist panel emphasizes my curves.
  • I love the springtime colours of this dress. It’s light and airy without being so pale that it washes me out.
  • Okay, this one’s a bit subjective, but my partner wants you to know that he’s a big fan of how the top of this dress emphasizes my bust. (Yes, Seinfeld fans, they’re real and they’re spectacular!)

 What I don’t like

  • The midi length is awkward on me, no two ways about it. It cuts me off mid-calf, shortening my vertical, which, at 5’1″, I can ill afford. It’s not that bad with heels, but I would never attempt to wear this dress with flats.
  • It’s a bit frilly and fussy for my taste. I’m not usually someone who wears a lot of ruffles and flutter, and this dress just seems slightly over the top for my comfort level. Sometimes, when you’re petite, less is more.

The verdict

I still think the length of this dress is awkward and makes a petite like me look shorter than I actually am. I’d probably prefer this if it were one tier shorter and hit just above the knee. It’s also a bit ruffly and fussy for my usual taste. But I do like how it fits otherwise, and in interest of having a bit of variety in my wardrobe, I’m willing to take a chance on it. I’m not sure how much wear it will get. But for now, it’s cheering me up after a long and brutal COVID winter.

Happy Passover, Easter, Spring Equinox, or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year. Stay home and stay safe!

Dress: Banana Republic, size 4P, on sale for $55 CAD
Shoes: Ros Hommerson, size 6N, on clearance for $29.99

3 thoughts on “The floral midi dress

  1. Hi: I think this pretty dress looks very nice on you!
    You are concerned with your legs appearing shorter. In my humble opinion, I think it is your your sandals that are giving the illusion of cutting length from your legs. A sandal with the same toe strap but without all the thin cross straps would show more of your instep, thereby tricking the eye to make your legs longer.. from another 5’3″ petite who has learned this shoe lesson!

    1. Thank you! Actually I don’t think it’s the shoes, since these particular shoes are very leg-lengthening on me when I wear them with dresses that are shorter (at/above the knee instead of midi length). See here, for instance.

      As a side note, I’ve blogged about my struggles to find shoes that I can walk in and that will stay on my feet, as a petite with very small, narrow feet. YouTuber Petite Dressing has a good video on the topic, too. The upshot is that strappy sandals with straps keep shoes on my feet, while a sandal without those cross-straps would just fall right off.

  2. I agree with Sharon. A shoe that is closer to your skin color, or at least not dark, and with a more open vamp would be a better choice with this dress. I am 5’0”, and shoes that are nude or light metallic are my best look when my lower leg is exposed. Why? Since your skin is light, a lighter shoe reads visually as one space with your leg. Your dark shoes look ok with a shorter dress because the eye travels farther to your feet. You are lucky to be short waisted, because that by itself will make your legs appear longer, and that is the darling of Fashion. I am very pear shaped, very short and very old. Trifecta! I read Kibbe’s book when it was new! You are beautiful in that dress, but the shoe is the culprit, not the hemline. A longer hem gives the illusion of longer legs, especially when the waist is raised. Celebrate!

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