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Which long-sleeve maxi dress is best?

From formal gowns you could wear to a black-tie event to casual billowing frocks for a picnic or a day at the beach, long-sleeve maxi dresses come in a range of forms. The right one depends on the wearer and the occasion. 

If you’re unsure where to start, consider the style of maxi dress you’d like or even what colors or prints you like, and this gives you a jumping off point. If you’re looking for a high-end dress, the DKNY Floral-Print Balloon-Sleeve Pleated Gown is a stylish choice.

What to know before you buy a long-sleeve maxi dress

Dress style

Maxi refers to the length of the dress, so you can find various styles of maxi dress. These are just a handful of popular styles:

  • Wrap: Wrap dresses cross over at the front and tie at one side, giving them deep V-necks. You can adjust the tie slightly to get a close fit. 
  • Empire-line: This style doesn’t have a conventional waistline; rather, it’s fitted under the bust and the skirt flows down from there.
  • Tiered: Tiered maxi dresses either have several tiers in the skirt or are tailored to give this appearance. This lets the dress have a fairly large diameter skirt without too much gathering at the waist. 
  • Tunic: Tunic dresses have a relaxed fit that makes them great for casual wear, though some find them too shapeless. 

Sleeve style

In addition to standard fitted sleeves, you can find a range of sleeve styles on maxi dresses. 

  • Bell: These are wide sleeves that are largest at the wrist and narrower at the tops of the arms. They have a dramatic look and are often found on ’70s style dresses.
  • Balloon: Balloon sleeves are fairly wide all the way down but are cuffed in at the wrist to create a balloon-like shape.
  • Puff: Long puff sleeves have a puffed section at the shoulder but are fitted down the rest of the sleeve.  
  • Cold shoulder: Cold shoulder sleeves have cutouts at the shoulder for a contemporary look. 

Sleeve length

Some people consider long-sleeve maxi dresses those with full-length sleeves only, while others include dresses with three-quarter length or even half-length sleeves in this category. It’s all about what you consider a long sleeve — whether that’s anything longer than a cap sleeve or full-length sleeves only. 

What to look for in a quality long-sleeve maxi dress

Color or print

You’ll find long-sleeve maxi dresses in a wide range of solid colors, as well as prints ranging from florals to geometric and animal prints. 


Cotton is a great choice of fabric for warm weather wear because it’s naturally breathable, as are light mesh fabrics. 


Whether hidden at the seams or an obvious part of the design, pockets are useful additions to dresses. 

How much you can expect to spend on a long-sleeve maxi dress

A simple off-the-rack maxi dress should cost no more than $25-$100, though dresses from high-end brands and popular designers can cost $100-$1,000 and up. 

Long-sleeve maxi dress FAQ

What are maxi dresses? 

A. Some people think of maxi dresses as floaty boho style dresses, but the term can refer to any long dress that reaches ankle length to floor length. 

When can I wear a maxi dress? 

A. There are few occasions you can’t wear one, as long as you choose the right dress and accessorize it correctly. Some maxi dresses are clearly formal or casual, but many are somewhere in between and can be dressed up or down as needed. For instance, the same dress could look casual with a denim jacket, choker and chunky boots, or smart enough to wear at the office paired with a blazer and pumps. 

Is a maxi dress a summer dress? 

A. While some maxi dresses are summer dresses, long-sleeve versions can feel too warm on the hottest days, unless you choose something loose and billowy with wide sleeves. You can wear a long-sleeve dress in any season, but they’re especially suited to spring and fall, when it’s too cool to wear a short-sleeve or strappy dress but not so cold that you can’t wear a dress at all.

What’s the best long-sleeve maxi dress to buy?

Top long-sleeve maxi dress

DKNY Floral-Print Balloon-Sleeve Pleated Gown

DKNY Floral-Print Balloon-Sleeve Pleated Gown

What you need to know: This lightweight dress is great for the warmer months. 

What you’ll love: The print is eye-catching but balanced and not too busy. The wrap style is easy to wear and can be adjusted to get the fit just right. It has striking balloon sleeves.

What you should consider: It’s dry clean only, so you can’t just throw it in the washing machine to get it clean.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

Top long-sleeve maxi dress for the money

American Apparel Women's Cotton Long-Sleeve Crew Neck Dress

American Apparel Women’s Cotton Long-Sleeve Crew Neck Dress

What you need to know: Made from stretchy cotton jersey, it’s easy to dress up or down. 

What you’ll love: This dress is versatile with a simple silhouette and a slit up one side to around knee height. It’s machine-washable and can be tumble dried on low. 

What you should consider: It only comes in black, so if you’re looking for other colors, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Levi's Marisole Floral-Print Maxi Dress

Levi’s Marisole Floral-Print Maxi Dress

What you need to know: This cool, casual maxi dress has a ’90s grunge edge to it. 

What you’ll love: It has a subtle floral print on a black background. The sleeves balloon slightly at the ends. The fabric is flowy, so it’s great for warm weather, as well as cooler spring and fall days.

What you should consider: It’s a bit lightweight.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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