They are popular with the Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson crowd. They first hit California last year and this year they seem to be gaining in popularity. The maxi dress is one trend that I had no intention of ever following. I am 5’4” and muscular, a far cry from your tall leggy celebrity, so I never had any interest in the maxi, that is, until I traveled to Fiji. Here, everyone seems to be rocking this trend. Everywhere I turn the petite, the hourglass, the pears, and even the obese have taken the streets by storm rocking their maxis as if they had just stepped off the runway. I for one suddenly developed a terrible case of clothes envy.
I have to ask myself, why is this trend so popular here, when even Californians have been slow to pick this up? Looking at the population of Fiji, it is made up of Fijians and Indians. Both Indian and Fijian dress is traditionally modest with long hemlines and lots of coverage considering the high temperatures. In Fiji the traditional lava-lava continues to be popular for every kind of occasion both with Fijian women and men. Women, however, usually opt for longer ankle-grazing versions of the knee length man skirts.
Considering traditional garb, you could argue that the maxi is a sexy modern take. It provides adequate leg coverage and most importantly it breathers in hot, sticky tropical climates. For increased coverage you can even layer with a shirt as was exemplified by the middle aged Indian woman shopping next to me.
Even though I could see them all over the streets, finding the perfect maxi dress proved a bit of a challenge. I had something specific in mind. I was looking for something cotton and breathable with a simple pattern. I wasn’t interested in any bright overwhelming colors. This proved difficult as bright reds and oranges are in here, something’s paler complexions can’t quite handle.
Unsure of where to start my search, I ventured to a place I am now quite familiar with the Morris Headstrom Mall (see navigating the food court). On the second floor, I found two that interested me, one a black with color-blocked striped piece (79 Fiji dollars and way out of my price range)
. The other a grey tie dyed number on the sale rack. Both were about a size too big. Disconcerted, I exited the store, headed to the main street and tried six more stores. Everything I saw was either too cheap looking, made of spandex, too expensive, or simply unflattering.
As a final thought I headed back to the first shop where I tried the dresses on. They were both slightly too large, but lucky for me 100% cotton. A couple good washes and it would certainly shrink to the perfect size. I purchased it for 28 Fiji dollars, the equivilant of about 15 US dollars and well-worth the price.