This outfit formula showcases strategy #8 for lengthening the leg line with flats, which is to wear dresses with waist definition. This styling strategy is especially effective with knee-length and midi dresses, where the hemlines are longer and the tendency to feel short-legged is greater. 

The narrowing of the silhouette at the natural waist visually raises the length of the leg line from the hips upward making your legs go on for miles in flats. The definition at the waist creates outfit structure, adding a streamlined effect.

Fit-and-flare dresses are frocks with fitted torsos that flare out on the lower half of the body. The volume of the flare varies from gentle to extreme. Here are four fit-and-flare dresses worn with a very specific style of flat called a mule (a slip-on shoe with a closed front and open back).

1. Low-Contrast Mules

Here’s a Modern Classic and Retro fit-and-flare frock in a bright, high-contrasting colour. Its midi length is elegant. You might think it’s begging for heels, but I think it’s begging for dressy flats, and was thrilled to see it styled that way. A flat mule is dressier than a flat sandal which suits the vibe of the dress, AND is the more fashionable and trendy choice. Here it’s been styled with flat white mules which are low contrast to the model’s skin tone thereby making her lower leg look longer. I LOVE how the classic dress has been made to look very 2018 with this choice of footwear. The white mules can be complemented with a white bag, jewellery, or eyewear.

1901 Midi Shirtdress

2. High-Contrast Mules

The lovely gothic and boho midi fit-and-flare has a harder edge to it because of all the black. Here it has been combined with black mules, which are high contrast to the model’s skin tone. Waist definition draws the eye upward from the hips thereby lengthening the leg line, which offsets the high-contrast effect of the flat mules.

Generally high-contrast mules shorten the leg line, but in this case it works because there is a lot of black in the dress. The black is further complemented by the bag. 

Anthropologie Tempest Laced Dress

3. Column of Colour

This is an example where the dress and mules are a similar colour and BOTH are low contrast to the model’s skin tone. The tonal effect creates an elongating column of colour where the leg line is lengthened by default.

LOQ Carmen Suede Mules

4. Raised Hemline and High-Contrast Mules

Raising the hemline of the dress — even just a couple of inches — increases the length of the lower leg. The definition at the waist of the dress increases the length of the legs from the thighs upward. Both lengthening strategies temper the shortening effect of the high-contrast snakeskin mules. The dark bits in the pattern of the mules have the added advantage of bookending the hair of the model, which pulls the look together.

Banana Republic Wrap Effect Wool-Blend Midi Dress

Fit-and-flare dresses are my favourite and I love wearing them at a midi length. The waist definition panders to my need for structure, while the voluminous bottom panders to my need for fun swoosh, elegance and practical movement. I’ve so enjoyed wearing them with flat white and patterned lemon mules this Summer. Here are my Summer fit-and-flares and the two pairs of mules I’ve paired with them. I finished off the outfits with white pearls, eyewear and either a matched or mismatched bag.

You might need a moment to adjust to the combination, so my suggestion is to just walk out the door and wear it. You’ll probably come back home a convert, because it’s easy, comfortable and fresh.

Anyone else enjoying fit-and-flare frocks worn with flat mules?