The Cotton Maxi Skirt Is Making a Comeback—Here Are 6 Ways To Style the It Look of Summer

Photo: Getty x Well+Good Creative
You know that feeling when you’re rushing to work on a sunny, summery day and your light-wash jeans are sticking in *all* the wrong places? Yeah, we’re trying to erase that catastrophe from recent memory, too. In fact, we’re hitting pause on that pile of pants in the closet and making this season all about skirts.

These days, with '90s nostalgia hotter than ever, the micro-mini skirt is gaining traction. But take it from the runway, TikTok, and the city streets: The real it look of the summer is an ankle-length or floor-skimming hem. And for super easy, beyond breezy comfort on even the toastiest days, cotton maxi skirts are outrunning all the rest.

The case for cotton is a simple one: The natural fiber is breathable, absorbent, and hypoallergenic, meaning it's less likely than its synthetic friends to cause irritation, itch, or clinginess. Plus, it easily releases odor substances and stains with a single wash. In other words, it’s the ideal fabric for sweaty season.

And the reasons to reach for cotton stretch even beyond its comfort level. Slow-fashion pro Sally Garcia opts for the plant-based fabric whenever she can because of its environmental benefits. Cotton is naturally grown and nurtured by rainfall, which makes it biodegradable, recyclable, and a non-contributor to plastic pollution. The fiber itself is durable and strong, so the lifecycle of every piece is long enough to make you say farewell to fast fashion.

“When we choose to dress more sustainably, we are clearly making a conscious decision to support the planet and people,” Garcia says. For her, breezy staples like cotton maxi skirts are a simple way to stay planet-friendly and plenty cool throughout the summer. Get inspired with a few timeless styles below—pants not included.

1. Pair it with a cropped top

Much like cotton’s staying power, the crop top is going nowhere fast—and summer is the quintessential season for pairing mini shirts with maxi skirts. A breathable, gauzy skirt in a solid shade gives you all kinds of options for a timeless summery ‘fit—from a belly-baring cotton tank to a tied-at-the-torso button-down.

2. Go bold with mixed patterns

Sometimes, more is more. Complement a fun floral with a bold print—like bright stripes or a vintage graphic tee—for a look that screams summer sunshine. Then complete your comfy, no-cling ensemble with a white sneaker or a flat leather sandal, and you’ll be well-equipped for an out-and-about day.

3. Get your denim fix (without wearing jeans)

Lover of all things denim, take heart: You can still rock jeans in the warmest weather, without forcing your legs into pants. An ankle-length denim skirt will keep your jeans-and-tee aesthetic (or Canadian-tuxedo vibes, if that’s your signature) alive all summer long—and a retro fit that boasts a raw hem, a slit, and 20-percent recycled cotton gives this classic piece just the right amount of spice.

4. Opt for a matching set

No, sets aren’t going anywhere. Apply the trend to your cotton-maxi-skirt game with a festive, ruched top and a high-waisted, tiered bottom in understated neutrals or a bold seasonal print. Consider it a dress with a little extra ventilation.

5. Mix comfy, cozy textures

For a boho vibe that works with a bikini top (when the heat index is high) or a breathable cardigan (when the sun goes down), say crochet. It’s like a lightweight throw blanket you’ll never want to take off.

6. Rock a festive silhouette

A full, floor-skimming skirt is the always-appropriate staple you can rely on, no matter what your summer schedule brings. Quick stop at the farmer’s market? Lunch meeting? Impromptu invite to a swanky outdoor soiree? A celebratory silhouette—made with long-lasting cotton poplin that won’t lose its shape—and a seasonal pattern make this gorgeous cotton maxi the ideal wear-anywhere investment piece.

Throw it on with a pastel bodysuit in the morning, and swap out for a lace top and espadrilles at golden hour. You’ll move through the day cool, comfortable, and classic—and you’ll be the envy of all the pants-clad people you greet along the way.

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