Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hemlines - The Long and Short of it

photo-Vogue UK

For most of the 20th Century, women waited for fashion gurus to dictate the acceptable hem length- anticipating whether their wardrobes would need revamping each season. Post WWII, Dior produced skirts fuller and longer than any available during the war, creating an overnight sensation and making what most women had in their closets obsolete.

Dior's 1947 Senstional Collection, including this peice, The Bar Suit

In the 1970's, designers provided multiple skirt lengths. The ultra-mod mini skirt of the 60's was joined by the midi and the maxi and women finally had a validated choice!

Most of us now combine what is happening in high fashion, street fashion, global trends, vintage influence and mix it all together to create our own style, often unaware of and unconcerned where the original influence began.

This fall, things went a bit retro, not only in style, but in the collective vision of designers showed on hem length...

The Midi length was all over the runway. 

Flounced midi by Celine

Classic Pleated by Rochas

Straight Long Pencil from Valentino
photos- Style.com

The longer length midi skirt, hitting anywhere below the knee to the the below the calf, was shown by almost every designer. It is a flattering length for most women and certainly refreshing to see, but it can make you look a bit frumpy if you're not careful. Here are a couple of tips:

-all midis are not created equally...it's just the length that they have in common- other than that, they come in many styles: straight, sarong, A-line, gathered, flounced, etc. Find the style that works for your figure. See my past post - how to measure yourself and figure out your figure here.

-watch where it hits on your calf, if it lands on the fullest part of your leg, right in the middle, it can be a bit unflattering - just below the knee and just above or below the largest part of your calf will look the best.

-choose your shoes carefully-pair with a slim, pointy toe heel or flat shoe works well. A big platform is not a good option here.

-keep you eye on the silhouette created. A slimmer skirt can handle a fuller top but you can get a bit of a  'sack tied in the middle look' if the top and skirt are both full. Choose a more fitted top with a full skirt.

-take a good look in a full-length mirror to find the best combo of blouse, shoe, and skirt. Generally, I think the fuller the skirt, the sleeker the shoe- just take a look at the whole silhouette you've created. Take cues from the gals in the 50's wearing all those Dior inspired looks. 

Although I don't believe we will ever allow ourselves to be dictated to by design houses so emphatically, it is interesting to watch the evolution of style trends and to see once again the 'top down' -designer to consumer- influence on hemlines. 

So, don't throw out your knee-length pencil skirts or toss your maxi dress. It still is a 'wear what you want and make it work' era. Find the silhouettes that work for you. Have fun with this 'new' length and be glad we have one more great option out there from which to choose!