I was reading a post on another blog recently with some sage advice for skirt length. Apparently only dowdy country bumpkins insist on wearing short skirts, more practical in the countryside naturally, whilst the modistes of the city stick to the correct and fashionable longer length, a length which of course requires you to demurely lift your skirt with at least one hand to be able to get about. The article was written in 1902. (Although not posted online until this year of course!)
I wear long skirts. I just do. They’re comfortable (especially if you do not permanently need your ‘left hand entirely occupied with the skirts’ as of 1902, trailing skirts are hazardous) and are generally cut so as not to be quite so stingy around my unfashionably built backside and hips. (I know, shocking that such things exist). In a long skirt, you don’t have to worry so much about how you sit and what you do. I’m one of those increasingly uncommon girls/women/ladies (I’m not quite sure which class I fall into because last weekend I found out that I’m no longer one of the young ones, regretfully) who are more than happy and comfortable wearing a skirt in everyday life and in fact, quite often prefers to. Odd perhaps. I love jeans though. But a skirt is never an impairment to me, I climb hills, playground apparatus and ladders as freely as anyone, paddle, hike and sit as easily as I do in jeans.
Trousers have become much more common, de rigueur in fact for women, even in my lifetime. The slacks that came in with the Land Girls, the cropped trousers and jeans of the 1950s rebellious teen movement and the bell bottoms and ubiquitous jeans of the 1970s still had made few inroads into life when I was a child, especially for formal situations. I’m serious. Can you remember that well-known female political figure of the 1980s wearing a trouser suit or the popular princess of the same period? The junior school that I attended didn’t have a school uniform, we wore what we wanted. Which basically equated to skirts or dresses for girls. All of them. Except one who insisted on wearing those hideously hideous shellsuits. Remember those?! You just didn’t wear trousers to school. I didn’t even really wear them at home. You look back at the old photos and there I am always in a dress, whatever I’m up to.
That’s all changed. Skirts are unusual, it can even be hard to find them in the shops and there’s been an increasing trend in the last year or so for parents to put their daughters into leggings under pretty dresses, seemingly to protect their modesty. Something which I don’t entirely understand. Trousers are a standard part of uniforms, often the only option given for women.
So perhaps I am biased.
I really don’t get the need to wear a skirt short enough that you have to cinch your way along the pavement with your hands clasped to the bottom of skirt, permanently tugging in a battle with Murphy’s Law that says that clothes always head in the opposite direction than that which modesty and comfort would prefer or even more flatteringly, wiping down the proverbial in a desperate bid to stop some floating fabric wafting up with the slightest movement or breath. Ridiculous, I say. If you clearly feel uncomfortable and uncovered by such nonexistent skirts then don’t wear them. You look a complete idiot stooping along grasping your clothing tighter and more wretchedly than a child to its mother’s apron strings. What’s the point? I’m old-fashioned, I think clothes are meant to cover you, maybe I got that wrong. It’s also a good idea that if you want to wear short, short skirt that you choose a length that is longer than it is wide, the other ratio is really not a good look in my humble opinion and also if you have ridiculously long legs (to make us all jealous with) then, especially, in more formal situations, you have to watch the length in proportion to your legs, for some reason skirts appear shorter and people do raise eyebrows.
I have a friend who wears short skirts, sometimes a little too short, cue embarrassing moments when bending down. She proudly told me one day as we were going into somewhere that today she had on a ‘long’ skirt. I looked at her. Bemused. Yes, her knees were now covered. Clearly this was the point that she was trying to make. But then I looked at my own skirt. Yes, my ankles were covered. (I hate that mid-calf cut which does seem particularly frumpy). Long it seems is obviously open to interpretation, as much as it was in 1902.
Trousers are not immune to my views on length either. I loathe it when women, and men, wear trousers that struggle down to their ankle bones. Like schoolboys who’ve suddenly shot up, too tall suddenly and waiting for a new pair. My father used to say that they should put jam on their shoes and invite their trousers down for tea. He had a background in tailoring. It seems women, particularly, insist on trying trousers on in their stockinged feet and not in the shoes that they’re planning on wearing the trousers on. This is especially an issue when it comes to office wear. It’s a classy look when you add fancy four-inch heels and the expensive trousers abruptly short at ankle height, a good distance from the ground, unfinished, unpolished. (Yes, I know, this is only a humble opinion not a Law).
But I am not an old-fashioned Headmistress patrolling with a tape measure and I won’t make you kneel on the ground either, I respect your decision but I reserve the right to think that you look like a numpty in either of the above circumstances. Just as you probably think that I’m dowdy in my skirts. To each, their own.