In the 1960s the mini dominated women’s fashion. But it was more than just a skirt. In the words of British fashion designer and style icon Mary Quant, who bought the mini skirt to London in 1964, the provocative garment was a way for women to rebel. Quant believed the mini to be both practical as well as truly liberating, allowing women to feel not only comfortable, but also empowered. Born in an era of revolution and change, the mini endured for years, getting shorter and shorter (and shorter again) as time went on. Women far and wide were obsessed, and understandably, so were men. But, like most trends in fashion, the mini skirt soon got tired. By 1968, the mini skirt was dead.
Since then, women’s hemlines have seesawed up and down, to and fro, creeping towards the thigh, and scampering back towards the ankle. But as dizzying as this hemline tug-of-war has been, some good has come from it all. That good is called the midi. Though initially dubbed an unbecoming silhouette when it emerged in Paris in late 1969, this elongated form is now seemingly here to stay, as is evident by its recent domination on the runway.
Born during fashion’s turbulent backlash against the mini, the midi represents a more courageous kind of glamour, and was initially favoured by fashion outlaws, women who didn’t need to reveal their skin in order to feel sexy. But today, designers and consumers alike have grown to love the midi skirt’s modesty, its utility, and its undeniable grace.
But how do you wear such a skirt of such drawn-out proportions? That is, without looking like you’re on your way to play a game of bingo with your Nan, at the local RSL, over cups of English breakfast tea with lavender scones and jam. I mean, even Coco Chanel herself called the midi awkward. Is there a way of stepping out in one with looking frumpy, or even worse, just plain ordinary? The answer is yes. Far from unflattering, the midi (when worn well) epitomises femininity and charm, and all with a mere flash of the ankle. Why expose it all when you only need to expose a little?