Lean times, long looks

Our skirt hems are around our ankles this autumn ... and that can only mean one thing. No, not a moral revolution, just another economic crisis. By Belinda Morris

Oh dear, I can feel a personal financial dilemma coming on. All the signs are looming around me: I've started gazing wistfully at car boot sales (to buy or sell); I've started to turn the light out when leaving a room and, regretfully, I've cut right back on that expensive 70 per cent cocoa chocolate. But there are other, more telling omens. Dark and disturbing, intimate things that only a fashion person might notice (at first) and they go way beyond the metaphorical tightening of a belt.

It began innocently enough - or so I thought - with the realisation that my trousers were wide enough at the ankle for me to retract my cold bare feet into, while sitting curled up on the sofa (watching re-runs of Dad's Army, which has to be a sign in itself). Then, when I stood up, they were voluminous and slouchy enough to almost hide my feet completely. I started to get that funny cold shiver of deja vu. But so far, nothing too scary.

But what happened next was much more worrying. With the aforementioned fund-raising car boot sale in mind, I began a scourge of my wardrobe, casually throwing out anything that seemed remotely passe - like any skirt on the knee or above. I even started to reappraise some old, calf-length numbers that hadn't seen the light of day for years. A floor-length black velvet skirt, bought at a jumble sale three years ago, was suddenly pulsating with possibilities. Whoaa, wait a minute. What's going on here?

Falling hemlines? It can only mean one thing - monetary mayhem. Will there be a Wall Street crash? Well, all I can say to the financial speculators is: look back in your fashion history books. It's all there.

It's uncanny, isn't it, how the economic affairs of the world (sometimes all of it, sometimes just parts of it) are echoed in the position of a hemline? Going back to the beginning of time, there's always been a relationship between clothes and prosperity but, specific social nuances aside, that's understandable and obvious. This is different. During this century in particular, there's been one example after another of quite deliberate collusion between the money men and fashion designers.

The deal is: when the going gets tough, women should show support by covering their ankles. Witness the Wall Street crash of 1929 saw hemlines dropping drastically; Dior's shamelessly longer-length New Look of 1947 coincided with worsening rationing and fuel shortages (and women went with the look, despite pleas by the Board of Trade to the British Guild of Creative Designers to keep short skirts popular and save fabric). The mid 1970s saw the general financial malaise caused by the oil crisis, which found sartorial sympathy in Biba's long, lean skirts and ridiculously wide Oxford Bags. And now look what's happening. Fashion's big cheeses (Gucci for one, so it must be true) would have us in floor-sweeping skirts and pants again - and for the foreseeable future.

There was a bit of a build-up, which should have been regarded as a warning. As currencies in South-east Asia went into freefall last year, we were introduced to knee-length pencil skirts, while the innocuous enough boot- cut pant (that revelled in a bit of ankle-revealing) was superseded by a much lengthier and voluminous trouser shape. But as the latter didn't quite make mainstream impact, the signs were probably ignored.

Well, there's no ignoring it now. The roubel's in deep doo-doo; Wall Street's got the jitters; the British property market is slowing and every designer worth his salt (Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander, Paul Smith, Nicole Farhi, Ann Demeulemeester) sent models down the runways swathed in yards of shoe-hiding, floor-trailing tweeds and flannels.

The high street, certain now that it knows a real trend when positively flung in its face, duly responded by offering passably comparable looks at a fraction of the price. Nougat, Oasis, Jigsaw, French Connection, Fenn Wright & Manson, Sisley and Sportmax - they've all come up trumps on this one. The question is - are you ready for the big cover up, and if so, can you carry it off with aplomb?

Naturally enough, it helps if you're tall, young and slim (in which case, you can carry anything off). But there's more than one way to wear a long tweed skirt and keep your self-respect. Street-wise nonchalance comes with the Gucci-esque hip-slung, ankle-length skirt with combat pant-style fly front and, if you wear it with a gently fitted hip-length jacket, it should add some length to the body. A simple white shirt with black leather skirt gives the look a hard edge. Or there's the grand-entrance, a really long coat, over an even longer skirt - but not great for the vertically challenged.

This is a no-compromise sort of trend - it's even being decreed that you cannot help nature even a little by wearing your high heels (the flattest of the flat shoes are the only truly stylish option, apparently). But hey, what the heck - there's a war on and England expects and all that. I for one refuse to be intimidated by this new look. Personally, I'm going for the fluid-skirt-with-drop-dead-cosy-chunky-sweater-boho look in pure cashmere (with cashmere socks and sheepskin booties) and then I'm going to hibernate for the winter with bars of Cadbury's and Steptoe & Son.

Arts and Entertainment
'Banksy Does New York' Film - 2014

Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist

Arts and Entertainment
Woody Allen and Placido Domingo will work together on Puccini's Schicchi

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
The sixteen celebrities taking part in The Jump 2015

TV

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore