Go to great lengths: Skirts are longer this season

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Whether midi or maxi, skirts are longer this season. So pack up your minis, this look will suit you down to the ground, says Harriet Walker

When times are good, so the old adage says, hemlines go up.

In that case, times must be very, very bad – because the way to wear your skirts for spring/summer 2011 is very definitely Below The Knee. It's a trend that has been on the periphery of the high street for some time, as well as on the catwalks of those discerning designers who deal in thought-provoking and intellectualised silhouettes. Now, though, thoughtful intellectuals step aside: everyone's getting in on the act and there are plenty of interpretations to choose from.

"My favourite long skirts of the season were at Lanvin," says Miranda Almond, fashion editor at Vogue. "I also loved the way Richard Nicoll used the new longer length with his pleated midi-length white skirt, and the hopelessly romantic tulle overskirts at Chloé, that were light as a feather and looked so pretty to wear."

From Grecian to gothic, there were long skirts aplenty at the collections – and long doesn't necessarily mean trailing-on-the-floor or getting-caught-in-your-bicycle-spokes. "The long skirt emphasises the full length of a woman's silhouette," says designer Marios Schwab, whose rock'n'roll collection this season included toughened-up Grecian drapery, "and evokes a new visual of sophisticated sexiness."

There are mid-length cuts, hitting calfs halfway between the knee and ankle; there are slim-fit tube skirts, as well as voluminous numbers; there are A-line versions that fall to just under the knee. What there isn't, though, is the great swathes of thigh that we associate with summer dressing, the micro-minis and the hot pants, the other terrifyingly unwearable staples of hot weather and cool kids. Something has changed in the fashion consciousness.

"Long skirts have a long history to do with modesty and status," explains Caroline Evans, professor of fashion history at Central Saint Martins. "There was an increased focus on legs before the First World War, with skirts designed to be seen in motion. Then, in the Twenties, skirt length was linked to women being more active, with sport and dancing."

The long skirt has, understandably enough, gained something of a reputation for being for fuddy-duddies – a bit droopy, a bit (apologies here) "art teacher". If the Flappers didn't want to wear them, then why on earth should we, as liberated and sassy modern women? Because they're every bit as provocative and directional as a flash of ankle or a miniskirt was in its heyday. Try picturing Katie Price in a long skirt, or anyone on Strictly Come Dancing, for that matter.

And then there's the fact that many catwalk stylings saw the long skirt paired with things that were decidedly drab, such a sloppy jumpers or cropped retro knits – in the case of the Jil Sander show, vivid, jewel-coloured skirts were worn with plain white T-shirts, of the sort you might normally wear to the gym, or to bed. This new trend is no hi-octane glitz, Baden-Baden maxi-dress revival. The Independent fashion desk is loath, in fact, to even use the word "maxi", so tainted has it become by the likes of Coleen Rooney and Holly Willoughby.

"I've always loved longer skirts," says designer Kinder Aggugini, "so I draped a full tail that would open and inflate with a fast walk and rest softly when motionless." From full and colourful cotton at Marc Jacobs to dramatically slit monochrome at Ann Demeulemeester, current versions are more grungily casual than previously, less whimsical and attention-grabbing.

"I like dressing it down with a simple T-shirt or loose silk shirt for an easy, relaxed feel," says Vogue's fashion director Kate Phelan of hers. "Long skirts can be practical but also very stylish – just keep it simple and wear them like you wear your jeans for day."

They're also, contrary to popular myth, easy to pull off, regardless of shape and stature. "If you're petite, go for an A-line midi," adds Miranda Almond. "If you're curvy, choose a more drapey fabric – they're incredibly flattering to wear, especially for anyone worried about their shape, and make you feel covered yet fashionable."

For anyone less than Amazonian, a platform wedge is both current and convenient when it comes to puddles; meanwhile, a mid-length skirt will look both preppy and chic worn with rolled-down socks and flat brogues. "Team a long skirt with a wedge," counsels founder of my-wardrobe.com Sarah Curran, "and then nip in the waist with a belt for a more defined shape. Throw on a white blazer for a chic, sophisticated workwear look."

Longer length skirts have been confined to the fashion hinterland for so long that there is a generation of young women who haven't even tried them out. "It's fun to wear something you've never worn before," says Caroline Evans. "Fashion is defined by rapid style changes. It never stands still – so after the mini comes the maxi. After all, nothing is less fashionable than the recently out-of-fashion."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games