There was a time when the new season's style rested on nothing more multi-layered or faceted than skirt length. This carried with it a certain degree of cultural significance, giving fashion editors food for thought, at least. And so wartime austerity and fabric rationing decreed that skirts should be narrow and no longer than the knee.

Dior's 1947 full-skirted New Look saw hemlines drop a good few inches in keeping with more optimistic times. The 1960s, emancipation and the Youthquake, meanwhile, established the thigh-grazing mini-skirt as the silhouette to see and be seen in, worn, more often than not, over opaque tights and with go-go boots to prove just how strident a type of girl (to use the word advisedly) ruled the roost.

A quick glance at last week's Grazia was proof, if ever any were needed, that it is today an overall look – or mood – that dictates what we will be wearing, as opposed to anything as specific as the cut of a single garment (been there, done that). The length of skirts, in particular, is a free-for-all. "The maxi length has gone stellar," says page 13 of the magazine, followed, on page 50, by a spread dedicated entirely to the Whistles concertina pleat skirt that is such a hit on Twitter one might think it had changed the world. As if to reiterate the store's credentials as a mid-market haven for women who would rather not either break the bank or bow down to the whims of the catwalk entirely, the powers that be have cut it to both knee and mid-calf length. Confused?

In fact, if the world's more directional designers are to be believed, it is the mid-calf-length skirt that is most fashionable just now, as seen everywhere from Dries Van Noten to Dolce & Gabbana and from Versace to Celine. Safe in the knowledge that it's not an easy style to pull off, however – read: it won't be flying off the rails any time soon – away from the runway, anything goes. There's something for everyone out there, then, which, some might argue, is play-safe to the point of inert but, given the economic climate, makes sound business sense if nothing else.