Style police: The long and the short of it

Miniskirt fans, your days are numbered. Fashion's playing it sophisticated this autumn with the maxi skirt: down to the ankle, split to the knee - and perilously sexy
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Indy Lifestyle Online
HAVE YOU noticed how middle-aged mini skirts look these days? There's no getting away from it, the length looks wrong. But naturally, you've all been wearing the knee length pencil skirts this year. Style Police wouldn't expect anything less.

The real hip kitties have already got their hands on the autumn/winter maxi skirt. It plummets to the ankle, it's slit to the knee and it's much misunderstood. You'll read about the maxi being a signal for fashion growing- up, ditching the girlie slip dress and appealing to sophisticated ladies. You'll witness labels like Chanel, Givenchy and Dior plundering the history books to cut-and-paste fashion history from 1910-49. This won't concern you unless you have an insane desire to look like Joan Crawford. No, thought not.

Cast your minds back to your teens and early twenties. There were the girls who wore mini-skirts, stillies and went to tacky nightclubs. Then there were the girls who wore black maxi skirts with their trainers, who spent their evenings listening to Morrisey. A maxi skirt is infinitely more rebellious than a mini. It is for the girls who don't want to conform to the cliches of sexiness; and that's what's making maxis such a key piece now. "Someone should tell Ally McBeal the mini skirt is dead," says Minx fashion editor Steph Stevens. "Hasn't she bought any clothes since 1989?"

The maxi skirt is better for everyone. Maxis are like the dance of the seven veils. The knee or thigh high split is a promise of things to come. The mini puts it on a plate.

Then there are the practicalities. The Eighties mini was a nightmare for frozen chicken white or unshaved legs; the maxi is a cover-all. It also demands far more forgiving footwear. "Never wear a maxi skirt with heels," says Stevens. "You want a pair of Miu Miu-style flat sandals or flip flops."

Style Police knows what you're thinking. Summer has just begun and you're talking about autumn/winter fashion. Here's the deal. The seasons are increasingly irrelevant as we race towards Armageddon. You have to be prepared for anything from a heat wave to cyclone Otto. So make a note of these little maxi darlings: Press & Bastyan's black wool maxi with a knee-high split (pounds 95); Margaret Howell's black on brown herringbone tweed maxi (pounds 205); and the Sportmax grey tweedy maxi (pounds 140).

For the present, you know what Style Police thinks of the sales: mistimed, overrated and not worth the blisters. The exception: Press & Bastyan, who with characteristic good timing, did the maxi for summer 98 in stone viscose as a wrap-skirt. It was pounds 110, and has been reduced to pounds 35. So put a brick in your clutch bag, sharpen your nails and make sure you win the fight to get there first.

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