Through the Times: The Story of the Skirt
Did you know? Skirts are the second oldest article of clothing known to mankind, predated only by the loincloth. Even within just the past hundred or so years, the singular article of clothing known as the skirt has been a trend marker and icon of its time. Let's take a look at at the story of the skirt through the times.
Long and voluminous was the way to go in the early 1900s. Because high quality fabric was expensive and rare, draping and wrapping oneself in multiple and long pieces of fabric was a sign of prestige and wealth. Moreover, a narrow waist was a symbol of beauty, so waistlines were accentuated by expanding the girth of the hips with hoops, petticoats, and layers upon layers.
The Roaring Twenties was a dynamic break from the long and the layered. The characteristic trends were low, dropped waistlines, sometimes paired with belts, and of course, the iconic Flapper look: bobbed hair, long necklaces, “short” skirts, and a disdain for social and sexual norms. Hemlines rose along with defiant attitudes, exposing ankles and calves but still staying past the knee.
Who can forget the charming poodle skirts of the 1950s? During this decade, cinched waists and full skirts came back in style, although hemlines went from sweeping the floor to more mid-length styles. Sheath and pencil skirts also became a staple fashion item—the straighter the better. Color scheme wise, the 50s were characterized by sweet pastels and plaids.
The 1980s was a time of bold and bright colors influenced by the punk rock and heavy metal music scenes. Denim minis, tight and stretchy metallic minis, the playful “puffball skirts,” and the effervescent “ra-ra” skirts (a take on cheerleader uniform skirts) were key points of 80s skirt fashion.
The miniskirt prevailed through the 1990s and 2000s, though in various forms. Julia Roberts’ iconic shorter-than-short skirt and thigh-high boots in Pretty Woman became a fashion craze of its own, and the media further juxtaposed minis with professional suits. Stars such as Britney Spears also kept the mini alive in popular culture by flaunting them with midriff-bearing tops.
The skirt has come a long way since its beginning, but one thing is for sure—in whatever shape or form, it's here to stay.