Trends change so much that it's near impossible to keep up- grunge one minute, then prim the next; stripes are hot for a minute then it's polka-dots. Blink and you'll miss the changes that declare your favourite dress 'tragically last season.' The fast-pace of fashion is partly why it's so fascinating, and I do try my darndest to keep up, but I must admit that the it-trends rarely make it into my day-to-day attire. I'm very much dedicated to that über-clichéd Yves Saint Laurent quote- "fashion fades, style is eternal": basically the idea that i'm better off sticking to what I know works for me, than I am squeezing myself into stripy tube skirts or whatever. I just let SW Fashion do all the trend-talking really!
Still, there are occasional changes in fashion that are very difficult to avoid. Take, for example, the shift from bootcut to skinny fit denim that has proven almost irreversible, or that one-season dabble with the 1980s that has left leggings a fat-day staple in almost every woman's wardrobe. I fear, however, that these past few seasons are working to create yet another fashion u-turn. That of the hemline.
For most of the nineties, the noughties and beyond- the mini has ruled. Sure we've been tempted by a sultry pencil skirt or the ethereal swish of a maxi dress, but the catwalk always seems to return to the humble mini. Certainly for the younger generation, the mini is the go-to skirt length. It connotes youth, flirtation and fun! I, for one, adore a nice short dress. I'm not leggy and have chunky ballet-dancing calves, but I still feel that anything longer than mid-thigh makes me look short and frumpy. I recently tried on a ton of beautiful dresses in the FCUK sale and loved them all, except for one teeny, tiny issue- they were just too long. They would all have been classed as 'mini', but they just weren't short enough for me! I like to hope i'm not alone in my miniskirt adoration, and i'm pretty sure i'm not! It's not like my friends are partial to ankle-length dirndls (though that would make nights out pretty hilarious!)- they are all just as accustomed to hemlines that warrant a father's "you've forgotten your skirt love."
Heaven help us this season though, as British Vogue have declared that the mini has had it's time in the limelight and the midi- in all it's prim sophistication- is poised to take over. And they've got Miu Miu, Chloé, Gucci and arguably the most powerful man in fashion- Tom Ford- to back them up. The mini and it's loyal fans haven't got a (bare) leg to stand on!
As much as we may hope that this is just a fleeting fancy for the designers, i'm afraid it's more than that. The midi has been around for a few season now, gradually eclipsing the omnipresence of the mini, one collection at a time. It started with a Heritage, Princess Anne vibe a while back, before things turned all balletic at Chloé, then neon at Christopher Kane and finally, for AW11, it is absolutely everywhere from 1970s floaty to prim 1940s NYC glamour. There's no denying it: we are firmly in the midst of the mighty midi takeover.
Naturally, the older generation rejoice! For all the years that the mini has been dominant, so has the dated view that a miniskirt on an over 30 is verging on mutton-dressed as lamb! While I personally have always been of the view that if you've got good legs, a mini will rock regardless of your age (hello- Carine Roitfeld!). Still, knees are never anyone's best attribute, so the midi-skirt, swooshing over that problem area, is something of a godsend. Perfect for work or play.
But what of us poor young things? What are girls like Blake Lively and Alexa Chung- whose endless legs are their greatest accessory- going to do with themselves? There is something unsettling about this image of Ms. Chung wearing a floral midiskirt- bring back your Carven shorts Alexa, your poor legs will be disheartened! Okay, maybe this look is just a case of bad styling on Alexa's part- or alternately a failed attempt at going unnoticed at a festival, masquerading as an Amish farmer- but there is no denying that working a midi is much more of an art than slinging on a nonchalant mini.
For once, this is a trend for the ladies rather than the girls- particularly for AW11. The structured dresses abundant at shows like Galliano or McQueen are perfect for a glamourous career woman, commanding the office with her hypnotic hourglass shape and a little flash of ankle. They aren't so great for a gangly or curvy teenager. I suppose we'll just have to adapt it to suit us! We mastered the maxi and- mark my words- we will take the midi by storm.
I personally kind of love it- the Chloé pleats were my SS11 obsession, despite falling to mid-calf. They still had a distinct youthful charm, but I remain unconvinced that I could pull off a Balenciaga-style tube skirt or a curve-demanding LV pencil skirt- I just haven't the height or the figure! But, every cloud has a silver lining and all, and AW11 does have a slightly more youthful option that could be our saving grace. I featured the fabulous Miu Miu Hailee Steinfeld campaign on the blog recently (here), and I think this is where us young'uns can draw some inspiration. While the shots have a hint of 'little girl playing dress up', I think it's quite charming and would love to adapt that to suit my style.
The Miu Miu dresses are nothing short of beautiful. Deep, autumnal shades of midnight blue and garnet, decorated with sequinned swallows or careful, swirling florals with faux-fur stoles to create the 1940s luxury. The only flesh they reveal are the arms and some have delicate swooping backs ensuring that they are still quite sexy, even if not blasé. Unfortunately, they are around £2000 a pop, but even if your bank account doesn't quite reach those dizzying heights, the high street are sure to cotton on!
I suppose the allure of the midlength is quite easy to understand. It's suggestion, not exhibition; it's ladylike, not brash. Could it change the way we dress, and perhaps the way we act? Maybe- when I wear a midi or a longer skirt, I immediately feel a compulsion to act with more elegance and sit up straighter! Maybe the switch in focus from a skirt length reminiscent of a the 1960s- a decade of rebellion, to the 1940s where ladies were truly ladies, could bring with it a much more elegant group of young women- a sort of Kate Middleton posse of perfection? Lets hope not, but a bit of old school glamour wouldn't go amiss!
So do you feel ready to change the way you view your hemlines, and ease your way down to something- shock horror- mid-calf length? It's all about balancing proportion and if it's a demure skirt then why not pair with a sheer blouse or a sexy camisole for a look that is still youthful while hitting the midi mark!
Remain unconvinced? Well, Louis Vuitton offered some hot pants for AW11. I suppose some of us will never change our ways!
|All over the AW 2011 catwalks- the midi is where it's at... whether we like it or not!|