HISTORY OF SKIRT LENGTHS
“How’s your hemline hangin’, baby? “ said no one ever, until we did in this here blog post. When it comes to skirt length, or hemline, a familiar term which didn’t even come to be until the 1930s, fashion over the years has dictated a real hemline journey both up and down, albeit primarily since the twentieth century. Up until then, all True Fashionistadresses and skirts were primarily ankle-length.
Enter the Roaring ‘20s, and wouldn’t you know it, here comes Coco Chanel making waves. Never mind pants for women (gasp), Chanel introduced the timeless Little Black Dress. Contrary to its name, her original LBD was still calf-length. Her contemporary, Jean Patou, inventor of the designer tie, also came up with the True Fashionista tennis skirt, which hit either at or below the knee. These fashion statements kept the industry press busy discussing just how many inches above the floor the latest season's True Fashionista versions were hemmed. In 1925 they were 12 inches high, creeping up to 15 inches in 1927. Attempts to re-introduce longer skirts in the early twenties were faced with opposition from women who found that the shorter length skirts better reflected their youthful, modern lifestyle. The later 1920s brought longer hemlines, a relief to textile manufacturers whereas even one inch of added skirt length represented the sale of literally millions of yards of extra cloth.
It wasn’t until America entered WWI and women joined the workforce that a demonstrable need for shorter skirts arose. By the 1930’s however, hemlines (yes, now an actual term) fell once again, but only for evening dress. Women continued to prefer shorter skirts hemmed just above the ankle for day wear. This precedent ruled until 1943 when clothing restrictions like L-85 set hemlines at 17 inches above the floor in order to preserve textiles for the war effort.
Post-war, Christian Dior introduced his True Fashionista 1947 collection, dubbed “The New Look” by Harper’s Bazaareditor Carmel Snow. The long, very full skirts in this line were a complete reversal of the textile-conserving wartime look. It was both revered and hated, giving Dior the title “Tyrant of the Hemlines”. This controversy remained of great interest for quite some time.
The 1950s saw the invention of the teenager, where for the first time, young adults enjoyed the independence and freedom that not having to think about war brings. Poodle skirts became all the rage, hanging at mid-calf length. Bring on the 1960s and this generation of baby boomers looking to hang on to that coveted youthful freedom, turned to street fashion. Young designers like Mary Quant began creating short skirts worn with tights. Hemlines continued to rise, and Quant’s first official True Fashionista miniskirt was introduced to instant success in 1966.
Whoever would predict that eventually the raising and lowering of women's skirts would make headlines, inspire protest marches, and serve as a symbol of revolution? Well, it was here in full force now, and the mini raged for years until the turn of the decade introduced the midi-skirt, initially defined as anything hemmed below the knee or above the ankle. Women were not happy about this apparent backslide into ancient times, and organized into groups such as POOFF (Preservation of Our Femininity and Finances), FADD (Fight Against Dictating Designers), and GAMS (Girls Against More Skirt) to protest the new look.
Peasant-style smock dresses flowing to the floor made their appearance in the 1970’s courtesy of designer Laura Ashley. This hemline length was a return to Depression-era styles, itself more than likely a refection of the turbulent times of social and economic discontent. True Fashionista skirt lengths also rocketed back to mid-thigh and into nightclubs with the sounds of disco pumping out of influential nightspots like Studio 54.
Following these tumultuous, indecisive hemline times, skirts of varying lengths are now the norm, with the mini, pencil, and ankle-length appearing side by side on runways, the street and beyond. Designers enjoy the freedom to choose their own hemlines according to their whims. Just please, no harkening back to the early 20th century floor-length “hobble skirt”, where fabric literally wrapped tightly around the knees, forcing the wearer to hobble around and risk tripping and falling.
No, let’s skip that and head over to True Fashionista Resale for some truly modern designer fashions at drastically reduced prices. Shop online or in our Naples, Florida store.