THE MINI SKIRT
Hemlines are shorter than they’ve been in decades with a miniskirt resurgence in triumphant full swing. Writer and broadcaster Camille Charriere has been a fan since her teens, gravitating towards it as a symbol of freedom and fun. Nothing, she says, spells optimism and freshness quite like a thigh-flashing mini, which is why we should all get on board this summer and beyond.
Part of the reason I moved to London from Paris is because I couldn’t wear short skirts. I know it sounds dramatic, but in Paris – a place I call the ‘land of sartorial judginess’ – my minis attracted a lot of snarky comments. The French are famed for dressing well, but to pass any style test you must adhere to a certain uniform that focuses on rules, discretion, and nonchalance. Whenever I wore a raised hem, judgement would be passed either implicitly through a snide look, or explicitly through comments such as ‘do you call that a skirt?’ or ‘have you forgotten your trousers?’ After a while, it wore me down. No one should be told what they can and can’t wear, and so I moved to London (dramatic, moi?).
Ever since I fell for my first miniskirt aged 14 or 15 (a Diesel denim number that I didn’t buy but talked about with regret for a year afterwards), the style has represented freedom to me. It’s an item of clothing that’s continued to symbolize a woman who is bold and free in her choices. When Courrèges and Mary Quant introduced short skirts in the ‘60s, it came at the start of women’s liberation. It was an expression of optimism, frivolity, and youthfulness. It was a very clear rejection of the rigid, formal dress codes of old and the start of something fresh and fun. It’s no coincidence that the mini has returned as we put the worst of the pandemic behind us – short skirts denote the good life. Its recent resurgence, which began in late 2020, proves that dressing up – wearing something that makes you feel good – can help boost your mood when everything else goes sideways.
For as long as I can remember, they’ve been my favorite item to wear. I’ve worn them forever, or maybe it was just that all skirts looked mini on me because I was very tall as a teenager. I was a beanstalk and a short skirt helped me feel feminine without being overtly sexy. They were playful and cheeky, rather than explicitly bombshell. Part of their appeal, both then and now, was how comfortable and easy to move in they are; a mini doesn’t tear easily. I looked to Jane Birkin, Sharon Tate and Kate Moss as my mini comrades.
Longer hemlines have come and gone, but I have – by and large – stayed true to the micro. When I first started working in fashion, the key look was very grown-up and minimal, with Scandi proportions and plenty of layering and I went through a period of following suit. Even then, I still managed to sneak a tiny skirt in – at night I’d go out in a denim mini and T-shirt. It was fuss-free but feminine. I dabbled in midi-length styles during the Phoebe Philo Celine years, silky pieces that I wore with sneakers, but they always felt too sophisticated. The mini was more fun-loving and versatile. It’s both discreetly sexy and tomboyish, especially if worn with flats or a pair of trainers. My favorites are from Miu Miu (shout-out to the hardest working skirt of all time: the Miu Miu set, a derriere-skimming pleated mini worn with an equally tiny, cropped knit), Prada and Courrèges, but you don’t necessarily need to spend much. Levi’s do great denim designs that are perfect all summer long. There are so many styling options – the boldest among us might choose a crop top, or there are more low-key looks – perhaps you’ll wear it with a white shirt, mules and a blazer for added sharpness. Or maybe you’ll go down the ‘90s route – flat sandals, a white tank top and a shirt thrown over the top. If you’re going out, team with a sparkly top and heels. In the winter, they’re great with tights, boots and a knit. That’s the genius of a mini – you can dress and undress it depending on who you’re seeing, what you’re doing and where you’re at in your sartorial journey.
The mini has never scared me, but I understand why others might feel differently. For far too long, women have been told that they’re too old or too big to wear them. We are shamed for the way our bodies look and told that we can only wear certain styles if we look a certain way. I’d like to call time on that idea. The miniskirt suits everyone – look at the popularity of the now viral aforementioned Miu Miu set. It looks as good on 50-something Nicole Kidman as much as it does on plus-size model Paloma Elsesser. Do not listen to this patriarchal, outdated nonsense about what you should and shouldn’t wear. If you feel good in that mini, whether micro or macro, wear it. The joyful, upbeat energy of the short skirt is for everyone. How low will you go?