To Mini Skirt Or To Maxi Skirt? Two Editors Make Their Case

Friday Sept. 2, 2022

With only two lengths on the catwalks this season, Lisa Armstrong and Melissa Twigg enter the fray in the battle of the hemlines.

“It’s long every time”

Lisa Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph’s head of fashion

While millennials have been gobbling up late-90s / early-noughties fashion – aka Y2K – for the past couple of years, anyone old enough to have worn crop tops and bumsters last time around has been wisely sitting it out.

But, as of this season, there is one long, languid 90s take-out we can all enjoy. The maxi is back – at Burberry and Brunello Cucinelli, and at Chanel, Tod’s and Altuzarra.

Other designers, including Roland Mouret, have included the maxi in their resort collections, which drop in November. This one has legs. Speaking of which, if I had legs for minis I’d live in them. But I don’t, so I’m happy aiming for an air of mystery.

In previous times this meant trousers, trousers and more trousers, because as well as not doing minis, I didn’t do floor-sweeping skirts. I’m not a germophobe by any means, but anything that brushes city pavements strikes me as asking for trouble.

But the new maxis stop at the ankles, just above, or failing that, the tops of your shoes. They’re as far from milkmaid flounces as an Eames chair is from a milking stool. So if you’re thinking you couldn’t possibly do a maxi because it wouldn’t fit with your sophisticated, aerodynamic mistress-of-the-universe image … yes, you can.

The 2022 maxi is sleek, streamlined, high- or medium-waisted, either straight or slightly A-line, but categorically not ruffled, tiered or boho and should look as fuss-free as a pair of trousers, and if you pair it with trainers, even slightly sporty.

Altuzarra fall ready-to-wear 2022 collection. Photo / Supplied

It could be a wrap, or have slits – good for striding, and good also, because too much covering up can be aging or look severe. Alternatively it has floaty pleating which creates a graceful Marilyn-esque movement when you walk.

There are maxi dresses too, but in cooler months, I find separates more flexible. I like that all sorts of tanks and tops complement them, from slim and fitted to looser and boxier.

I like being able to adjust the volume of my silhouette by swapping chunky jumpers for slim shirts or silky blouses and perhaps wearing a boyfriend shirt open over a vest.

I know what you’re thinking – you can’t wear maxis if you’re short. But that’s not true, providing you spend a few moments thinking about proportions. A maxi with a high-rise waist and a tucked-in top will help optically elongate legs. Add some flatform sandals or block-heeled boots, and you’re practically rangy. Ankle, knee or above-the-knee boots should all be fine.

The downside with maxis is the same as with any skirt or dress – finding the right-length coat. There are maxi coats around that will take you through the seasons, but if you find those cumbersome, I suggest a waist or

hip-length jacket (tweed, wool or padded) or blazer rather than a knee- or calf-length coat which will look a bit Mary Poppins. She may have been practically perfect in every way but that was 1910 and the 2022 maxi is meant to look modern.

“It’s minis for me”

Melissa Twigg, The Daily Telegraph’s fashion and lifestyle editor

There are few things more mood-enhancing than a flitty, flirty, leg-baring miniskirt. Mary Quant was credited with inventing the mini in the 1960s and has noted that her most dazzling creation di lei “has a kind of ‘look at me’ quality. It says: ‘Life is great.’ “

I have loved miniskirts since I was old enough to buy my own clothes, but over the years I have found myself most grateful for their inherent cheerfulness when life doesn’t feel all that great: on awkward first dates, at parties where I barely know a soul or even at job interviews.

I once trekked across London to break up with an ex-boyfriend while wearing a 60s-style bubblegum-pink mini, reasoning that it was impossible to feel too morose in anything so blithely optimistic.

This sentiment is probably why minis are back in a big way. The fashion crowd floated into Covid wearing tent-like peasant dresses, but emerged on the other side coveting a cult Miu Miu skirt so short it would make your average belt blush.

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Happily, the miniskirt has grown up over the course of 2022. That’s probably got something to do with the fact that, while designer labels such as Max Mara, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, Emilia Wickstead and Dior have been at it for a couple of years, this autumn is the first time the trend has infiltrated the high street in a big way.

Mid-range brands like Arket, Cos and Sezane now specialize in skirts that are “off-sick”, to quote Bridget Jones, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never been particularly enamored of my tummy or hips, but I’m happy to show my legs, and nothing makes me feel jauntier than a good mini.

And while miniskirts will always be associated with the youthful rebellion of the 1960s, I maintain that, if you like your legs, they are one of the most flattering pieces of clothing you can wear, no matter which side of 40 you are on.

Emilia Wickstead fall ready-to-wear 2022 collection. Photo / Supplied

I’m in my late 30s and wear minis at least twice a week, while my own 60-something mother often wears a skirt that ends above the knee – and given she worked with Quant for well over a decade, I consider her something of an oracle on the subject.

The same goes for any outdated ideas about body shape – yes, the most famous images are of Twiggy or Jean Shrimpton, but curvier women can look fantastic in a well-cut short skirt.

I find straight styles with a fitted waist particularly flattering – and if you don’t feel totally confident about your legs, then cold weather is your friend.

When the temperatures drop, opt for knee-high boots and a flared mini kilt, which is more forgiving on the upper thighs, and a pair of tights. Opaques can feel comfortingly covered up, but sheer black and even patterned styles are often more flattering on the leg, and more fashionable this season.

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And then there’s the question of how to look sexy but not, well, slutty. In the end, it’s all about balance, and I try to wear my minis with a top that’s a little bit prim.

A loose, high-necked white T-shirt and a blazer work well, as do oversized or round-collar shirts, and when it’s colder, a cable-knit jumper or a polo neck is the perfect foil to an attention-seeking bottom half . This need for primness extends to shoes: flats, boots or low heels look great, whereas stilettos can feel a bit much.

That being said, if you want to break these rules, do. Nearly 60 years since miniskirts exploded like an unexpected firework on to the Swinging London scene, there is still something wonderfully defiant about them.

And in that spirit, you should wear them where you want, when you want and, most importantly, how you want.

SIX SKIRTS TO WEAR THIS SPRING AND BEYOND

Short hems and fluid draping to twirl over.

Jojo Compleat Me skirt $ 220.

Zambesi Arch skirt $ 395.

Twenty-seven Names Jasmine mini skirt $ 320.

Juliette Hogan Therese skirt $ 649.

Ruby August skirt $ 229.

Paris Georgia Draped skirt $ 540.

The Daily Telegraph

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