A skirt is a women’s (usually, with some exceptions) lower half garment that starts at the waist and hangs in different fashions around both legs (versus pants which cover each leg separately). There are many variations on skirt silhouettes and hemlines, giving the wearer lots of style options. In recent history, skirts became so synonymous with their female wearers, that the word, ‘skirt,’ was actually slang for ‘women.’
Once again, we must travel back to antiquity to discover the beginnings of the skirt. Like linen, it is thought that skirts originated with prehistoric peoples, based on the evidence of wovens found during archaeological digs. The oldest identifiable skirt was found in a cave in Armenia (where, incidentally, the world’s oldest leather shoes were found). Since ancient times, skirts have been worn by both men and women in almost every part of the world (think sarongs and kilts). Over time, skirts became more closely associated with their female wearers, who donned the heavy, layered skirts of the middle ages and renaissance, the wide hoopskirts of the mid-1800s, and the bustled skirts of the late 19th century. It wasn’t until the 20th century that hemlines started to rise and give way to the styles of skirts we see today.
Where do we even begin? Traditionally, skirts were floor length with forgiving silhouettes that highlighted the waist, without revealing anything below it. While today’s maxi skirt mimics the hemline of old-fashioned styles, we now see shorter lengths, and just about everything in between. The mini skirt, once thought to be too risqué, is now ubiquitous. A-line and pleated skirts, circle skirts, pencil skirts, midi skirts, asymmetrical skirts, wrap skirts, and high-waisted skirts are all fair game when it comes to building your wardrobe. Within these styles, a huge variety of fabrics, like leather, lace, wool, suede, cotton, denim and fringe, further define the style.
Fortunately, the available styles of skirts make it possible to wear the look just about anywhere. For work, or other occasions that require a dress skirt, complete your outfit with heels, a blouse, blazer and satchel. You have much more latitude in styling a casual skirt. Depending on the season and the hemline, experiment with sandals or boots, a tee layered with a sweater, and a roomy tote.