An ode to the midi skirt: history + how to rock it

Image via Dust Jacket

Image via Dust Jacket

While I was a personal shopper I got more questions about midi skirts than any other trend, ever. How do you walk in them? What shoes are you supposed to wear? Don't I look like a grandma? It's funny, because to me midi skirts are a total no-brainer: they're comfortable, timeless, and unexpectedly sexy. I do think there are a few handy guidelines, though - so here you go, world. A few notes on midis. 

First, let's nail the definition. A midi skirt hits about halfway between your knees and your ankles. People get this wrong all the time. For example, while I am super proud of Abercrombie for starting to offer skirts that are longer than 4 inches, this is not a midi. I can see that model's knee, guys. A midi is halfway between a pencil and a maxi. Got it? Good. 

Now, a little history (sourced from College Fashion and The Atlantic). The midi was major in the conservative, graceful 40s, but quickly disappeared as the abandon of the 60s rolled through and everyone's hems shot up. The miniskirt crossed the Atlantic and hit the states in the mid 60s, and it completely took over the market. Minis ruled the airwaves for years, despite a concerted effort by some of the fashion establishment, including Women's Wear Daily, to try to bring midis back in the early 70s. WWD even banned miniskirts in it's offices in 1968. Diana Vreeland countered back from the Vogue camp, proclaiming that "...the miniskirt looks delicious in the summer with the right legs and the right girl." A characteristically pointed and qualifying endorsement from one of the queens of fashion? Yep. That aside, the battle was brewing. People wanted to be free & wild in minis, but stores and the establishment wanted midis in everyone's closets. 

Image via Go Fug Yourself

Image via Go Fug Yourself

It was the beginning of a battle between consumers, designers, and the fashion camp that would last for years. San Francisco feminist magazine Rags vocalized what many shoppers were thinking when they went to buy minis and were confronted with racks full of full-length skirts: "...the industry needed new economic life... so Paris created le midi...the Midi has built in obsolescence... [it is] cumbersome and matronly." [Source: the Reading Eagle] Many people saw the midi as fashion oppression, which I get and respect. Midis have always been polarizing, but I personally find them more comfortable and freeing than almost any other garment. You can do anything in them, and wear them everywhere. A skin-tight column midi could help you channel Beyonce. A flowy floral one could make you feel like DVF. 

I love em so much that I wore a midi skirt every day last week, and I want to tell you how to rock it too!

Dress: Banana Republic | Sunglasses: Forever21 | Sandals: GAP | Tote: Cuyana | Jacket: Anthropologie (similar here)

Dress: Banana Republic | Sunglasses: Forever21 | Sandals: GAP | Tote: Cuyana | Jacket: Anthropologie (similar here)

How many outfits can you wear from the office directly to the beach?! Super casual sandals look unexpectedly great with a dramatic midi, as long as they are in mint condition. 

Dress: Anthropologie | Button down: Old Navy | Shoes: GAP | Tote: Cuyana | Headscarf: Forever 21

Dress: Anthropologie | Button down: Old Navy | Shoes: GAP | Tote: Cuyana | Headscarf: Forever 21

This midi dress is four years old and I still can't get enough. See it here in a post from 2013. I tied a chambray top over it to keep the chill away, and it also accents the waist. This is a great trick if you feel like a midi won't give you enough shape.

Dress: Pretty Penny vintage | Slip: H&M | Shoes: Dr Scholl's Shoes | Belt: vintage | Tote: Cuyana 

Dress: Pretty Penny vintage | Slip: H&M | Shoes: Dr Scholl's Shoes | Belt: vintage | Tote: Cuyana 

Many of the best midis I've ever found are vintage - this purple one takes the cake. It's a gorgeous sheer silk, but didn't come with a slip or button closure - so I had to improvise. If you find a great vintage gem that doesn't have a slip, check the back of your closet for a simple tank dress you can repurpose. Or, be totally bold and wear it sheer - get it, girl. (Who needs a mini to look sexy?)

In case you need a little more inspiration, here's some images from my Pinterest

xoxo,

-Marie