by style contributor, Julie
There’s no skirting the issue, a woman’s hemline has always said a lot about her. And oddly enough it has also said a lot about the state of our union. When things are good our gams come out, and historically when we’re facing some national drama, our dress hems take a drastic drop. Thank goodness ladies have been liberated and can now go to any length they deem necessary to conquer the world. Here’s a short recap of the lengthy history of how hemlines have evolved from floor grazing get-ups to eye-popping thigh height and back again. The No-Nonsense 1900’s: The turn of the century was a pretty posh era. Elegance was opulence and a lady was expected to conduct herself in the most honorable of ways. For the upper class, anything that accentuated more than the ankle would have ended up in what we know now as “Page 6” SCANDAL!
Anaïs Dress $239, Julius LeBlanc Stewart: Portrait of Mrs. Francis Stanton Blake
Nearly To the Knees 1910’s: Prim and Proper started to become slightly unpopular as we faced the First World War. A little air of independence was starting to tickle the senses of women who once wore modest fashion as a sign of womanhood. And those hems flirted with almost hitting just below the knees.
Bennet Dress $179, Sabine Shift $118
The WOWing 1920’s: One word…Flappers! This decade was all about glitz, glamour, and social independence. Anything over the top that pushed the boundaries of boring was in vogue. Those knees were out and proud for the first time and it was utterly fabulous!
Zelda Dress $320, Mademoiselle Rhea stashing a flask in her garter
Much More Modest ‘30’s: The crash of the market also meant the crash of the hemline. As the nation became more conservative with their dollars so came caution with their morals. So it was Sayōnara knees, here we come calves!
Agra Pima Cotton Dress $189, Borneo Dress $139
The Fabulous ‘40’s and ‘50’s: Post war meant women went feminine once again. Sophisticated didn’t mean short, it meant flare! The Mid-calve A-line was everything and became an iconic style “throw-backers” mimic today.
Ikat Skirt $89 , Arabesque T-Shirt Dress $118
So Short 60’s: The sixties were ripe with newfound freedom, newfound wealth and a newfound interest in flamboyant fashion. Enter Madam Mary Quant, the mother of the Mini Skirt and thus the movement of MOD. With fashion on her side and a youthful hunger to rebel, hemlines were brought to a new almost nosebleed height.
Tendrils Skirt $129, Talia Sheath $129, Petra Skirt $139
The Sultry 70’s: As quickly as they ran up, the seventies saw the hemline hustle right back down. This time however, it wasn’t the same kind of long that our sisters before us donned. Nope, these were body-hugging hemlines that were all about swank and sex appeal. The maxi was born and we “couldn’t get enough of their love”.
Cozumel Skirt $379, Anjali Skirt $169
The past ups and downs of these not-so-long-ago decades were instrumental in deciding the lengths of our dress – from the 1980’s until now, women have enjoyed a “wear what makes you feel good” attitude. The bridge of independence was built and we sashay across it in any skirt length we choose. The only requirement, accessorizing with confidence!