I’m not sure that anyone has ever pulled off the maxi-skirt..or even if they have managed to look half decent in it, there’s always been a bit of me thinking that I’d prefer to see their legs, maybe I’m actually a misogynist (pause for thought) but really I do think that firstly maxis look good on the tall leggy type (not stunted and dwarfish like myself) but that is immediately followed up by, if you are genetically blessed in that area, why wouldn’t you have your cracking pins out all the time?
I hate long skirts. I mean really loathe them. They make my flesh creep. Not physically – that would be weird – but psychologically I could get quite worked up. Wearing one in 1911, or 1711, or any of the past 2,990 years when the big news in fashion was that skirts were floor-sweeping, again, I understand. To shroud three-fifths of your body in one when you have the choice not to – that’s got to be contrary. Also if you are 5 foot, five inches or shorter then really anything floor-length or sometimes even ankle grazing, can just shrink you to Borrower height. However it has not escaped my notice that for the past few years there has been a creeping maxi-misation in the dress department, especially during the warmer months, even Nicole Richie appears to turn into a sub-species of Mama Cass in maxidresses. I have yet to own a maxi dress but maybe I should ease myself in gently with a maxi-skirt...
But which one? The new maxi is meant to hang slouchily off the hips – the non-lung-threatening equivalent of a ciggie dangling from your lips, perhaps. It mustn’t be tiered, floaty or reminiscent in any way of Woodstock or your old Geography teacher. It mustn’t make you feel like a surrendered wife. Cheap, clingy fabrics are also bad as they accessorise the bumps thus negating the cover up factor. Taking these into account, this narrowed the field by about 98 per cent. After beginning to hyperventilate in Selfridges I remembered I already owned a beautiful black fine knit vintage maxi-skirt, although I’d never worn it as a maxi because to my mind, it worked so much better as a strapless dress so I elbow rammed my way back down into the Tube and home!
Next challenge: what to do with it? (Cue lots of fiddling about in front of the bathroom mirror and turning bedroom into a bombsite). American Vogue puts them with jackets, shirts – whatever you’d wear with a shorter skirt. I am unconvinced by this. In reality, anything too formal above the waist looks peculiar and rather 19th century. Keeping it simple – a good T-shirt, a slouchy boyfriend cardigan, a nice belt and some slightly odd sandals to remind everyone that you’re not Nanny McPhee – seems to do the trick. Also I think accessories are important as my beautiful and incredibly stylish friend Anna taught me (when I refused to wear anything but studs in my ears) a good pair of earrings can transform a look.
Maybe maxis can even be seen as liberating – from fake tans, high heels (long skirts look wrong with most of them), the “Do my legs look like sausages in this?” dilemma…
I can’t see them catching on when you’ve got a serious appointment in the boardroom or a hot date, but Lisa Armstrong at the Times said that they’re perfect, “on those mornings when it’s not quite cold enough to wear thick black tights, but not sufficiently tropical to go bare-legged, the maxi may have something.” Well dear, I say, don’t wear thick black tights, wear opaque..even leggings! In fact, trousers, to be fair, have the same something, but sometimes you can’t face yet another day in jeans, so go wild and embrace the chino as a Spring/ Summer alternative.
American Vogue, by the way, has tried to give the maxi skirt a swishy modern feel by announcing that the new way with skirts is to wear long during the day, short at night. This put thoughts of Bucks Fizz into my mind, leaping out of the office after a hard day’s slog and ripping the bottom part of my skirt off to signify partaaaaaay time. No thanks.