DON’T SKIRT AROUND THE ISSUE, THE SUIT IS BACK!
“THE CROPPED MINI SKIRT HAS A CREDIBLE CHARM WORN WITH AN OVERSIZED JACKET”
DESIGNERS’ OBSESSION WITH RUMMAGING through the dressing up box of decades gone is what keeps nostalgia alive in fashion but there are some dodgy sartorial flourishes that do not need resurrecting - for me, this includes shoulder pads, blingy denim and underwear-asouterwear. Thankfully a new season calls for bright new ideas and one cause for celebration this spring/summer is the skirt suit – the trouser suit’s softer, less androgynous little sister.
My obsession with the matchy-matchy two-piece can be traced back to the early 2000s and Ally McBeal, the adorably neurotic lawyer played by Calista Flockhart (pictured right) who gave the straitlaced skirt a rush of youth and sex appeal. McBeal’s thigh-skimming minis in a series of grey, blue and navy – with the occasional hint of lavender – completely revived the skirt’s stuffy, prim reputation. Worn with a blazer, it gave designers endless inspiration.
Most recently it has been translated via soft tailored blazers and midi skirts styled with vibrant silk scarves at Dries Van Noten while Phoebe Philo put her classic, minimalist take on it at Celine with pleats. At Chanel, Lagerfeld hiked hemlines and served it with the designer’s iconic tweed buttonup blazer. Both are already spilling on to high street versions at Zara and Mango. They are a perfect office to after-work combination worn with lightweight tights, considering it’s still freezing and transitional dressing is still very much a wardrobe priority.
With tights or without, when the cold weather loosens its grip, can you pull off a shorter McBeal-esque version if you don’t have Flockhart’s petite frame? The answer is yes. Skirt shapes have shaken off their pretensions and the cropped mini skirt now has a credible charm worn with an oversized jacket that is smart glamorous and hides a multitude of sins. So if you’re not a size 8, don’t fear. Go up a jacket size or go for a longline shape and tuck a plain or printed T-shirt in underneath. Layering, experimenting with colour and a nonchalant sleeve roll are also clever ways of moving the skirt suit into less business-y territory – not forgetting messy, undone hair a la Alexa Chung (pictured above).
While I love Chung’s effortless way of carrying it off, Flockhart’s smart, dreamy fictional character will always be a favourite. She still conjures up feelgood memories of nights out in my 20s when I’d happily walk home from a night out in a mini skirt and five-inch heels. I’ll never be able – nor have the desire – to pull off either again but she’ll always be style inspiration. Meanwhile, my 30-something equivalent has been answered in the shape of Mango’s slightly kicked, check buckled skirt suit this season. It’s got a touch of Clueless, pops with colourful Tshirts and right now it’s reminding me that spring is on its way.