Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - STYLE WATCH -


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.

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