THE NEW SKIRT LENGTH
TAre you ready to go longer?
here’s one thing I don’t wear in cold weather: Skirts. Wool pants, leather leggings, jeans – I stick to anything that (a) doesn’t require tights and (b) can easily be worn with ankle boots or tucked into knee-high ones. But now I’m suddenly craving skirts, specifically longer, to-the-knee skirts that are feminine, fitted, and fairly dressed up.
I blame this desire on Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler. It was the first look at their Autumn show that got me; I knew I had to have the boxy white coat over a black pencil skirt, paired with low d’Orsay pumps. The ensemble had the elemental silhouette of the late-’50s and early-’60s clothes but also a stark architectural bent, combined with modernist dense wool fabrics, that placed it squarely in 2013.
In Paris, the Céline show intensified my growing obsession. Phoebe Philo’s cream stretch wool skirts – fitted at the waist and elegantly flared just below the knee – offered a thoroughly enticing proportion. I knew that I would have to figure out how to work at least one Céline skirt into my closet.
But rotating your wardrobe from being pants-centric to skirt-centric opens a sartorial can of worms. Everything has to change. My pants silhouette was like an upsidedown pyramid: loose on top (a blazer and an untucked blouse or a cashmere crewneck), then skinnier (jeans or leggings), and ending in a point with stiletto ankle boots.
With the longer skirt, new rules apply. First, it’s crucial that your hem hits your leg at just the right spot. Above the knee is not new and doesn’t count here. The sweet spot on every woman is just below the knee, where your leg curves in before the calf begins. If you find a skirt that’s longer, hem it. I have seen A-list style setters go a couple of inches longer but honestly, it doesn’t work. Even on them. Once you get the length right, you’ll have to reproportion everything else. Start with a top that either tucks in or ends not too far below your waist. (You need the definition unless you are Gisele and look great in a potato sack.) A slim knit turtleneck is my favourite, and once I find the right one I’m buying it in black, white, grey, and navy.
Next, reboot your coat options. What looks newest is a hip-length or an above-theknee coat that’s boxy or cocoon-like. I love the short, round-shouldered versions that Alexander Wang premiered at Balenciaga. The sexy cosiness of the enveloping shapes at Céline, Rochas, and Marc Jacobs are also on my radar. They look particularly warm, and after this past, never-ending winter, would be the perfect antidote to chase away chills.
On to shoes. You can still work a classic pump with a pencil skirt, or try to snag Proenza’s new, lower-heeled d’Orsays. I like the idea of men’s-style penny loafers with a pencil skirt, which is how my mum wore them in college; Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta make beautiful, last-forever versions. Tights, however, don’t work with loafers. So bundle up in your coat and flash some leg. Another no-no is wearing stilettos with a flared skirt. It’s too dated, too precious. You’ll want the new bootie, which has a chunky, stacked-wood heel and covers your ankle. While the pale celadon ones at Céline are growing on me, I’m not sure what else I can pair them with. Chloé, though, has navy stacked-heel ankle boots that are a dream. Plus, navy is the new black. Sold.
Céline Autumn/ Winter ’13 Proenza Schouler Autumn/ Winter ’13 Balenciaga Autumn/ Winter ’13 Hermès Autumn/ Winter ’13 Marni Autumn/ Winter ’13