Leslie Camhi gets ready to show some leg
“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26,” Nora Ephron famously wrote when she was just past 60. These days, I find myself wondering if she felt similarly about the miniskirt and microshorts, those perennial summertime classics with their promise of youth and freedom, which designers have embraced anew.
Well, I wasted my youth in chilly libraries, wearing Victorian-era velvet midi-dresses and curve-obscuring cloaks. But after a year of being buried under my desk, even my legs are itching for an outing. Zoom’s digital dismemberments—its onscreen rectangles framing heads and shoulders—have turned us all into contestants in a giant game of Hollywood Squares, our bifurcated bodies dressed for public consumption from the waist up alone. “Seeing people’s bottoms again will be strange,” a young friend confided recently after months of Zooming into high school from her bedroom. I knew what she meant.
Does the brain fog afflicting so many of us in late-stage pandemic living have something to do with this neglect of our bottom halves? The answer is quantifiably yes, according to behavioral researchers at Northwestern University, who have coined the term enclothed cognition to describe the way the clothes we wear—and the meanings we assign to them—can influence not only the way we feel but also our ability to focus and act with intention. Which might explain the jolt many people felt seeing Lila Grace Moss (Kate’s 18-year-old daughter) opening Miu Miu’s spring show in a sharp-shouldered, school-ready dark blazer paired with a bejeweled mini. Youth! Beauty! Legs!
Movement, too, remains a key part of the allure of abovethe-knee dressing. “You’re not putting on a miniskirt to sit on your couch and do nothing,” says fashion historian Laura Helms, which also presumes that you’ll be leaving your house—reason enough to go short. (These sunbaked images of Hailey Bieber are as good a motivation as any.)
Just thinking about having the fresh air brush against my bare legs sent me back to my closet on the first warm spring afternoon in New York. There I found a short black leather skirt—certainly not micro but at least lower-thigh—that had served me well on key pre-pandemic occasions. I zipped it up—snug, yes, but not impossibly so—slipped on a pair of three-inch heels, and walked (still masked, but hopefully not for much longer) to the grocery store.
Nobody in my lumpen Upper West Side neighborhood seemed to notice my imperfect knees or my legs’ larval pallor. But pausing in the vegetable aisle over the baby arugula, I found my foot suddenly tapping to the beat of the store’s piped-in music. I wasn’t about to break out in song. But I could feel the dance of life stirring within me, ready to begin anew. @
An Eckhaus Latta shrunken polo ($275; eckhauslatta.com) plays nicely with a leopard-print-accented Moschino Couture skirt ($820; saksfifthavenue.com). Bracelets by Tiffany & Co. and Carolina Bucci.