Midi Skirt

It proved quite tricky to find skirts that start with N and O, so I thought I would extend the Ms for a couple more days…

AKA: tea length skirt, ballerina length skirt, mid-calf length skirt

How to say it:  mid-ee skurt

Traditional Features: 

Midi Skirt

  • a skirt that finishes in the middle of the calf
  • can be any style


…of the style: In terms of modern fashion, the midi or mid length skirt first occurred in the roaring 20’s. World War One was over, the economy was booming and women were beginning to assert themselves as individuals in society – everyone was feeling good and skirt hems began to rise from the ankle, where they had been for so, so long. However, shorter skirts did not last, and hemlines came crashing back down with Wall Street in 1929.

Skirt lengths remained long through the Great Depression, but began to rise again during WWII in response to women entering the workforce and fabric rationing. This is when the midi skirt really staked its claim on fashion – it was slightly risky in its length, but still covered the knees and as such provided an appropriate amount of modesty for the times. The midi skirt continued its fashion reign through the end of the war, the introduction of the ‘New Look’ and pencil skirt (look for a post on this style later this month) in the late 40s and into the 50s, with many of the iconic circle skirt stopping at midi length.

The popularity of the midi skirt came to an abrupt end in the 1960s as the sexual revolution and recognition of the teenage demographic drove the miniskirt into the forefront of fashion. In 1970 fashion designers on both sides of the Atlantic decided that it was time for the mid length skirt to return to fashion and, with the help of John Burr Fairchild (the head of Fairchild Publications and Women’s Wear Daily), launched the midi skirt as the new skirt for the new decade. However their ploy did not work – women were not done with the miniskirt and simplistic style of dressing from the 60s and did not buy into the midi skirt trend, making it one of the biggest marketing mistakes in recent fashion history.

In the mid 70s skirts returned to the ground as the maxi length became popular, followed by rising hemlines in the 80s and 90s. In the 21st century, fashion is much less single-minded, skirts of all lengths are worn all the time and while none are really ‘out of fashion’ there are times when one length is more fashionable than the other; the 20-teens have been that time for the midi skirt. Designers brought the style back to the runway in their Fall 2011 collections and have continued to feature the mid-length look ever since. Midi skirts in every style are currently available in the fashion marketplace, and one look at the Spring 2014 collections will tell anyone who cares that the midi will be back for another go-round this season.

…of the name: The skirt is mid-calf length and was nicknamed the ‘midi skirt’ by Women’s Wear Daily in 1967.

For more info on Midi Skirts try College Fashion, Women’s History Network, the Historical Dictionary of the 1970s or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

21st Century Midi Skirts

In the 21st century the midi-skirt is everywhere. While technically midi length is at the mid-calf, skirts in 2014 tend to finish anywhere between the knee and high ankle; this is a good thing as the midi-length worn wrong can be horribly unflattering. But find a length that works and the midi skirt becomes the picture of chic sophistication.

Derek Lam Kate Moss for TopShop

Derek Lam, Kate Moss for TopShop

MaxMara Theory

MaxMara, Theory

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