How to choose your best skirt length is a question many women ask. Once upon a time the length of our skirts was determined by social values, morality and religion. In more recent times fashion also had a say in where our hemlines finished, though it can argued that moral values strongly influenced fashion. As western society has become more liberated and religion’s influence has diminished, women’s hemlines have become shorter and shorter. In the past 100 years acceptable hemlines have moved from the top of our shoes to the top of our thighs. But as the trend upwards continued unabated in the 20th century, it wasn’t until the last 30 years or so that individual taste and preferences dictated the length of our skirts. Prior to this, women wore their skirts at a length deemed to be fashionable; few women dared to break ranks with the current trend. In the 50’s if a woman wore her dresses above the knee she would have been branded as ‘cheap’. In the late 60’s however, if her skirts were knee length or longer a woman was dismissed as a ‘square’ or old fashioned. The length of your skirt had little to do with what suited your legs or your lifestyle, it was all to do with conformity.
Nowadays, I’m pleased to say it’s quite different. Most women would have a range of maxis and/or minis and/or midis in their wardrobe. Comfort and practicality can be as important as aesthetics when we decide the length of our skirts. However, if looking good is a priority, there are a few things to consider when determining how to choose the best skirt length for you.
- THE SIZE OF YOUR LEGS
Hemlines in the main are horizontal lines and wherever we place such a line we broaden that area. So, if you have heavy calves, you would be advised to never end your hems at the widest part of your calf. Opt for above or below. Similarly, if your thighs are heavy, you do yourself no favours by wearing skirts that finish at the widest part of your thigh.
On the other hand, if your lower legs are thin it can actually be helpful to choose a hemline that finishes mid-calf as this can create the illusion of a little more width.
- THE SHAPE OF YOUR LEGS.
If your legs are not particularly shapely, like my calves for instance then choosing to end your hemlines at a point where the leg narrows can create the illusion of a little more shape.
- THE STATE OF YOUR KNEES.
If your knees are bony, knobbly, soft and pouchy (like mine) or just plain fat, then choosing lengths that are a couple of cms below the knee can be a wise move. In the words of the famous movie mogul, Louis B Mayer, “If it aint pretty, don’t’ show it”.
- MARKS, VEINS AND BLEMISHES.
If you have something to hide, then this can also dictate the lengths you choose.
- YOUR WEIGHT
If you are carrying extra weight and you don’t want to appear heavier than you are hemlines on or slightly below the knee are your most slimming option. Apart from being an elegant length, it helps to elongate your body thus helping you appear slimmer. There is an adage that says, ‘the shorter the hemline the wider the wearer’.
Finally, the length of your skirts affects your apparent vertical proportions. So, if you are quite short or your legs are shorter than your head and torso i.e you are short legged then skirts worn between mid-calf and
ankle can make you appear even shorter and/or even more unbalanced. Shorter lengths can help you appear taller. Similarly, if you are long-legged with a proportionally shorter torso, ultra short skirts can make you appear even more vertically unbalanced – regardless of how great your legs may be.
Finally, here is a formula for working out your most flattering skirt and dress length. It comes from another stylist and personal shopper’s blog site, Missus Smarty Pants Blog Spot. You might like to check out her articles too.
Here is the “formula” for figuring out your most flattering length:
(You’ll need a cloth measuring tape)
You’ll take 2 measurements: from your hipbone straight down the outside of your leg to the middle of your kneecap, and from the middle of your kneecap (outside edge) straight down to the middle of your ankle bone.
Here’s the formula:
(LONGER LEG LENGTH minus SHORTER LEG LENGTH) divided by 2 = X
X is the number of inches above or below the knee your skirt length should be. If your shins are shorter than your thighs, raise your hem X inches above your knee. If your thighs are shorter than your shins, lower the hem X inches below the knee.
Basically you want to visually equalize the length of the upper and lower leg.
So, I did it and here are my calculations…
Hipbone to middle of knee: 24″
Middle of knee to ankle bone: 17″
Difference = 7″
Divided by 2 = 3.5″
So, my IDEAL skirt length can go up or below my knee 3.5″..
by Missus Smarty Pants Style Blog
If you do this little calculation to work out how to choose our best skirt length remember however, all the other points I first mentioned. No point in wearing a length that suits your vertical proportions but makes your legs look wider or shows off wrinkly knees. Well, that’s what I think anyway. You may think entirely differently, and that is your prerogative.
Whatever length you choose to wear your skirts, do so with confidence and aplomb because you will never be stylish if you are not comfortable in your own skin.
Stylist, Colour Analyst and Personal Shopper