Hem + Her

Our stylist Mira shows us this season’s new styles, and it skirts so good

Words: Talya Galasko | Photographer: Stefan Snyman | Art Direction: Sabrina Scott

This week our fashion-savvy team set out to uncover the season’s latest skirt silhouettes and styles. Given that my fashion fortes include tying both shoelaces and tucking in my tee, we appointed our trusty stylist, Mira Leibowitz, to the task at hand and retired to margaritas by the pool in trousers. Kidding.

With Mira hard at work on the SSS/S15 (that’s ‘Superbalist Skirt Spring/Summer 2015, get familiar), I got around to some preliminary research, most of which led me to uncover none other than my spirit animal in its wondrous and untainted geographical form. By that, I’m referring to the Areni-1 cave complex in Armenia. There, by no coincidence, some of my most beloved possessions were discovered together, as they should be, and as a true confirmation of my former convictions that they ought to be combined when and wherever possible. Among those uncovered are, of course, the earliest known vineyard, brain, shoe and – you guessed it – skirt. Which was, by the way, a cute little straw number dating all the way back to 3900 BC.

Naturally, over the course of a few thousand years, the skirt has changed from its original fodder-type fabric almost as much as the Areni-1 shoe. Although the shoe was equally as cute a piece as the skirt and, in fact, made of leather, it seems to have retained as much of the foot of its owner as it did its mint condition. Where the shoe and skirt differ, however, is in the manic ups-and-downs the latter has taken in both personality and style over the years. From a sort of bloated, hoop-line construction held up by crinolines during the Victorian era, through to the A-line pieces of the 50s and the cooch-hugging miniskirts of the 60s and 70s, it’s become rather difficult to find more than two or so distinct features to describe the skirt, other than its being a tube- or cone-shaped garment that covers the legs (and even this, as you can imagine, proved a difficult task).

But then of course, there’s the fact of the skirt’s femininity. Although trends in androgynous fashion have taken to the runways with the men’s skirt making a bold, sometimes pleated and sometimes A-line entrance, the skirt remains something worn more often by women than it is by our male counterparts. I suspect the reason has much to do with the obvious discomfort a man and his appendages might feel when compacted tightly between a single tube of fabric. However, the initial union of skirt and woman may have come from an unfortunate ascription of fragility and grace to women (by men that clearly have never seen me, bottle of wine in hand and skirt over head).

In spite of its frequent change in waistline and length, circumference, hem, pleats or ruffles, straight lines and flare designs, the skirt nevertheless remained confined to a strict styling code of say, pencil skirts and blazers, hoop skirt with crinolines and petticoats. After all, the pencil skirt only became famous through some strange combination of fabric restrictions, the Dior FW 54 collection and office chic. But mundane 8-to-5 companion it remained, alongside the conservatism of the knee-length A-liner and the sexual boldness of the mini. And if the pencil skirt was to be paired with a blazer, then the suede mini was to be worn (at least, initially) with knee-high socks to prevent skin exposure and an all-too-soon escalation toward loftier regions.

Enter Mira. With six skirts of various design: the bold print, leather and suede mini, the flare, pencil and disco skirt, her styling can only be described as an encapsulation of the eclecticism we have seen in fashion today. And the skirt is here to help. Where the knee-length, A-line may have formerly proved a conservative companion, its addition to a nifty crop and some sneakers now brings forth a youthful and eclectic finish to an otherwise prim and proper ensemble. So where the skirt used to add the ‘conservatism’ and ‘femininity’, per se, it now puts a casual/sporty/sexy spin on an ensemble that would otherwise, and without the skirt, just be an unimaginative pairing held together by the unwarranted trouser fabric that falls between the thighs.

The Suede Mini

It seems an oddity to add here that suede, as our wonderful stylist Mira explains, “is very on-trend right now.” Suede is back in from the 70s and well, it’s back in for summer. As our graceful and vertically blessed model, Jourdana, strides up an otherwise unforgiving cobble brick hill in otherwise unforgiving weather conditions, a pillow of wind catches hold of the looser, untucked fabric of her pin-stripe button-up and whips it back and forth, revealing the white suede mini she wears in its entirety. And it’s wonderful.

As Mira explains, “It’s quite conservative on the top with the button-up, and here the short skirt brings the edge. I feel like generally, people might associate being sophisticated with being old. But the suede mini makes it young, and fun.” Where the suede mini of the 70s ought to have been paired with some knee-high boots and a loose blouse for an authentic boho aesthetic, here it reinvents an otherwise sophisticated ensemble by bringing both youth and edge to a silhouette, quite frankly, dying to escape the clutches of high-waisted shorts.

The Pencil Skirt

Away with back-seamed hosiery and conservative blouses! The pre-office clerk pencil skirt is back on the scene in cotton and knit-styles and this season it functions as that figure-hugging addition to a sporty casual ensemble, pairing as well with sleek sneakers as it does with a snapback and backpack. 

“I think that there are no boundaries with anything nowadays,” Mira tells us. “You can take any style from anywhere and turn it into anything you’re feeling. Here we’ve taken something that’s ordinarily looked at as conservative and smart and older, and we’ve turned it into something young and fun.”

The Disco Skirt

“When I see metallics I generally think of space-ageism,” Mira explains.

I laugh.

She scorns, “It’s a real thing.”

Turns out it is.

Although metallics and lace usually wouldn’t go together, Mira pairs this light, lace crop with a structured disco skirt and completes the look with bold heels and a loose lip clutch bag. This unexpected medley reveals the extent of this season’s eclecticism, and the metallic mini fits right in.

The Bold Print Mini

You need only flip through the dusty pages of a Women’s Wardrobe from 95 for an accurate explanation of the bold print mini and its place in our hearts: “With colour and pattern, a short skirt can replace summer shorts.”

You sort of get the feel that, here, a pair of bold print shorts would bring some sort of abrupt interruption to this ensemble, sort of like ending a sentence right in the.

Our tri-blend mini combines the flow of floral patterns with a structured design. It’s a total throwback to the 70s, matched by Mira with a 90s crop, boho-style gladiators and complete with a sports-luxe backpack.


The Flared Skirt

When I first saw the daisy flare skirt, a general sense of 50s nostalgia set in (think lace gloves and dainty clutches and bumper hats and To Catch A Thief. With thanks, however, to Mira’s style savvy (and thankfully not mine), the daisy flare skirt went with bold pink frames for a 50s feel, and was then paired with adidas ZX Fluxs and a knit halter-neck, helping to turn it toward a sporty and youthful look and away from my reenactment of a 50s film set.

Here, the flare skirt adds a feminine silhouette to an otherwise sporty aesthetic. Paired perhaps with jeans and other figure-huggers, this outfit would lose both its playfulness and grace. I mean, could you think of a pair of pants that could complete the look quite like this? Thought not.

The Leather Mini

By the time we reach our last look, the gentleman washing cars outside the gym has lost his initial enthusiasm (displayed in the form of hoots and the usual street flattery). But once Jourdana turns the corner in our leather mini-skirt with soft, lace-up heels, and an elegant blouse, she turns heads too. Cars drive up the hill more slowly, some reverse, some pretend to park and are henceforth compelled to have their car washed by our car-washing friend. As Mira explains, the leather mini automatically gives any outfit a sexy feel. And although there are different types of leather skirts to choose from – A-line, pencil, flared and pleated – this one has a functional feel because of the ribbed waistband and chunky leather pockets. “It’s sexy but at the same time, it has quite a casual feel to it. It doesn’t feel smart and sexy. It feels low-key and sexy. I’ve kind of paired it with a very sophisticated shirt and shoe but you could wear a plain white T-shirt too.”