A miniskirt, or sometimes nicknamed mini, is one of the most popular dres’s designs for women. Developed in the 1950s, they became more and more famous with the passing years. With a minimal difference, the design of the mini remained the same throughout that period. It is a skirt with a hemline that is well above the knees. It generally remained at mid-thigh level with a length of up to 10 cm below the buttock. The dress that has such a hemline is called a mini-skirt dress or minidress.
On the other hand, the microskirt of the micro-skirt is a bit shorter as compared to the mini skirt as the former has its hemline at the upper thigh or underwear level. Different designs existed before the famous “Swinging London” when these were at their peak in the 1960s and continued to be a favorite dress among teenage girls and younger women. Before this, short skirts were worn as dance clothing or in sports, such as skirts were worn by dancers, cheerleaders, figure skaters, and female tennis players. Some designers like Mary Quant and the Parisian Andre Courses are credited with the invention of 1960s miniskirts. Today, women like to wear mini and are one of the most famous dress outfits even today.
When we talk about reasons due to which mini made fashion history, three different reasons become apparent. Firstly, wearing short-length dresses showed more legs on women than ever compared and notes in the fashion industry before. Secondly, mini represented Fashion’s democratization because, before mini, there was an unmatched fashion of wearing Parisian couture. With mini coming into the fashion industry, the influential grip of Parisian couture was loosed. Thirdly, the Fashion of wearing mini skirts coincided with the feminist movement of the 1960s. It helped to fuel a movement for female social and sexual liberation.
Mary Quant: Mother of the Miniskirt:
Mary Quant is credited with the invention of these skirts. But if we see history impartially, it becomes clear that she was not the actual inventor but one of its first public proponents. Moreover, thinking of miniskirt as a dress of exclusively 1960s is wrong because evidence shows Egyptian women wearing leg-baring styles as early as 4700 BCE. But coming directly to the 1960s, we needed a person to make him/her pioneer of the rising trend, and Mary was named “the mother” of the mini. Her boutique Bazar was for women to shop affordable and high-quality garments.
Snobbery was not considered stylish by Mary, and her store was one of the first where hipster socialists and young artists could shop and be themselves. It is said that Mary used to say, “Snobbery has gone out of fashion, and in our shops, you will find duchesses jostling with typists to buy the same dresses.” When Mary launched her designs of a shockingly short skirt, named ‘mini’ after her favorite car, her bold and open-minded customers rushed for mini, which they thought as s symbol of going against their parents, family, society, and everything. This was what their self-expressive and liberated fashion sense stood for. Let’s now discuss the history s it was evolved since the time of Mary Quant.
The history and development are fascinating. Instances of clothes resembling mini are found as back as 1390-1370 BCE. However, in the early years of the 20th century, the dancer Josephine Baker’s banana skirt resembled a mini skirt that she wore in her 1920s performance in the Folies Bergere. But short skirts were seen in the science fiction 1940s pulp artwork by Earle K. Bergey, who gave prophesy about futuristic women wearing a “stereotypical combination” of metallic miniskirt, bra, and boots. However, mini skirts as we know them today were developed in the 1960s when a fashion designer named Mary Quant used to have her clothing shop in London where she used to sell her designs.
In the latter half of the 1950s, she experimented with shorter skirts which became one of the vital fashion designs of the decade of 1960s. Owing to Mary’s position in the fashion industry, the mini skirt went beyond the limit of street fashion and became a major international brand. The popularity of miniskirt was further increased by Andr Coutges, who developed and incorporated it separately into his Mod look for spring/summer 1965. His miniskirts were comparatively less body-hugging and worn with the white “courages boots” that became a trademark for later years. By incorporating miniskirt into the fashion industry, it was given a greater degree of respectability. Now we trace the history of mini skirts decade-wise.
• In the 1960s:
In the 1860s, a mini skirt became shorter, which was derogatorily remarked as a pelmet or belt. Upper garments like rugby shirts were adapted and named minidresses. While panty-hose or tights were in Vogue taking the place of stockings. The Fashion of tights and panty-hose was because of the rise of hemlines which meant that stocking tops would reveal the body. Mary Quant defended this trend in favor of miniskirts by saying’ “In European countries where they ban miniskirts in the streets and say they are an invitation to rape, they don’t understand about stocking tights and underneath.” If we name an item that could sum up the Fashion of the 1960s, that would be a miniskirt. Within a year, almost everyone that could pull it off was wearing a mini. But style and length of the mini were different in different countries. For example, in London, mini 7-8 inch above the knee was considered decent and in Vogue.
On the other hand, a bit lengthier mini, only 4-5 inches above the knee, was typical. Moreover, the skirt was worn with matching tights and a sweater for a uniform look. However, when Jackie Kennedy wore a white Valentine miniskirt for her wedding, Fashion’s height was confirmed.
• In the 1970s:
With the dawn of the new decade, the Fashion of longer skirts such as maxi and midi was essentially in Vogue. Journalist Christopher Booker did give two reasons for this change: firstly, “there was almost nowhere else to go…the miniskirts could go no higher”; and secondly, “dressed up in miniskirts and shinny PVC macs, given such impersonal names as ‘dolly birds,’ girls had been transformed into throwaway plastic objects.” Indeed, the increasing length of hemlines coincided with the feminist movement. However, mini was regarded as a symbol of liberation in the 1960s. Even the advocates of women’s rights and issues like Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer wore these.
• In the 1980s and 1990s:
With the new decade, shirt skirts re-emerged, especially in the form of “rah-rah.” Cheerleaders wore these short skirts at sports and other events. However, in the mid of 1980s, the “puffball” became popular though for a short period when it was worn by, among others, the Princess of Wales and singers like Shirlie and Pepsi. In addition to this, many women began to wear their business dresses. This trend continued to grow during the remaining years of the 20th century. Films and television series in the mid-1990s (Sex and the City, Friends, Ally McBeal, for example) showed how omnipresent the mini skirts had become again. Thus, mini was in Vogue during the second half of the 20th century.
• In the 21 Century:
With the turn of the new century, wearing hipster trousers became very popular among women. The micro was reworked, which may perhaps provide rhythm for the hipline. As it was revealing, the belt skirt was not worn in public. However, trousers, jeans, or leggings were also worn as formers covered each leg above the knee. Although “floaty” skirts were associated with the boho look, short skirts were also the feature of some outfits in London. For instance, minis were more in Fashion during the hot summer of 2006 than for several years, a trend that continued to be in Vogue through the autumn and winter and the following summer. But now mini skirts are becoming popular in the younger generation.
The miniskirt was replaced by a mid-skirt and skirt with modest length from several years ago. But now, a renaissance of the mini skirt can be seen in the fashion world. Online retailing and searches of mini skirts and designs have seen a rise in recent years, as reported by Topshop. In response, Topshop has decreased the length of the hemline of one of its most famous styles. Mini skirts have counter-weighed the fashion industry’s recent inclination towards more modest and decent lengths, which favored looser shapes and lowered hemlines.
Reaction and Response:
As far as the reaction to this new trend is concerned, it is mixed. Public eyes have not fared well were wearing shorter lengths is concerned in recent years. For example, the television presenters Helen Skelton, Emily Maitlis, and Susanna Reid were reprimanded and rebuked for wearing hems above the knee. On the other hand, the pink miniskirt worn by the presenter Holly Willoughby on ITV’s was much liked by people. It was due to this that M&S Holly is the brand ambassador for sold 300,000 mini skirts after she wore one in its Christmas advertisement, as reported by Vogue. Pithers believes that the climate is suitable and favorable for the revival. She further says, “The current news cycle spells doom, politically, socially, and environmentally speaking. Two fingers up to all that right now are manifesting itself for me with a short hem and a big wide smile.” Thus, mini skirts have seen their revival in recent times, and people have shown a mixed response as far as wearing shorter hemlines is concerned.
Symbol of Defiance:
As dress of any time and any culture represent ideas, norms, and beliefs of that particular time and culture, so does the mini skirt. When mini was in Vogue, it was seen as a symbol of defiance. In recent times as well, mini skirts are being regarded as a symbol of defiance. In the recent wave of the #MeToo movement, when women’s bodies were politicized, the mini skirt is now again seen as a symbol of defiance. Now women think that their hemline can be as short and micro as pleases them. Wood is of the view, “Fashion has a long history of representing political and social ideas, especially because Fashion is a powerful and obvious form of communication. Perhaps the renaissance of the miniskirt can be linked with women feeling the need to reclaim their bodies.” On the other hand, mini skirts in the 1960s and the social shift triggered by the so-called teenage “youthquake” were associated, and the former was the defining part of the latter. But as far as the mini skirt of this decade is concerned, it has no age limit.
The Instagram posts of Rihanna, Hailey Bieber, and Kendall Jenner are laden with these skirts. Still, mini is also famous among some high-profile women such as Chloe Sevigny, Kate Moss, the Spice Girl Emma Bunton, and Quant herself, and all are in their 40s and beyond. Alice Gividen, Fashion and beauty editor at trend consultancy WGSN, agrees, “There is a new narrative building around traditional, feminine items.” She further says, “Sexy, skin-baring items like the mini skirts have found a new context in a time where we can celebrate femininity and sexuality, in line with ‘fourth-wave feminism and to dress up for ourselves. So, especially today, skirts are seen as a symbol of defiance, and women of all ages like to wear mini.
In short, It is one of the most liked and worn dresses in the world. Mary Quant is considered its mother, who pioneered mini in the mid of 1960s. Although it was primarily worn by young girls when it became famous in the 1960s, women of all ages like to wear mini. As dress represents ideas and thinking of society, women in the 1960s and today’s regard mini as a symbol of defiance and a statement of liberation and self-expression.