Friday, 09 December 2016

The History of the Mini Skirt

Written by Kate Beavis
In the mid 1960s, the mini skirt was the revolutionary fashion item; wearing it was a young woman's way of rebelling against her parents and society. But shorter hemlines had been seen before, back in the 1920s, with flapper fringed dresses worn by the "bright, young things" who danced the night away after the devastating Great War. But it was in 1964 that the mini dress, named after the iconic British car, became a fashion "must have".

2016-01-13-LR---46Photo by Mark NewtonMary Quant, the British designer and owner of the London shop Bazaar, created the first British mini skirt, but she has always been clear that what influenced this look was the girls that she saw on the streets and that they were the original designers of the look, not her. Hemlines were raised (as were eyebrows), Twiggy modelled the look to perfection, and parents despaired.
In France, André Courrèges also shortened dresses basing his designs on a space age look maybe influenced by the clothes in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. The debate has gone on for years as to who designed the mini skirt first, but whoever did has influenced our style to the present day.
In the late 1960s, hemlines dropped again with the bohemian look of the maxi skirt – and designers and high street shops have been swapping between the two lengths ever since. Some say it is linked to politics and the financial state of the world; the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s and 2000s were all periods of hope and buoyancy and we wore short dresses, the other years were financially insecure resulting in is all covering up.

Get the Look

The Vintage Mini
It is quite easy to find a vintage 1960s mini dress at fairs and vintage shops in the UK as many styles were mass produced and made from new man-made fibres which have stood the test of time. Often, 1970s maxi dresses have been shortened to this length too so there is a lot to choose from.
The most flattering look is an A Line mini dress which will accentuate your waist and cover your hips. Many 1960s maxi dresses were column shaped with a true A line so these shortened make a perfect dress.
Dresses and bags from Revival VintageDresses and bags from Revival Vintage

Dresses and bags from Revival Vintage

Team up with platform shoes or simple ballet pumps, coloured tights, and a chunky original vintage box bag.
Dresses and bags from Revival Vintage

Photo by Mark NewtonPhoto by Mark Newton
The Vintage Style Mini
If you don't want to wear vintage but want an accurate reproduction, choose a vintage style one from a specialist designer. The details to look out for are wide ballooned sleeves with beautiful buttoned cuffs, high necklines in boat shapes or with a rolled finish and an A line shape. Wear with a patent shoe and a vintage style cape to complete the look.

The Modern Mini
The high street is also packed with mini dresses especially for parties and the festive period, which will come in modern, more fitted shapes in stretchy materials and a load of sparkle thrown in. These tend to be very different from the originals, as often they have lost the humour, pattern and shape that was seen in the 1960s.

Mod Shoes Patent 1960s style shoes Mod Shoes Patent 1960s style shoes
How to look great in your mini dress
1. Mini dresses look best when wearing flats or a chunky heel rather than stilettos. This is closer to the original look and easier to wear too!
2. Cute up the look by adding socks; choose knee highs to lengthen your leg.
3. Think about your underwear especially with a super short mini dress – choose something practical!
4. As your legs are on show, consider covering up other parts of your body for a more balanced look. Choose a high neckline or a long sleeve so everyone notices your pins.
5. In the winter, choose patterned or coloured tights to highlight your legs and keep warm too!
6. Find a dress that fits well as you don't want it to be riding up all day, or to be pulling it down all the time too.
7. Remember you can wear a mini dress at any age if chosen well; don't let anyone tell you that they are just for teenagers.
8. Have fun in your mini dress. They were designed to not be too serious so enjoy the attention you will get when wearing them.

Where to Buy
For vintage dresses visit Revival Vintage at The Festival of Vintage. For vintage reproduction dresses, see The House of Foxy and Bright and Beautiful by Collectif. For fabulous 1960s inspired shoes go to Mod Shoes.

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