Skirt Styles and Types
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Having traced the journey of skirts and their hemlines, it is time to examine a few of the skirt styles: the shapes of the women they suit, the times and occasions on which they can be worn, and the shoes that would look best with them.
Skirts come in a lot of different variations, and the limits lie only in the imagination of the designers. While it is natural to follow trends, it is also a good idea to try and pick the silhouettes from the trend that suit you the most. This way, you are guaranteed to pick some real winners!
Discussed here are some skirts and the figures they flatter, which will make your job easier when out shopping for a skirt next time.
A basic skirt with many variations. An a-line skirt sits snugly at the waist, kisses the hips and thighs but does not cling. It is wider at the hem as in the yellow printed skirt seen above. This kind of skirt is recommended for you if you are pear-shaped, because this style balances out heavier hips and thighs. The hem usually falls just below the knee, but you can vary it depending on your leg shape. This style is not very flattering for thin, narrow-hipped women or those with a smaller derriere.
Usually the flare on the a-line varies, becoming a flared a-line like the Luisa Beccaria embroidered black skirt seen below right. This skirt is flattering for most body types.
Luisa Beccaria Flare A-line, right, and Pleated print A-line, left
Sometimes triangular fabric pieces are added to make the flares dance as you walk like in this dark grey skirt, below right, with the neat black detailing. This distracts from heavy hips. Great choice for a full-figured woman, and good for wearing at office.
The A-line could also be paneled, slimming the hips in the process as in the cream and black printed skirt here. This is great for a pear-shaped figure. An a-line could also be made in a heavier, stiffer fabric with pleats, like the plain cream skirt by Ellie Tahari, seen below left, which is ideal for a thin or petite figure. A casual version of a pleated a-line skirt can be seen above left, in the printed cream skirt.
Depending on the choice of fabric, these skirts can be casual or formal enough for office wear. Close-toed shoes with pointy heels, strappy heeled sandals, ankle boots and wedge heels all work marvelously with these skirts. It is best not to wear these skirts with flats.
These skirts are also good to hide heavy derriere, they are basically a-line skirts with extra flare, which swing and swish about the legs, giving you a floaty feel and a slim silhouette like the Anna Sui black skirt worn with leggings.
Flared skirts are recommended if you are tall and heavy on the hips: petite women tend to look overwhelmed in this skirt style, especially in skirts with a lot of flare like the lovely ethnic embroidered pink skirt by Christian Dior. A front or side slit in a flared skirt could be an interesting and slimming detail, dividing the hip into vertical parts like the black front slit skirt here by Louis Vuitton. These skirts are shown below.
For those that are medium height and slim hipped, flared skirts like the short printed Etro, below left, could help give a sense of curvature. If you are tall and thin, you could wear flared skirts with large prints and a pocket detail like the Carolina Hererra red and white, below right. This would balance you out with a skirt with extra body. The general rule of prints also applies to flared skirts: big prints look better on thin women, and big women look good in plains and small prints.
Etro short flare skirt on left Carolina Herrera on right
These skirts would fit right in for a lunch appointment with the girls, a movie date or society party. These are best avoided as office-going clothes. They usually do well with most kinds of footwear, provided there is a slight heel.
Fit and flare skirts
These are variations of the flared skirt, where the flares do not start at the waist, but at the hip. The level from which the flare starts and the length of the flare depends on the designer.
This style, like the black skirt below left shows, can do wonders for a thin or petite figure: accentuating the curve of the hip, and concealing the lack of curve at the thigh by letting all that soft fabric swirl around the body. It is good also for figures with a smaller derriere.
The Giorgio Armani blue-printed skirt below right is made of stiffer fabric, with ruffles attached to the surface to give it extra volume and surface interest, and works very well on slim-hipped figures.
Giorgio Armani straight skirt on right
The skirts below look enticingly feminine in chiffon: the printed knee-length Dolce and Gabbana with its fly-away charm, for instance, or the long printed fit and flare skirt with godet inserts and uneven hem. Both would look nice on petite, curvy or slim-hipped women. They are perfect choices for a lunch with the girls or a dinner date.
Dolce and Gabbana chiffon fit and flare on the right
The fit and flare silhouette works like a dream on thin women especially when the flare part has a lot of movement or volume to it. These skirts can be worn on similar occasions with the same footwear as flared skirts.
As their name suggests, these skirts fall straight from the hip. They suit a variety of body shapes, depending on the length and the waistline.
If the straight skirt is a simple loose knee length like the cream Louis Vuitton straight skirt, it helps hide big thighs. If it is short like the black and white Emporio Armani, it would suit short, petite women.
Louis Vuitton skirt on left, Emporio Armani straight skirt on right
If instead it is a high waisted long skirt like the brown calf-length by Chloe, it can make a thin, long- torsoed woman proportionate and curvy. Such skirts look equally good on medium or tall women. A well-cut long skirt can hug you at all the right places: the satin black number seen below can be an asset to any curvy tall woman's wardrobe.
Chloe high-waisted on left, Satin long skirt in the middle, Louis Vuitton long slit skirt on right
Another skirt that is an expert at hiding figure flaws is one like the dark beige slit Louis Vuitton long skirt seen above on the right. This skirt, when worn with a long top, can look good on tall, big women.
A straight skirt can make you look slim and tall if vertical details are included, like the vertical embroidered lines on the black Lanvin skirt seen below left. But the best part about this shape is that it can be tailored in a wide variety of fabrics, from cotton and satin to denim, knit and leather.
This means it is good for women who need structured looks and those who look better in unstructured ones. The highly structured fitted denim straight skirt with a front slit is a wardrobe staple for thin, slim, or curvy women, while the red Prada leather skirt is a hot number, especially great for fall-winter. The denim skirt is also slimming for women who are full across the tummy. From left to right is the Lanvin, the denim jeanskirt, and the Prada leather skirt.
The Dolce and Gabbana orange lace wrap skirt below is great for tall, thin, and petite frames. The wrap skirt can be worn with less overlap to create a high slit as in the picture, or with more overlap for a short slit: they look great in short or ankle lengths.
Straight skirts are very versatile and can be worn casually like the denim or leather skirts seen here, but also adapted to formal occasions. The black satin long skirt or the Lanvin embroidered skirt would be stunning for a party, whereas any skirt in the shape of the black and white Armani skirt can easily be worn to office.
As can be seen from the pictures, the straight shape goes well with boots, open-toed wedges and sandals. Flats and platform heels take away from the look, and should be avoided as much as possible.
By Damyanti Ghosh
Edited and Updated by Damyanti, November 2008
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