Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How to Wear a Mini During Daylight Hours, Part 1: The Skirt (Contains Sequins)

Wearing a miniskirt during the day, and, yes, at night too, requires a bit of thought, forward planning and experimentation in order to avoid looking like a TOWIE extra, and it's probably the item of clothing that causes me the most angst when putting together outfits, and the most likely to be hurled across the room. If in doubt, keep the "legs or cleavage" rule in mind, but proportions, colours, material and style all come into making a leggy look work (or not).

How I Wear
Transitioning into Autumn/Winter: Mergers and Acquisitions
Yes, You Can Wear A Mini Skirt

The Rara
A-line mini skirts, and raras in particular, were the go-to items around which I built about 50% of my outfits in my younger years, teamed with vest tops for summer days, deep-V skinny knits for winter days and, er, corsets for nights out - WAG-alicious!

Blue Hawaiian
This skirt dates back to that time, and I was about to eBay it during my most recent wardrobe weed, when I decided that the shape, colours, pattern, everything, were just too gorgeous, and swore I’d find a way to make it work. Step forward my hero £1 mint ice cream Primark blouse, introduced yesterday – the sheer fabric drapes in such an artlessly heavenly way that I could relax my rule of “either untucked or cinched in at the waist only” to tuck it in loosely at the hips – creating a laid-back, demure silhouette that could carry acres of leg safely. The tonal colour blocking keeps it easy on the eye, with just a little cheeky pop from the mustard courts (a £6 Primark mid-SS12 sale steal!).

Blouse: Primark (Past Season)
Skirt: Freemans (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (SS12)

Broderie Anglaise
I worked on a similar basis to put this look together – again, I loved the skirt, but put it with the (also gorgeous and waiting to be featured in a later post) matching corset and I might as well have been working at The Playboy Club or rehearsing for a porno version of the "pastoral" segment of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. So I stuck to a neutral colour palette, with absolutely no cleavage, a relaxed silhouette, blouse in keeping with the "peasant" feel, not too much detail, and clogs for just a little bit of “Oh!” factor. The blouse is elasticated just under the level at which it tucks into the skirt, which was handy for keeping it in place!

Blouse: Primark (Past Season)
Skirt: Red Herring at Debenhams (Past Season)
Clogs: New Look (Past Season)

Wild West
Another one of my beloved raras... the result of a season-long quest for the perfect denim mini a couple of years ago. I think this look would work well for a festival; it might be a touch too “Cowgirl Barbie” for a walk into town, although a short-haired boyish-framed brunette could work it. A slouchy, artfully-sloppily-tucked-in denim shirt in a slightly mismatching hue might give me a slightly more edgy look.

Vest Top: ASOS (Past Season)
Skirt (with Scarf Belt): Republic (Past Season)
Waistcoat: Primark (Past Season)
Boots: Primark (Past Season)

The Skater
Sports Luxe
For the record, I put this outfit together and wore it to a casting followed by a 9 hour Oxford Street shopping trip weeks before Lana Del Rey (photo: Glam.co.uk) sported the same trainers and SS12 version of my SS11 River Island skater skirt to perform at Lovebox - hmm, I knew I saw a beehive furtively following me that day... Casual, funky co-ordinates balance out the flesh on show (this kind of relaxed cropped tee works well with high-waisted skirts of all descriptions).

My casting brief was “commercial and funky” (I didn’t get the job – a TV ad – but that probably had more to do with my difficulty in fitting off-the-cuff mentions of the alcohol brand in question into a chat in front of a camera crew about my plans for the weekend – which revolved around going to an 80th birthday party - than the outfit).

I hadn’t considered wearing trainers with skirts since the whole Lily Allen/prom dress thing – IMHO, prom dresses demand elegant footwear - but moving into the world of commercial dance had gradually softened me towards high tops, followed by the very convenient steaming in of the sports luxe trend wagon with wedged versions – yess! So, perfect compromise between comfort for dancing/hours of shopping, optimal leg length and looking “funky and commercial”.

Top: River Island (Past Season)
Skirt (including belt): River Island (Past Season)
Trainers: River Island (SS/AW12)

The Tulip
I think somehow this look allows you to get away with a little flash of upper cleavage because the high waist and tulip shape give it a sophisticated vintage edge. Accessories need to be kept minimal when accessorising with legs, arms, abs and d├ęcolletage though – the belt and shoes inject an ultra-subtle dash of retro style which I think works with the shape to just push the outfit out of “I just threw on the smallest items of clothing I could find” territory!

Top: New Look (Past Season)
Skirt: New Look (Past Season)
Belt: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (Past Season)

The Flippy
Even though there’s quite a lot of skin on show here, I think the lack of cleavage, candy-sweet coral and cream hues and ditzy floral accessories make it more cute cub than cougar – with ballet flats I was comfortable wearing this outfit out shopping in Croydon on a summery-ish day (although I did wish I’d worn bigger knickers when I realised how windy it was!). The hair band (kindly bought for me that day by my BFF) has a wire core and is long enough to twist, tie and bend in almost any manner you can think of – I love the slice of vintage quirk it lends to any oufit.

Hairband: Primark (SS12)
Top: H&M (Past Season)
Skirt: ASOS (Past Season)
Basket: Primark (Past Season)
Ballet-Wrap Cardigan: Topshop (13 years old - surely worth a special mention!)

The Lantern
Graphic Stripes
You may have noticed by now that I’m a teensy bit of a monochrome fan... This skirt makes a hell of a statement, so for an “I just threw this on” effect, you really need to go basic on the upper half – a black tee fits the bill, and a cheeky flash of upper tum gives it just enough of a nonchalantly cheeky edge. Lace-up heeled brogues are a chic-er alternative to wedges, courts or sandals for a statement monochrome daytime look. The lantern gives maximum waist defining, hip concealing and leg lengthening bang for your buck, so it’s great for most body shapes.

Top: Forever 21 (SS12)
Skirt: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (Past Season)

The Trans-Seasonal Leopard
Yup, seems there's not much I won't pair a tie-up cropped tee with! Maintaining a neutral coffee-and-cream tonal palette and a neckline which dips no more than an inch beneath the clavicles keep a LOUD skirt relatively subtle and elegant (I wouldn't recommend wearing it to work though).

So, how do you render a leopard print mini skirt, boasting built in concealed tutu, suitable for a coffee date with your grandmother once the temperature drops below 10C? By teaming it with an elegant plum pussybow blouse tonally colour blocked with 100 denier tights, and smart-but-oh-so-sexy platform chocolate wedges. I'd stick to these kinds of darker, similar-hued co-ordinates for winter - all-over coffee-and-cream fluff should probably be left to our four-legged friends.

Skirt: Primark (Past Season)
Outfit 1 - Top: H&M (Past Season); Shoes: New Look (Past Season)
Outfit 2 - Blouse: Primark (Past Season); Shoes: Primark (Past Season); Tights: Primark

The Glam Rocks (Well, Sequins)
Any excuse to wear sequins and sparkles! I do love the challenge of turning evening wear into daywear. It becomes a lot easier to wear “party wear” during the day as Autumn sets in - opaques and tough lace-up boots automatically tone down glitz whilst endowing a new-found edge. I’ve had this stretch grey marl T-shirt for over 4 years and it’s still the most-worn tee in my wardrobe. The silver toned sequins mesh in with the more subtle grey tones of the tee and tights (grey makes a change from the ubiquitous black opaques in AW) so the look isn’t too “in your face”, but the statement necklace adds a funky edge to the neckline and helps to unify the look so it’s not just “T-shirt plonked on with sequinned skirt".

T Shirt: H&M (Past Season)
Skirt: eBay (originally Primark)
Boots: Peacocks (Past Season)
Tights: Sainsbury’s
Necklace: Primark (Past Season)

Transitioning into Autumn/Winter: Mergers and Acquisitions
Many mini skirts can be taken with you from season to season (usually best to store Wimbledon whites and tropical raras once sleet sets in though) with the assistance of classic shirts and blouses, snuggly knits, opaques, elegant flats, funky ankle boots and chunky loafers. I shall be gleefully liberating my velvet rara from vacuum storage, and looking out for new tulip, skater, lantern and peplum styles in faux leather, carpet-print and jacquard.

Yes, You Can Wear A Mini Skirt...

Lantern, skater and tulip styles hit a double whammy: both enhancing curves and concealing hips.

If you want to shrink your thighs and/or lengthen your legs, embrace A-line styles - skater or lantern - but beware of the bodycon and tulip.

Those with slimmer pins can get away with bodycon and tulip styles, but may not like A-line shapes if they feel their legs are too skinny.

Apple-shaped girls can show off their pins in a peplum-enhanced bodycon or tulip style mini, without feeling self-conscious about the tummy area.

High-waisted minis lengthen legs, but shrink torsos, so be aware of your proportions - those with shorter torsos and longer legs might look more proportionate in low-rise numbers.

Tomorrow: How to Wear a Mini During Daylight Hours, Part 2: The Dress

See more recent posts featuring mini skirts here

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