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How to dress: longer length skirts

Link to video: How to wear long skirts

Fashion is all about our desires and aspirations, and because we are confused/dishonest about what those are, we get ourselves in a pickle sometimes. See: the chicken-and-egg, thin-models-dominate-magazines-because-thin-models-sell-magazines argument, which we haven’t got room to go into here because we’ve got the pressing issue of skirt length to debate.

The brevity of hemlines was a source of frustration for me for most of the noughties and the early years of this decade. Even in mainstream high-street stores, skirts that ended at the upper thigh outnumbered those of a “wearable” length by a long (or rather, short) chalk. More than once I was so irritated and alienated by the disconnect between the super-short hemlines on sale and the clear dress code among the women browsing that I huffed out of a shop. Which is saying something, when you consider that wearing ridiculous clothes in public just because they are fashionable is an activity for which I have by necessity developed a high tolerance.

Anyway, over the past couple of years the pendulum has swung the other way, as it always will. A few weeks ago, I staggered into a changing room weighed down by a pile of knee-length-or-longer skirts. But after trying on the third or fourth one, I decided they all looked a bit frumpy and started to wonder if I should try something shorter.

Careful what you wish for is, of course, the moral here. Longer length skirts are a bit old-lady-ish, which is what makes them wearable, but the frump factor can be averted with the right shoes. The look to avoid is the Dior New Look silhouette – a chic, below-the-knee skirt and calves tapering delicately into pointed shoes. Elegant, yes, but somehow a teeny bit yawnsome. By avoiding the obvious pointy-elegant-shoe in favour of a stompy flat or a cut-out boot or something studded and jolie-laide, you can wake up a boringly wearable skirt length and make it sing. In other words, a wearable skirt becomes a little more strange and therefore more appealing when you make it look a bit weird. It makes no sense at all, this. But that’s fashion for you.

• Jess wears silk insert sweater, £120, by Marc by Marc Jacobs, from selfridges.com. Lace skirt, £60, topshop.com. High sandals, £110, aldoshoes.com.

Styling: Lucy Trott at Carol Hayes Management. Hair and makeup: Beth Alderson at Carol Hayes Management.

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