Monday, June 11, 2007

A Skirt Over A Skirt

Here is a styling idea I’ve been noticing in the glossies for the past 6 months or so: a skirt worn over a skirt or, as here, a dress worn over a dress. I have no idea why no fashion editors have called attention to it yet. I love the look because it’s
ultra-feminine, but a little quirky at the same time. It manages to be both creative and fashion-forward but at the same time looks back to a time in history when petticoats, underskirts and overskirts were the usual way of dressing.

There are a couple of tricks to pulling off the look. To begin with, you want volume, but not too much volume. A nipped-in waist is essential. Then you need to consider three things about the skirts involved.

First, how heavy are each of the fabrics? In these photos, the top skirts are made of very light fabrics, while the bottom ones are cut from heavier ones. But I’ve also seen the reverse: a heavier top fabric paired with a lighter bottom one. I think the
principle is simply that there should be some weight (so not, say, chiffon worn over chiffon) but not a ton of heft (like velvet worn over velvet). In the first case, the look wouldn’t be structured and wouldn’t lie flat, in the second case, it would be uncomfortably heavy to wear. Plus, mixing things up keeps them funky and interesting.

Second, how long are the skirts? You want the bottom skirt to be longer, but not too much longer than the top one. A four or five inch difference seems about ideal. Enough to look deliberate and not like the underskirt is a poorly-chosen slip. Also, in terms of length, the underskirt should hit right at, or just slightly below, the knee, and the right length for the overskirt can be figured from there: slightly mini as opposed to super short.

Third, you’ll want to think about the shape of the skirts. They need to be of similar shape, since you’re aiming for an unbroken line on the silhouette. That said, as here, both could be flouncy or flared, in which case, carefully considering the weight of the fabrics becomes all the more important, because there will be that much more volume and movement involved.
Alternatively, both could be fitted pencil skirts. In that case, to make the look more vintage and less sporty, the underskirt would do well to have a four or five inch-long ruffled hem. Then the overskirt would end at exactly the point where the underskirt’s ruffles start.

That’s a lot to balance to pull this look off, but the fabulousness of the successful result makes it incredibly enticing to try. If you’re game for a fashion challenge, this one’s for you.

Images from Harper’s Bazaar, June ‘07.

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