How to wear... an asymmetric hem
Thank Brexit - the zigzag style is back in fashion and more flattering than ever, writes Meadhbh McGrath
With Meghan Markle due to visit these shores next week, fashion fans have been keenly watching the new Duchess of Sussex's wardrobe choices in anticipation of what she'll wear here. Last month, she dazzled the crowds on her first appearance at Royal Ascot in a crisp Givenchy shirtdress with lace detailing, topped off with a Philip Treacy hat. What struck us, however, was the handkerchief hem.
The early Noughties hippie favourite is enjoying a resurgence, with designers eschewing the familiar boho spirit and paisley prints for a fluid, modern elegance.
At Christopher Kane, zigzag hemlines were rendered in dramatic ruffles, while Peter Pilotto offered pastel satin and Northern Irish designer JW Anderson presented linen and leather versions.
Meghan has stepped out in asymmetric hems on numerous occasions, from the navy Roland Mouret she wore the night before her wedding to the double-breasted Prada skirt suit at last week's awards ceremony with the Queen.
Irregular hems have been a major hit on the catwalks and the high street - a trend that has been attributed to Brexit. The theory goes that hemlines rise and fall along with fluctuations in the stock market: during boom times, like the 1920s, minis are popular (supposedly so women could show off their pricey silk stockings), while longer lengths are said to dominate during periods of recession.
The theory may have gone the way of silk stockings, but nonetheless, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, the husband-and-wife team behind Preen, have said they had political and economic turmoil on their minds while designing their asymmetric skirts and gowns, telling Vogue last year: "We were thinking about the breakdown of society after Brexit."
Economic theories aside, an asymmetric hem is an easy way to add a sharp touch to an outfit. It's more flattering, too, since it doesn't instantly cut you off at one point, but instead drapes elegantly across the legs. It also, amazingly, looks chic with flat shoes in a way above-the-knee hems typically don't. Plus, the uneven hemline draws the eye away from the waistband and stomach - handy if you're self-conscious about those areas.
Many of these pieces can look intimidating on the hanger, but the hem is much easier to wear than a straight cut. If you opt for a skirt, styling is a breeze - there's enough going on in your lower half that you can get away with a plain T-shirt or simple sweatshirt and trainers.
In dresses, the hemline adds enough interest that even in plain black, as seen on Maggie Gyllenhaal in Monse, it makes for an immediately striking and impressive look.