Monday 10 December 2018

How to wear... the midi dress

The reigning queen of hemlines can flatter all shapes and sizes, writes Meadhbh McGrath

Look to Victoria Beckham on how to style a midi for the office with smart courts. Photo: GC Images
Look to Victoria Beckham on how to style a midi for the office with smart courts. Photo: GC Images

Meadhbh McGrath

When we look back on what we wore in the 2010s, the midi will likely stand out as the defining silhouette of the era. Of course, the hemline that returned to the catwalks in 2013 was nothing new - the mid-calf style stretches back as far as the late 1920s, and was an essential component of the 60s woman's wardrobe.

The midi emerged in response to the miniskirt that became popular in the early 60s, and went on to spark what Women's Wear Daily (WWD) dubbed a "hemline war". Designers, department stores and fashion magazines all clamoured to promote the midi as an alternative to the mini, but women weren't interested, with some even protesting outside stores in the US. By 1970, women's groups were condemning the midi as anti-feminist, outraged that fashion magazines - particularly WWD, which was edited by a man - were trying to force this new demure style on them.

Now, however, the midi has been widely embraced by women of all ages, shapes and sizes. And while those late 60s midis were rather frumpy and unforgiving, our definition of 'midi' has expanded to include far more flattering cuts.

But not all midis are created equal. Shop around and you'll find a 'midi' in one store that falls a couple of inches lower than that by another brand.

Unless you're very tall and slim, you'll want to find a length that sits just above or below your mid-calf, which will make legs appear longer and slimmer - if it hits you right at the widest part of your calves, it can make you look stumpy.

If you're curvy or pear shaped, opt for a dress with a defined waist, or create a silhouette yourself by adding a belt to accentuate your shape. You can't beat a wrap dress for this - it skims over the hips and ties at the waist, emphasising the slimmest part of the torso.

Meghan Markle, in sunshine yellow Brandon Maxwell, illustrates how wearing one colour head-to-toe can have a leg-lengthening effect. Photo: Reuters
Meghan Markle, in sunshine yellow Brandon Maxwell, illustrates how wearing one colour head-to-toe can have a leg-lengthening effect. Photo: Reuters

Unlike the mini, which can prove too skimpy, or the maxi, which can overwhelm the figure and veer too boho, the midi can be worn anywhere, anytime. Look to Victoria Beckham on how to style a midi for the office with smart courts, or dress yours down with flat sandals and a straw bag for a laidback look that will work as well on a stroll around town as on the beach.

Meghan Markle's nude heels may not be for everyone, but they help to elongate the silhouette. In sunshine yellow Brandon Maxwell, her look illustrates how wearing one colour head-to-toe can have a leg-lengthening effect. Block colours are especially good for shorter ladies - where prints can swamp your frame, a solid hue is clean and streamlined.

If you do fancy a print, go for a dress with a slit in the skirt, which will draw the eye up and make your silhouette seem longer.

Striped dress, €54 from M&S
Striped dress, €54 from M&S
Raffia bag, €49.95 from Zara
Bow slides, €35.99 from Mango
Floral dress, €120 from Studio by Preen at Debenhams
Floral dress, €120 from Studio by Preen at Debenhams
Hoops, €20 from Topshop
Buckle sandals, €105 from Dune
Tie dress, €89 from Warehouse
Tie dress, €89 from Warehouse
Drop earrings, €19 from & Other Stories
V-neck dress, €235 from Karen Millen at Brown Thomas
Colour block dress, €73 from Warehouse
Wrap dress, €89 from & Other Stories
Wrap dress, €89 from & Other Stories
Polka dot dress, €59 from Debenhams
Courts, €35.99 from Mango
Beaded tote, €59.99 from Mango
Ruffle dress, €360 from Self-Portrait at Brown Thomas
Ruffle dress, €360 from Self-Portrait at Brown Thomas
Asymmetric dress, €175 from COS
Cowl neck dress, €89 from Topshop

Irish Independent

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