How to wear... the midlife mini
Hemlines are on the up, but keep things sleek and sophisticated, writes Meadhbh McGrath
If 2017 was the year of fashion's great cover-up, the focus for 2018 is on bringing sexy back. While the likes of Valentino still present modest silhouettes, elsewhere on the catwalks for spring-summer and autumn-winter, necklines plunged and hemlines shot up.
Saint Laurent's creative director Antony Vaccarello has been leading the charge - since his appointment to the role, he's championed an overt sexiness and party-ready glamour that's all rhinestone mini dresses, leather micro skirts and hot pants. While some styles are best left to the Instamodels, the likes of Robin Wright, Kate Moss and Charlotte Gainsbourg were quick to get their hands on the super-short designs too.
Critics have argued the look is out of sync with the #MeToo movement, but designers are making concessions to the demands of real life. The appearance of black opaque tights at Balmain and Saint Laurent seemed to nod to practicality, while skyscraper stilettos were replaced with chunky platform boots (Saint Laurent's pair are set to be next season's hero shoe), and Karl Lagerfeld styled boucle skirt suits with flat brogues at Chanel.
In this month's issue of British Vogue, model Amber Valletta describes how the thigh-skimming mini became her style signature, but it took her years to find the confidence to wear it.
"For a long time, I didn't really like my legs, and rarely showed them off, but in the last 15 years my attitude has changed completely. Now, at 44, I wear more short skirts than I did at 24," she writes.
If you're self-conscious about your knees or not comfortable revealing bare legs, take your cue from Valletta and layer a pair of 20 denier tights underneath - they're just the right amount of sheer, while making your legs appear slimmer.
Of course, most of us fear that stepping out in a mini will leave us looking like we've ransacked a teenager's wardrobe. But as Valletta points out, there's no age limit on short skirts.
The French First Lady Brigitte Macron has become a style sensation at 64 with her penchant for mini dresses and skirt suits - Miss Selfridge has a cornflower blue set that recalls Brigitte's favourite Louis Vuitton designs.
This season's mini calls for much sleeker and more sophisticated styling, and the grown-up way to wear is to dress it up. Opt for smart tailoring, an elegant print or wear with a sharp blazer.
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Forget the low-slung 'belt' minis of the Noughties and choose a skirt that sits higher on your waist, rather than at your hips.
Team high hemlines with high necklines or long sleeves - avoid over-exposure by pairing a short skirt with a polo-neck knit or opt for a roll-neck sequinned Halpern mini, favoured by Kylie Minogue.
Freshen up your look by playing with texture and proportion: try a thigh-skimming hemline with a high neck and voluminous sleeves (like Zara's lace trim dress), or style a slick vinyl skirt with a chunky jumper like Diane Kruger.
Trainers are everywhere, but this is one look they won't work for. Instead, keep it modern with chunky boots or pointed flats. The pointed toe is your friend here, and will help to elongate the legs.