From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Polka dot skirt on a hanger.
A skirt is a tube- or cone-shaped garment
that hangs from the waist and
covers all or part of the legs.
In European culture, skirts are usually
considered women's clothing.
However, there are exceptions. The kilt is a traditional men's garment in Scotland, and some fashion designers, such as
Gaultier, have shown men's skirts.
At its simplest, a skirt can be a draped garment made out of a single
piece of material (such as pareos), but most skirts are fitted to the body
at the waist and fuller below, with the fullness introduced by
means of dart,
gores, pleats, or panels. Modern
skirts are usually made of light to mid-weight fabrics, such as denim, jersey, worsted, or poplin. Skirts of thin
or clingy fabrics are often worn with slips to make the material of the skirt
drape better and for modesty.
The hemline of skirts can
be as high as the upper thigh or
as low as the ground, depending on the whims of fashion and the modesty or personal taste of the wearer.
Some medieval upper-class women wore skirts over three metres in
diameter at the bottom. At the other extreme, the miniskirts of the 1960s
were minimal garments that may have barely covered the underwear
Costume historians typically use the word "petticoat" to describe skirt-like garments of
the 18th century or earlier.
Skirts have been worn by men and women from many cultures, such
as the lungi, kanga and sarong worn in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and the kilt worn in Scotland.
The earliest known culture to have females wear clothing
were the Duan Qun Miao, which literally meant "short skirt
Miao" in Chinese. This was in reference to the
short miniskirts "that barely cover the buttocks" worn by women of
the tribe, and which were "probably shocking" to observers in medieval and early
Skirts in the 19th
During the nineteenth century the cut of women's dresses in
western culture varied more widely than in any other century. Waistlines started just below the
bust (the Empire silhouette) and gradually sank
to the natural waist. Skirts started fairly narrow and increased
dramatically to the hoopskirt and crinoline-supported styles of the 1860s; then
fullness was draped and drawn to the back by means of bustles.
- See also History of Western fashion:
1795-1820, 1820s, 1830s, 1840s,1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1880s, 1890s
- Victorian fashion, Artistic Dress movement, Victorian dress reform.
Skirts in the 20th and
Beginning around 1915, hemlines for daytime dresses left the floor for
good. For the next fifty years fashionable skirts became short
(1920s). then long (1930s), then shorter (the War Years with their restrictions on
fabric), then long (the New
Look), then shortest of all during the 1960s, when skirts
became as short as possible while avoiding exposure of underwear, which was considered taboo.
Since the 1970s and the rise of pants for women as an option for
all but the most formal of occasions, no one skirt length has
dominated fashion for long, with short and ankle-length styles
often appearing side-by-side in fashion magazines and catalogs.
- Straight skirt or Pencil skirt, a tailored skirt
hanging straight from the hips and fitted from the waist to the
hips by means of darts or a yoke; may have a kick-pleat
for ease of walking
- Full skirt, a skirt with fullness gathered into the
- Short skirt, a skirt with hemline above the knee.
- Bell-shaped skirt, eponymous to its namesake
- A-line skirt, a
skirt with a slight flare, roughly in the shape of a capital letter
- Pleated skirt, a skirt with fullness reduced to fit
the waist by means of regular pleats ('plaits') or folds, which can be stitched
flat to hip-level or free-hanging
- Circle skirt, a skirt cut in sections to make one or
more circles with a hole for the waist, so the skirt is very full
but hangs smoothly from the waist without darts, pleats, or
skirt, a full-length formal skirt popular in the 1950s.
- Broomstick skirt, a light-weight ankle length skirt with many
crumpled pleats formed by compressing and twisting the garment
while wet, such as around a broomstick. (1980s and on)
- Bubble dress/skirt, a voluminous skirt whose hem is tucked back
under to create a “bubble effect” at the bottom. Popular in the
1980s and from the mid 2000s to currently.
- Cargo skirt, a plain utilitarian skirt with
belt loops and numerous large pockets, based on the military style
of Cargo pants and
popularised in the 1990s.
- Dirndl, a skirt made of a
straight length of fabric gathered at the waist
skirt, long and tight skirt with a narrow enough hem to
significantly impede the wearer's stride
- Jean skirt, a
trouser skirt made of denim, often designed like 5-pocket jeans, but found in a large variety
skirt, a skirt made of leather
- Kilt-skirt, a wrap-around skirt with overlapping aprons in
front and pleated around the back. Though traditionally designed as
women's wear, it is fashioned to mimic somewhat closely the general
appearance of a (man's) kilt, including the usage of a plaid
pattern more or less closely resembling those of recognized tartan
patterns of Scotland.
- Maxiskirt, an ankle length-skirt (1970s, but has made a
comeback in the 2000s)
- Midi skirt, mid-calf length. See: 1970s in fashion.
- Miniskirt, a
thigh-length skirt, and micromini, an extremely
short version (1960s)
- Poodle skirt,
a circle or near-circle skirt with an appliqued poodle or other decoration
skirt, a flared skirt with one or more flounces or tiers (1970s
skirt, a short, tiered, and often colourful skirt fashionable
in the early-mid 1980s.
- Sarong, a square of fabric
wrapped around the body and tied on one hip to make a skirt; worn
as a skirt or as a cover-up over a bathing suit in tropical
- Tiered skirt, made of several horizontal layers, each wider
than the one above, and divided by stitching. Layers may look
identical in solid-colored garments, or may differ when made of
- Trouser skirt, a straight skirt with the
part above the hips tailored like men's trousers, with belt loops, pockets, and fly
- T-skirt, made from a T-shirt, the T-skirt is generally modified to
result in a pencil
skirt, with invisible zippers, full length 2-way separating
side zippers, as well as artful fabric overlays and yokes.
- Legwear and footwear with skirts. Popular legwear trends now
include: skirts with striped tube socks popular with the Rocker
style of dressing, skirts with leggings sometimes with lace trim
and opaque footless tights, and opaque tights especially in black
and also in gray and other colors, and skirts with fun knee socks
in styles such as argyle in many colors and solid bright colors.
Uggs, classic sneakers like Converse and Keds, flats, and Sperry Top-Siders are popular footwear now
Lahenga is a traditional dress of women of North India, and Pakistan worn below waistline and extends to
the toe, upper part of the body is
covered with a choli or Kameez. The lehenga is
particularly popular form of dress for women in Punjab.
In Punjabi, it's known as a "lehnga". In South India, it is known as
Main article: Men's skirts
There are a number of male garments which fall under the
category of "skirt" or "dress." These go by a variety of names and
form part of the traditional dress for men from various cultures.
Usage varies - the dhoti is part
of everyday dress on the Indian subcontinent while the kilt is more
usually restricted to occasional wear and the foustanella is used
almost exclusively as costume. Robes, which are a type of dress for
men, have existed in many cultures, including the Japanese kimono, the Chinese cheongsam, the Arabic thobe, and the
African Senegalese kaftan. Robes are also
used in some religious orders, such as the cassock in Christianity and various robes and
cloaks that may be used in pagan rituals. Examples of men's skirts
and skirt like garments from various cultures include:
- The kilt is a skirt of Gaelic
and Celtic history, part of the Scottish national dress in particular, and is
worn formally and to a lesser extent informally. Irish and Welsh
kilts also exist but are not so much a part of national
- The foustanella is worn by men in Greece and other parts of the
Balkans. By the mid-20th Century, it was relegated to ceremonial
use and as period or traditional costume.
- The gho is a knee-length robe
worn by men in Bhutan. They
are required to wear it every day as part of national dress.
- The sarong is a piece of
cloth that may be wrapped around the waist to form a skirt-like
garment. Sarongs exist in various cultures under various names,
including the pareo and lavalava
of the Hawaiian islands and Polynesia (Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and
Fiji), the Indian dhoti and lungi, and the South Indian mundu.
In the Western
world skirts, dresses and similar garments are considered
primarily women's clothing today although historically that was not
the case. The
wearing of skirts by men in these areas was generally seen as cross-dressing
although some fashion designers such as Jean-Paul
Gaultier have produced skirts for men and kilts are widely accepted in some situations.
of skirt styles
- Oxford English
- Brockmamn, Helen L.: The Theory of Fashion Design,
- Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and
Wagnalls, 1957. (1973 edition ISBN 0-308-10052-2)
- Tozer, Jane, and Sarah Levitt: Fabric of Society: A Century
of People and Their Clothes 1770-1870, Laura Ashley Ltd.,
1983; ISBN 0-9508913-0-4