The fashioning-up of the longer skirt has piqued your interest, hasn't it? The maxi skirt and its more awkward younger sister, the midi length, have – after a couple of seasons's hard graft – finally stolen the limelight. It is the trend most likely to convert its catwalk kudos into commercial success and as a grown-up with a real body you're keen to get involved, but more than a little bit wary because – and let's not sugarcoat this – they might be less revealing but they are far from easy to wear. In fact they are downright difficult.
The catwalks have been trying to convince us about "longer" for a while. Back in September there was a lot of hoo-ha after a beautiful Jil Sander show focused on floor-length couture-style skirts in pinks and oranges. It was, according to Caroline Issa, fashion director at Tank magazine and darling of the blogosphere, "the moment when I remembered about length". Tilda Swinton – a women who prefers to tackle difficult new fashions head-on – took the look to the red carpet and was given the thumbs-up by the fashion jury. Next, the high street collectively decided that this was the season when they could convince us to drop our hems down a good few notches, and now it looks like we might actually be ready to listen.
Already there is a breakthrough star of the longer skirt movement. It is a bright pink plissé-pleated calf-length skirt named Carrie. At £110, it has already sold out once at Whistles. Grazia's fashion editor at large, Melanie Rickey, attests that at least five people in the magazine's office have ordered it already. It's easy to see its hanger appeal – it's feminine but not twee and it stands in the centre of a venn diagram of at least three trends. But its hemline is a styling challenge, to say the least.
Carrie's creator, Gemma Bunston, advises wearing it with "a buttoned-up shirt to balance the femininity of the piece, or with a simple body for a ballet style. It's hard to wear anything that might compete with it." Meanwhile Rickey takes a more mathematical approach to longer-hem styling. "Knee boots with a midi is amazing," she says, "but with floor length it has to be flat sandals. You can't wear a heel with long unless it is a wedge. It's a question of logistics. You have to look at it practically."
For both lengths, tucking-in is the key to getting the proportions right. An untucked top lacks pace, adds bulk and worse still could veer you towards the hippy look, which is so not the goal with longer hems this season. Those on the style front line are embracing the return of the body (yep, popper fastenings and everything) but if that feels like a Rubicon you are not ready to cross, then tuck in a neat jumper and add a belt.
So why are all so suddenly flummoxed by the idea of wearing a longer skirt? According to Rickey it's the fault of the so-called decade of the dress, 10 years of slinging on one piece and not having to think about what to wear with it. "Women don't know how to put together outfits any more. I've found that myself, and I work in fashion. We need a lesson in how to wear separates."
And it seems that we had better learn fast. The Carrie is coming back in stock soon and on the evidence of next season's catwalk, longer hems aren't going anywhere for a while. Rickey is convinced. "When I see someone wearing really short now, it just looks wrong. Like they forgot to put their skirts on."
You don't want that now, do you?
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