Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Mini Midi Maxi: They came, they saw, they did not buy

To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a skirt is just a skirt. Other times, a skirt is way more than a simple garment. Take the midi skirt and how it became a turning point in American consumer culture.

First, a little background. There was a time when fashion designers and magazines decreed what was in style and consumers followed their lead. This old order had started to crumble in the mid 1960s but it really fell apart in the early 1970s when designers, the fashion press and store buyers threw their support behind midi length skirts.

1970s Midi skirts

1970s Midi skirts were a huge change from the mini

In 1968, Women’s Wear Daily banned miniskirts from the office, explaining in a memo: “We all know minis are dead.” Bonwit Teller  told its saleswomen to stop wearing minis on the shop floor.

However, women did not like this new silhouette and refused to buy it. Some even protested it:

1970s Midi skirts

Protesting the midi skirt

The fashion industry was oblivious to public opinion and blithely continued to push the midi; by this time, they had too much invested in it. Shoppers looking for short skirts found shop racks stuffed with midis, which they would not purchase, causing stores to suffer huge financial losses. Readership of fashion magazines plummeted. Consumer confidence was replaced by a rebellious cynicism about the fashion industry.

Women’ refusal to go along with fashion dictatorship ultimately did have an impact on that industry.

Here’s the thing, though. Midi skirts are great! Especially if you’re wearing them by choice, not by decree.

Both the 1970s and also the 1990s gave us good midi length skirts. They tend to be a-line and therefore easy to walk in. They go with comfortable footwear like boots, flats, and sandals as well as with heels. Pair one with a simple top and it’s no more complicated to wear than your favorite jeans. Here are a few modern ladies sporting vintage midis and looking wonderful.

1970s Midi skirts

Modern  Midi skirts

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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