Throughout modern fashion history, there are a handful of garments that keep coming back through the trend cycle: jeans, blazers, A-line skirts, white oxfords, sailor pants, t-shirts, and the list goes on. But none have the provocation of the mini skirt, the singular item that manages to both excite and offend each time it reappears.
The garment is officially back in action, after spring ’22 runways confirmed what was already being seen in real life this summer (on the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, Willow Smith and more). Miu Miu seemed to best embody the mini skirt’s shock value legacy: Its spring ’22 runway was filled with minis that dove both well below the navel and right up to the highest-possible hemline (paired with crop tops, it was a long stretch of midriff not seen since Paris Hilton’s run on the matching tube top and mini skirt of the early aughts).
The current iteration looks to be a mix of ’90s grunge and Y2K whimsy — and one cannot underestimate the lasting impact that the wardrobes of “Clueless” characters Cher Horowitz and Dionne Davenport have had on Millennials and Gen Z alike (just ask Versace). Both the pleated micro-mini and the kilt-style wool tartan (also often pleated) seem to be resonate, especially since both work well with the chunky combat-style boot or classic knee-length silhouette that is dominating footwear. The pairing is also an easy formula to follow after a year or more of living and working at home in sweatpants (and it’s high impact to boot).
The mini trend might seem like just another chapter of the ongoing obsession with all things ’90s and early ’00s, and movie references such as the aforementioned “Clueless” or even “Empire Records” (both from 1995) reinforce the inspiration. But the mini skirt’s history goes further back. From the Nordic Bronze Age (1390-1370 BCE) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) of the Duan Qun Miao people, there are plenty of ancient iterations of the mini skirt —but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the bottom got its current name, thanks so designers like Mary Quant and André Courrèges.
Since the Swinging Sixties, the mini has been a provocation both on screen and in real life (just ask any high school supervisor tasked with enforcing a dress code). It’s a sure bet that its legacy as a garment of scandal will continue, especially as fall ’21 examples of tartans and boots are sure to morph into skimpier versions next year. Come spring, one can bet that the skirts will go even shorter — and the heels might go even higher.
Whatever the level of scandal (or confidence — depending on how you view it), one of the silver linings of mini skirt’s return is the opportunity to wholeheartedly dive into all sorts of fashion archives (or one’s own closet) to rediscover the iconic fashion garment. Upcyclers and secondhand aficionados, start your search engines.
The pleated minis and boots to wear now
To buy: Ganni recycled rubber boot, $245.