The British designer Mary Quant is often given credit for inventing the mini skirt, that iconic clothing item of the 1960s. Where did her ideas come from? In her interesting book on women designers, Women of Fashion, historian Valerie Steele portrays Quant as someone driven by her disgust at how older women looked. “To me, adult appearance was very unattractive, alarming and terrifying, stilted, confined, and ugly,” Quant said. Mincing no words, she declared that her clothes were for thin and leggy girls, rather than for their staid and matronly mothers.
Mini skirts were, and remain, a controversial style. When are women too old to wear them? This question comes up again and again in Red Carpet commentary and also on television shows like “What Not to Wear.” That now cancelled show featured an opening sign stating “No mini skirts after 35.” Does part of the controversy lie in the origin of the garment itself, something specifically designed to set daughters apart from their mothers?
But it is a style that will not die. Yesterday I picked up my daughter at the airport, a sweet reunion after a year and a half of Covid induced separation. While waiting, I noticed two older women in mini skirts. They were also meeting their daughters, who arrived wearing pants.