After so many seasons of super-short skirts and dresses, spring's lengthier looks might seem a bit dowdy to some. If a mid-calf or floor-grazing frock makes you feel cloistered instead of chic, today's spotlighted look offers a way to inject this of-the-moment silhouette with a little sex appeal. The secret is simple: take a tip from ladies like Natalia Vodianova, Emma Stone, and Jameela Jamil and go for a gown that reveals your gams via a thigh-high slit!
Originally popularized in the '70s by designers like Givenchy, Halston and Ossie Clark, this leg-baring style was quite popular on the S/S 11 runways as well, turning up at Stella McCartney (the Printed Satin Dress ($2945) with its fabulous fruity print), Lanvin (the Washed Envers Satin and Scuba Dress ($5349), which is amazing), and Haider Ackermann (who designed a Satin Pleated Skirt ($1413) with a decidedly sexy slit). The amazing thing about this key cut is that there are literally endless variations available, so you're sure to find a style and print (or non-print) that works for you. To illustrate this point, we've rounded up a handful of our favorite celebrity iterations; hopefully you'll find all of them just as inspiring as we do!
If you want to make a major statement with this disco-glam look, you can always take a tip from Poppy Delevingne, who was snapped at a gala dinner for Sidaction in Paris earlier this month wearing a Louis Vuitton Tiger Silk Charmeuse Dress ($3868, 866.VUITTON) from the S/S 11 collection. The gown is ultra-daring--it has a plunging neckline, very high slit, and it's basically backless--and the vibrant print is very bold, so if you go for a similarly exciting look, make sure you add a little coverage via a chic jacket. The right outerwear choice will tone down the intensity of the gown's print and make it just a touch more conservative. To emulate this look, try Plastic Island's Jagger Tuxedo Blazer ($198) paired with Milly's Caroline Chevron Stripe Silk Twill Maxi Dress ($495), if you like a zippy print, or Laundry by Shelli Segal's One Shoulder Sleeveless Gown with Side Sequins ($270) if you'd prefer a bold blue option.
What happens when one of the world's most beautiful women wears an insanely standout dress? Sartorial gold, as you can see from this image of Natalia Vodianova taken in London late last year at the Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards. (She won Inspiration of the Year!) Vodianova's gold Balmain dress--which is from the F/W 10 collection--is incredibly glamorous, especially paired with a knockout Lanvin necklace, peep-toe Givenchy heels, and a long-strap Chanel evening bag. If you want to create a similar ensemble, we suggest checking out Diane von Furstenberg's Isadora Dress ($975) or ASOS' Embellished Hip Slinky Maxi Dress ($99); both are excellent after-dark options!
Of course, a thigh-high slit doesn't require an evening gown, as Emma Stone demonstrated at the Louis Vuitton F/W 11 show during Paris Fashion Week. The actress selected a shorter, slim style--specifically, a look from Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall 11 collection paired with the fashion house's Galuchat Maestria Clutch ($4840, 866.VUITTON)--which she accessorized with gray ankle boots. The finished result is decidedly modern and youthful, plus it's a wonderful cocktail-party look. If you'd like a shorter slit dress, Diane von Furstenberg's Issie Stretch Silk Dress ($425) is a lovely long-sleeved version in a brilliantly bold blue. For something simpler than Stone's choice, try Ringspun's Maxi Dress with Contrast Back ($108), which has a hint of print and an above-the-ankle hemline.
If you want to wear a truly leg-baring thigh-high slit, consider how Victoria Beckham does it. For the British Fashion Awards cocktail reception a few months ago, Beckham showed off miles of leg in her own S/S 11 design, specifically the Embellished Parachute-Silk Gown ($5105). Beckham's revealing dress works because there aren't too many elements competing for attention. By picking a sober color and opting for a mid-length sleeve, all eyes are on her legs--which is the point, isn't it? If this ensemble speaks to you, but the investment price doesn't, don't miss Nasty Gal's Farrah Maxi Dress ($68), ASOS Premium One Shoulder Velvet Maxi Dress ($87), or ASOS' Strappy Triangle Back Slit Side Maxi ($40), all very affordable options.
While dresses with thigh-high slits are clearly quite popular, you can also always go for a skirt if you prefer. Olivia Palermo did just that while in Tokyo this month when she paired Tommy Hilfiger's White Pleated Georgette Lawn Skirt ($498, 212.223.1824) with a Giambattista Valli tiger-print jacket, lavender Giuseppe Zanotti ankle boots, and a Reiss Ruben Frame Clutch ($215). To achieve a similar look, pick up Adrienne Vittadini's Reversible Merino Wool Jacket ($160) and pair it with Helmut Lang's Asymmetrical Long Skirt ($230) for an equally fresh ensemble.
Though we adore Poppy Delevingne's stunning turquoise tiger gown, a charming print works too, as Jameela Jamil demonstrated at the ELLE Style Awards in London last month. The former GOTM was perfectly turned out for spring in her Hussein Chalayan Bonded Haiku Dress ($2250, 310.556.2600), which she styled with an Alexander McQueen clutch and lace-up heels. For a similarly romantic gown, try Max Studio's Printed Chiffon Long Ruffled Dress ($398), which has side slits and comes in a slightly darker palette, or B Darlin's Strapless Sweetheart Floral Paisley Beaded Slit Long Gown ($140), which is a brighter option.
Photos of Poppy Delevingne, Natalia Vodianova, Emma Stone, and Victoria Beckham, courtesy of Getty; Photo of Jameela Jamil, courtesy of INF; Photo of Olivia Palermo, courtesy of Splash.