An Abridged History of the Skirt: From Edwardian Separates to Denim Minis


Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

The skirt may be a mainstay in the closet of any fashion girl, but the essential wardrobe piece has one of the longest histories in the category of clothing. After the loincloth, the skirt is the second-oldest garment known to mankind. In ancient times, both men and women wore what we recognize today as a skirt, but over the years, it became predominantly a women's garment in Western cultures. While its endless iterations can be traced back to the first days that humans decided to dress by tying cloths around themselves, the past hundred or so years are rife with dramatic changes to the skirt from decade to decade.

The history of the skirt can be measured in transforming silhouettes, vacillating hemlines, and a musical chairs game of materials. While sartorial sensibilities and trends are constantly shifting, today we have a gamut of skirt styles to choose from, each design pulled from the archives to serve present-day appreciation for the classic, vintage, and downright retro pieces from our past. In our abridged history of the skirt, we trace back every decade from the last century to see how the wardrobe staple has taken on new shapes to reflect the changing times and cultural sentiments. 

Head below for an abridged history of the skirt over the last century, from crinoline to denim minis.