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Womens Vintage Skirts

February 20, 2015

Maxi skirt, midi skirt, mini skirt, calf length, ankle length, ballerina length; leather, lace, corderoy, needlecord, silk, stain, sateen, denim, linen; pencil, flounced, full, gathered, A-line, pleated: womens vintage skirts come in every length, fabric, style and colour you can imagine.

Womens Vintage Skirts throughout the decades


Camille Clifford modeling Paul Poiret Skirt


Around the turn of the 19th and 20th Century skirts were as long as they could be without actually dragging on the ground. Well, sometimes they actually did – even for daywear, dresses at the time were occasionally worn with a train. The shape was slim and a lot like a lily flower – flat in front, falling to the knees and then gently widening from there. It was worn with a corset making the waist very narrow. You would wear petticoats beneath but not bulky crinolines and bustles.

Edwardian Burnt Orange Silk Taffeta Skirt from

Edwardian Burnt Orange Silk Taffeta Skirt from

Hobble skirt

By the 1910s, skirts got a tiny bit more practical and were often more ankle length. You could see women’s button boots where you rarely could before. This is also the period of the hobble skirt, a short lived fashion which literally made women hobble around. The hobble skirt either a full skirt which had a band of braid near the knees to draw it in and make it restrictive, or a skirt that was very narrow down to the knees. Sometimes the same effect was achieved by using a knee length corset beneath a more roomy dress, or devices which sort of tied a woman’s knees together underneath her skirt. In any case, it prevented great strides being made, really a bit like a tight pencil skirt today.

Fanny Brice modeling Paul Poiret Hobble skirt

Fanny Brice modeling Paul Poiret Hobble skirt


But these skirts might have been tight, but were still long so it’s quite a shock to see how much hemlines came up in the 1920s. Day skirts were calf length, and some evening skirt knee length. They were worn without corsets, for an unprecedented freedom of movement for women.


30s skirts

In the 30s, skirt length was at mid calf, and fabrics often cut on the bias for a soft drape.

The gently flared skirts of the 30s

The gently flared skirts of the 30s

The 40s

By the 40s, Britain was at war and shortages in fabric as well as need for practicality for women joining in the war effort meant that skirts were knee length and fitted – the pencil skirt makes its appearance in this decade.



1950s skirts

In the 50s Dior’s New Look meant a return to small, corseted waists and full skirts – not floor length this time but just below calf length. But a reaction to this was unfitted, “sack” dresses, knitted t shirt dresses, and when Chanel came back into business in 1954 her suits featured a cardigan jacket and A line skirt.

Typical 50s skirt

Typical 50s skirt


50s skirt from blue17

50s skirt from blue17


In the 60s the youthful mini skirt came in, not as tiny as you might think, it was mid thigh.


Jeanne Lanvin, 1968


1960s mini skirts



And in the 70s the hippies dramatically reacted against this with maxi skirts, right down to the floor again.


1970’s patchwork maxi skirts


80’s & 90’s

The 80s saw skirts ranging from pencil skirts in primary colours to go with power suits to romantic flounces on long skirts, to short denim skirts and just about everything else.


And the 90s gave us grunge with babydoll dresses, mini kilts, and rave fashions with tiny skirts with psychedelic prints. Womens vintage skirts from the 50s and 60s were very popular in this decade.


Mini Plaid skirts in the 90s