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Weekend Reading: A midi skirt controversy + Clothes made from coffee


Do you ever wonder who sets fashion trends? Is it a group of cool, stylish people, or manipulation by those attempting to control consumerism? A little of both? History is full of charged trends, from mini to maxi, and in this case, somewhere in between. This fun look at The History of the Midi Skirt talks about how women fought for higher hemlines, and resisted attempts to bring those hemlines back down.

Weekend Reading Discussion:

  • The History of the Midi Skirt—The swath of fabric that caused industry bankruptcy and feminist uproar: It’s no secret that the fashion industry is expert at managing trends and influencing buyers, but the midi skirt is an example of a time in history when women pushed back against fashion trends. Do you think feminism is still present in fashion today? Can you think of ways that women are currently pushing back against fashion expectations?

And here are a few more reads:

For more links every week, you can follow us on Twitter, where we’re always posting interesting tidbits and discussions.

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.


Deborah Morrison

June 25, 2016 #

As to feminism in fashion, I would propose that mom jeans and a tee are the ultimate statement. They say that the wearer is comfortable, practical, and defines themselves by what they do rather than their appearance. If the wearer has made them herself, I really want to be her friend!

As to fighting back against expectations, sewists are repurposing rather than buying new.


June 26, 2016 #

SAHM with four children here, and I HATE mom jeans. It’s hard to find a pair that fit properly at the waist and the hip, so I need to wear a belt, but I’m allergic to metal belt buckles and hate things that bind me at the waist. They’re also too hot for summer wear where I live. Give me a high-waisted A-line skirt any day., with hosiery of seasonally appropriate weight. Comfortable AND flattering.

Deborah Morrison

June 27, 2016 #

Hurray that we can choose and not feel pressured to conform to other people’s expectations. I love a skirt on a hot day, too.


June 29, 2016 #

That’s one of the things I love about sewing my own clothes! It’d be pretty much impossible to find a high-waisted denim A-line skirt at the right length, in the right colour, for the right price. But as long as I have my Ginger pattern, I will never even have to look in the shops. I imagine the same applies to trousers and jeans, although getting the fit right and being able to sew them would be considerably more difficult than a skirt (yet another reason to wear skirts LOL).


June 25, 2016 #

I know women are portrayed as being expected to look perfect and to conform to a certain ideal, but on the other side, most people I meet are more concerned with comfort and not being too dressed up. This means people would rather wear a stretched-out, cartoon-character printed item of clothing rather than something that is (I assume) psychologically uncomfortable. It seems there is a cultural understanding that, say, loose cotton trousers with a zipper are uncomfortable but loose yoga pants that crawl up one’s butt crack are comfortable and anyone who chooses the trousers is too dressed up and is sacrificing comfort for fashion.

In my opinion, when people dress nicer than “sweatpants and a t-shirt”, even if it’s something as simple as a solid t-shirt that fits as opposed to a too large character t-shirt, and also makes no apology for dressing better than their peers, they are pushing back against the fashion expectations of their immediate culture.


June 26, 2016 #

The article was somewhat inaccurate — I do remember reading about the midi in my parents’ New York Times in 1970 and being horrified — my 8-year-old self liked miniskirts! We all wore miniskirts into about 7th or 8th grade — mid 1970s — and then all the girls in my classes switched to knee-length skirts, ’til the early 80s, when suddenly multiple lengths were fashionable and you could go mini, knee-length, pencil, or maxi.

Kind of like now. The dictatorship of the fashion press is hopefully over; it offers ideas, which we accept or not. When suddenly the midi was proclaimed by magazines to be back in 2014 I laughed, because they were already sharing space in my closet with all the other lengths.


June 26, 2016 #

I think it would be incredible if Singtex expanded to the retail fabric stores with bolts of fabric for sewists. I would be willing to pay more for quality fabric made from coffee and plastic bottles which closes the loop and makes a significant difference for our warming global climates.


July 1, 2016 #

1. I want the shoes in your header photo. Specifically, the 2nd pair from the left, plain black (suede?) and the 3rd from the left. Why can I not find toes like that??
2. Coffee rayon . . . why not? We lucked into some paper made from coffee hulls a while ago, and it’s very attractive for journal pages and such.
3. Honestly, I think minis ARE immodest, and midis are much more comfortable – but I’m kinda surprised that a magazine editor thought he could change fashion, and the stores went along with it. Did they really think women couldn’t get along without new, fashionable clothes for one year?

Claudia Tang

July 6, 2016 #

I remember in the early to mid 2000s, low rise jeans were popular. Super low rise, like a zipper of 2 to 3 inches. So schools tried to ban them (in the long tradition of blaming girls for being distracting to boys), “adults” called them slutty the news, scandal blah blah. And I remember thinking then, banning low rise jeans isn’t gonna work, we’ll just start wearing high waisted jeans and bikini tops and show a different part of our midriff.
And barely a decade later and what’s popular again (and therefore schools are trying to ban them on girls)? CROP TOPS!