Frock advisor

Great lengths and embracing print


I know there are bigger issues, but I’m confused about skirt length, is maxi ever a good look?

As ever with fashion, it’s all about how you tell the story, and the word “maxi” tells a very specific story. It’s a glamorous tale of Boogie Nights and Studio 54, LA sunsets and soft focus. Sadly it’s also a more recent story of street gangs of less well-lit young girls roaming the concrete jungle in identikit pavement skimming graphic printed synthetics . . . slightly less iconic. 


Let’s not call it maxi. Let’s call it floor length, not full length you understand, because that’s for black tie and brides. Floor length denotes a certain insouciance; “Oh look, my skirt goes all the way from my waist to the ground, and I hadn’t even noticed!” Such length gives drama all on its own so let the colour be solid and the fabric preferably lightly diaphanous. That way you can work up an interesting trans-seasonal look with a cropped chunky knit with flats – brogues would be a good choice. This is a look channelled by the low-key fashion fantastic as they swarm the fashion capitals.

But what of the new long, it isn’t maxi, it isn’t full length or floor length, it’s “tea length”. Yes, tea length is fashion, once again, making up its own reality. But it’s kind of beautiful. It’s reminiscent of New Look Dior and is both demure and dramatic at the same time, which when you think about it, is quite a feat. As wonderful a look as this is, presented by Alice & Olivia, we love the idea of this skirt worn with a simple T-shirt and ankle boots. A heel is good, as this length requires all the help it can get with height. It’s a scary concept for fashion buyers and those that buy their choices, tea length is for the fashion savants, and not everyone has, needs or wants that gift.

I enjoy print and pattern when I see it on other people, how can I ease myself away from a wardrobe full of block colour?

GROGANIf you imagine that block colour is the Leaving Cert and accessories are a degree, then print is a Masters. Of course you can educate yourself to PhD level by conquering maximalism as covered in a previous Frockadvisor column, but obviously not everyone is that ambitious or that academically focused.

Print is tricky, partially because of our preconceptions; print can be anything from a swirling floral to the now tired photographic print pioneered by trailblazers such as Alexander McQueen and Mary Katranzou.

Print can be as simple as a delicate, repeat-pattern, a stock visual at Hermes and Gucci. It’s also scary because there’s so much of it out there and not all of it good. DRESSThe big question then, is where to start.

If you find an appealing repeat pattern that whispers rather than shouts, you’ve found your starting point, avoiding high- contrast colours will also make your consumption more palatable.

Start by dipping your toe in the water with a top, a point of access without heavy investment, assuming you’re not going straight for the luxury houses.

From a print that says a lot very quietly, with your confidence growing, you could consider moving to a repeat motif (bigger than an emblem and not in itself a logo). Everything from lips to horses have been covered, the message is yours to chose. Before you even realise, you’ll have graduated to graphic floral, just in time for all those languorous picnics and garden parties that occupy our fantasy lives. The doctorate comes when you start mismatching your print choices with gay abandon, gambolling in the long grass and downing Pimms at an inappropriate rate. To Summer!