Today's post will be about how a skirt works, what undergarments are ideal, how to keep a slip from slipping, how to wear a skirt, et cetera.
A skirt is a basic garment: fabric wraps around the waist or hips and is fastened there, but hangs free underneath. A dress hangs from the shoulders or bosom, but it has a skirt, too, and so when I talk about skirts here I'll include the ones with attached bodices. Some skirts are fitted (pencil skirt, wiggle skirt), some fit at the hips and flare below (trumpet skirt, gored skirt, circle skirt), some are pleated or gathered at the waist (dirndl skirt), and so on. The one thing they all have in common, is that nothing goes between the legs.
SKIRT PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
For such a simple concept, you'd think a skirt would be simple to wear, but that's not always the case. Here are some common problems and their solutions.
SKIRT TANGLES IN LEGS
As you walk, the skirt gets sucked between your legs and tangles there. This is most common with long skirts, especially if there's a lot of fullness at the hem but the fabric is thin. I once had a 25 yard skirt for belly dance that was difficult to walk in because there was so much circumference at the hem that it had nowhere to go but between my ankles as I walked! Several little tricks can ease this problem.
SKIRT RIDES UP IN FRONT
As you walk, friction with your legs makes your skirt cling and ride up in front. Worse yet, it might ball up in your crotch before falling back into place! Yikes! So awkward. This will happen even more if you're wearing nylon stockings, since nylons provide more friction than bare legs.
SKIRT FULL OF STATIC!
Static is a build-up of electrical charge in the fabric, and is more common in very dry fabrics, which is why your clothes may zap you right out of the dryer. The solutions revolve, therefore, around adding moisture to the fibers or channeling electricity out.
SKIRT HANGS UNEVENLY
Most skirts are designed so their hems are parallel to the ground. If your skirt is supposed to hang even but doesn't, it's usually because of your body, and your skirt might need alterations. The most common form of this problem is when the skirt is shorter in the back than in the front, because you have a big booty! A larger bum requires that the skirt be cut longer in the back, since it has more ground to cover before it reaches the same level as the front skirt. Conversely, a big belly, especially a pregnant belly, will require a skirt cut longer in the front.
YOUR SLIP IS SLIPPING!
Your slip may be longer than the skirt and therefore hanging below the skirt at the hem. Or it may be an old half-slip losing its elastic at the waist, and it's falling down your hips. Or it may be too big for you! Whatever the reason, this functional but private garment is playing peekaboo, with the result that instead of looking put-together, you look like a kid playing dress-up in Mom's clothes!
YOU CAN'T SIT IN IT
When you try the skirt on at the store, it is snug but cute, so you buy it. But later when you sit down, it pinches your thighs, makes taut lines over your belly or lap, and rides up. Fitted skirts will always ride up a little when you sit, but this is too much for comfort. If this happens too much, you'll start to see pull marks at the side seams. The problem is that the skirt's too small. Even a fitted skirt needs extra ease around the hips/bum because those areas expand several inches when you sit.
YOUR A-LINE IS MORE LIKE AN H
An A-line skirt is smooth at the hips (no gathers) and wide at the hem, and is supposed to stand out from the body just a little, to make the shape of a capital A. It's a flattering look on most bodies, and makes the waist look smaller. But what if yours just hangs straight down from the hips, like a capital H instead?
MANNERS IN A SKIRT
Emily Post once wrote that the essence of good manners is to make others comfortable. Well, no-one is comfortable if they can see your underwear, so when I say you should sit like a lady, I'm thinking of their comfort, not trying to oppress you! When your skirt is knee length or shorter, keep your legs together, or crossed at the ankles. Crossing at the knees is not rude, but it does scrunch up your torso and display your flank in an unflattering way, not to mention possibly causing varicose veins, so I advise against it.
If you're on a couch and want to tuck your feet up, either do so with your shoes off, or rest your curled legs and ankles on the couch but keep your shod feet hanging off: shoes are dirty and couches should be clean. Don't put your knees up and let your skirt fall open.
When getting in and out of cars in a skirt, be aware of how short your skirt is. If it's knee length or shorter, get in bum first, pulling your legs in after you; get out feet first and together. Practice this a bit to get graceful at it! You can even do it with tall trucks: just climb up to where the seat is, then turn and place your bum. If your skirt is longer, you can safely get in and out head first; just hold the front of your skirt up so you don't step on it.
After the bathroom, check to make sure your skirt is hanging down all around!
Finally, in the unlikely event of needing to climb a ladder: send the men up before you and down after you! Because you're a lady. If that's not possible (climbing into a lifeboat or out of a crashed plane, maybe?), just be dignified and don't fuss.
Yes, men do wear skirts. For instance, a priest's cassock is a dress, so it has a skirt. A kilt is a skirt, as is a utilikilt. And if you're into historical reenactments or LARPing, you may wear a long tunic, a toga, or wizard's robes. You may be Greek and wear fustanella. Some of the tips above apply to you! However, there's are a few special considerations for men, especially men in kilts. (The links below are NSFW, but are very amusing!)
You don't have to worry about the front of your kilt tangling in your legs when you walk... the front is two overlapping "aprons" with no pleats or fullness, and the wool is not prone to static. However, you should wear a pin on the corner of the outer flap, to weight it against a breeze!
When you sit with your legs open, make sure your kilt falls in between and touches the seat! Don't let your kilt lie taut across your knees! Your sporran will be your friend if you let it!
Yes, you can wear underwear. This guy did, and I'm sure was glad of it later! This guy didn't, and the rest of us are glad. ;) But seriously, wool can be scratchy, and you may prefer a soft barrier to butt-itch! While people joke that a "True Scotsman" goes bare under there, they forget that traditional shirts, called sarks, were pretty long, and therefore acted as underwear and slips. Modern shirts are shorter, so underwear are a reasonable addition. If you do Scottish or Irish dancing or play sports in a kilt, you should wear something underneath for everyone's sake! Pick a dark color that blends with the kilt.
Gents, don't do this. (Ladies, don't do this.)
If you have to climb a ladder, just grin and go for it with brash Scottish aplomb. Following the ladies' rules about ladders will only make you seem unmanly.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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