The History Behind This Iconic Mini Skirt Protest
By: Valeria Ramos
Today, mini skirts are a spring and summer staple in the closet of women all over the world. For those of us in the West, it’s hard to imagine a time when women’s hemlines were a matter of heated debate.
So how did this once controversial, now-iconic piece of clothing make its way into mainstream fashion?
A symbol of the feminist movement
In the 1960s, the feminist movement was in full swing, and designers like Yves Saint Laurent, André Courrèges, and Mary Quant began sending models down their runways with shorter hemlines. This trend later picked up speed with the help of women like Twiggy and Gloria Steinem during the “swinging sixties,” when mini skirts, go-go boots, and mod fashion were all the rage.
It wasn’t long before the mini skirt became a symbol of female liberation. The mini skirt came at a time when the world was changing. The 1960s were defined by counter-culture—society was questioning traditional standards and ushering in a new era of sexual freedom. The contraceptive pill was produced in 1960 and within two years of distribution, 1.2 million American women were using birth control to take control of their lives.
With more control over their lives and a fashion trend that celebrated freedom, women in the 60s were eagerly trading stockings and pantyhose for mini skirts. However, not all designers were so keen on cutting hemlines.
In 1966, when Dior’s fashion show didn’t feature the hottest trend of the moment, a group of women known as the “British Society for the Protection of Mini Skirts,” stood outside the show in protest with signs that read, “Mini skirts forever.”
Sounds like a fun group of women to hang out with, if you ask us.
Over the next decade, hemlines varied in length but one thing remained clear—women were not going back to the traditional (and often constricting) fashions of the 1950s.
The 2000s to today
The mini skirt trend made a strong comeback in the 2000s, thanks to the likes of Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. Y2K fashion is marked by many micro-trends including mini bags, heels, and tops. Recently, Paris Hilton spoke to W Magazine about the key to pulling off the Y2K trends she helped popularize. According to Paris, “skirts should be the size of a belt.”
Today, mini skirts are arguably no longer a trend, but a common wardrobe item. While once controversial and risqué, mini skirts are now worn day and night by women who put them on without a second thought. This year, designers revisited this trend for the Spring 2022 season. Miu Miu’s viral ultra-mini skirt proves this style is here to stay.
Mini skirts forever!
In the 1960s, women did not have the same freedom and opportunity that we have today—mini skirts being the least of their problems. However, this moment in fashion history goes to show how important clothing can be as a tool of empowerment, freedom, and expression.
To that, we say, “Mini skirts forever!”