An Ode to the Naked Ankle
Fall’s must have accessory? A hearty pair of joints.
What is it about an exposed ankle – bare and boney as it peeks out below a pair of cropped trousers – that just looks so damn good?
While the bones have clearly been an important facet of a. the human body b. the human vernacular for as long as I’ve been able to say appendage, ankles seemingly crept in to the fashion vernacular more slowly and steadily, so inconspicuosuly, in fact, that you’re probably wondering where we’re going with this. But hold on, it was their quiet, almost-but-not-quite darwinistic evolution and subsequent foray into fashion that has had us noticing thats pants don’t seem quite right without a set of bulbous joints poking out beneath.
Yes, people. Ankles are having a moment.
A friend pointed out to me that ankles have had their moment, or moments — and that as fashion is cyclical it’s only natural that they’d come “back.” She also suggested that I never again say “ankles are having a moment” in public. To that I said, “YOLO,” and then wrote it above for all to read.
It’s actually that attitude, though, of Only Living Once which likely initially caused women to heighten the hem. Some historical context might take you back to the end of World War One where a resurgence of joy and youthfulness may or may not have resulted in the subsequent appearance of legs. (Only then could we once again flex what our mamas gave us, right?)
In the ’20s, skirts shot right up to the knee. In the ’30s, they fell back down to the mid-calf, and then up and down, up and down, they went, until the seesawing of iconic hemlines brought us to 2009 and, ugh, the maxi dress.
Ah, okay. There it is. The epiphany. Long dresses-as-daily wear became popular sometime right after I graduated college and then not just popular, but trendy. And nothing quite kills a trend for the fashion set like mass market consumption and a Who Wore It Best roundup in your favorite tabloid mag.
So maybe it was right then and there that our under-loved ankles began a plea to be seen…
“Dear Phoebe and Stella,” we imagine they began. “Clare Waight Keller and Ms. Prada,
“A word, if you may, about the general direction of fashion. It would be ever so kind, in the next season or two, if you could raise the height of all bottom-wear. An army of actresses have forced us into hiding beneath cotton day-gowns from Kitson and long jersey sheaths. We’d like to be seen, and we’d prefer our reveal in the form of a pant.”
And the hemlines rose, slowly if not steadily. Just an inch; maybe two. Cropped but not capri’d. Now pants seem incomplete without playful winks of skin – right above a low slung bootie and below a well-cuffed trouser. If not because the look is so dated it feels incredibly fresh than certainly because that sly, unwittingly sexy sliver of skin informs more about personal style than one might let on.
Come winter, though, who knows. By then a bevy of starlets will have probably overworked their ankles, and we’ll – our ankles and selves – be craving something new. Something long and high-waisted, fitted to the knee and then, I don’t know, maybe flared? …Like a bell! In fact, another epiphany! Let’s call them bell bottoms. Surely no one has thought of that before.
Now we turn the table to you: Thoughts on the ankle-as-accessory and our wanting to show them off? Ready, cuff, go!