On the Topic of Ankle Length Skirts

How do you divorce a reference from a piece of clothing you really want to get behind?


Marco Zanini showed a straight, mint colored ankle length skirt for Rochas in 2012 that was festooned with white wild flowers. I can distinctly remember that it was paired with a light-weight, vaguely teal v-neck cable-knit sweater, an interesting-though-decidedly retro take on cat-eye sunglasses finished in lilac and a pair of sling back platforms, replete with gilded cork heels that I have spent the last three years contemplating. This contemplation likely only occurs because I still frequently consider the skirt that flash-lit them.

But see, this isn’t a textbook case of “One That Got Away” syndrome — as much as I wanted the skirt (consider the time it showed: the fall of 2011, when skirts were incredibly short, pants were equally tight and the modesty renaissance was only hazily on the fashion horizon), I couldn’t divorce the implications of my personal history that were unwittingly tethered to it.

Here I was, an Orthodox Jewish day school graduate who had spent the larger portion of her adolescence gearing up to fight vociferously (see: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls) against a dress code that impaired the concept of personal expression — chiefly with its stringent statute against pants, shorts, and skirts shorter than the knee. And now, five years out of high school, I not only wanted but fashion-lingo needed the silhouette that supported the conflict?

As is always the case with burgeoning fashion trends, the hem length trickled. From runway, the skirt attacked It-girls and from It-girls, it made its way into specialty stores which allowed room for the eventual and inevitable crawl into Zara.

But this didn’t happen before every other designing heavy-weight placed their stamp of approval in the form of straight skirts, tulip skirts, peplum skirts — even dresses — on the emphatically prudent length. And in the same way that running into an ex-boyfriend (who you loved but also kind of hated) is horrifying when he’s with someone new who for whatever reason seems like a superior version of you, so too was seeing the hem length third-party-interpreted spectacularly time and time again. It almost made the forced dress code of years yonder seem, dare I say, romantic.

It took time to move on. Six fashion week seasons to be exact. But I’m here (and I’m baring my midriff) and I feel good about it. So much so, that if you are to confuse me for a younger version of myself, I might even mistake it for a compliment.

Jacquemus sweater, Tsemaye Binitie skirt, Chrissie Morris heels

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  • Sialsiquiero

    Despite the difficulty of wearing this lenght I like this trend. Wearing it properly could make really elegant every look.

    Sí al sí quiero

  • Natali

    No matter how goofy or silly your poses are or how much your hair looks messy or whatever, everything you put on looks extremely cool and stylish on you!


  • emka

    oh, how beautiful :O


  • Maariw

    Dear The Man Repeller fans,

    If you could spare about 3 minutes of your time to fill out my survey for my fashion dissertation, it would be lovely.



    Thank you :•D x

  • Liz

    I think you use the word “festooned” too much, or at least a lot more than the rest of us english speakers.

    • Leandra Medine

      It’s a good word. Sure beats “decorate”

      • Liz

        Adorned >or= Festooned > Decorated > Jazzed up

        • Guest

          The word was used once in the article…?

    • Samantha

      You’ve got a lot of time on your hands.

      • Liz

        Just an avid Manrepeller fan! Was only making a light-hearted comment about something I found amusing. No need to take offense.

        • Deanna

          You might be suffering the very common condition wherein you forget that tone of voice doesn’t come through very well through semi-anonymous online comments. Your comment didn’t come across as light hearted at all (especially given your emphatic follow-up comment), though i can see how you might not have realised that when you typed it up.

          • Maggie

            Wow. You all need to relax. It was obviously a joke. Its seriously about the word festooned. Leave this poor girl alone.

          • Deanna

            Hey there Maggie – you do recognize, as a super relaxed person, that I wasn’t actually jumping down her throat, i was simply pointing out to her why her joke didn’t come across.

          • Maggie

            Perhaps heed your own advice, “You might be suffering the very common condition wherein you forget that tone of voice doesn’t come through very well through semi-anonymous online comments.”

          • Leandra Medine

            I’m justgonna festoon this convo with a whole lot of love.

    • Addison Joel Butler

      Also, burgeoning.

      But YOLO, right??

  • Lurch Hound Loves

    Wow, look at your figure in this! I think it is really flattering and suits you 🙂 I can only imagine how hard they are to walk in though lol xx


  • Alba B.

    I don’t know if the merit is of your Tequila Diet or your haircut, but even with your Quasimodo strike you look ASTONISH!!! So maybe I will just call you today Tight Skirt Esmerlandra!!!!

    • Leandra Medine

      I think I love you

      • Alba B.

        Intimidated from your love, but digging happy in it with the same reply of feelings

  • Stef

    Simple and gorgeous, and dare I say un-man repeller? This was made for you.

  • Melissa

    I like the skirt. It looks amazing on you. I really love the color. Though from a completely different background I have a similar dark hair and light complexion and was unsure if I could pull the mint green color off as much as I like it. Turns out I can, I just wore a darker color up top similar to this outfit.

  • Nico

    I like this kind of skirt, this look is really not bad!

    Orange bag for a new outfit on lowbudget-lowcost Fashion blog

  • Let

    Ahh I do love the Jacquemus sweater. In terms of french designers, here is one you left out for your bucket bag post (which was a looooong time ago) – anyway, check it out, it’s well worth it. http://delphinedelafon.com/en/?home=1 You can design your bucket bag in their workshop.. Also just finished reading your book and I kind of just want to start again.

  • Gorgeous, and I love your boots! Haven’t worn a skirt that length in a long time though.

    Mafalda ❤

  • Eva

    I must say this skirt length is my fave! Its the most mysterious yet sexy and classy all at the same time. It accentuates every curve in the most alluring way. This silhouette always empowers the lady side of me… Kind of like Diane Keaton and her menswear aesthetic, it just goes! Takes me back in time and gives me that spring in my step.

  • You look amazing in this look! I love the color combo especially.


  • Katie

    Ahhh, that skirt is beautiful 🙂 I need one like it!!!


  • Max
  • monkeyshines
  • lavieenliz

    I can’t pull it off. you look stunning


  • q

    I don’t think you’re going to wear this skirt again because it looks too tight on you. The seams on the panels are strained. And how are you going to do your leg kicks in this skirt???

  • Avery

    See also: conservative granola homeschool mother. Except you’d have to trade those ankle boots for Chacos.


  • Michal

    How I’ve longed to exile my maxi length pleated skirts from my yeshiva days that are sitting in my parents’ home. The looks we got wearing those to Six Flag field trips…

  • Johanna

    I think this style used to be called a hobble skirt…..

  • Anne-Dorthe Andersen

    This skirt looks so good on you!

  • emilyannestyle

    That is one repellent skirt. And, of course, you look super cool. HOW?


  • maud.schellekens

    So cool!

    XOXO Maud


  • So fabulous – head to toe!

  • Naomi

    I’m re- reading your book, when I layed eyes on that skirt my first thought was ‘hmm.. I thought she vowed to give up the maxi skirt!’ But I’m glad you didn’t!

  • claudia

    That green skirt is gorgeous! love how you styled it with the crop top!



  • kendra

    yes. after 13 years of catholic school uniforms somehow my body still auto-pilot beelines for pleated skirts in stores even as my brain is like “no no no you cannot buy that you have nine.” i met myself halfway by purchasing a button down in the same plaid as my grade school skirt; its nostalgia-ridden, but decidedly more versatile and less b.spears than the alternative.

  • therealdp

    ugh i hate you, what is that like a 34?

  • Dandy,

    I love this length but I always end up walking around like a penguin!

  • That’s a killer skirt and it looks great on you (bare midriff and all). I can already see at least 3 or 4 different ways to style it in my mind. And that color green… love! I had a beautiful Roland Mouret long dress in that same color, sadly someone else owns it now via The Real Real.

  • Vera Sawicki

    What an amazing skirt!


  • jas

    i LOVE this. only skinny you could pull it off though…

    reckless abandon

  • you’re like spiderman if spiderman wore green goblin after killing him

  • I think I should go semi-raw if the result is looking this great in a tight midi-skirt.

    Gonna invest in a vegetable spiralizer.

  • Sophia

    Love the length, love the bit of belly on show.


  • Saba

    What’s up with ‘the man getter’?

  • Namrata

    I love the ankle lenght skirts by Burberry! The pastel, lace skirts are gorgeous!


  • Diane

    This length skirt harkens back to Myrna Loy in the Thin Man movies of the 1940’s. And it reminds me of the ankle-length, emerald-green satin, bias-cut nightgown that I found in a vintage store and wore the hell out of before it literally fell apart at the seams.

  • Gabi

    That is so great. fucking great.

  • I like the ankle skirt but not everyone can pull it off

  • This skirt is to die. Love the entire look! http://www.LEZU.com

  • Ruby

    LOVE IT!!! You look beautiful. I actually don’t think it looks repeller even given the length. The cut is super sexy and flattering to your figure. They are called “Wiggle” skirts because of the way they make you walk. Think Marilyn.

    Last spring I read (HB I believe) that the “New Skirt Length” was right where the ankle starts curving in and I was SO EXCITED. I LOVE narrow pencil skirts and think they are amazingly sexy and since I am 42 and work in an office, above the knee is just not for me! But try as I may, I could only find above the knee skirts no matter where I looked. SOoooo disappointing. So maybe, just maybe, finally, I can find some longer, narrow-ish skirts???

  • Aliza

    The skirt is fabulous, because you are fabulous- gorgeous, fun, enviable. In no way could that skirt be confused with a skirt that an orthodox jewish woman could appropriately wear, so your concerns are not even realistically fathomable. Again, perfection.