My grandmother frequently asks me about the status of fashionable skirt length. “What’s going on with hems this spring,” she wants to know. “Are they up, are they down, what’s happening?
There’s no longer a clear cut answer to this question. Whether women are wearing dresses below the knee or above the thigh has less to do with the state of the economy these days (per a 1926 theory), or what “Paris says” (her generation’s guiding hand), and more to do with a designer’s individual inspiration, genre, and most importantly: the whim of the wearer. Some girls don’t even wear skirts.
But my grandma always wants that answer; it makes her feel grounded to a world she was once strongly tethered to, something that faded away as gracefully and naturally as the pigment in her hair. And so — though they surely carry no more weight than that of a mini versus maxi, and they vary across the multitude of runways but also within the singular square footage of Soho’s Zara — I tell her about the length of pants.
In 2013 it seemed to me that ankles were having a moment. An eye-roll is warranted anytime anything has a “moment” besides the literal tick of a clock (or maybe it’s the person who uses such jargon without irony), but I felt it. Pants just didn’t look right unless they were cropped above legs’ lower bulbous knobs.
But then the 90s took over and ankles were…forgotten.
Unroll. Staple-on. Shop?
“There’s a new pant length, Grandma,” I recently told her. “Think young Brooke Shields, the female cast of Friends, cowboys, Calvin Klein, and Beverly Hills 90210. It covers boots and hides the foot’s arch in heels. It’s straight — sometimes bootcut though never tapered. And it’s not exactly popular in stores yet. But I feel it coming.”
Remember: there’s no point in me explaining that this look can and will co-exist among cropped trousers and hacked jeans. She wants a fad.
“But I thought the 70s were back,” she countered. “Doesn’t that mean flares are what’s next?”
“Grandma,” I diverted, “shall we talk about my love life instead?”