A miniskirt is a type of skirt with a hemline that stops above the knee. It is related to the maxiskirt, a more modest garment in which the hemline ends closer to the ankles. The skirt can be made out of any sort of material, although stretchy synthetics such as nylon and spandex are popular. These skirts can be seen in denim, knits, lace, and any other fabric the manufacturer can imagine.
The inventor of this style of skirt is not clear, although the garment began to make a mass appearance in the late 1950s and became popular in the 1960s. The miniskirt was a daring step in the history of rising hemlines, which began in the 1920s with the flapper era. The end of the First World War was the beginning of a more licentious era hailed with many fashion innovations, including short dresses and skirts that left little to the imagination.
The style became an icon of London culture in the 1960s and quickly hopped the Atlantic to the Americas, where the trend spread rapidly. Several designers are credited with bringing fame to the miniskirt, including Andre Courreges, who incorporated it into the “mod” look in the mid 1960s. The Courreges miniskirt was paired with tall chunky boots, a look only possible with a short skirt, as longer skirts or pants would have covered the boots.
Mary Quant, a Welsh designer, also had a hand in the popularization of the style, and Helen Rose designed a miniskirt for use in the films of the late 1950s. John Bates popularized the use of exotic materials such as vinyl paired with a bared midriff. The miniskirt has an even smaller cousin, the microskirt or micromini, which has an even higher hemline. Microskirts are often dismissed derisively because they leave even less to the imagination, and their popularization resulted in a trend towards tights, rather than stockings, to ensure full coverage of the groin area, which could easily be revealed by a slip of the microskirt.
In the 1970s, there was a brief return to longer skirts, which some suggest was a result of feminist protest over the miniskirt. However, the 1980s brought back the short skirts with a vengeance, paired with tall boots, outrageous tights, or tight jeans. The microskirt also made a comeback, to mixed reviews.