This story was written for Man Repeller
I vividly remember the first and last miniskirt of my life. It was a cropped denim number found at Urban Outfitters, worn with a basketball tee and cheerleading socks. Shortly before this, I had watched a movie starring a girl in a denim miniskirt which instantly made me believe I had to own one, too. Movie characters often put me in a makeover mood: After watching Juno, I tried a disturbing combination of ill-fitting jeans, band tee and a yellow Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie. The Juno mood lasted a day, then I went back to my nice jeans and pretty blouses. The miniskirt awaited a similar fate.
I started hating it only a few weeks after the purchase. It didn’t help that my mother defended it in front of my father. My father thought it was too short. “Let her wear a short skirt,” my mother exclaimed. “She’s young!” I was young indeed, but for some reason, looking young didn’t speak to me. When someone asks me about the style sins of my youth (which is a weird thing to ask me because I’m technically still in the middle of my youth and have plenty occasions to commit sins ahead of me), I never know how to respond. Yes, I did wear a lot of very wrong clothes in my adolescence (I still do! Sometimes). But I never felt obliged to look young because I was.
Do I have to look young just because I am? And what does “looking young” mean, anyway? Miniskirts, mini dresses and hot pants have always been associated with youth because they were invented at a time when fashion was meant to liberate women. Youth equals freedom (of rules, duties, office hours, tax declarations), which, again, is what the miniskirt has always promised. If you want to jump over a fence, it is not going to obstruct you. If you like to feel a breeze around your privates, it allows for that. If you like to show your legs, it won’t hide them, and if you wear it on the first day of your internship at a stiff law firm, your boss will send you home, which means you’ll get the day off. The miniskirt has always had a don’t-care attitude: don’t care if my legs are unshaved, don’t care if you can see my lower butt cheeks peeking out. That’s what kept it young.
I stopped wearing mine because I started to feel old long before I actually will be. And as much as youth is celebrated, I’m okay with that. I barely go out (okay, never); I love to clean my apartment; I fall asleep at midnight, even on Saturdays; and I once told people in my building to turn the music down. I would not enjoy being sent home by my boss, and I don’t think any guy — apart from my boyfriend — deserves to see my butt cheeks. Apart from that, I don’t like my legs. It’s not that I hate them, but I’m not a fan, either. I worry about them, which is probably the opposite of what young people are supposed to do. My legs are rather sturdy, thanks to both predisposition and my career as a middle-distance runner (which picked up around the same time I started hating the aforementioned denim miniskirt). But you know how they say there’s no bad weather, just wrong clothing? I say there are no sturdy legs, just too-short skirts. And so I discovered maxi skirts and dresses.
I wore them all last summer, and can’t wait to do so again. I feel good in them, not because I have something to hide, but because wearing what suits my body and personality best simply gives me confidence – which is probably a really adult and boring thing to say about style, but what do I care? One can combine them with heeled sandals or Converse sneakers, a crisp white blouse or a glamorous jacket. They look both elegant and flamboyant. Also, think about all the great things you can hide under them! If you’ve always wanted to sneak your dog into your grand aunt’s white-carpeted living room, maxi skirts and dresses are your thing. I even figured out a way to wear them without looking like I was on my way to Coachella: just add a buttoned-up shirt and dramatic earrings. But no one believes I go to Coachella anyway. I hate festivals! See how old I am? 23 on the outside, 72 on the inside. As I said, that’s okay. My legs and I don’t regret anything.
Photos by Marlen Mueller