Honey, I Shrunk My Life. As we make moves into a landscape conjuring shades of normality, we can all probably relate with the quiet reckoning that less, really is more. Instead of constantly striving towards the allusive ‘bigger picture,’ we’ve celebrated small wins. We've ended relationships that were tiring. We've quit jobs. We've cut wedding guest lists by 90% (and are all the happier for it). The latest shortcut to success? LSD. No, not that one, the other one: Little Summer Dressing. Though no less exhilarating, one might say, to its chemical counterpart.
Admittedly it seems a bit perverse to praise minidresses when stuck in no man’s land. The month of May continuously, comically, raining on our parade one moment, before breaking out into striking sunshine the next. So, really, micro dressing is more of a mood forecast - like anticipating the thrill of snogging a stranger after a year-long kissing hiatus. It is the sartorial iteration of a single person's ‘Hot Vax Summer’.
The return of the minidress seems obvious when you consider the UK’s highway to freedom. (You’ve heard it once, twice, OK you’re actually kind of bored of hearing it now, but one last time…June! Twenty! First!). A quick association game will likely incite one word: partywear. Though to simply relegate it to extrovert-only territory seems reductive, considering its sheer versatility these days.
Look at, say, Rodarte’s recent cheering beach-located campaign, featuring Alicia Silverstone in one shot modelling a 1980s-style powder pink power dress. On the more whimsical end of the spectrum you've got Innika Choo’s hand-dyed, hand-pleated, and hand-embroidered smock dresses. Or there's 16Arlington’s high glamour, feather-trimmed options that will make its wearer feel like Kate Moss and Co. circa ’92 (a halcyon era whereby living your best life meant to soak up as much fun as humanly possible). See also independent Brit labels such as Cro-Che to Roberta Einer, who are ruling the roost for punchy crochet creations that pulse with the energy of 70s festival. And, lest we forget the all-rounder, that rarely falls out of favour: the LBD. Maybe you’ve already got one, ready and waiting. Though if you do happen to be searching for a new look in this realm, might we suggest recent Central Saint Martins graduate Nensi Dojacka’s cult, 90s-inspired asymmetric style. Seductive, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
(N.B. Of course, there will be those who have long been dissuaded from the minidress, summer or no summer. Though, if you’ve got to this point in the article let’s just assume, for arguments sake, you’re not one of them.)
You don’t have to have a degree in psychology to work out that a craving for something flesh-baring, is partly a reactionary response to the lockdown-induced wearing of loungewear. We’ve been hidden away for so long, we want to show off a bit.
Raising hemlines has long raised eyebrows. Grabbed attention. Newspaper headlines, in fact. This emblematic refusal to assimilate is part of its empowering pleasure, decades later. By the mid-1960s, for instance, miniskirts had become so aligned with the women's liberation movement that when Dior failed to include them in a collection, a group calling themselves the 'British Society for the Protection of Mini Skirts' protested outside the fashion show.
It was the same story across the pond. “When we were told to give up our mini‐skirts for midis, there was a semi‐conscious boycott on the part of American women,” Gloria Steinem said in the 1970s. They were fed up of being manipulated, told what to do, what to wear.
“We now wanted to make our own decisions on hundreds of things. Not have them handed down from on high.” And if ever there was a statement to fully capture public consciousness right now this would – surely – be it.
Images | Celine