I Love My... Floor-Grazing Maxi Dress

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Ana Kinsella is a Dublin-based writer living in New York for the summer. She interns at Racked National and ELLE.

"There were two things I learned straight away when I moved to NYC this summer–first, that all female writers in this city have some aspirations towards being Joan Didion, and secondly, that when somebody tells you they’re a ‘shopaholic’ or ‘addicted to shopping’, you should probably take them seriously. It means they’ve maxed out all their cards for a new Chanel bag, or they’ve blown their rent on another pair of Manolos. My first job here was working in a second-hand clothing store with a steady influx of used designer goods. Everyday the same women would come in and immediately ask to see all the designer bags we’d gotten in that morning, or any and all Diane von Furstenberg that was in the store. And in a bizarre way, I found this all so fascinating. I’d never seen people so ravenous for a designer bargain before. Their eyes would light up at the sight of a Gucci or Prada label. Marc Jacobs was always a huge hit. It seemed so strange, so foreign to me. Until, of course, it happened to me.

"It was a long, ankle-length taupe-colored Jean-Paul Gaultier skirt, and after six years of long convent school skirts, I was a serious devotee of micro-shorts and mini-dresses and floral prints. This skirt couldn’t be further from what I thought of as my ‘style’, but the longer I spent getting to know the East Village and the hyper-trendy girls who populated it, the more I longed to ditch that old style of mine and go for the weirder stuff: the cut-off denim shirts, the ugly platform booties, crop-tops, leather satchels, messy buns. And, of course, the floor-grazing maxi skirts, just like this one. I felt like a model going to a shoot in it. Its pleats made t swish and swirl around my legs, and on top of all that, it had the extra cache of being designer, something that had never mattered to me like this before. Suddenly my closet full of Topshop duds and vintage bits seemed silly and incomplete without this high-end skirt to pull it all together. I snapped it up, spending a day’s wages on it and wore it regularly with t-shirts and tank-tops and a beat-up army jacket and my faithful top-knot – until the summer quickly got too hot. I held up its hem as I ran up subway steps and kept it out of puddles, and it felt good to wear something that, for once, I didn’t have to clutch at during gusts of wind to protect my modesty.

"Unfortunately, at this stage it’s too warm in NYC to wear the skirt, so it’s hanging proudly in my closet, waiting for me to bring it back to cold and wet Dublin, a city almost made for the protection of a skirt like this one. I’m looking forward to pairing it with my huge sweaters and oversized cardigans, so I can bring some of this New York style home with me."