The spring 2022 runways signalled the return of many trends from the 2010s. From peplum to saturated colour-blocking, it seems that — following the Y2K trend boom this year — the Twilight-era styles are now finding their way out of Tumblr posts. This includes high-low hemlines, or “mullet skirts,” as they’ve come to be called by those who’ve since sworn off the infamous silhouette.
Between 2010 and 2015, part-mini, party-ball gown skirts — that, as the nickname suggests, bear resemblance to the questionable hairstyle sported by the likes of Joe Exotic and Hulk Hogan — reigned. Celebs like Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Lily Collins sported the trend on the red carpet. Meanwhile, on social media, bloggers paraded the skirts everywhere from Coachella to their favourite coffee shop.
Although the mullet skirt was the It-trend of the early 2010s, the silhouette was endlessly mocked for its perceived identity crisis: It was too formal to be a dance floor-appropriate mini, but it wasn't long enough to be considered a black-tie style. Whenever the wind hit the skirt, the train would pop back like a superhero’s cape making anyone look like they were about to jet-set off to save the world. Regardless, I, like many at the time, was obsessed with the trend. I even bought a high-low dress for my high school graduation.
Sometime in the mid-2010s, the mullet skirt was exposed for what it really was: a questionable and cringe-y fad. Skirt symmetry was soon restored, Tumblr was ditched for Instagram, and other relics of the era (Jeffrey Campbell Litas, American Apparel Disco dress, etc.) were shelved. My graduation dress seemed like an unfortunate relic of a time of poor judgment. So I donated it, figuring the trend would never come back.
But I was wrong.
The return has been some time in the making. Designers like Mugler and Zuhair Murad included high-low skirts in their spring and fall 2021 lineups, while others like Christian Siriano, Rochas, Cynthia Rowley, Giambattista Valli, and Rodarte solidified the comeback by adding the trend to their spring 2022 offerings. Even at the 2021 Met Gala, high-low skirts had a moment. Donatella Versace wore a white corseted Versace dress with a ruffled high-low skirt, while Diane Kruger donned a neon green frock with a mini balloon-shaped front and a long hemline in the back. For the after-party, Kendall Jenner sported a red Givenchy dress that included an embellished mini with a long train bow attached.
The good news is, the high-low skirts of today are nothing like their mullet-like predecessors. Instead, they embrace asymmetry without being gimmicky.
Christian Siriano showcased the elegant side of the trend with a black skirt featuring a ruffled asymmetrical slit and a neon orange mini dress with a lopsided hem. Meanwhile, Cynthia Rowley showed a black long-sleeved mini dress that flourished into a feathered ball gown skirt more fit for an Oscars after-party than a night at Coachella. At Rochas, high-low skirts offered drama, with a black black-and-white printed mini dress opening up into a full-blow ruffled train. This time around, the high-low skirt is not trying so hard to grab attention for the sake of attention; instead, the hemlines seamlessly ascend from top to bottom, rather than make abrupt drops from the penthouse to the lobby like a sartorial version of Disney’s Tower of Terror.
It’s worth noting that high-low hemlines are emerging at a time when mini dresses and mini skirts are taking over fashion. For people who are not into skirts so short that they might as well be belts — see: the recent Miu Miu micro-mini skirts — high-low hemlines offer a way to be on-trend without completely exposing, well, everything.
Then there is the influence of TikTok. While Y2K trends synonymous with the pop-punk and Hollywood’s paparazzi eras have been experiencing popularity for a while, recently, the hashtags #2010sfashion and #2010snostalgia popped up on the app, where people shared thrift hauls featuring items from the last decade that are now fashionable again. Yes, high-low skirts are among the mix.
Still, high-low skirts are more than just a nostalgia trend — they’re a fit for our unprecedented, chaotic times. The past year has prompted trends like extreme cutouts that exemplified just how many layers we’ve wanted to shed during this pandemic that refuses to let up. Then there were the subversive basics that saw people ditch symmetry and old-fashioned basics as a way to rebel against the status quo.
Maybe high-low hemlines are yet another reminder that the balance is all off. Good thing, this time around, we're onboard with the trend.