Since first entering the fashion lexicon in the 1920s, thanks to Chanel, the skirt suit underwent little change over the years. In fact, it wasn’t until the ‘90s that the two-piece set, long seen as the epitome of ladylike fashion, got its first makeover when Chanel (this time with Karl Lagerfeld at the helm) revitalized the look for the MTV era. For the spring 1993 collection, the designer sent out tweed looks styled with belted chains, fishnets, and leather gloves. At the same time, celebrities like Princess Diana and model Naomi Campbell modernized the style by pairing it with cinched waist belts, over-the-knee socks, and black stockings.
But if the spring 2022 runways are any indication, the skirt suit is now undergoing yet another transformation. This time the makeover is marked by shorter-than-ever-before hemlines and risqué slits that would make ladies who lunch clutch their pearls.
This season, contemporary brands took liberties with what has often been considered a conservative style. New York’s Sandy Liang showed a light pink neoprene version with a lopsided hemline, which the recent Target collaborator delightfully paired with sneakers. Meanwhile, Versace offered a black patent leather version, with a mini skirt so short the jacket might as well have been styled as a dress. As if the choice of fabric and cut weren’t daring enough, the look was paired with Bratz-like platforms more suited for a nightclub than a social luncheon. Then, there’s Miu Miu, which showed a lineup of Y2K-era micro-mini, midriff-baring skirts with unfinished hemlines alongside preppy blazers that only the students at Constance Billard would dare to wear past the school entrance.
This movement follows other dress code-busting trends that have emerged, like the blazer, which is also undergoing a NSFW transformation of its own. The trend is also in line with the great shrinkage in fashion, where no hemlines are safe from scissors. But whereas the barely-there pieces of fabric disguised as skirts with equally revealing tops (a la Kim Shui) may not be for everyone, the suit offers a more wearable alternative with blazers that cover the arms.
So, where do you wear this trend?
While in the past, the skirt suit might have been a staple of afternoon tea get-togethers and fundraising committee meetings (see: Gilmore Girls’ Emily Gilmore or Sex and the City’s Bunny MacDougal), spring 2022's version can be worn anywhere from a night out to a weekend brunch. For more modern styling, look to designers who showed skirt suits with bralettes and crop tops, a look that's perfect for transforming the mini skirt suit from daywear to night attire. Or a two-piece in a less formal fabric, like neoprene or leather, paired with a casual shoe, like a sneaker or a flat boot, for a Saturday brunch with friends.
No matter where you choose to wear the modern skirt suit, it’s a guarantee it’ll be short and a little inappropriate for office dress codes. But who wants to be there anyway?