Whereas modesty was all the rage not too long ago (remember cottagecore?), our post-pandemic selves are craving something a bit more open-aired and revealing. Of late, we’ve spotted shrunken silhouettes on runways, at Saint Laurent and Versace, and the streets, on Rihanna and Olivia Rodrigo, culminating in an influx of micro miniskirts and dresses that show off our gams. And when it comes to ultra-cropped dresses and skirts, nobody styles them better than La’shaunae Steward, the 25-year-old model and 2019 Dazed 100 winner who rocks high-up hemlines to explosive effect.
“I’ve always loved skirts because I love showing off my thighs, [which are] one of my biggest and toughest features,” Steward tells Refinery29. For the South Carolina native, who has a modeling portfolio showcasing work with Jeffrey Campbell and cult underwear line Parade, showing off her thighs is a way of telling those around her that she’s tough and threatening — someone who won’t be bothered by “anything other than compliments,” as she puts it. This year, in particular, Steward says that her skirts and dresses are hitching way, way up. “I try to fully match the aesthetics I see for myself in my head instead of being afraid of people being like, ‘Why the fuck is she wearing that?’,” she says. She’s outgrown that phase of putting too much stock in what others thought. “Now, I’m just existing.” And existing in itty bitty mini skirts, no less.
You won’t find just any short skirts or dresses in Steward’s closet. Her style is fierce and often fluorescent (she recently dyed the tips of her bangs a radioactive green). “I enjoy looking intimidating, so when I find short skirts that fit and aren’t a floral print, like 96% of what fat stores try to sell us, I’m happy,” she says. Her go-to labels are Tunnel Vision and Hot Topic: “Tunnel Vision has great miniskirts with fun prints that aren’t tacky or outdated,” says Steward, “Hot Topic, too.” According to her, the list pretty much stops there. It doesn’t help that the plus-size goods at fast fashion stores are likely to fall apart after one wash. “When fashion stores do better and start thinking of the alternative people who are fat and want to look good, without having to get it custom-made, that would be great,” she says.
For a miniskirt or dress to pass muster with Steward, it has to adhere to her style, which she describes as: “2008 fat emo/scene princess meets modern day high fashion emo mixed with ‘90s rap influences I had growing up in the early ‘00s like La Chat and Gangsta Boo.” Yes, it’s specific. But when you scroll through the model’s feed — which features the style star, Telfar mini shopping bag in hand, wearing band tees as mini dresses, Cher Horowitz-style plaid skirts, lace slip dresses with platforms, and long-sleeves under patterned mesh tunics — you’ll find that her description is pretty much spot on.
What better way to celebrate the end of lockdown than a super-high hemline? And who better to inspire us than the unstoppable Steward?
Ahead, see how the model styles her micro mini collection.