Trend alert: Skirts over trousers
Moderately warm on the heels of other 90s comebacks; crop tops, acid wash denim and blur, the skirt-over-trousers trend re-emerged cautiously on the catwalk of Chanel’s 2012 pre-fall collection. Inspired by the Raj days of India, the collection featured tunic and shalwar kameez shapes, given French elegance and opulence with bejewelled silk, chiffon and Bouclé, over the shiny fabric of leggings and trousers.
In the fall collections, THE ROW offered a matchy matchy flowing nude silk version, a clean, grown-up follow-on from the Olsen’s much-written about “wear-all-your-clothes-at-once” style. Prada’s embellished style came in clashing prints or matching tailoring. Chanel did it again in textured winter fabrics in darker hues, complete with embellishments on the cuffs and eyebrows, and a few gauzy and diaphanous skirts made from metallic paper-like netting.
Most of the main fashion publications are euphemistically referring to the trend as “layering” so as not to scare anyone, and with good reason. Worn to great effect by Gwen Stafani, to bad pop effect by Steps, and even experimented with by Meg Ryan, the skirt-over-trousers trend belonged to a time when magazines still printed articles on customising your wardrobe and was practised by arty alternative students and young pop worshippers alike.
On the Internet thread mumsnet.com about that “weird nineties trend” one woman summed it up by explaining: “It was good as I could ride motorbikes and still wear a pretty dress”. Form and function.
Missing the point, the high street jumped in and began to sell skirts attached to trousers, ruining the freedom of styling. Finally as the new millennium dawned, Trinny and Suzannah seized control of our TV sets for a while and dressing became something to do to minimise your bad points. The grunge babydoll became an easy-to-wear tunic over leggings, just in time to cover up the upper thigh anxiety that came with the skinny jeans trend.
As fashion takes a move back to the 90s it seems to also mean a return to certain beauty rules of Britpop and Grunge. After the noughties, a decade of super-perfection and super-reality, these trends are less about solving flaws and feeling bad and more to do with self-expression and creating a narrative with references. The outfit as personality rather than the body as a trophy. Plus motorbike-riding ease. The experimental nature of this trend may have something to do with the typical burst of creativity that comes with unstable times.
Try the look yourself in prints if you’re brave, or go for a softer version in sheer fabrics and subtly textured leggings. Alternatively streamline the look in sharp tailoring or goth it up with leather. All styles capture the luxe mood that is sweeping the fashion world in response to the end of disposable fashion. This trend is all about fashion for beautiful fashion’s sake, embrace the weirdness.