Skirts for Men and Women
Like trousers, the other widely used outfit for both men & women is the SKIRT. Skirts for men and women have distinct identities of their own and each type has its own variations and characters.
In India, the skirt is more of a male dominated dress. It starts from South India where it is worn by males & is known as Lungi. The tradition says as the temperature goes up, the lungi is pulled up & halved till modesty. The male bastion in India wears the Dhoti which is a skirt tied with partition & hugging the legs till the knee, a la Shah Rukh Khan in DEVDAS, but fast losing its significance as the young generation is shifting focus from this traditional dress towards the western outfits like the trousers/jeans. Though now the global brand Adidas is coming up with skirts (DHOTI) for global males. The popular political figures supporting skirts for men are AK Antony, P Chiddambram, Lalu Prasd Yadav, Mulayam Singh.
Japanese wear it as a robe around the waist known as Kimono & Chinese call it Changshan & the Arabs call it Thobe & Africans term it as Kaftan. The Scottish national dress is Kilt- a skirt worn till the knee length & mostly in dark checks in print, while the Bhutanese call it Gho & wear it till knee length & the Hawaiian islands call it Sarong. These are the names of different types of skirts for men.
The realm of skirts is popular in females & this skirt has been the iconic material for dress designers.
The skirt worn by south Indian females is ankle length & wrapped by a half sari. The traditional Indian sari is supported by the skirt known as Petticoat & worn as a compliment to support the Sari .This is the only skirt which is not visible to the admirer of the sari, even the looking glass .
Traditionally skirts are in the shape of a frustum of a cone (a cone cut horizontally towards its conical axis) or in a tubular structure.
A girl starts with her first skirt as the school dress. These dress skirts are knee covering with pleats or folds stitched at hip level. As the girl grows up so does the fashion gets impregnated in the mind & the variations in skirt come in play. The pleated skirt becomes the Pencil skirt hanging from the hips & takes the form of a tube hanging trim fit on the waist to hips (coca cola glass bottle is the imagination of this skirt fit ). A Church bell shaped skirt comes when in thirty’s & A line skirt has a flare below the hips- this skirt fits snugly at the waist, kisses the thighs & hips & becomes wider at the hem and is best recommended for pear shape bottoms as it compliments heavy hips & thighs but not recommended for slim waist & narrow hips. For flared skirts the ideal location for flare to start is hips & not waist & the length of the flare depends upon the designer & circle skirt is popular on red carpet & for tall & heavy on the hips. It has a hole to fit the waist & a large circumference at the hem level & brushing the floor when the wearer walks on the red carpet. The sinful skirt- the short skirt, the mini skirt is the craze for teens. Skirt lengths increase or decrease with the socio economic, political landscape of the country. When the first world war ended, skirts became shorter (due to restriction of fabric availability ) in 1920, then long in the year 1930 & again shorter during the course of world war two & again shortest during the Vietnam war- the 1970s when skirts became as short as possible. It was during this period all forms of skirt came to light like the ankle length –maxi skirt, the mid calf skirt called midi, the thigh length called mini & the micromini (aka Saira Banu style in the movie Purab aur Pachim, circa 1970).
Skirts have seen all lengths like trousers have seen all bottom diameters from tight (ten inches) to flares (thirty six inches).
Fabric for skirts has also undergone through light weight, mid weight to heavy weight denims, worsted matte etc. Skirts start from below the bust line to natural waist; accessories for skirts include high heel sandals, boots & opened toe wedges, stockings, belts, blouses.
Indian designer skirts are popularly known as Lehangas. This is the most in demand garment today & a must for a party in Northern India. Lehangas are the costliest form of skirt – they are classified as bridal ,party wear & casual lehngas & are made up from silk, brocade, chiffon, cotton, crepe, georgette,viscose fibers. Lehangas are accompanied with aari, beads, dubka work, print, lace, lucknawi mukesh, patch, sequins, stone, zari, gota in pure silver & gold etc. The occasion, budget & target customer’s needs, preferences, designs & add on material sums up the cost of a lehanga which may start from INR 5000 to no upper limit. The lehanga is complimented with a blouse called choli, which again is the designers dream & fantasy.
A western skirt even with variations requires a good figure of the wearer, but the traditional Indian lehanga can accommodate with any figure provided the fashion designer details on choli & dupatta, designer jewellery & make up to grace the face. Skirts for women have abundant styling and detailing. There is more to designer’s imagination to create & add sense, sensuality, slit & skin show for the female skirt.