Chasing Summer (Skirts): It’s All In The Details

The original Burberry Prorsum loop knot skirt

Alexander Wang drape skirt dress

The very best skirts of summer 2010 add tons of chic to an outfit, but are fun and even a bit whimsical. The reason? The coolest have great, interesting details or shapes that give them some volume – ruching, draping, pleating, layered asymetrical panels, gathering, or just a fuller cut. (Burberry Prorsum‘s, left, was one of the first down the runway for spring and an inspiration for many.)

This slight fullness makes them much more interesting than the plain old straight and narrow pencil skirt. These skirts can function almost like an accessory, adding zest and flavor to an outfit, giving the eye something to land on in the silhouette.

And, interesting skirts are also everywhere you turn at retail these days. I took a walk down lower Broadway yesterday– absolutely every store is there — and spotted windows focused on skirts from at least six or seven cool brands, and some great skirts even from brands not so cutting-edge. Then, I scrolled through some of my favorite websites to cull the right pieces for you, too. Here are some of the best to punch up your summer look:

Reiss draped skirt at asos.com

Nanette Lepore skirt at bloomingdales.com

Alexander Wang, above right, added his own version of a twist and drape that makes the wearer actually look narrower – huh? We’ll all go for that–even at $395.00, on Net-a-Porter. Club Monaco has an absolutely amazing draped skirt of their own that I have on my must-have chic and affordable list. Zac Posen for Target — quite the launch party!–has a ruched side black skirt that’s an unbelievable $34.99. The British website, ASOS, fairly new to the US, is a web-only collection with their own label designs, as well as carefully selected pieces from other lines. They have a knock-out draped pocket skirt from Reiss at about $130.00 at today’s exchange rate. At Bloomingdale’s website, Nanette Lepore’s minimally pleated skirt shows how even a little interesting detail can make a work skirt look totally up to the minute, $118.00. Elizabeth and James also have a super skirt in the most brilliant shade of yellowy-gold that’s really elegant and slightly gathered. Loft, too, has a very nice subtly side gathered beige tailored skirt at $69.50 that will get you noticed in the office, or a silky front drape one in navy or pale stone that’s $39.99 and super-attractive. (Check these out–they are well worth it, even if I don’t have pics.)

And, most all of these slightly fuller skirts are fairly short, from micro-mini to a few inches above the knee. This range has the right length in it somewhere for every body, every age.

J.Crew summer tweed gathered skirt

ASOS purple pleated and tied skirt

Fuller Burberry Prorsum skirt

The waist-gathered, pleated or”paper-bagged” skirts that are around again run the gamut from the lusted-after Burberry Prorsum to a great ladylike J.Crew summer tweed for $138.00, to an ASOS light purple pleated and tied waist version that’s about $37.00 at the current exchange rate. They’re fun and figure-forgiving if you choose one that’s not too extreme in its details. (You can also find a bit longer versions.) A-line shapes like the super J.Crew gold a-line inverted pleat skirt below are also a way to get on the fullness bandwagon.

Gathered red skirt at Opening Ceremony

Diane Von Furstenberg olive fuller skirt

Marc by Marc Jacobs fuller plaid skirt

Gathered skirts can be fun and easy, especially on hot summer days. Opening Ceremony has a charming fuller red summer skirt for $230.00 that would look super with a smaller top and a boyfriend jacket. Zara has an all black slightly gathered version, as well as a cool black and white large-scale abstract print, both for $39.90. Diane Von Furstenbergs gathered and rick-racked fuller skirt at $235.00 is fun for weekend/going out, or for work with flats and a jacket or shorter cardigan. And MARC by Marc Jacobs full plaid skirt at bloomingdales.com could be a new wardrobe staple with a narrow tee, sweater or shirt for any situation.

JCrew A-line skirt

A detail that also looked great was the tiered skirt — usually ruffled layers, sometimes panels. There are really good ones at Zara, Club Monaco, Loft and Express. And these tiers needn’t be only for high school kids. They can be a fun way to add interest and are great paired with a tailored jacket. Remember – don’t be afraid to show your whimsical side.

The good news is that there are so many of these newly-detailed skirts at every price point, you can be sure to find one that’s the right length, fit and degree of whimsy to suit your wallet, comfort level and your fun threshold. Dressing with individuality should always be this easy!

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