Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tips & Tricks: How To Decide Your Ideal Skirt Length (Part I)

Good afternoon, everybody!

I am recuperating from a bout of weirdly off-season out-of-nowhere bronchitis, which totally wrecked all holiday plans for us besides DH bringing me soup on a tray. :-)  Sweet sweet man, my DH.

And I'm under doc's orders to do pretty much nothing til Friday -- meaning, for me, life in temporary purgatory, since I'm a workout-a-day-aholic.  Also meaning that I've got unusual time on my hands, so I've been reading and catching up on your blogs, playing on Polyvore and coming dangerously close to busting out my AmEx card again for no really compelling reason.  Even QVC's starting to look enticing.  Yikes.

I caught Gi Gi's post about the luscious double serge pencil skirts (Sidebar (as we lawyers say): Gi Gi, you're looking fab-u-LUSS, girl).  Here, she was musing about whether to get the Regular or Petite skirt:
I also ordered the skirts in 4p and had a hard time deciding if they looked better than the size 2. Ultimately I went with the size 2 because a more covered knee = a more professional or demure look. The 4P wasn't like a miniskirt or anything. It just clicked that my legs are a little on the longer side for a shortie so sometimes I prefer regular sizes.
Definitely true that a more covered knee = more demure, more covered, more traditionally professional.  But Gi Gi's comment reminded me of my add-on belief, based on experience, which is that on some women, a tiny bit of knee showing actually creates -- sneakily and subliminally -- a more perfectly professional look. That is, if what you're aiming for is a skirt length that says "Oh yes, I'm aware that I'm an educated and accomplished woman and that I'm a peer amongst you men.  But that doesn't mean that I have to sacrifice just the right trace of femininity in my clothes.  Notice my absolutely perfectly-tailored power ensemble including this gorgeous skirt which is neither matronly nor showy but which hits my leg at exactly the right spot to make me look fabulous."  

How do we each find that "sweet spot" where our appropriate-but-oh-so-flattering hems should hit?  Well, yours truly can tell ya.  I will now publicly, for the first time, share a trick I used to teach my customers about skirt length.

Customers, you say? Yep.  I did have 'em, and I do have "street cred" on this stuff.

Many years back, during one of my periodic hiatuses from my law practice (I have a really juvenile attention span, I've decided :-)) , I co-owned a women's clothing business.  My partner and I sold for one of the uber-expensive brands that is sold thru "home shows" (we used to call it Tupperware Togs, but of course only where our big-spending customers couldn't hear us :-)).  The majority of our customers were lawyers, doctors, and other high-falutin' executive-type gals, and what we sold them for the most part was executive office wear.

We did well (for lots of reasons, a big one of which was that we were just plain lucky because, as "temporarily retired" professionals, we naturally had an easier time attracting customers from our own peer group).  In our six years in the biz we sold a boatload of clothes for the company (which still exists, still makes gazillions of dollars, and is privately-held by the lone SOB misogynistic owner -- but that's another ironic tale.) In our 4th year of selling the company asked us to join the faculty at their semi-annual training institute for novice "consultants" (saleswomen, in fancy parlance).  They taught us what and how to teach the newbies, and we loved hamming it up on stage.  Two years later they recruited us to move full-time away from sales and onto the management side of the house, as salaried "Regional Trainers."  This sounded vaguely glamorous and a whole lot more fun than our commissioned and increasingly hectic business.  And they trained us some more, so we enjoyed that.  But the job turned out to be much more of a traveling grind for us working moms than we'd thought it would be.  So after 18 months we both moved on to other horizons.

Overall, though, it was pretty darned wonderful to be immersed in the insiders' world of almost-haute-couture fashion for years.  I learned so much about fabric (I recognize all the mills where J. Crew buys their silk, linen and wools), garment construction (and what to look for to see how well something's made and where the corners were cut), alterations techniques, color and pattern mixing, sizing and -- here's the biggie for today -- how to clothe my customers in garments and patterns that were proportionally correct for their bodies.

We passed along lots of tips to our customers over the years -- we even accompanied them to get their clothes altered so we could teach them along the way.  Gauging from their responses, the number one fave tip by FAR was how to answer this question: How do I decide where to hem my skirts or what length to buy?

I'm going to tell YOU how to answer this question... in Part 2 of this post.  Only because Part 1 has gotten seriously long.  Grab your tape measure (not optional) and I'll be back as soon as I throw some chicken in the oven for dinner. :-)

1 comment:

  1. It is a very nice and good post. Keep up the good work.


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