Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Find YOUR ideal skirt length

What's your best skirt length?

As you all know I'm all about finding the right body proportions and wearing the right styles for your shape! It's what REAL style is all about for women...wearing what flatters YOU!

Recently I was "googling" and I came across a website talking about skirt length. I wasn't looking for anything about skirt length...but one click lead to another and there I was SIDETRACKED! Argh! I found an article about measuring and forgot what I was originally doing, LOL! Anyways...since my recent posting about body measurements and horizontal lines that are created on our bodies with the clothes we wear...well, I got engrossed all over again! Below, I'll give you the measurement formula I learned back in college in one of my advanced sewing classes--so you can find YOUR best skirt length...

So, what is the "right" skirt length? These last couple of seasons, skirt length has been up in "mini" territory or about mid-thigh-ish--and it's just not something most ladies can wear!!! Thankfully most women are ignoring this trend and wearing whatever length they prefer. This fall we find skirt lengths all over the place. Marc Jacobs and other designers are now bringing back mid-calf lengths (I think just to mess with our heads, LOL)! So, my timeless advice of wearing what works BEST for you--still holds true!

Does this look good?!

When wearing boots...this awkward length doesn't look so bad...

Wear what you love, what flatters you and be the best "first rate version of yourself"!

Here is the "formula" for figuring out your most flattering length:
(You'll need a cloth measuring tape)
You’ll take 2 measurements: from your hipbone straight down the outside of your leg to the middle of your kneecap, and from the middle of your kneecap (outside edge) straight down to the middle of your ankle bone.
Here’s the formula:
X is the number of inches above or below the knee your skirt length should be.  If your shins are shorter than your thighs, raise your hem X inches above your knee.  If your thighs are shorter than your shins, lower the hem X inches below the knee.
Basically you want to visually equalize the length of the upper and lower leg.
So, I did it and here are my calculations...
Hipbone to middle of knee: 24"
Middle of knee to ankle bone: 17"
Difference = 7"
Divided by 2 = 3.5"
So, my IDEAL skirt length can go up or below my knee 3.5"...I played with this in front of my full length mirror and I agree that both lengths will be attractive on me (but keep in mind, I'm tall so I have more vertical space to play with in the first place). It's good to know since skirt lengths are coming back DOWN again. Actually, according to this calculation--I should go UP above my knees to balance things out since my thigh measurement is larger....I'm not feeling it right now. Maybe when the weather cools and I'm wearing opaque tights....
Long story short...I still maintain that my BEST skirt length is around my knee. It works for me and it'll still work for YOU! So, if you follow my timeless advice about wearing your skirts around your knee area--you can chuck this whole skirt calculation thingie right out the window!!!! LOL!

I'm sticking with what works for me....

But, do the calculation because you may have some skirts hanging in your closet long or short and it's good to know if the length considered right for you :)
I'd love to hear your opinion...
Your turn. What do you think? What skirt length are you going to wear this season???


  1. It's not all about the vertical balance. I think a second consideration is to not have the hemline fall at the widest point of your calf or thigh. For some, that would remove those inches up or down your calculations gave them.

    I agree that knee length is a good length for most of us, especially the no longer young and no longer thin - like me.

  2. So my upper leg is the same length as my lower leg does that mean I wear my skirts to the middle of my knee?

  3. The mere of idea of measuring scared me - not because of my own personal numbers but because I'm not a maths fan! LOL So I'm with you - just around the knee will be fine. :)

  4. Diane, where I grew up is very strict with mathematics so I am leery about formulas as well, but this one is actually very easy,I encourage you to try it, if only for the pleasure of getting the formula right!


    I believe this is where you got the info and it would be nice to give credit to this blogger! or to who ever it was that you got the info from.

  6. @Barbara,

    This is not something a random blogger thought up. I'm glad others are sharing how to measure for the right skirt length. It is handy guideline when you have a skirt length and you are not sure about it.

    Actually when I was in college for fashion merchandising I learned this measurement. I look garment construction (aka advanced sewing) so that I understood body proportions and how garments fit on a 3D body.

  7. What a timely subject! (I'm beginning to think you have a connection to my brain, lol!) I just went through all my dresses and skirts to prepare for the cooler weather and to purge those that I no longer wear-especially since I've learned things about proportion. There are some dresses and skirts that I adore, but they are too long for my 5'3" frame. So I set them aside to have my husband help me mark them so I can hem them and wear them again. My dil and I were discussing perfect skirt lengths....and now I have this article! Thanks so much. I'm not so young and I appreciate the age appropriate advice you give us!

  8. This is an interesting way to look at it. I had found, through a lot of trial and error, that the most flattering length on me is one that falls where my legs are narrowest. So a skirt that comes to just below my knees, before the swell of the calves, makes me look overall smaller/slimmer. If the skirt is just two inches longer and hits where my calves are wide, then I automatically look 15lbs heavier and squat. I'm curious to do your math and see what it suggests!

  9. This is great advice, but I would love a chart to show me where to take the measurements (like the charts in catalogs that help you measure).

  10. I'm not so sure about this. I have always felt that skirts that hit my knees look awful. As my legs have gotten more muscular and much thicker due to my career I find that the only skirts that look decent on me are ankle length, because they don't chop my already short legs in half.

  11. I got the measurements of thigh 17, calf 16 that leave me a whole 1/2" of leeway for my skirts? That doesn't give me a whole lot of room to work with....has anyone else found this?

  12. Leslie or Members,

    I'm asking the following answer at the risk of sounding... dumb. That being said, how do I know where my hipbone is? I've checked online, but the info is vague. Thanks in advance.

  13. question is ever a "dumb" one! The top of your hipbone is right around where you put your hand on your hips. It's usually a couple of inches past your natural waist.

    See if you can feel the top of your hip bone and measure from there down.

    Hope that helps!

  14. You always have the best posts Leslie! I'm going to do the hip measurement because I'm curious, but I do find the around my knee looks the most flattering for me and I"m 5 9. Long lengths seem to make me look bigger unless it's a dark, straight, denim type skirt.

  15. Your advice is right on target, Leslie. I've always worn skirts around knee length, except during the 80's when I was younger and skinner, and then I wore the long calf-length skirts. Lately I've been buying skirts (not so much wearing them, LOL, gotta shave the legs!) and I've tried my skirts on for friends, and the at-the-knee length works much better for me. Did your measurements, and found out why: My thigh-to-knee measurement is 17", knee-to-ankle is 15" - so that leaves 1" above or below the knee - in other words, I've been doing it right all these years (except during the 80's, but I thought I looked good! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!). Thanks for your invaluable style help and encouragement!

  16. OK I got the length figured. Is there a best style for each body shape?

  17. Lynelle.... I technically have a bit less than 1/2 inch to play with too. But am also tall so skirts on dresses are already proportioned for a shorter person raising the hem higher than perhaps manufacturer intended. Tailors cannot add enough fabric from scanty hem allowances....... . The answer then becomes the skirt style and NICELADY the answer is YES!!! MsSmartyPants Does tell you what style to select and ordering a subscription does help........ though not all problems are ever totally resolved. (Not ms.SPants or associated with her.)

  18. Would the same measurements apply to capri pants or shorts?

  19. Yes! These measurements help you find your best lengths based on your individual proportions. It is one of the best things a woman can know for herself!

  20. I am the same with both measurements and I agree that the middle of the knee is best for me; however I have psoriasis. At 53, 5'6", 160 lbs with my waist to hip ratio only 0.90 (apple) can I wear these with leggings?

  21. Ms. Bobcat, Yes. I don't see why not if you keep your skirt length around the knee. It would be best to have the skirt and leggings the same color (in example, a black print skirt with black leggings) for the best look!

  22. I actually get quite a lot of compliments when I wear a full, fairly long skirt (just above ankle). My leg does come in above the ankle so that works for me. I also like the coverage and the luxurious swish of fabric although when cycling to work I do need to be careful about tucking it in to my underpants (yes!) so it doesn't get caught in the spokes. Knee-length pencil also works great for me. Just not too short, please...

  23. This was interesting, Leslie. I tend to prefer midi to long skirts and always have done. By your formula, skirts would suit me best if about 3" above or below the knee. So I'm thinking I will have a friend take photos of me in my various skirts once I find a place to live (that is scheduled for 2019) and get my clothes unpacked. I'm about to sew a circle skirt for this coming summer and I've decided to wrap the fabric around me at various lengths and have my cousin take some pics so I can see if what I'm imagining will work. I'm nearly 5'10" and am still losing weight, so don't want to make too many decisions yet. I haven't dropped by here for ages, but found you again via the 'How I Got This Far' blog. I'd forgotten what a great site you have! ~Linne

  24. Linne, Thanks for your kind comments. I'm 5'11" so I find the middle of my knee cap to just below my knee is the best skirt length for me. I think it's cool you're going to sew a few skirts for the summer! Stand in front of a full length mirror and hold a towel up or down your leg and snap a photo to get an idea of the best skirt length. (you can wrap the towel around your waist) Let me know if you find your best length (it never changes) :)


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Love, Leslie

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