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Skirts Of All Lengths Step Out This Season
From Cotton Inc collection of Articles.

Stock watchers have often applied a direct correlation between skirt lengths and market performance: rising hemlines signal a bull run, while longer lengths indicate a more conservative environment. Market watchers, however, may have to look to another barometer this season, because Spring 2005 skirts run the gamut from ankle-grazing peasant styles to preppy short tennis skorts – and everything in between.

All financial anticipations aside, designer Cristi Conaway ascribes to one formula that always nets her a positive gain. “Spring/Summer = skirts! Skirts are wonderful in warm weather. They’re flowy, light and always sexy.”

“This season is all about variety in skirting,” observes Yildiz Blackstone, president of the women’s wear collection Luca Luca. “It basically comes down to women wanting to feel pretty, and they feel that way in a skirt.”

“Skirts are popular now because women want to look feminine and sexy, and there is no better way to do that than with a great skirt,” asserts Barry Zelman, general manager of MEXX USA, the national retailer. “The skirt silhouette can be structured or soft and flirty, and it goes from work to play to dressy depending on the occasion.”

Sandi Davidson, vice president and creative director for Lilly Pulitzer, agrees wholeheartedly. “Women love skirts; they are fun and feminine, and they can be worn in so many different ways for absolutely any occasion. Skirts are a staple in any woman’s wardrobe.”

She continues, “We are definitely seeing a wide assortment of styles and skirt silhouettes this season – anything from embroidered full skirts and eyelet ruffled miniskirts, to tiered, gathered skirts with grommet and grosgrain details, as well as reversible printed wrap skirts.”

Relates Claire Dupuis, a senior trend forecaster with Cotton Incorporated, “The amount of styles are practically countless: A-line, pencil, saris, ruffled, tiered, appliquéd, sequined, embroidered, wrap, flirty, flouncy and even sporty cuts.” She adds, “With so many options, a skirt can take a woman anywhere she wants to go this spring or summer.”

That’s great news, considering that women want to go to an endless number of places and not have to change their attire to fit in. When asked if they dressed for different activities throughout the day, 57% of female respondents told Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™ that they prefer to wear one comfortable outfit.

“I will dress a skirt up or down depending on the occasion,” shares Maren Roth, publicity director for Simon Showroom, which manages several collections in its multiline showroom. “For a relaxed look, I may wear a jean skirt and pair it with tights and cowboy boots, or wear my cotton knee length skirt with a pretty blouse, pumps and some great accessories. There is so much you can do with a skirt; it gives you great options to really explore your individual style.”

Personal style is incredibly – and increasingly – important to today’s woman. Seventy-two percent of female respondents, in 2004, told the Monitor that they credited garments that they already own and like as a source for their clothing ideas. That figure is up considerably from the 57% of women making the same claim in 1994, the year that the Monitor first began tracking consumer behaviors.

“Designers are doing a great job in creating truly beautiful skirts,” says Luca Luca’s Blackstone. “Right now, skirts are among our best sellers because there is a cut that flatters everyone.”

Style watchers agree that the super-mini, while popular with a small minority of women, namely juniors, will not likely grace too many figures this spring. And there’s a good reason for that, explains MEXX’s Zelman. “Mini or very short skirts are not a universal silhouette.”

“Super short skirts are certainly not for everyone,” agrees Dupuis. “And to the other extreme, very long styles are not for every figure either.”

But have no fear, there are plenty of options at the proverbial middle.

“Skirts that are fitted to the knee, which are a basic this season, can look beautiful on any woman,” Blackstone attests. Adds Zelman, “The most popular length for structured skirts remains around the knee, right above or below. In fact, the trend right now in bohemian skirts, for spring and summer, is right above the knee to mid-calf, or even to the ankle if you want to be more dramatic.”

Consider this season’s skirts as a blue chip option for work and play, say fashion experts. “I often choose to wear skirts to work because I feel more professional or sophisticated in them, even when paired with a simple top and great shoes,” observes Roth, the publicist.

With seven out of 10 women working in environments that have at least one casual day a week, according to the Monitor, expect skirts to have a place in any dress code. The garment may also be going a long way towards making casual wardrobes more acceptable in the workplace; 85% of female consumers agreed that casual day is appropriate.

Beyond the everyday, skirts can also offer an element of transport, as it were. “A beautiful print skirt makes you feel like you’re on vacation, even when you’re not,” allows designer Conaway.

So just think of skirts as one investment this season that will likely yield many positive returns.

This story is one in a series of articles based on findings from Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™ tracking research. Each story will focus on a specific topic as it relates to the American women’s wear consumer and her attitudes and behavior regarding clothing, appearance, fashion, fiber selection and many other timely, relevant subjects.

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