Saturday, 17 January 2009


*Puts hand up*

Charlotte, can you help me please? I'm looking for a black wool (or that sort of thickness) skirt. Actually, the colour doesn't matter that much really...

Either knee length or just above to wear with thick tights and boots. Any ideas? I can't find one anywhere.

What we're looking for here is an everyday skirt with some weight to it. Simple enough, but this may have been one of the hardest missions yet. The shops are full of spring summer floatiness, and at any rate, skirt profiles have been pretty 'sculptural' for a while. The pencil skirt, while glam, is not the most practical thing to throw on when ferrying three kids and a dog around all day. And the least said about it's unflattering little sister, the tulip skirt, the better. I know in my mind's eye exactly what I want to recommend: modern, fun - maybe a bit of a pattern... but all I'm finding is serious tailoring for the office.

Marks and sparks have over a hundred skirts to choose from, and two of them look like contenders. The first is a cosy winter plaid in muted greys or browny greys for £35. I like the high belted waist - which deserves a tucked in lightweight jumper, but could just as easily be hidden beneath something more chunky. The best feature, though, is the choppy, flirty hem. Not only is it fun, it's flattering too, breaking up the horizontal line. The other contender is a pure neutral. Classic A-line design for maximum versatility. If this skirt were slightly shorter I would recommend it unreservedly; at this length, I worry it may look frumpy. £39.50.

The White Stuff is a shop that needles me. I think it's overpriced, it only goes up to a sixteen, (despite clearly making clothes for thirtyandfortysomethings) and some of its tailoring is so unflattering. Particularly some of it's skirts where, like monsoon they seems to add weight to the silhouette right at the top of the thighs. As if that were a good idea. Oh and half of their website leads to dead links. But. Grudgingly I must recommend a couple of very lovely skirts. The first is somewhat over-whimsically called the 'Vibrant Gift skirt' (£45). It's a clean A line, with a gorgeous scattering of embroidered and printed flowers. It strays close to being a horizontal band of pattern, and that would be a very bad thing, but the way the flowers float up the skirt draws the eye into the vertical. The second skirt is called "Fly away with me" (no, really). It's also £45, and the warmth of the rose print is very appealing in the midst of winter.

The last recommendation is from a website called Toast. Usually retailing at over £77, this cord skirt with jeans styling is now a reasonable £40. It's young and uncomplicated, but not mutton dressed as lamb-young. It comes in three dark neutral shades: olive brown, soft khaki and dark grey-brown. Cord skirts look great with ribbed or woolly tights too.

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