Ask Angie: (and all) Hem, Let down, or taper? Help me sort my skirts (long)

While we're on the subject of marvellous midis, I need to beg your indulgence and some help -- which I hope might also be of help to others. 

I'm 5'4" with a longish neck, short waist, longish rise, average length legs but proportionately short calves. 

As you all know, I've been wearing the VC tube skirts all summer with great pleasure. While I think the proportions are best on me with a 2 inch wedge sandal, I've also been sporting them with my Cons, and even low vamp flats. And my eye has pretty much adjusted to the ladylike midi-length. (Pics 1-4) 

Recently I updated my skirt wardrobe to include 2 new Halogen pencil skirts. These are a bit more substantial and work better for me in our cooler weather than the VC tubes. 

I already own one of these skirts. (Pic 5)  But it is a petite and hits just above my knee. I asked on the forum if I should lengthen it to the mid-knee to bottom of knee length of my new pencil skirts, which are regular sized, looser on me, and a bit longer. (Pics 6-7)

Responses were mixed. Some felt lengthening was the way to go. Others voted to leave the black one shorter for the sake of variety. But then CocoLion spoke up with an interesting observation: She felt that it would be the proportions were better on the shorter skirt if I planned to wear with boots or booties. 

Denise has an exceptional eye and I have learned more than a thing or two from her on my time in this forum. In fact, she has never led me wrong yet! (One of my very fave, style-defining looks is a copycat of an outfit of hers.)

So when she spoke, I was bound to listen. Because here is the thing. Unlike my VC skirts, which I wear with bare legs and sandals in summer, these new Halogen skirts will be worn almost exclusively with booties and boots. That is partly a function of my climate and lifestyle and partly a function of my hard-to-fit feet. Low vamp styles simply won't stay on when I am wearing hose. Flattering as I find them for my short calf, they're more or less out of the question in the winter months for me. 

And -- in addition -- these skirts will only rarely be worn with bare legs. Sometimes nude hose, yes. But far more often with more substantial hose and tights. That's just the reality of my climate. In winter, you don't wear skirts without coverage. 

Now, my knees were never my favourite part of my anatomy. So while I do wear Bermuda shorts, I'm not crazy about above-the-knee skirts in summer. But I have no problem exposing my knees when they are in tights or hose. And as a matter of fact, my shorter black skirt has been a great length with boots in winter -- it has never bothered me. With tall boots, it exposes a bit of skin (or hose) and that gives a sense of "airiness" or structure, and with booties, it works pretty well, too. (Pic 8)

At the same time, I was a bit mystified. Recently, I wore my midi length VC with bare legs and booties and felt the effect was not just "okay" but pretty good indeed!  (Pic  9)  That made me wonder if length is not even beside the point here. Maybe it is the skirt's TAPER that makes it more flattering to me. 

So I decided to do a little side by side experiment. 


These are not styled "outfits" (for the most part). I just want to look at length and proportion. 

In Pics 10-12, I am wearing the Pliner booties, first with black skirt, next with blue, and then with the VC tube (and no hose, for the most abrupt line possible). Here you can see the "hoof like" quality that some described these booties as having on my feet. (I am okay with that).

In Pics 13-15 you can see the black skirt with the Munros, the blue skirt with Munros, and the VC tube with Munros and tights. 

In the end, I am left still wondering, what is the best solution here? 

Note: I realize these bootie styles have different vamp shapes and colours, which does affect the overall impression. But I'm aiming at a length or shape that will work with all options. 

Thanks for indulging this long post. For me, proportion and line are among the toughest nuts to crack. I have a feeling that for me, here, it may be a combination of factors. Length plays into it. But it may also be LINE -- and a tapered skirt is exceptionally good not just on my body SHAPE but also with my body proportions. What think you? 

And should I shorten the new skirts, lengthen the old one, or taper the new ones? 

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33 Comments

  • rute replied 7 years ago

    I'll be honest, I don't know why but I prefer the longer skirts, 1 to 4, 9, 12, 15. Gorgeous lenght for you. It makes you taller and it's such a modern style!

  • Diana replied 7 years ago

    I actually vote to leave them all as is. I like all the lengths on you with the booties, and I think you might like the variety of having both shorter and knee length halogens. I do agree that the taper is essential to making the midi length work (hence why the lace VC didn't work for me and why I'm trying a different color and size). I don't think you should lengthen/taper the halogens for practical reasons. The material is not as stretchy as the VC and I think it would be horribly constrictive!

    Plus I strongly prefer the look of a little leg between tall boots and skirts, so to my eye the shorter lengths would work well with knee high boots whereas the midis would not.

  • Kristin L replied 7 years ago

    I think the shorter length looks better. 

  • shevia replied 7 years ago

    I am very pro-midi, but to my mind the VC tube is the clear winner in terms of length and taper. #12 and #15, along with #1-4 (yes all of them) and #9 are a my favorites. #12 is fantastic!

  • Elly replied 7 years ago

    Suz,. I preffer the longer length of the new Halogen skirts (mid knee) over both the VC and the shorter black skirt (athough I like both). I do like the taper of the VC on you, but think the longer length Halogen are also flattering as is.

  • Traci replied 7 years ago

    I really like the long length with the booties, but I think to make your final decision you'll need to pull out your tall boots too.  I notice that I like a different skirt length with booties and bare legs, but a shorter length that I'm not comfortable in when most of my leg is showing, if I'm going to wear knee high boots.  Which footwear will you wear with these most often?  I'm leaning towards hemming one for tall boots and leaving one longer for booties and tights.  Maybe play with your wardrobe and see which color is going to be better for your tall boots and which will be better for your booties.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Thanks, all! Interesting that there's already variety of opinion. Oh dear. I kind of expected this, but it makes it harder to decide! 

    Actually, Elly, Denise preferred the SHORTER length skirt for booties. I think she would like either with lower vamp shoes, but I can't wear low vamp shoes in winter. 

    Diana, I wouldn't lengthen the new Halogens. I'd either leave as is, shorten, or taper. It is true they don't have the stretch of the VC skirt but they do have a long slit at the back to facilitate movement, so I think they could be tapered a bit. But it would add to the price, for sure. Not as cheap an alteration as hemming! 

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Argh, Traci, that's a problem -- I am still looking for tall boots. Haven't been able to find any that fit yet. I do my old (worn out) boots to try the skirts with. 

  • Diana replied 7 years ago

    The issue is that I think super tapered only works when the knees are fully covered. I am getting slightly worried that the petite VC I ordered is not going to be long enough to cover my knees completely.

  • Elly replied 7 years ago

    I caught that! I really like the mid-knee length on you.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    This was a  very useful experiment about proportions and contrast. As always Suz, you are so fab. Thanks for being special.

    Here's my two cents:

    • The midis look great with all footwear - booties and boots included - as long as you taper those hems big time. You nailed it in #12 and #15. As well as #1 through #4.
    • To Denise's point, the less tapered pencil skirt looks better a little shorter when you wear high vamped shoes like shooties and booties. Like in #5 and #8.  I beg to differ on the tall boots though. I like to NOT have a gap between boot top and skirt hem sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. 

    There is something elegant about the longer length skirt. There is no doubt about it. But getting proportions to look flattering are key so that you don't look frumpy.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Thank you all, again!

    So, Angie -- to clarify -- you agree with me that the tapered midi is a good look for me. (#12 and #15 -- like #1-4, are the VC tube skirts. To my eye, this is the best skirt on me -- but I can't really wear it all winter here, even with my happy discovery that it will take hose.)

    Do you think shortening the new Halogens would be smart if I want to wear mostly with booties? Or should I try to taper them and leave them their current length? 

    Thank you! 

    ETA: I actually agree about tall boots and skirts -- I like it both ways (skin or hose showing, or not) depending on the shape of the skirt and the overall outfit. Often for me it can be helpful to show a bit of leg -- I think that's just a personal sweet spot issue. With a more full skirt I can go without showing any. 

  • Sveta replied 7 years ago

    I don't think it is as much a question of "unflattery" as a "degree of flattery". :-)
    I think Halogen skirts look fine with booties as is but both shorter length and more tapered versions are more flattering. However I am not sure severe tapering as in VC skirt would work equally well in their case because the fabric is very different: VC is like a second skin IYKWIM and Halogen's fabric is stretchy but not in the same way. I think they will look  good with more tapering but unless you can take in the hips as well it may not work. I would take one of them to your seamstress and see what she thinks (if you trust her of course). Your new Halogen skirts are still knee length (as in not covering your knees completely) in these pictures - not midis unless you pulled them up for the picture? They are also easier to "de-bombshell" at this length without more taper if this is how you prefer to wear them.
    I vote leave them as is - they look great with booties and dark hose or tights and I actually prefer this length to your petite one - it looks more elegant to me.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    To your first question - absolutely.

    To your second question - shorten one Halogen skirt first - the cranberry and see how it works for you WITH booties. The short black skirt works flawlessly because of its neutral integrity (with neutral hose and the new neutral Pliners). Add colour into the mix and things *might* change.

    I'm not trying to be difficult. Just cautious. Once you hack - that's it. I am also nodding along with Sveta.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Okay, Angie -- that makes sense. Or I could also simply pin the coloured skirts or tape them up and take some pictures. Maybe I should also go and see what type/ colours of hose and tights are available for wearing with them. 

    Thanks again - I so appreciate the assistance. And I SO hope that tube skirts are not going to be a flash in the pan! 

  • Peri replied 7 years ago

    I'm not completely sure what I'm looking at, because I'm kind of ignoring shoes, but pictures 6 & 7 are the ones that look off to me. I think I like the tapered longer length or the straight shorter length both better than the straight longer length.

    And I love the kitty top in 5. I want it to be mine. :)

  • CocoLion replied 7 years ago

    Suz I hope my comment did not start something really complicated!

    I love the way the tube, tapered skirts look on you in a midi length.  I think everyone agrees this is a style that works incredibly well on you, you wear this look second to none.

    As for the Halogen pencil skirts, they are fundamentally not a tapered skirt.  It is probably just as much a personal preference, but I really like the way the shorter black skirt looks in pictures 12 and 13.  Not as much in picture 5 where there is a high contrast between the skirt, booties and skin.  If you wore neutral booties with this outfit I would like it better.  (Sorry hope I'm not being too frank).  Or, wear this outfit with the tonal black hose.  I am on team lower contrast though (- for women of smaller structure -) so take it with a grain of salt.  I try to avoid a lot of chopping up of my own under 5'4" frame, at least.

    You should not be afraid to show your knees, although I understand your issue as I share it.  I think we alone see knee issues on ourselves.  I like the way a slightly shorter skirt looks on more petite-ish women, although that just may be my current goggles speaking.  I could change my mind next year.  When smaller women wear shorter skirts, it doesn't look childish or vulgar it looks proportionate.  We might actually be lucky in this regard as we could wear things a bit shorter as we get older and it doesn't look age inappropriate.  (I am not talking micro minis of course.)

    So there's another two cents from me, unsolicited.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Denise, you are not at all making things more complicated, and I am grateful that you have weighed in! I appreciate your frank feedback. This is how I learn. 

    I agree with you about #5 -- the booties are too high contrast with bare legs. It wasn't really intended as an "outfit." It was just a picture to show the booties and show the sweater -- both at the same time. I would never wear it this way in real life. 

    And I think I agree with you that on a shorter woman, a shorter skirt looks proportionate (and not age inappropriate or cheap, as long as it is not SUPER short.)

    The shorter skirt length also plays well with flat tall boots, in my opinion. Which is another reason to prefer it. (Assuming I could find a pair of flat tall boots, that is!) 

    Okay. My decision for now: I am going pin or tape those skirts and find some tonal hose for wearing with them, and take a few more pictures. And then we'll see how we're doing! 

    Kind of wishing I'd ordered the petite Halogen skirts now.....

  • AviaMariah replied 7 years ago

    I'm following this thread as it is very educational and am not sure I have anything to add.... except.... CocoLion must be a wiz with proportions because I assumed she was on the tall side from her pictures, not under 5'4".  I am paying close attention.  :)

  • Sona replied 7 years ago

    agree that the fabrication of the vc and halogen skirts is what makes all the difference.  The halogen tapered or shortened would not look better. Look at Mary K's examples: so many of them. Yes her choice of footwear is different but she has also experimented with footwear as well. I think its training your eye. One look is not the same as the other just as the fluid tube is not like the more structure halogen. I also highly recommend a button down with the halogen as well as silky knits a la this mornings post from Angie!

  • Day Vies replied 7 years ago

    OK I think I have it. Your shorter skirts (amazing what an inch or 3 will do to change the character) look better with booties. There is something in the amount of leg that shows in proportion to the rest of your body that really works  #8 is a prime example of that. I think it might be the low shaft of the shootie combined with the sheer black hose I went oooooooooh in my head when I saw this pic. I love the proportions here. 

    I also love the entire look in #4. The proportion of the longer skirt with the low vamp pointed toe flats look great. It shows of your trim ankles.

    Now in full disclosure I think I've already told you that I have a poison eye for the bootie/skirt pairing. Just know that my comments are biased in that direction. So, I really like #2 because the cons are close to your ankle (extending the leg line) and to my eye look like a more casual version of #8.  I like #9 but I don't love it -- I'd probably love it with some sheers on your legs for the low contrast like #13. 
    I know I did not go through every iteration so I'll try to summarize my thinking. I prefer low contrast on the leg because prefer a long unbroken leg line. So with that preference in mind I do not think you need to shorten any of your skirts. I think higher booties work best with shorter skirts for you and shooties work for any skirt length. I also think that any of your boots can be made to work with any of your skirts if you wear hosiery that is either low contrast or the same color as either the skirt or the booties.  I hope that helps and makes sense.

    Off topic but I love the blue and white butterfly tee -- go butterflies!

  • Lyn D. replied 7 years ago

    I love looking at your pics!
    But in a nutshell find all the longer lengths to be my favourites.
    Somehow the shorter length on the black skirt looks less on-trend here- however with long boots and tights it might be a different story?

  • rae replied 7 years ago

    Suz, I am with Denise and Angie here... I think either tapered midi or short straight are the best.

    But before you decide... Let me ask how serious you are about getting tall boots this year. I ran into trouble this year when I pulled out my tall boots and Realized I had somehow left myself with all midis which didn't look good with tall boots. Had to go out and buy some short ones. If you want these skirts to swing both ways, you may want to hold off on the final decision.

  • Lisa replied 7 years ago

    I am no help but for myself with skirts I have a length I prefer sans hose and a length I prefer with hose, regardless of the footwear.  Anything past the knee I like a bare leg and anything before the knee I prefer with hose.  But I am not a big skirt gal so take my words with a grain of salt. :)

  • celia replied 7 years ago

    Suz, you were right, this is a post with so much to ponder on.

    One thing that I have to add (and maybe I noticed this more because we are about the same height) is that in the tube skirt because it follows the contour of your body you have a clear definition of where the knees are which makes your legs look longer. However in the pencil skirt that has no tapering at all it feels more like a square , and you don't see your knees so there is no sense of movement.
    Hope this makes sense .

    I will reread this post because I really want to wear more skirts with boots this year.I shudder just to think that the time for  Jeggings with boots is coming.

  • Caro in Oz replied 7 years ago

    I am talking perfecting here - nothing wrong with any of these imo.

    My 2 cents - the tapered & just below the knee skirts work so well because they camouflage where your calf/knee begins & ends - which makes sense if you are proportionally shorter below the knee. So we just see the overall hint of the length  - not broken by where the knee sits.

    This also makes sense of why the tonal looks with a heel work better when the skirt is above or on the knee.

    The longer tapered skirts look amazing on you & they are my favourites :)

  • ManidipaM replied 7 years ago

    What I have learnt from this experiment (WELL done, Suz) is that even a couple of years after joining the forum precisely because I was flummoxed by proportions... I still don't get ut! It all looks lovely to me :-/

    And yeah, clearly it's all about me but I have to thank you for this lesson, Suz. Watching closely...

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    You are all so helpful, seriously! Thank you so much. 

    Moni - I feel just as you do. All these years later and I am still learning! But I guess this is what makes life fun for people like us. 

    Celia, Caro -- I think you have nailed it! That is exactly why it works with the tapered longer skirt. The lack of clear knee demarcation. Brilliant. Thank you. 

    I wish I could wear nothing but these, but alas, the fabrication is too flimsy for our winter. 

    Celia, I laughed out loud about your jeggings comment. MY FEELING EXACTLY!!!  I would do just about anything to avoid this. Oh, how sick I get of wearing the same outfit every single day....and this year will be even worse since I have not yet found tall boots that fit me properly and the old ones leak. 

    Lisa, that's an interesting and valuable comment, especially from a self-professed non skirt wearer. 

    Rae, I'd really like the skirts to work with tall and short boots. I am dead serious about the hunt for tall boots, but the hunt may not result in any finds. So in the interim it will be the old leaky boots, the motos, or booties. 

    Interesting, Lyn - thank you! 

    Day Vies, that makes perfect sense, and I thank you for your careful analysis. 

    Sona -- all good points, and I can certainly stand to learn from Mary K. 

    AviaMariah -- CocoLion IS a whiz with proportions and one of her key secrets is tone sur tone looks. She also knows exactly what necklines and pant lengths work for her and which pant lengths work with different shoes, etc. It's all in the details. 

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    This has been incredibly instructive Suz. Proportion is something I worry about the most when putting an outfit together. I find it particularly interesting how both fabrication and taper can almost play a larger role than length when it comes to making a skirt work.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    It's true, isn't it, Shannon? 

    I have always thought that I look better in skinnies than boot cuts. I think it is because of that taper. The "ice cream cone" effect that some people rightly dread is actually, for me, a benefit. How weird is that? I used to think it was my imagination, but now that I've had some experience with these skirts, I believe I was right about that. 

  • ElleH replied 7 years ago

    I'm not much help but I like all versions. I think if I had to choose I prefer all the midis.

  • rae replied 7 years ago

    How about trying the lengths with your old, tall, leaky boots, just to check how it would look if/when you find your new tall boots? 

  • Firecracker replied 7 years ago

    I thought they all looked fine until I read the comments. Then I started to see subtle differences. The taper-versus-rectangle idea or the hint-of-knee--these are things I didn't think of. Perhaps this is why I have such trouble wearing straight or pencil skirts. I wonder if I'll ever happen upon a length and shape I really, really like on myself. If I do, I fear it will be a total accident, because I am a little dense at getting proportions right. So I'll follow your journey with much interest, Suz.
    btw, I am 5'5" or a little more, and I aspire to look as tall as you and CocoLion do! hahaha!

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