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How to dress like an adult with Shane Watson: Maxi style in the flowy new skirt length of summer

Sometimes you don’t quite know if something you have a yen for – in fashion – is a good idea, until you see it in a woman who a) looks stylish, b) is over 46.

So imagine my joy when a woman I reached the age of about 50 slid past me with the garment I’ve weighed for months, wondering if it’s nostalgia, or good fashion antennas that make me long for a maxi skirt.

I am well aware that not everyone likes a long skirt. For many women, they are too patchouli oil and joss sticks, and are better left in the mud of their first pop festival.

People think they are not flattering and impractical; they drag the dirt and absorb puddles and even if they don’t, they are difficult to walk in.

Supermodel Karlie Kloss is pictured in New York with a navy blue maxi skirt with sandals and a crop top

Supermodel Karlie Kloss is pictured in New York with a navy blue maxi skirt with sandals and a crop top

None of this has to be true, but I still understand it: the case of long skirts for people old enough to have worn them the first time to make.

So here it goes: Let’s address the flattery problem first. For a long skirt to be flattering, it should be hips, narrow A-line and not too full. I’d say no to gypsy layers – which add volume and girlishness, neither of which are good for us – but sometimes, in the right cut and fabric, they can work, so keep an open mind.

The simpler the skirt, the better the rule, so no folds or ruffles; these are fine on a warm vacation, but not for a skirt that you wear every day, whenever you want and (handy forward planning alert) in winter with boots.

And no to splits. Crevices are the bane of the midlife woman; you fit a perfectly beautiful dress and yikes! Turns out it’s a full leg flash or even a double leg revealer and about as much use for you as a boob tube.

A wrap skirt that splits at the waistband to facilitate movement – and no open seam – is just OK for the real world. Phoebe Grace does a silk skirt in a bold blue-white and black leaf print (£ 125, phoebe-grace.co.uk) to match the bill.

Kimberly Walsh is pictured wearing a yellow maxi skirt and matching crop top at the Costa Smerelda Invitational Gala Dinner in Sardinia, Italy

Kimberly Walsh is pictured wearing a yellow maxi skirt and matching crop top at the Costa Smerelda Invitational Gala Dinner in Sardinia, Italy

Kimberly Walsh is pictured wearing a yellow maxi skirt and matching crop top at the Costa Smerelda Invitational Gala Dinner in Sardinia, Italy

Now the question about the nostalgic trip. You can avoid looking like you’re wearing a Woodstock costume by avoiding all retro references: no gilets or T-shirts with bell sleeves or cork wedges and no floral crowns (just kidding). For the everyday summer of 2020, a tight-fitting plain shirt is the best addition to a maxi skirt along with sneakers or slides. The effect we are looking for is ‘Ah, that looks fresh and different, and rather Danish’. That said, don’t be tempted by white, that’s too Timotei ad.

As for the slanderous idea that maxis are impractical, they really aren’t, provided the fabric is light and supple (stay away from denim) and you wear them inches from the ground which is the way this time around.

A glimpse of the foot keeps the atmosphere light and youthful and keeps it from looking like an evening dress. So now to what there is. Ridley London has a satin A-line, fitted maxi in a wild floral print on black (£ 249, ridleylondon.com).

The maxi skirt rules

  • Wear with a plain shirt or three-quarter sleeve.
  • Keep shoes simple: sports shoes, slides or sandals.
  • Narrow A line is best.
  • Wear with high boots and a sweater in the fall

Free People does a maxi skirt in chocolate brown with floral print, now on sale (£ 42, revolve.com) and Rixo does a geometric print, black crepe de chine maxi (£ 107.50, net-a-porter.com).

Otherwise, Ganni does midi skirts so long that they are maxi with most of us and a real maxi in fine red diamond (£ 50, matchesfashion.com) and Ba & sh has a paisley printed voile maxi (£ 120, theoutnet.com).

This one has ‘wear me in winter’ written all over it, and this is the maxi skirt bonus ball. They are very much in winter – there were many on the fall / winter catwalks in Gucci and Celine to name just two shows – and they look sleek for parties,

On the list of layered maxis that could work (but only in summer) are Aspiga’s cotton Indian block prints (£ 55, aspiga.com). Or it does one in rayon with just one layer (£ 95) and a flowing viscose in a pale khaki pebble print, which comes with a matching V-neck, long sleeve top (£ 70 and £ 65) if you get the option of a light maxi dress look.

Look, much more versatile than you thought.

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