Women's dresses How to wear: a mini-dress
Going for more volume on top balances out my relative nakedness on the bottom, easing any sense of discomfort
Dress hemlines have been inching higher and higher. As my awkward body language probably makes clear, I feel very conflicted about it. At one point in my life, I loved summer dressing because of its relative absence of clothes. I grew up in a southern US beach town where the summers were hot enough to walk around in the tiniest dresses and shorts. In 37C weather, sometimes it’s the only way to stay cool.
As a graduate, I carried that love of high hemlines into my working life, favouring little black leather shorts with men’s shirts and swingy dresses.
Then the era of modesty rolled in. Under the spell of designers such as Phoebe Philo, Simone Rocha and Jonathan Anderson, waves of women, including myself, gave in to the allure of demure clothing that covered up the body: voluminous midi-length dresses and trousers with just the right amount of slouch. Wardrobing that better suits the British climate.
So, when the fashion pendulum began to swing in a new direction, with itsy-bitsy shorts and dresses appearing on the resort runways of Miu Miu and Chloé, I grew nostalgic for my former self. The sweltering heat in early July heightened the urge to go short. But I felt exposed walking the streets with my bare thighs out. My legs craved the shelter of a maxi dress. Plus, I have been in that strange, extended, post‑pregnancy state – I had a baby boy last autumn – in which my body doesn’t quite look like my own when I examine it in the mirror.
Yet here I am, giving the mini-dress another try. I’ve found that going for more volume on top, to balance out my relative nakedness on the bottom, eases any sense of discomfort. That’s why the blousey long sleeves on this Baum und Pferdgarten dress appeal. It’s a great bridge between sex and modesty and feels relatively grownup.
How to wear lace | Kenya Hunt
It’s the kind of dress I’d wear to dinner while on a beach holiday, as well as to a Saturday lunch with friends in the city – with flats. I’m not a believer in fashion diktats, but I always pair a high hemline with the lowest heel imaginable, like the strappy flats by Ancient Greek Sandals that I’ve been wearing with minis from & Other Stories and Nanushka since taking this picture. Perhaps I’m not so conflicted after all.
• Kenya Hunt is the deputy editor of Elle magazine.
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