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The Miniskirt A British Style Icon

Updated on December 16, 2015
British footballer George Best measures the hemline of a Sixties model.
British footballer George Best measures the hemline of a Sixties model.

A Long History

Although the miniskirt is mostly thought of as an invention of the 1960s, its true history dates back rather longer, archaeologists have discovered ancient European figurines that appear to show young ladies dressed in short skirts very similar to modern day miniskirts, there are ancient Egyptian fresco's that show female acrobats in short skirts that show off both hips and legs.

Mary Quant

Mary Quant owned a fashion boutique Bazaar on the Kings Road in London, although not having any real formal training in fashion, Quant had her finger on the pulse of what was happening on the street and began to sell clothing that the youth of swinging Britain wanted to wear, which had nothing to do with the traditional trend setting from the fashion houses of Paris.

Named after her favorite motorcar the Austin Mini the skirt was an instant success.

André Courrèges a Parisian fashion designer has also claimed credit for inventing the miniskirt, shortening the hemlines of his space age design skirts as early as 1960, it seems likely that with the influence Courrèges had within Parisian fashion houses that he must be awarded some credit towards the popularizing of this fashion icon. Mary Quant has dismissed Courrèges claim quoting " It wasn't me or Courrèges who invented the miniskirt anyway, it was the girls on the street that did it ".

The beautiful model Jean Shrimpton.
The beautiful model Jean Shrimpton.

The miniskirt really began to become popular when famous 1960s model Jean Shrimpton was photographed wearing one at the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia in 1965.

Although it was at first classed as a liberating dress by female liberators such as Germaine Greer in the 1960s, by the late 60s early 70s hemlines began to get longer coinciding with the growth of the feminist movement. Popularized by Debbie Harry the lead singer with the new wave band Blondie, the miniskirt made a bit of a come back in the late seventies, and during the 1980s the miniskirt was often incorporated into the big shouldered power suits worn by businesswomen.

Today the miniskirt is widely accepted throughout the world, although it is frowned upon in Muslim and many African countries, in Tanzania in 1968 a barmaid was stoned to death by a mob that disapproved of the shortness of her skirt and even today women in Swaziland risk arrest if caught wearing one, but generally the miniskirt has become an accepted part of popular fashion culture and remains a favorite of many women in most parts of the world.


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