Skirt Lengths: How to Be Stylish and Age Appropriate

by Julie McGinty
(Deerfield Beach, Fl.)

What is appropriate length for daytime skirts and dresses for a 69 year old with pretty good legs?

I live in South Florida and would be happy to have your advice. I am now retired but unsure of how to dress at this stage of my life. This is a nice website. I will tell others.

Hi Julie -- Thank you for your kind words about Fashion After 50. I definitely appreciate referralas.

How short you can go depends upon the setting and occasion, the skirt style, the whole outfit, and your personal comfort level.

Let's take the simple denim mini skirt that ends mid-thigh. In general, I'd leave that one to younger gals. You and I live in the same area of the country, and I'm betting that, like me, you've seen a woman who looks young from the back, turns around, and you are shocked. This is the result of dressing too youthfully.

The denim mini is a skirt associated especially with teens. Yet with good legs and a nice tan, you could probably get away with it at the beach with flip-flops or flat sandals. On the other hand, if we are talking about a beach wedding (and I don't mean one for surfers in their bathing suits), that denim skirt is not advisable for anyone.

Age inappropriate skirts would include fabric with a childish or cartoon-ish print, ruffles and bows, or a "Hello Kitty" emblem.

When I say ruffles, I don't mean the tiered cotton gauze skirts that are popular. I am thinking more along the lines of too-precious layers of eyelet lace ruffles or something one would associate with gals in the adolescence to late 20s years.

Our brains are always free associating. If the first image that pops into your mind when you see a skirt on the rack is of your granddaughter, chances are the garment is not age-appropriate.

The classic skirt length is one that ends just above the knees. There is a lot of room for personal choice.

We see many well-dressed older women who buy the highest-priced designer clothing and choose a length the ends just under the knees if that's what flatters them. I am thinking of the Nancy Reagan-Jackie Onassis type woman who always looks impeccably dressed in public. These women tend to find classic styles that work for them and carry them through the years with modifications for current trends and aging.

For a casual occasion, which includes anything from shopping and errands to dining at a relaxed-dress restaurant, you can safely wear a skirt that ends a few inches above the knee. How many inches depends on your height. If you are petite, two inches may be enough. If you are 5'8" or over, you might be able to manage three to four inches. I'm 5'6"; when I feel daring, I might wear a skirt two-three inches above the knees for casual wear but definitely not to work.

With a shorter skirt, I'd avoid high heels and suggest 2.5 inches or less. High heels look slutty with a short skirt or dress. Unfortunately, this look is pervasive. I'm with Simon Doonan who invented the "Say no to 'ho'" slogan.

The slutty look does not always get positive attention the gals want. I wonder if they know what people say behind their backs.

This includes the young males whose attention women they most desire. I teach communication at a career college, so I am fortunate to get an earful of some very open conversations with today's students.

My motto is to avoid too short, too tight, and too low-cut unless you are applying for a job as a pole dancer. Not that there is anything wrong with pole dancing as a career choice, but we are back again to considering the occasion, the setting, and personal comfort level when selecting what to wear.

The fact that you have asked this question, Julie, tells me that you are sensitive to this issue. And that means that you probably make good choices without advice.

To sum it up, somewhere around knee-length is appropriate for all ages. We can go a little shorter depending on the occasion and setting, skirt style, and personal comfort level.

Comments for Skirt Lengths: How to Be Stylish and Age Appropriate

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Feb 26, 2018
Skirt length NEW
by: Angelica

I am a young looking 57 yr old with a neat figure 5ft 51/2 my middle age spread has took me to a standard size 12
I like my skirts on my knee and only wear pencil skirts where skirts are the issue
My perfect length now is 21-22 inches and have sold shorter ones I loved not only because they look too short for my age but because of the "sit test" I hate to sit down and the skirt is half way up my legs and I’m constantly adjusting it!
M&S do is great range of skirts in 2 lengths so one I loved I was able to replace for the same skirt in the slightly longer one of 3 inches or so

Nov 22, 2017
Skirts below the knee?
by: Janine

What about skirts below the knee? Answer: Absolutely. Especially with boots.

Apr 08, 2017
Nobody's Business but My Own
by: Reader

I'm with the woman who wants to know in inches how long from waist to hem. Retailers usually give this information. I'm 5-5 and debating whether to order a skirt that is 20" or one that is 23" or one of each for the summer. I have measured, kneeling, from waist to knees and 20" just grazes my knees. I'm 54 and have lots of very long summer dresses and would like one or two shorter skirts. So what? I'm not illusioned about my height, weight, or age. I just like the lightness of a shorter skirt. If it makes me feel young, it's nobody's business and it's not my business what they think.

Mar 12, 2017
by: Barbara

You answered my question perfectly!
I'm a young 70 but not young enough for short skirts!! The great news is that I AM 70!!!So surprised.

Feb 26, 2017
Not Up to Fashion After 50
by: ENID

Skirt lengths are published by the retailer selling the garment -- not Fashion After 50. Please let your favorite merchants know that you need this information.

Feb 23, 2017
Skirt Lengths Please
by: Anonymous

I am tired of reading all these "how short, how long" articles without mentioning the actual length of the skirt. Most online clothing stores give the inches a skirt goes down from the waist. I just bought a skirt that was 19.5 inches long from the waist, where my average purchase was around 22.5. I love the skirt, but will probably return it because it's "too short." I don't work out or have a schedule of athleticizing activity but I have a body I like to take care of. Please indicate the inches from the waist that constitute short or long enough. My husband likes the skirt, but now I'm paranoid, so back it goes.

Feb 22, 2017
Hugs Backatcha
by: ENID

That is a hard loss. Carl Jung wrote that one of our tasks in old age is dealing with all the loss that happens -- health, loved ones, job identity, all the things we used to do and no longer can, income, and eventually life itself. Your note made me think of Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who collected pins and brooches to jazz up her business suits. I hope you will find some little thing that provides a new focus for you. I am so sorry for your loss. Very tough break.

Feb 20, 2017
hugs to all
by: Anonymous

Hello ladies, I am a 70 yr old disabled woman. My entire life I have received attention mostly cause I have ,had, very nice legs. Now I am disabled (ms).
I use a walker and dress to please myself keeping in mind safety,health comes first. Hard to type so I will just keep reading here. Take care all.

Jun 25, 2015
Age Appropriate Skirt
by: Anonymous

Glad to hear your suggestions. I'm 54 and just made a knee-length skirt for summer in Paris France. I this way too short for me? But I have strong legs (bottom half), I'm 5'9, and I like the extra air I get in summer with a knee length skirt. Good to know I'm not the only woman who is very sensitive to how clothing looks on her (and how it could be interpreted ; )

Oct 13, 2014
by: Paty

Just saw a picture of me in a skirt that I thought was too short. I am 5'8" and had calf high boots on. As an apple person I have slim legs. I looked OK. Then I read your article and it said at my height I could go a bit shorter. I am 69 too. Thanks for the info. I will wear it again.

Sep 24, 2014
Skirt lenghts
by: Anonymous

Excellent advice, will share this website with my friends. Thank you

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