Since the 1960s, the miniskirt – and its constantly rising hemline – has been challenging conservative dress codes worldwide. Now there’s the micro miniskirt, an article of rebel fashion that unapologetically defies body standards, while saucily reimagines traditional schoolgirl uniforms.
Following its debut in October 2021, the Miu Miu micro miniskirt – or micro mini – has been living a pop star life, garnering a dedicated Instagram fan account, dominating the street style of numerous celebrities, and gracing magazine covers across the globe. This phenomenon could be attributed to both the resurgence of Y2K fashion, and the skirt’s polarising quality. Needless to say, the micro mini has become Miu Miu’s crown jewel, signifying a new era of the maison’s rebellious and au courant antics. Whether you’re a fan or not, the micro mini has asserted itself back into the fashion bible and is ready to rise to unholier heights.
Despite their head-turning effect, the Miu Miu micro minis are cheekily cut from materials one would normally associate with smart-casual looks. These skirts were sent down the runway in the most understated hues: grey, beige, and black. Still, the ghost of a preppy school uniform lingers in every crisply pressed chino pleat. To juxtapose the modest material, doyenne designer Miuccia Prada ripped at least 2/3 of a normal skirt’s length, playfully texturised the look with a raw hemline, and completed things with an exposed underwear band. Plus, the skirt’s low-slung silhouette is enough to warrant a trip to the principal’s office.
History of the Miniskirt
So how did these skirts get so short? Western fashion first began hiking up the length of skirts during the first half of the 20th century. But it wasn’t until the 1960s when the miniskirt was truly born. Driven by the “youthquake” movement, adolescents began experimenting with self-expression, identity, and sexuality. Mary Quant, one of the decade’s leading designers, was so inspired by schoolgirl uniforms and tap dancer’s costumes that she created her own version of the miniskirt which then quickly became a staple of mod fashion. Soon, everyone from fashion darlings, like Twiggy, to women rights activists, like Gloria Steinem, were donning the mini as a statement.
Eventually, the miniskirt made its way to Thailand, but not without causing a stir. In the late 60s, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn wanted miniskirts banned from being shown on TV and was generally against women who wore them in real life. Kittikachorn and other conservatives were very concerned with preserving the morality of traditional Thai women, claiming that miniskirts were too sexual and sinful. Some conservatives have even gone as far as to blame sexual assault cases on this garment. Despite several push backs, the miniskirt persevered, and eventually shifted society’s dress codes forever.
Addressing Diversity and Inclusivity
Now that the micro has become the new mini, the tiny skirt has followed in its progenitor’s footsteps, facing a set of modern-day controversies of its own. Sceptics are concerned about the impracticality of its scandalously short hemline, while its appearance almost exclusively on waif thin models has raised calls for more size inclusive releases. These criticisms are not unwarranted, as Miu Miu only modelled the skirt on svelte, slim young bodies. However, certain magazine covers have proven that the micro mini can be for everyone. When the micro mini was spotlighted on plus-sized model Paloma Essler, and 54-year-old actress Nicole Kidman, the ensuing buzz ultimately helped in democratising the skirt to a wider range of customers.
The 2000s might not have been the best time for diversity, with the fashion world creating unhealthy body ideals by way of manufacturing limited sizing and favouring ultra-thin bodies, but this is why the Y2K renaissance is particularly all the more exciting. As these trendy pieces get brought back to life, we can finally see them showcased with more diversity in mind.
As Jessica Vander Leahy, Australian model and author of Loved People Love People, told Elle Australia, people who did not fit a sample size often felt like they couldn’t participate in fashion. But with more diverse representations, people are nowadays more willing to dress out of their comfort zone. In the same article, Muslim fashion influencer Nawal Sari mentioned that revealing clothing such as miniskirts can make her feel excluded. However, she was inspired to style the micro mini with a modest twist, by keeping it extra Y2K and layering the skirt over trousers.
The Sexualisation of Schoolgirl Aesthetic
Apart from its size inclusive issues, the micro mini has received backlash for being “too sexual”. This is somewhat unsurprising, seeing how it has deep roots in the sexy schoolgirl aesthetic, a point of contention for some and a point of celebration for others (recall the outfit Britney Spears wore in her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” music video).
For another example of school uniforms causing controversy, look no further than the infamous Thai university mini (or occasionally micro mini) skirt, which has sparked heated debates surrounding its short lengths and body-hugging materials. In some Thai universities, students who fail to comply with the prescribed dress code can face penalties ranging from warnings to expulsion, depending on the faculty’s leniency. According to a study, those in favour of enforcing “modest” university uniforms believe that it embodies politeness, honours a university’s reputation, conserves Thai tradition, exerts unity, and even prevents sexual assault on campus. Yet policing individuals for donning miniskirts seems rather extreme and archaic.
Certainly, the micro mini is more appropriate to flaunt in some spaces than others. But in the end, isn’t it really about having the right to wear what you want? Sometimes you just want to wear something without over-analyzing its implications. You just wear it because it makes you feel cute! And although it might sound silly, in a drab, institutionalised setting, the length, and style of one’s skirt may be one of the very few ways to express individuality in a uniformed environment. Perhaps the fault isn’t in our skirts but in society itself.
The Future of the Micro Mini
Although the micro mini craze has calmed down in recent months, the past few seasons of Miu Miu have solidified the skirt’s shape-shifting abilities. Sprouting variations from its original designs, the micro mini has taken on its Autumn/Winter forms with tennis skirt stylings, checkered tweeds, and beaded appliques. Most recently it has reappeared in the Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2023 collection, made from battered leather with bulbous pockets. And if you’re not a fan of skirts, micro mini shorts have got you (barely) covered as well.
Regardless of the micro mini’s longevity, we can’t deny its superstar presence. It has pushed the envelope for what is acceptable to wear, and who gets to wear it. As Paris Hilton, an icon of the aughties, once said, “Skirts should be the size of a belt. Life’s short, take risks”.