Hemlines were just above the knee in 1961, and gradually climbed upward over the next few years. By 1966, some designs had the hem at the upper thigh. Stockings with suspenders (garters) were not considered practical with miniskirts and were replaced with coloured tights. The popular acceptance of miniskirts peaked in the "Swinging London" of the 1960s, and has continued to be commonplace, particularly among younger women and teenage girls. Before that time, short skirts were only seen in sport and dance clothing, such as skirts worn by female tennis players, figure skaters, cheerleaders, and dancers.
The shape of miniskirts in the 1960s was distinctive. They were not the squeezingly tight skirts designed to show off every curve that 1950s sheath skirts had been, nor were they shortened versions of the tightly belted, petticoat-bolstered 1950s circle skirt. In the 1990s and later, you would occasionally see exhibitions on the sixties present vintage miniskirts pulled in tight against gallery mannequins, but sixties miniskirts were not worn that way. They were not worn tight. Sixties miniskirts were simply-constructed, uninhibiting, slightly flared A-line shapes, with some straight and tapered forms seen in the early years of their existence. This shape was seen as deriving from two forms of the 1950s: (1) the chemise dress/sack dress, attributed to Givenchy in 1957 but presaged by Karl Lagerfeld in 1954 and Mary Quant in 1956, a waistless, tapered column that became the shift dress in the early sixties when it began to be made straight or slightly flared rather than tapered, and (2) the trapeze dresses popularized by Yves Saint Laurent in 1958 that were a variation of Dior's 1955 A-line, both of a geometric triangular shaping. In silhouette, the minidresses of the mid-1960s were basically abbreviated versions of the shift dress and trapeze dress, with Paco Rabanne's famous metal and plastic minidresses of 1966 and '67 following the trapeze line and most of Rudi Gernreich's following the shift line. Mary Quant and other British designers, as well as Betsey Johnson in the US, also showed minidresses that resembled elongated rugby jerseys, body-skimming but not tight. When skirts alone, they tended to sit on the hips rather than holding the waist, called hipster minis if they were really low on the hips. The fashionable forms of the microminis of the later 1960s were also not tight, often looking somewhat tunic-like and in fabrics like Qiana.
In addition, sixties miniskirts were not worn with high heels but with flats or low heels, for a natural stance, a natural stride, and to enhance the fashionable child-like look of the time, seen as a reaction to 1950s come-hither artifice like needle heels, constrained waists, padded busts, and movement-inhibiting skirts. The designer Mary Quant was quoted as saying that "short short skirts" indicated youthfulness, which was seen as desirable, fashion-wise.
Several designers have been credited with the invention of the 1960s miniskirt, most significantly the London-based designer Mary Quant and the Parisian André Courrèges. Although Quant reportedly named the skirt after her favourite make of car, the Mini, there is no consensus as to who designed it first. Valerie Steele has noted that the claim that Quant was first is more convincingly supported by evidence than the equivalent Courrèges claim. However, the contemporary fashion journalist Marit Allen, who edited the influential "Young Ideas" pages for UK Vogue, firmly stated that the British designer John Bates was the first to offer fashionable miniskirts. Other designers, including Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent, had also been raising hemlines at the same time.
Courrèges explicitly claimed that he invented the mini, and accused Quant of only "commercialising" it. He presented short skirts measuring four inches above the knee in January 1965 for that year's Spring/Summer collection, although some sources claim that Courrèges had been designing miniskirts as early as 1961, the year he launched his couture house. The collection, which also included trouser suits and cut-out backs and midriffs, was designed for a new type of athletic, active young woman. Courrèges had presented "above-the-knee" skirts in his August 1964 haute couture presentation which was proclaimed the "best show seen so far" for that season by The New York Times. The Courrèges look, featuring a knit bodystocking with a gabardine miniskirt slung around the hips, was widely copied and plagiarised, much to the designer's chagrin, and it would be 1967 before he again held a press showing for his work. Steele has described Courrèges's work as a "brilliant couture version of youth fashion" whose sophistication far outshone Quant's work, although she champions the Quant claim. Others, such as Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian explicitly credit him, rather than Quant, as the miniskirt's creator.
In 1967 Rudi Gernreich was among the first American designers to offer miniskirts, in the face of strongly worded censure and criticism from American couturiers James Galanos and Norman Norell. Criticism of the miniskirt also came from the Paris couturier Coco Chanel, who declared the style "disgusting" despite being herself famed for supporting shorter skirts in the 1920s.
Upper garments, such as rugby shirts, were sometimes adapted as mini-dresses. With the rise in hemlines, the wearing of tights or pantyhose, in place of stockings, became more common. At the same time, there was some opposition in the US to miniskirts as bad influences on the young, but this waned as people became more accustomed to them. Some European countries banned mini-skirts from being worn in public, claiming they were an invitation to rapists. In response, Quant retorted that there was clearly no understanding of the tights worn underneath.
The response to the miniskirt was particularly harsh in Africa, where many state governments saw them as an un-African garment and part of the corrupting influence of the West. Young city-dwelling African women who wore Western clothing such as the miniskirt were particularly at risk of attack based on their clothing, although Robert Ross notes that gender roles and politics were also a key factor. The urban woman earning her own living and independence was seen as a threat to masculine authority, particularly if she wore clothing seen as un-African. Short skirts were seen as indicating that their wearer was a prostitute, and by conflation, a witch who drained male-dominated society of its vitality and energy. In addition to prostitutes and witches, miniskirts also became associated with secretaries, schoolgirls and undergraduates, and young women with "sugar daddies" as lovers or boyfriends. Andrew M. Ivaska has noted that these various tropes boiled down to a basic fear of female power, fear that a woman would use her education or sexual power to control men and/or achieve her own independence, and that the miniskirt therefore became a tangible object of these fears.
In 1968 the Youth League of Tanzania's ruling TANU party launched Operation Vijana. Organised and run by young men, Vijana was a morality campaign targeting indecent clothing, which led to attacks on women with at least one stoning reportedly triggered by the victim's miniskirt. Gangs of youths patrolled bus stations and streets looking for women dressed "inappropriately", and dealing out physical attacks and beatings. In Ethiopia, an attack on women wearing miniskirts triggered a riot of leftist students in which a hundred cars were set on fire and fifty people injured.
Kamuzu Banda, president of Malawi, described miniskirts as a "diabolic fashion which must disappear from the country once and for all." It is also reported that Kenneth Kaunda, president of Zambia, cited apartheid and the miniskirt as his two primary hates. By the mid-1970s the Zanzibar revolutionary party had forbidden both women and men from wearing a long list of garments, hairstyles and cosmetics, including miniskirts.
In the earliest seventies, 1970 particularly, minis and microminis briefly rebounded in popularity after women's rejection of designers' attempt to impose midiskirts as the sole length in 1970, referred to as "the midi debacle" and more a phenomenon in the US than elsewhere. Women both continued to wear miniskirts and switched even more to trousers, and designers, having been made to understand that they would no longer be respected as arbiters, followed suit for a couple of years and included minis again, often underneath midis and maxis. Prominent designers Rudi Gernreich and André Courrèges never went for midis and continued to show the clothes for which they were known. In 1971, almost all designers, even upper-echelon couture designers, showed hot pants across the board, also presented in combination with midiskirts, maxiskirts, and minis. They continued to express a desire for women to wear longer skirts, though, and soon those women who hadn't switched entirely to jeans and trousers were often wearing their skirts at the knee. In 1973, Kenzo made calf-length skirts look new by cutting them fuller and in lighter fabrics for a style that was very different from the midi and women soon accepted this, making it one of the characteristic styles of the mid-seventies, one that would last into the early eighties, sometimes dropping to the ankle.
Although miniskirts had mostly disappeared from mainstream fashion by the mid-70s, prompting the leading designer of the time, Yves Saint Laurent, to say, "I don't think short skirts will ever come back," they never entirely went away, with women having to be pressured by the fashion industry to abandon above-the-knee skirts as late as 1974 and even some mainstream designers like Halston, Kenzo, and Karl Lagerfeld offering a few mini-tunics and mini-blousons among the standard calf-length dirndl skirts of the mid-seventies Big Look period. In these occasional high-fashion versions of the mid-seventies, mini was taken to mean any length above the knee. These were never broadly taken up by the general public, which was still gravitating toward below-the-knee dirndls, but were occasionally seen on the fashion-forward. 041b061a72