Highs And Lows Of Summer Skirts: Guest Post by the Blonde Bombshell

Somebody please feed this poor woman

Somebody please feed this poor woman

One thing that is admirable about the well-attired man is that if he were to time travel, he would be at home in nearly any era. He may have to make some adjustments to better fit in (perhaps cast off the jacket and leave only the vest; or manipulate his tie into more of a cravat), but he will have the tools at his disposal that he needs to make a good impression on short notice. Sure, he might draw the odd glance from Henry VIII, but, on the whole, many of his items of clothing would be recognized as functional.

The same cannot be said of a woman, because “well-attired” has many nuances, especially in the summer months. Imagine a woman wearing a “hi-lo” skirt (which is the sartorial equivalent of the mullet, and perhaps can be best described as “party in the front and all business in the back”) and flip-flops hitching a ride in a time machine to 1860. Our poor time traveler will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, and her mission does not portend to end well.

One of the misfortunes of the hi-lo skirt, or any garment that reveals a woman’s knees, is that a woman’s knees are revealed. Women’s knees, as a whole, are not beautiful. I am sorry to be a bearer of bad news, especially as the temperatures are soaring and as the winter’s tights and woolens are being cast off, but this is an incontrovertible fact.

Part of the problem with the knee itself is the anatomy of a woman’s leg. The basic shape is an inverted triangle, with the point of the triangle buried somewhere in the region of the mid-calf. The knee, in real life, does not at all resemble that of a knee of a mannequin propped up in a store window. I have never been in a designer’s atelier, but I have seen dressmaker’s dummies, which are torso shapes affixed to some sort of pole—with no legs. Any fashion that can be dreamed up is going to look much better on a leg-less dummy than on a flesh-and-blood human being that has to make her way in the world hobbling around on a pair of inverted triangles.

The poets support this view. They are silent on the shining beauty of Cleopatra’s knees and they entirely mute when it comes to the lower limb joints of the fair Helen. Fortunately for them both, they had the sense to cover them up in mixed company, or at least in the presence of poets.

It took millennia for hemlines to rise to the level they are now. My mother, a daughter of the 1950s, was a firm believer that a proper hemline for the female of the species was “two inches below the knee”. And my mother was literal in her interpretation of “knee” in that it was the horizontal center of that particular joint. “Two inches below” fell, in my view, right below the knee, and to be “two inches below” would require an additional two inches.

In the space between my mother’s and mind accounting of the “two inches” there was still enough of the knee’s characteristics on display to make the legs look their unflattering worst.

As a result, I was perhaps the only teenager who cried to my mother to lower my hems. I felt, and still feel, that the most attractive hem for a female is mid-calf, just where the flesh swells.

Many women declare that they admire the style of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Lauren Bacall, but then they go to their closets and come out looking like a second-string actress heading for rehab.

The problem isn’t necessarily with the women themselves, but more with what’s on offer. The shop windows are full of skirts that can be characterized as “eight inches above the knee.” By not offering a variety of hemlines, manufacturers and retailers are doing a grave disservice to women who want to save an unsuspecting public from having to absorb the shock of having to look at their puckered, wrinkled, discolored, but otherwise very useful knees.*

*Please don’t mention that they should wear trousers. Trousers could prove problematic for time travel.

Categories: Fun

10 replies »

  1. I am thankful that my daughters had to follow strict dress codes in K-12. No short shorts. No mini skirts. No tank top. No low-cut shirts. More importantly, less headaches for me.

  2. Actually, the problem is with the too numerous women who subject themselves to the whims of the fashionistas. There would be fewer bizarre offerings if they weren’t purchased to the degree they are now. I’m not speculating why this is so … just that it is.

  3. ” Imagine a woman wearing a “hi-lo” skirt (which is the sartorial equivalent of the mullet,”
    Exactly! That’s what I told my daughter, that Hi-Lo’s remind me of a “mullet.”
    She hasn’t purchased any yet.

    “as a man I’ve never once thought of a woman’s knees one way or another.”
    Yeah right, me neither. 🙂

  4. WRT hi-lo skirts and knees:

    This is the worst of both worlds. On the whole, the most attractive portion of the female knee is the back where there is a nice flex of taut skin over tendons in a concavity between the thigh and shin mirroring the shape of the idealized female torso. The hi-lo skirt conceals the back of the knee while exposing the usually either too angular or too wrinkled front of the knee.

  5. I am sure that are plenty of men out there who are crazy for kneecaps. But then again, there seems to be a fetish for evey peice of anatomy.

  6. Doug states: “But then again, there seems to be a fetish for evey peice of anatomy.”

    So true Doug. Clearly in Matthew’s case, it’s the calf.

  7. “The poets support this view. They are silent on the shining beauty of Cleopatra’s knees and they entirely mute when it comes to the lower limb joints of the fair Helen.”

    Since in ancient Greece you were supposed to clasp somebody’s knees to implore the person, we would expect some observation on Nausicaa’s fair knees in Homer’s Odyssey, but no, there is none. They are just mentioned in passing, as being “the knees of the lovely maiden”.

    The goddess Artemis / Diana had a short tunic above the knees
    Ezra Pound has something to say about “the goddess of the fair knees” :
    With the first pale-clear of the heaven
    And the cities set in their hills,

    And the goddess of the fair knees

    Moving there, with the oak-woods behind her,
    The green slope, with white hounds
    leaping about her;

    The French poet Paul-Jean Toulet has a poem mentioning “fair-kneed Diana” :
    “Oui, je le jure, telle qu’on s’imagine Diane aux beaux genoux, en avant de ses chiens, ou Thétis qui jaillit d’une mer écumeuse, Mlle de Sçaavedra, déesse naturellement, se hâtait vers la plage, insoucieuse que, toute, on la put voir”

    That is not much.

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