Do this Don’t: Miniskirts after 40. WAY after 40

I don't like to brag, but my legs are still holding up pretty nicely. I’m not claiming that they look exactly the same as they did back then, but what is, really?
Publish date:
May 31, 2011
do this don't, miniskirts, style rules

When I turned 40, four days after September 11, 2001, I instituted a No Miniskirts After 40 Rule. I have no idea why I introduced this initiative. I must have been suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress/midlife crisis combo.

In my twenties and thirties I wore the shortest skirts imaginable. My red plaid mini-kilt and suede micro-mini saw many rock shows in the mid-'90s. Many, many rock shows. Oh, the stories they could tell, if only their memories were better than mine, and I hadn’ t already donated them both to charity.

One circa '86 Betsy Johnson number (that is still in my closet for sentimental reasons) falls maybe an inch below the crotch, and was cinched with a sort of bondage belt. It also weirdly compressed my chest, yet I felt the BJ was appropriate for office attire. I used to wear it into Sassy all the time, along with another skin tight one that annoyed fellow staff writer Catherine Gysin insisted was really a bathing suit.

Minis were popular then, but I think there was a deeper, darker reason for my miniskirt fondness. If truth be told, I was a little conceited about my legs. I didn’ t want to keep such fine assets under cover, and if I was street harassed, then so be it. I could always turn those experiences into an article or a song, or both.

I don't like to brag, but my legs are still holding up pretty nicely. I’m not claiming that they look exactly the same as they did back then, but what is, really? Who knows why I have deprived myself of miniskirt wearing for all these years? (I just got paranoid that I sound like Helen Gurley Brown in this post.)

So when xojane’ s right-hand girl Emily suggested that I get a mini and wear it for the day for this post, I agreed. I said, in writing, that I would wear one to my 12th Anniversary dinner with my husband, at CulinAriane, owned by a Top Chef alum and located here in Montclair. Fashion Editor Eric offered to buy me a mini at Forever 21 and FedEx it to me, but then I started to feel guilty for making him do my errands. I thought I could get one myself, but that didn’t happen, as I am borderline agoraphobic. I decided to wear the X-Girl black velvet mini I was wearing the first time my husband and I kissed.

Unfortunately, in making this plan, I had failed to acknowledge that nearly 15 years have gone by and I have had two babies. Also, I enjoy eating solid food. So while I was able to zip the zipper, I couldn’t be sure that the seams wouldn’t split in the course of the evening.

Suddenly the idea of wearing a tiny skirt to see the movie "Potiche" at the local cinema, followed by a romantic meal, seemed ridiculous. Who did I think I was? Some hot 35- year-old? My 8-year-old daughter Violet was in my room watching me get dressed for my big date. She was very diplomatic. “I don’ t think the skirt really matches that top,” she said. It was a leopard Only Hearts poet shirt--- and it totally matched. But I got her point.

I took it off and poured myself into a pair of Cheap Monday jeans. It was the best I could do.

Emily was not amused. She sent me a stern message. (I feel for Emily. Now that I’ ve been an editor, I realize what a pain-in-the-ass, high maintenance writer I am. Jane’ s desire to work with me a third time is a testament, really, to her deeply masochistic personality.)

I was Fedexed two Material Girl minis from Macy’s in size medium. One did not zip up. It looks like it might fit my 8-year-old. The other is made from gray stretchy T-shirt fabric crisscrossed with white bands and has a visible zipper running up my crack. It is very formfitting and just slightly tackier than the skirts I used to wear in the '80s.

I put it on. It is so constricting that within my 5 minutes it seemed that my legs were falling asleep. I headed out to the A&P. As I stepped into my car, a 9-year-old Ford Focus, it occured to me that this is not a car for a miniskirt wearer. What I need is one of those reissued Fiats from the '80s, or at the very least a BMW Mini. To go with the mini!

While backing out of the driveway, I accidently stepped on the gas when I meant to step on the brake. Luckily, no one was around to run over. Was the mini affecting my brain? Because all my blood was pooling in my legs due to the tightness. Or was it just the left/ right dyslexia that I have had all my life?

Pushing my cart through the market, I saw a woman who I know a little bit. She was appropriately dressed for the market in cut-off jeans and a button down. Our sons were in preschool together. She looked a little surprised at my getup, but she is German so she kept her emotions in check.

Did the sushi chef say “Hi!” a tad more enthusiastically than usual? Or was he just happy to see me because my daughter and I are regular customers? Probably the latter.

I did the rest of my shopping without incident. Not sure if it’ s because:

1 ) I am too old to arouse much attention in a miniskirt.

2) I am not old enough to arouse much attention in a miniskirt.

3 ) No one cares what anyone else is wearing.

On the way home I am surprised that I am feeling a little … frisky. Unfortunately my husband is on a plane to go halfway around the world for 10 days. Oh well, at least I got Emily off my back.