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Minis for the Cold?!

Mini Skirts Become "Hot" Winter Fashion

Around Shibuya and Harajuku in Tokyo, a growing number of young women in their teens and twenties are wearing mini skirts and shorts. Though normally about half of all women wear pants in freezing winter, this year it seems that around 50% of women in these areas are wearing skirts, with a further 30% wearing shorts and just 20% wearing pants. Skirts and shorts are winning hands-down. Hemlines, meanwhile, are short; micro skirts that rise 20 or 30 centimeters above the knees and ultra-short hot pants are not uncommon.


A combination of a mini skirt with knee-high socks. ©Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College

Two Cycles Converge
This season, the focus is on coordinating minis with legwear, such as colored tights, knee highs, and sheepskin and fringed boots. Many women top the minis with casual outerwear, such as rider's coats or down jackets, or classical half-coats with hemlines of about the same length to allow just a hint of the skirt or shorts to peep out from beneath the coat. Whatever the style, a bold display of the legs is a must.

Minis tend to come into fashion every 20 years or so. In Japan they gained widespread popularity in the 1960s. Short barrel-shaped sack dresses and pleated Ivy League-style skirts enjoyed widespread popularity, and a mini knit skirt featured in a TV commercial for a major apparel manufacturer attracted nationwide attention when it was launched in the market.

Twenty years later, in the 1980s, tight-fitting mini dresses with short hemlines and mini skirts made out of sporty jersey material came into vogue. Hot pants were trendy in the 1970s. Young women first favored surfer-style hot pants and later went for denim shorts paired with woven sandals. In the 1990s the "gals" of Shibuya began to turn out in force with colorful short shorts matched with platform boots.


A mini skirt with boots is also a cute pairing. ©Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College

Cute Yet Chic
Over the past four decades, mini skirts and hot pants have come into fashion by turns, with skirts fashionable in even-numbered decades and shorts in odd-numbered decades. This year, however, both styles have appeared together, creating an unprecedented "mini boom." This time, however, the minis are noticeably shorter than before.

When asked what they like about mini skirts, many women cite their "cuteness." Skirts with a short inseam are indisputably girlish and sweet. At the same time, they are fashionable, easy to move around in, and a symbol of youth. And in contrast with knee-length garments, they let women show off their legs, giving a strong impression of liberation, vitality, progressiveness, and style.

Minis, in other words, are garments that let women be cute and stylish at the same time, and their popularity is an indication that many young women seek to achieve an effect that combines both elements. (March 2009)