Would you like a short skirt with that?


The other week I wore a short skirt. A mini skirt actually, even though nobody seems to use that term anymore. I’m not sure when I stopped wearing short skirts, possibly somewhere between child one and child two. I can almost date it via a photo in one of the massive albums of my eldest son’s first year. There I am sitting on my couch, breastfeeding him just before I went to a work function, wearing high heels, a short dress and a cardigan. In the photo, I look perfectly at ease with a baby on my boob and bare legs.

After that, there is very little photographic evidence of my bare legs (except for a while, on the page of my Sunday Life column as I was somehow convinced by a stylist to wear a number of very short skirts and very high heels for my column photos. After a few weeks of opening Sunday Life and wondering who the hell was standing on my page, I begged my editor to let me re-do the pictures in a way that was less mini and more me.)

So what happened? If it was a conscious decision to put my legs away ten years ago, I can’t recall making it.

Un-making it though, was more memorable. Foolishly, I picked a ridiculous day to pluck my denim mini out of retirement. It was 5:45am and I was scrambling to find something to wear for my weekly Today Show segment where I discuss the day’s news with Karl Stefanovic while perched on a high, spinning stool. This stool gives me enough trouble on a normal day because it slowly spins of it’s own accord, usually when I’m waving my arms about trying to make a point, which is often.

Today show segment with a newspaper over my lap

Throw a short skirt in the mix however, and well, awkward.

I realised this as soon as I sat down and, not wanting the world to be my gynaecologist, I had to think fast. With mere seconds before Lisa threw to Karl, I grabbed a nearby newspaper and lay it over my lap like a nana blanket.

Fortunately, it was a particularly feisty segment and Karl was too distracted by our argy bargy to ask me why I was wearing a broadsheet as a skirt.

My answer may well have surprised him.

Last year, while splashing around in the swimming pool with Karl’s own wife and our respective kiddies at a friend’s BBQ, we noticed that none of the other women were swimming. Just us, the kids and the blokes. And it was HOT. Cass told me how she’d recently made the decision to say stuff it and stop fretting about her body not being perfect enough for swimmers or short skirts. “Our bodies aren’t going to get better than this,” she said. “Only worse. And we’ll look back at this age in ten years and think ‘what the hell was I so worried about? What a waste of time and energy.”

Demi Moore sits with daughter Tallulah at a fashion show

Smart lady. Excellent point. It only took me another year to remember her wise words and take them for a spin in my wardrobe.  Once off the stool, things improved and after remembering to get in and out of my car more carefully, I made friends with my skirt and then forgot about it. This is key. Clothes you have to fuss with or think about aren’t worth wearing.

So are there rules for dressing anymore? Short answer: no.

In an article enticingly titled “Mutton dressed as lamb? How women don’t dress their age until they hit their seventies” from the UK’s relentlessly sexist Daily Mail, I learned that 90 percent of women aim to dress younger than their years and more than half say they won’t dress their age until they are 70. At least. (I really wanted to attempt to get through this column without using the word mutton because it’s my second most hated word in the world. Trumped only by panties. Eeuw. Sorry.)

Apparently this phenomenon is epitomised by Jane Fonda who is 73 and just appeared on a US talkshow wearing a leather miniskirt. Is that such a terrible thing?

Since young girls have always tried to dress older and older women have always tried to dress younger, it seems we’re now officially meeting at Short Skirt.

Madonna with daughter Lourdes

There have been two photos lately that have confirmed this for me. One was of 48 year old Demi Moore sitting front row at a fashion show with her 16 year old daughter Tallulah. They look like twins, both wearing short skirts and high heels with long straight dark hair.

The other photo was of 52 year old Madonna and her 14 year old daughter Lourdes at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Lourdes looks about 22 in a short, fitted dress and Madonna looks the same age, in black undies with a see-through black lace skirt thing which is impossible to explain with words. Just know this: you could see her bottom cheeks. In neither photo did the mothers look bad (re: bottom cheeks, look, she’s MADONNA), nor did the daughters.

So if this story needs a fashion moral let it be this: they’re just clothes.  Wear what you like.