High is the new low

June 16, 2009

high-waisted vintage skirtSpurned since the 1950s, it re-emerged in earnest two seasons ago courtesy of Valentino’s Spring Paris collection, only to be steadfastly ignored by even the hottest high street trend-setters.

But this season it has spread like wild fire, onto the cat-walks and into Topshop, showing no sign of abating in it’s quest to re-introduce a style fashion has neglected for more than 50 years: the high waist.

Like it or loathe it, the waist is back with a vengeance. And after having all but disappeared from the scene in the ‘60s, every shop on the high street is choc-a-bloc with a glorious array of waist-cinching ultra-feminine skirts and trousers.

The timing of the reintroduction should be seen as part of a bigger picture. Last week’s International Women’s Day provided us with the chance to pause and reflect on gender equality – and nothing reflects society in a more visual way than what we wear.

Rejected for its house-wifely connotations, women, who were competing for the first time with men for jobs and social status, moved in the 1960s to a more androgynous style of clothing which emphasised flatter chests and slimmer hips, heralding the beginning of heroin-chic on our catwalks.

This was taken a step further in the ‘80s to Thatcher-esque shoulder pads, equipping women, visually at least, with a formidable demeanour to compete with their male counterparts.

So what has sparked a return to celebrating a style that harks back to the days when a woman’s most pressing task in life was to have dinner on the table by seven? Have old quarrels been forgotten? It is a sign of the times that women are secure enough to start flaunting this part of their anatomy again?

Perhaps because it oozes tailored-chic, the high waist flatters almost every body shape. But for those whose waists are more curvy than chiselled, there are a vast array of styles to suit everyone –no wardrobe should go without.

True to form, Topshop has produced its range with a nonchalant funky vibe, playing on the ‘50s theme, yet using bright colours and modern patterns to update this style.

Its floral prints are particularly flamboyant and mirror the cool attitude exuded by Versace’s glowering models, who stomped down the catwalk dressed in mini high-waisted silk shorts from the spring/summer 2009 collection.high-waisted skirt

Cheap and cheerful, Primark have a vast array of bargain buys for the fashion conscious. Their stripy A-line mini-skirts (£9) are a particular favourite, and add flair to a summer wardrobe.

But care should be exercised when approaching high-waisted shorts and trousers. These styles tend to accentuate even the faintest of curves, so be wary: this style is not for everyone. Wide-leg jeans and trousers are more forgiving and give the illusion of legs that go on and on.

It has taken a while for fashion to re-embrace womanly curves. Perhaps it’s just been too long since they were seen last, but whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that a cinched waist will instantly achieve a kind of vampish appeal men just can’t compete with. Or resist.