Skorts Are Back And It's Not Just Fashion Nostalgia

I just bought a skort; don’t judge me. Try and suppress your inner tween, who is screaming in protest. Skorts are back as a re-emerging trend (and not just for athletes) and they’re popping up in one way or another across the broad swath of standard retail stores like H&M, American Eagle, Free People, Forever 21, Lilly Pulitzer, etcetera. You can’t stop a fashion train from running you over, so it’s best to just get out of the way fast or jump on board.

In case you somehow skipped the '90s, let’s clarify: A skort is a cross between a skirt and short or, as Urban Dictionary so wonderfully defines it, “a mullet for your butt.” This all sounds so appealing; you might be wondering why we would ever want this strange style to return. It might have something to do with the general re-emergence of '90s fashion, of course.

Just like the average Joe, the fashion industry is often struck unsuspectingly by waves of nostalgia. Our sentiment for the past is usually quite rosey and idealized. No matter how much we look upon platform heels and tie-dye with disdain, fashion’s by-gone styles also conjure up happy memories. As such, we generally take delight in looking back upon our fashion past to reminisce about the crazy styles of yesteryear.

I’m prone to impulse shopping and I purchased my skort on a wild whim. I only began researching the skort and fashion nostalgia after my shopping buzz began to subside and I spiraled down into nail-biting anxiety; was I shortly going to be regretting my purchase? I started to wonder if nostalgia-inspired fashion can ever have any lasting longevity or if it must always be a trend. I think we can say with almost certainty the former is true and longevity is possible — just look at skinny jeans. For a nostalgic style to gain a firm foothold it must be re-imagined to suit contemporary social attitudes and it must also pair well with contemporary fashion. For example, what good is it to have trucker hats return to the mainstream if it’s difficult to pair them with anything?

I personally enjoy how Nadia Buick, who thinks our culture is currently experiencing an over-arching longing for the past, puts it: “Fashion is a paradoxical design form that is both driven by a desire for the new, and a love of nostalgia… but such ‘new’ ideas are more often than not old ideas brought back to life by way of a strange cultural nostalgia. Fashion seems to cannibalize itself at a much faster and more complex rate than any other design or art form.” The gist is the old must be brought back to life in new ways for it to actually be considered change. The good news is the skort has been reimagined in a new way.

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Skorts have always been about function, practicality and comfort without sacrificing the look of a skirt, but the skort has long been problematic, even its heyday. The femininity of the skirt and masculinity of the short have traditionally been aesthetically irreconcilable. It’s just too stark a contrast. One of the traditional skort's greatest drawbacks is the butt. Up front we’re treated to flowing seamless fabric, but turn around and bam — where did that crack come from? I think butts are great and I have no hate for women in pants. Here’s where the problem lies: You should be able to circumnavigate an outfit without it transforming into a different outfit halfway around.

While the traditional skort (skirt front, overlapping shorts) is available, what I'm really interested in is the “soft short." The soft short is a flowing “short” with so much extra fabric it appears at first glance to actually be a skirt. When I first saw it, my only thought was, “Wow, that looks really nice.” The soft short has two things going for it: It’s got the whole summer-of-love feel written all over it and it’s not a sci-fi horror fashion hybrid gone wrong.

I never thought I’d hear the phrase, “I need that skort,” come out of my mouth, but this isn't the first time I've found myself eating my own words. For example: Skinny jeans, faux fur sweater and crop tops were all things I swore up and down I’d never wear again. There was a time when I cried daily over the travesty of skinny jeans coming back in style. Look at me now: Skinny jeans are one of my wardrobe staples and I just bought a fuzzy leopard print sweater. I'm hoping the skort and I get along equally as well. If it really is terrible I can always donate it.

After writing all this down I feel a lot better about eating my own words this time. I’m happy to proclaim far and wide that I once again love the skort. We have to accept fashion is always evolving and just like my nana said: It’s best to never say “never.” With that said, if you ever see me put on a trucker hat don’t hesitate to slap me. 

Images: American Eagle; Forever 21; lockandkeyclothing/Instagram; Free People

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