A skirt is a tube- or cone-shaped garment that hangs from the waist and covers all or part of the legs.
In the western world, skirts are usually considered women's clothing. However, there are exceptions. The kilt is a traditional men's garment in Scotland and Ireland, and some fashion designers, such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, have shown men's skirts, though some men prefer wearing women's skirts given the wider selection of styles.
At its simplest, a skirt can be a draped garment made out of a single piece of material (such as pareos), but most skirts are fitted to the body at the waist and fuller below, with the fullness introduced by means of dart, gores, pleats, or panels. Modern skirts are usually made of light to mid-weight fabrics, such as denim, jersey, worsted, or poplin. Skirts of thin or clingy fabrics are often worn with slips to make the material of the skirt drape better and for modesty.
The hemline of skirts varies according to the personal taste of the wearer which can be influenced by such factors as social context, fashion, and cultural conceptions of modesty.
Some medieval upper-class women wore skirts over three meters in diameter at the bottom. At the other extreme, the miniskirts of the 1960s were minimal garments that may have barely covered the underwear when seated.
Skirts in the 20th and 21st centuries;
Beginning around 1915, hemlines for daytime dresses left the floor for good. For the next fifty years fashionable skirts became short (1920s), then long (1930s), then shorter (the War Years with their restrictions on fabric), then long (the "New Look"), then shortest of all from 1967 to 1970, when skirts became as short as possible while avoiding exposure of underwear, which was considered taboo.
Since the 1970s and the rise of pants/trousers for women as an option for all but the most formal of occasions, no one skirt length has dominated fashion for long, with short and ankle-length styles often appearing side-by-side in fashion magazines and catalogs.
- Ballerina skirt, a full-length formal skirt popular in the 1950s.
- Broomstick skirt, a light-weight ankle length skirt with many crumpled pleats formed by compressing and twisting the garment while wet, such as around a broomstick. (1980s and on)
- Bubble dress/skirt, a voluminous skirt whose hem is tucked back under to create a “bubble effect” at the bottom. Popular in the 1950s, 1980s and from the mid-2000s to currently.
- Cargo skirt, a plain utilitarian skirt with belt loops and numerous large pockets, based on the military style of Cargo pants and popularized in the 1990s.
- Dirndl skirt, a skirt in the German-Austrian dirndl style, made of a straight length of fabric gathered at the waist
- Jean skirt, a trouser skirt made of denim, often designed like 5-pocket jeans, but found in a large variety of styles.
- Leather skirt, a skirt made of leather
- Maxi skirt, an ankle length-skirt (1970s, but has made a comeback in the 2000s)
- Micro skirt
- Midi skirt, mid-calf length. See: 1970s in fashion.
- Miniskirt, a thigh-length skirt, and micro mini, an extremely short version (1960s)
- Poodle skirt, a circle or near-circle skirt with an appliqued poodle or other decoration (1950s)
- Rah-rah skirt, a short, tiered, and often colorful skirt fashionable in the early-mid-1980s.
- Skater skirt, a short, high-waisted circle skirt with a hemline above the knee, often made of lighter materials to give the flowing effect that mimics the skirts of figure skaters.
- Tiered skirt, made of several horizontal layers, each wider than the one above, and divided by stitching. Layers may look identical in solid-colored garments, or may differ when made of printed fabrics.
- Prairie skirt (variant), a flared skirt with one or more flounces or tiers (1970s and on)
- Trouser skirt or culotte, a straight skirt with the part above the hips tailored like men's trousers, with belt loops, pockets, and fly front.
- Scooter skirt or skort (variant), a skirt that has an attached pair of shorts underneath for modesty. Alternatively, but with similar effect, a pair of shorts incorporating a skirt-like flap across the front of the body.
- T-skirt, made from a tee-shirt, the T-skirt is generally modified to result in a pencil skirt, with invisible zippers, full length two-way separating side zippers, as well as artful fabric overlays and yokes.
- Wraparound skirt. Variants include:
- Sarong, a square of fabric wrapped around the body and tied on one hip to make a skirt; worn as a skirt or as a cover-up over a bathing suit in tropical climates.
- Kilt-skirt, a wrap-around skirt with overlapping aprons in front and pleated around the back. Though traditionally designed as women's wear, it is fashioned to mimic somewhat closely the general appearance of a (man's) kilt, including the usage of a plaid pattern more or less closely resembling those of recognized tartan patterns of Scotland.