All about skirts, kilts, and sarongs

Skirts are incredibly versatile pieces of clothing. Paired with a tank top and flip-flops, a printed cotton a-line skirt is a comfortable, casual alternative to shorts on a summer's day. Worn with tights, high heels, a blouse, and a blazer, a pinstriped pencil skirt is part of the perfect power suit.

Whatever the occasion, whatever the outfit, there's sure to be a skirt that's perfect for it.


For those with legs they can't wait to show off, a miniskirt is sure to grab attention. While not appropriate for most workplaces and generally against school dress codes, miniskirts have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and now come in many styles. The traditional miniskirt, which had a maximum length of about four inches below the buttocks and generally hung square from the hip, has now been joined by:

  • the micromini or microskirt, which has a maximum length of two inches below the buttocks,
  • the minidress and micromini dress, which are dresses with skirts cut to a maximum of four and two inches below the buttocks, respectively,
  • the rah-rah, which is cut to mirror the look of a skirt on a cheerleading uniform, and
  • the puffball, so named for the rounded shape created by gathering in the bottom hem.

Of course, some miniskirts are now so short they are called "belt skirts" because they spark debate over whether they are actually skirts or just belts. Thankfully, however, most of the women who wear these pair them with jeggings or thick tights to keep from baring it all.

Long Skirts

At the other end of the skirt spectrum from miniskirts are long skirts, which generally reach the ankles, or at least the mid-calf. These skirts range from flowing, patterned, bohemian styles to smooth satin formal styles.

Because they offer far more coverage, long skirts are generally welcome in office and school environments. However, some places may specify a minimum length (usually around the knees) and limit the types of materials in order to enforce a professional appearance. For example, many workplaces view denim skirts as too casual for regular office attire.


Once worn only by Scotsmen or Catholic school girls, kilts are becoming popular among the masses. The definition has broadened as various nations have adopted the kilt, but in general, a kilt is a pleated knee-length wrap of tartan (plaid) wool fastened at the waist and held closed by a kilt pin. It was traditionally worn by men of Celtic, and specifically Gaelic, background, but is now also worn by women and by both sexes in various countries.

The kilt is a common element of the Catholic or private school uniform. As everyday attire, it can be dressed up with formal shirts and jackets or kept casual with turtlenecks and sweaters.


Like kilts, sarongs have been adopted from another country and culture -- in this case, several countries and cultures, including India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), the Pacific Islands, and parts of Africa -- where it is traditional garb. In North America and the Western world, sarongs are most often worn by women as swimsuit covers or casual skirts.

With many names, many different styles (colored, patterned, plain, dyed), and many methods for wearing (as a skirt, as a kilt, as a dress), the sarong can appear completely different from wearer to wearer. In general, though, a sarong is a large length of fabric that is wrapped and folded, often intricately, to create a garment.