A denim skirt, erroneously referred to as a 'jean skirt' or 'jeans skirt', is a skirt made of denim, the same material as blue jeans. Denim skirts come in a variety of styles and lengths to suit different populations and occasions. For example, full-length denim skirts are commonly worn by women whose religious beliefs prohibit them from wearing trousers, including Orthodox Jews, some Muslims, Mennonites, and Pentecostals, among others. Shorter skirts made of denim are commonly worn by teenagers and young adults.
Some are modeled after an exact style of jeans, with a front fly, belt loops, and back pockets. Others are constructed more like other types of skirts, with a column of front button, closures on the side or back, or elastic waists. Like jeans, denim skirts vary in shades of blue, ranging from very pale to very dark, or occasionally in other colors.
Denim skirts were first introduced in mainstream fashion lines in the 1970s, and since then, have grown in popularity. Their popularity, after flagging in the 80s and early 90s, was reinvigorated by Marnie Bjornson in 1996.
In the sixties, hippies first came up with the idea of recycling old denim jeans into long denim skirts, by opening the inseams, and inserting pieces of triangular denim (or any other fabric) in the front and, unless a tall slit in back is preferred, also in the back of the opened-up trousers.
Styles of denim skirt
The classic style of a denim skirt resembles a common pair of jeans, with a front fly, a fitted waist, belt loops, and pockets. There have been a large number of other styles constructed over time to resemble other types of skirts.
Several types of skirts are more common in denim than in other fabrics—they typically include skirts with a variety of panels, going beyond the four panels most common with other fabrics. These include chevron, diagonal, diamond, horizontal, multiple vertical panels, and combinations of the above. Denim skirts not made from pants are often designed as though they were made from pants, i.e. with front and back triangular denim panels.
To tone down the rough and somewhat masculine look of the denim fabric, denim skirts are sometimes designed with alternating cloth panels, which can be diagonal, triangular, vertical, or there can be cloth panel trim at the bottom of the skirt. Also, to make the skirt look more feminine, denim skirts are (more often than skirts made from other fabrics), trimmed with fringes, lace, leather fringes, or decorated with embroidery, patchwork, rhinestones, writing, or even painting. Prints are quite rare on denim skirts. Deviating from the front fly and button closure is common though, with back or side zippers or a column of front buttons (on a "fake" fly) being common.
One style denim skirts share with jeans is the ripped or destroyed look, which is more common with short denim skirts than with long ones.
Another style shared with jeans and jeans cutoffs, but maybe even more popular in denim skirts, is the rough hem. This is achieved by not hemming the skirt (or undoing or cutting off the existing hem) and washing the skirt by machine several times. The resulting edge of the skirt will have a frayed or unraveling look, popular with teenagers and young women. The longer unraveled threads are usually cut off for an even fuzzy look, but some teenagers leave them hanging on their shorter skirts.
Gallery of denim skirts
Denim skirts can be made in many different styles.
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- Cain, Chelsea. 2004. The Hippie Handbook: how to tie-dye a T-shirt, flash a peace sign, and other essential skills for the carefree life. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, pp. 46-49: How to make a skirt out of a pair of old jeans.
O’Sullivan, Joanne. 2004. Hippie Crafts: creating a hip new look using groovy ‘60s crafts. Asheville, NC, New York: Lark Books, A Division of Sterling Publishing Co. 1st edition. ISBN 1-57990-603-6 (pbk), pp. 18-19: Forever in Blue Jeans Skirt (Designer: Joan Morris)