For the last couple seasons, shrinking hemlines have made many women shrink from wearing anything but pants. (Really, does a just-past-your-bum bubble dress do favors for anyone past the age of 12?) But for spring, designers are taking a long view, turning out knee-passing skirts and frocks that range from 1950s-inspired full numbers to maxi dresses worthy of the Summer of Love (or the Summer of Sam). “Longer hemlines are part of the whole push back to the 1970s,” says Arlington personal shopper Wendy Pilch, aka Spendalla. “What’s great about them is you can sit on the ground in them, cross your legs and just generally be comfortable.”
» A skirt with volume, like this one, left, by Asos ($135, Us.asos.com), needs a chunky shoe ($140, Ninewest.com). On top, go one of two directions. “I balance midis with a fitted tee and a belt,” says Arlington personal shopper Wendy Pilch. Or, play with slouchy proportions by pairing the skirt with Free People’s lace vest ($128, Bloomingdale’s, 5300 Western Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.; 240-744-3700), a Reiss top ($185, Reiss, 1254 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-944-8565) and a cuff ($28, ShoeFly, 2727 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-243-6490).
» Mid-century starlets (Grace, Audrey, anyone who danced with Gene Kelly) knew the flowy, showy power of longer, fuller skirts. Have your own “American in Paris”-gone- modern moment in Asos’ striped skirt ($54, Us.asos.com) and a Reiss silk top ($185). Bold accessories — a dramatic cuff ($138, Simply Soles, 3222 M St. NW, 202-232-0072; Simplysoles.com), printed earrings, a heart ring and Kelsey Dagger wedge sandals ($15, $22 and $92 ShoeFly) — complement the breezy look.
» “If you’re tall, you can carry off a long skirt even in flats,” says personal stylist Pilch. Eva Franco’s updated spin on a prairie skirt ($198, Anthropologie.com) boasts a graduated hem in a mattress-ticking stripe. Tame its flounces with Lillybee peep-toes ($138), a silk scarf top ($78, Anthropologie.com), a belt ($115, Reiss), and a faux turquoise necklace and earrings ($36 and $15, ShoeFly).
» A maxi dress “really says beach, cruise or vacation,” Pilch says. “I even have a client who packed several for touring Europe.” This ikat-print strapless model ($108, Bloomingdale’s) gets sophisticated enough for a night out in Georgetown — or a day in Dewey Beach — with a dramatic House of Harlow faux gemstone necklace and ring ($158 and $65, South Moon Under, 2700 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 703-807-4083); an octopus ring ($165, South Moon Under); a studded leather belt ($98, Simply Soles); and Coconuts flats ($48, ShoeFly).
» The ruffled maxi of the Nixon era looks fresh on a graduated hemline dress by Free People ($198, Bloomingdale’s). Keep the vibe more beauty queen than beatnik with a straw fedora, long necklace and oversized handbag ($24, $38 and $60, South Moon Under), colorful bangles and Jeffrey Campbell heeled gladiator sandals ($18 each and $95 per pair, ShoeFly).