Style guide: What's the skirt-length sweet spot?

Style guide

QWhat is the most flattering skirt length? I say to the middle of the knee. My boyfriend (surprise, surprise) says about six inches above the knee.

AThe ideal skirt length depends on a number of factors, including the cut and proportions of the garment, the shape of the wearer's legs, and her personal style and comfort level.

A well-designed dress is an integrated whole. Raising or lowering the hem an inch or so is fine. But if you drastically alter the height of the hemline, you will throw off the balance of the garment.

This is true even with a skirt. If you take a pencil skirt that hits just below the knee and shorten it to mini length, it will end up looking a little off-kilter. The waistband will be too wide, or the pockets too low, or it won't have enough "give" because you've done away with the vent in the back seam.

Certainly, the middle-of-the-knee length flatters most women -- if the dress or skirt was designed that length in the first place. But take a long dress and chop it off at the knees, and you've got the classic bridesmaid-dress disaster: Shortening it doesn't make it more attractive or wearable.

A skirt that clears the knees by six inches tends to look best on young, trim legs. But add dark tights or leggings, and it will look fine on most figures. Longer skirts suit tall women best, but petites can wear the length if they select the style with care -- in front of a full-length mirror.

In other words, almost any length can be flattering, so long as the cut and proportions are right. It also helps to wear the right shoes.