Twiggy on the King's Road (Stan Meagher/Express/Getty Images)
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Gathering multiple personalities across the years, with tweaks on length, material and accessories projecting radically different vibes, the miniskirt − arguably more than any other item of clothing − remains a symbol of youth. With women stretching its society-imposed age limits over time, especially in these celebrity-led body beautiful times, a whole heap of judgement has been piled on the age appropriate-ness of the miniskirt. According to a recent study by the British department store Debenhams, women today are happy to wear miniskirts up to the age of 40, whereas figures from 1980 showed that on average women stopped buying minis when they reached 33 years old. “If this trend continues, there's no doubt that, within the next decade, women in their mid 40s and early 50s will rightly regard a miniskirt as an essential part of their everyday wardrobe,” Debenhams said in the report.
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Such a democratic view remains extremely short-sighted, however. With bans enforced in several African countries, the miniskirt didn’t even get a look in in certain territories. As recently as 2010, the mayor of an Italian resort town, Castellammare di Stabia, issued orders to police to fine anyone spotted wearing a 'very short' miniskirt, according to a report in the Guardian, while in late February around 200 women took to the streets of Uganda's capital to protest against a new anti-pornography legislation − dubbed ‘the miniskirt law’ by local media – which bans women from revealing their thighs, breasts and buttocks and from dressing indecently in a manner to sexually excite.
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Fifty years after its invention, the garment still has many barriers to break.“With the rise of all kinds of religious fundamentalism in the world today there’s been a backlash against women and against sexual liberation, especially in terms of gay liberation ... On the one hand, we’ve become much more accepting of diversity in Western countries, however internationally things have turned very much to the right and we are seeing many cultures that are striking out at women for dressing in a way that is not hyper conservative and body concealing,” says Steele. While the miniskirt’s shock factor is a thing of the past in most Western cities, as well as cities like Tokyo or Shanghai in the East, “in much of the world, I would definitely hesitate to wear a miniskirt,” she added. “You’re looking forward to a much freer future and backwards to a much more restricted past, and the miniskirt is kind of symbolic of that.”
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