Important Question: Are Modest Minidresses The New Midi?

An investigation, of sorts

Helena Bordon at Paris Couture Week

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

You were most likely a whippersnapper with a fake ID and braces the last time you wore a minidress, but don’t let those memories put you off. The most barely-there of hemlines might be back in business, but this time around it’s grown up enough for those of us born before 1985. This, of course, begs the very profound question: is the mini the new midi?

The minidress has, it has to be said, had somewhat of a modest makeover. It now comes with long sleeves and even a high neck, both of which are all the better for balancing out the miles of leg on show. Clever, no?

Eleanor Tomlinson wore one to watch Wimbledon last week. The white Ralph Lauren number stopped a few inches short of her knees and had a set of elegantly wafty sleeves. Rachel Weisz chose a voluminous, short shirt dress for a party at Annabel’s; Miu Miu’s recent cruise show, meanwhile, practically had a modest mini dress code. Booksmart co-stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever both wore puff-sleeved styles with their platform sandals, while Nicole Richie and Olivia Palermo’s minis both had sugar-sweet collar details.

Fashion editors are fans of Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen’s minis that are as pillowy as cream puffs and have Lady Di-style frills at the neck. Ganni’s puff-sleeved, wrap minis and Rhode Resort’s ruffled, thigh-high print dresses are also Instagram favourites. ‘I like the contrast between a covered up neckline and a super mini dress - it’s way more sexy than showing a lot, not to mention more comfortable to wear,’ says Tiffany Hsu,’s fashion buying director, adding, ‘Marc Jacobs, Ganni, Zimmermann and Miu Miu all have great Victorian-inspired minidresses that balance elegance with sex appeal.’

The minidress’s renewed popularity with the style set is perhaps at odds with the hemline index, a theory that dress and skirt lengths dip during recessions and rise during periods of prosperity. Echoing the doom and gloom over Brexit, the maxi is still the most dominant length on the runways. However, green shoots of optimism in the form of the modest mini is certainly on the rise - and can’t help but put their wearers in a good mood if done properly.

Balance is key, you see. A modest mini only works because of its bigger-is-better sleeves and a pie-crust collar will never go amiss. As for shoes, I'd personally recommend something chunky: flatform sandals, pumped-up trainers or even cowboy boots are just the ticket.

SHOP: The Best Modest Minidresses


SHOP: The best modest minidresses

Cecilie Bahnsen dress1 of 12

Cecilie Bahnsen, Macy Ruffled-Neck Sateen Shirt Dress, £740

Ganni dress2 of 12

Ganni, Printed Cotton Poplin Wrap Dress, £220

Anna Mason dress3 of 12

Anna Mason, Poppy Minidress, £725

Marc Jacobs dress4 of 12

Marc Jacobs, The Prairie Cotton-Blend Minidress, £765

Les Hu00e9rou00efnes by Vanessa Cocchiaro minidress5 of 12

Les Héroïnes by Vanessa Cocchiaro, The CJ Shirred Crepe Minidress, £275

Mango minidress6 of 12

Mango, Embroidery Striped Dress, £35.99

Nanushka minidress7 of 12

Nanushka, Bell Sleeve Minidress, £315

Stine Goya minidress8 of 12

Stine Goya, Baby Dress Stripes, £145

& Other Stories minidress9 of 12

& Other Stories, Belted Polka Dot Minidress £85

Uterque dress10 of 12

Uterque, Darted Overshirt Dress, £290

Zara minidress11 of 12

Zara, Embroidered Dress With Tassels, £29.99

Zimmermann minidress12 of 12

Zimmermann, Verity Floral-Print Linen Minidress, £560

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