In Praise of the Foofy Summer Skirt

There is a lot to be said for retiring to a place that always makes the “Worst Dressed Cities” Top Ten List very casual part of the country. You can make a bunch of foofy summer skirts and wear them anywhere, anytime. Really, it’s enough to make you pity the besuited lawyers and stockbrokers, however posh and expensive their restrictive, boring little uniforms may be.

You know in your heart what a foofy skirt is. It’s casual. It’s comfortable. It’s often, but not always, patterned–anything from ethnic block prints to florals to batiks, as long as it’s the kind of print that makes you want to break out Janice Joplin’s “Summertime.” It can be any length–my preference is for long swishy ones. It can be cotton, rayon, or linen (as long as you beat the linen up and don’t iron it). What it goes with: all of your t-shirts, tanks, and crop tops. What it doesn’t go with: a single one of your blazers or dress shirts or shoes that hurt.

And you don’t even need paper patterns to make them. Serendipity Studio offers a series of three little booklets called Fashion Formula Skirts.  I have the first one:


Each booklet contains written instructions for three skirts with multiple variations. You have the option of making each out of one fabric or several, in the length of your choice. You work with your own measurements, so you don’t have to worry about whether it comes in “your size” or not. No tissue patterns, no pins. (If you happen to have a quilter’s cutting mat, a plexiglass ruler and a rotary cutter, it’s REALLY easy.) One can’t help but feel that the lack of fuss honors the spirit of foofiness.

They are quite well thought-out. For instance, in the Trixie skirt shown on the cover above, each tier is just enough larger than the one above it to hang nicely and give you plenty of walking room, but not so much that you feel you should be wearing crinolines and going to a square dance.

In my picture up top, I am wearing the single-fabric version of the Fiona mock-wrap skirt. Since it is cut on the cross grain, it consists of only one rectangle–I’d need two with 45″ fabric if it were cut lengthwise. It has one seam, a pleat, an elastic waist, and a hem. Period. I’ve made three of the things over the years. (The one pictured above is a rayon from the late, great Santa Fe Fabrics. I think it’s the last piece I had from them. Sob.) (The white shirt, incidentally, is an old Vogue pattern that I made in a cotton/linen dobby fabric in the mid 1980s. It started out as a fashionable “big shirt,” but now, alas, it’s just a “shirt” that’s handy when I’m going to a place with enthusiastic air conditioning.)

One caveat: If, as I do, you generally prefer not to make your garments from quilting cottons, you will probably have to strain to imagine some of these in other fabrics. (The vivid cottons pictured certainly qualify as foofy, however.) But if you have a piece of, say, a border print that you don’t know what to do with, you could do worse than give one of these skirts a shot.


Addendum: When I wore this skirt to my knitting group, it prompted a discussion on skirts and the unpleasantness of thighs rubbing together in hot weather. Tush-pish. I maintain that the spirit of foofiness could be honored equally well with floaty crops or pants in similar fabrics.

One comment on “In Praise of the Foofy Summer Skirt

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