“This is the year of the changing hemline,” says this Butterick Fashion News flyer from July, 1970.
“There is no longer one length for one woman, but a whole wardrobe of lengths from which to choose. Mini, regular, midi and maxi length. . . Butterick has the right looks in the right lengths.”
Pattern number 5785, on the front cover, is even longer than ankle length.
“Butterick 5785: From head to toe, a full length cover-up; super to sew in see through crochet fabric. Misses 8 to 16, 75 cents.
Other lengths were defined in this chart:
However, an even shorter length, the Micro Mini, appeared in the same flyer:
This dress was so short that the pattern included matching bikini briefs. No wonder the girl on the lower right looks shocked.
“Butterick 5821: The micro mini, with self belt, raglan sleeves and matching bikini briefs. Easy. Misses 8 to 16.”
For comparison, here is a mini length wrap dress, which can also be worn as a tunic over pants (both views are shown):
“Butterick 5759: A mini length wrap dress with elasticized waistline, long kimono sleeves, and a narrow self-tie belt can double as a tunic over matching pants with flared legs. Sew And Go. Misses 8-18.”
Some examples of skirt lengths from the 1960s can be seen here. True mini-skirts were not generally worn until the mid-sixties. This Butterick pattern by Mary Quant appeared in October of 1964:
The hem hits just at the bottom of the knee, or slightly above. Over five years later, in 1970, Butterick’s chart still called this “regular” length.
10 responses to “Chart of Skirt Lengths: Mini, Midi, Maxi, 1970”
My mom made me a copy of the Mary Quant long sleeved dress, right down to the plaid! I wore my hems somewhere between the mid knee and micro mini length — long enough so that when you sat down your underwear wasn’t sitting on the chair! Then I discovered how flattering the extra long midi was, so it DIDNT hit the fattest part of the calf. Short skirts were cute but such a challenge .. What to do climbing stairs in the mall? Sitting for long stretches with your knees together is tiring! And bending down to file papers all day is no fun. Thank god for the pantsuit!
Thanks for this blast from the past,
Lucky you to have had that dress made for you! 1970 was the year when banks and other businesses on the West Coast finally allowed women to wear pant suits to work — maybe because it was hard to argue that a woman bending over a filing cabinet in a pantsuit was more shocking than the sight of the same woman bending over to file papers in a miniskirt. The only modest way to reach the bottom drawer was to squat — which often caused my pantyhose to run at the knee. Hooray for trousers!
What an informative chart! I wore “short” length dresses in the late sixties, as I recall. Looking here, I wonder if any of my skirts ever reached the official “mini” length, let alone the micro mini.
This needs to be mailed to every vintage seller on the internet, especially those who were not around in 1970!
Feel free to share it!
This is so interesting. Most “mini skirts” from the 60s would be seen as way too long today. I remember at school not being allowed to wear anything longer than 4″ above the knee, but maybe matching knickers is the answer!
My friends and I seemed to go more with a body proportion guideline, and in 1970 the hems were at fingertip level, regardless of measurement. My southern California high school ‘legalized’ the wearing of pants in 1968, which was a first and made the evening news, so after that pants started a race to outwear those minis. For us, manufactured dresses were always too long then, and we also cut our dresses shorter than the pattern guidelines when sewing.
This is where age affects fashion “normal.” You were a high school student in 1970; I was a high school teacher. (I was 24.) Every time I bought a dress I also bought matching hem facing tape so I could let it down as much as possible. I quickly realized that when I reached up to write on the chalkboard in a store-bought dress, the view from the rear was not good for classroom discipline! I was so happy when pantsuits were allowed!
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Another really important thing to remember about this era in fashion is that women finally had the freedom to choose the length they wanted to wear and were comfortable wearing. Up until this point, Paris always dictated the length of skirts! This was the era of youth and the women’s equality movement, which enabled huge freedom in fashion choices. And so we took it! I remember reading that Mary Quant got her start in fashion design by taking Butterick patterns and making them shorter. 🙂 I lived through this era and I remember wearing mini skirts without really thinking about it!