AskDefine | Define hemline

Dictionary Definition

hemline n : the line formed by the lower edge of a skirt or coat

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

hem + line

Noun

  1. The line formed by the bottom edge of a skirt, dress, or coat.
  2. The height of this line, measured from the floor.

Derived terms

Translations

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Extensive Definition

The hemline of a garment is its lower edge. The term most often refers to the lower edge of a skirt or dress.
The hemline is perhaps the most variable style line in fashion, changing shape and ranging in height from hip-high to floor-length. What is a fashionable style and height of hemline has varied considerably throughout the years, and has also depended on a number of factors such as the age of the wearer, the occasion for which the garment is worn and the choice of the individual.

Types of hemlines

Similar to necklines and waistlines, hemlines can be grouped by their height and shape:
  • floor-length hemlines
  • ankle hemlines
  • midcalf hemlines
  • below-knee hemlines
  • above-knee hemlines
  • mid-thigh hemlines
  • hip-high hemlines
  • handkerchief hemlines
  • diagonal hemlines
  • other hemlines

History

In the history of Western fashion, the ordinary public clothes of upper- and middle-class women varied only between floor-length and slightly above ankle-length for many centuries before World War I. Skirts of lower-calf or mid-calf length were associated with the practical working garments of lower-class or pioneer women, while even shorter skirt lengths were seen only in certain specialized and restricted contexts (e.g. sea-bathing costumes, or outfits worn by ballerinas on stage). It was not until the mid-1910s that hemlines began to rise significantly (with many variations in height thereafter). Skirts rose all the way from floor-length to near knee-length in only about fifteen years (from late in the decade of the 1900s to the mid-1920s). From WW1 to roughly 1970, a woman had to wear skirts near their currently-fashionable length or be considered almost hopelessly unstylish, but since the 1970s, women's options have widened, and there is no longer really only one single fashionable skirt-length at a time.
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