How to Wear Modest Skirts (Without Looking Frumpy) by Kristine

Monday, February 13, 2012
Living in Japan, I was always in awe of everybody's fashion choices. Everyone looked so kawaii (cute) in their knit sweaters layered over button up shirts with shorts, tights, and heeled boots. I have envied Japanese fashion since I was in junior high school, and seeing it in real life was an absolute dream.

Just one problem:  the fashionable Japanese girls that I admired were very keen on showing A LOT of leg. We're talking short-shorts and mini-skirts galore. And it looked great on them. Somehow, they found a way to balance out the amount of skin they were showing by covering up their top half. (I really saw zero cleavage while I was in Japan, which I very much appreciated.) However, because I was surrounded by these amazingly stylish, beautiful, leggy women, and because I have very high modesty standards when it comes to showing skin, every now and then I would find myself feeling so, so frumpy.  I'd look at myself in my seemingly matronly knee-length skirts in the mirror and just frown.

But then I thought, just because I don't show a lot of skin, doesn't mean my body doesn't look good. Showing skin and being leggy does not automatically equal womanly. Sure, I may not ever be sexy...but I don't want to be seen like that anyway.

Over the years, I have figured out ways to wear modest skirts without looking frumpy. These ways work for me, but I'd love to hear your tips in the comments as well!

H&M shirt (similar); J.Crew belt (similar); vintage skirt (similar);
Forever 21 shoes (similar)
1. Wear heels.

If you're petite like me (I'm 5'2''.), this is definitely a must. Lengthening your legs is a must to fight the frump, especially when wearing skirts! I'm talking 2'' heels or higher. I can't tell you how I feel when I put on heels after dressing up for the day:  I finally feel complete.
J.Crew cardigan (similar); J.Crew Factory necklace;
Urban Outfitters top; Crossover skirt from Japan

2. Wear skirts at the waist, not the hip.

Wearing skirts at the waist definitely elongates your bottom half, which is what you want! I also feel as though it creates a very 1950s silhouette, which is very, very feminine. I have some skirts that actually fall at my hip naturally, but I belt them at my waist so they'll stay up. Just a trick of the trade ;)
Forever 21 hat (similar); Forever 21 top (similar);
Uniqlo skirt; We Love Colors tights; c/o Blowfish
3. Pay attention to where the hemline falls.

Supposedly, just above the knee is the ideal length for making your legs appear longer. I don't necessarily follow this rule, but it's good to keep in mind. For me, I usually wear skirts somewhere around the knee area.

What tips have you got to wear modest skirts without looking frumpy?


  1. It's frustrating, but it's true that heels really help the frump factor. It's really important for me to dress modestly, and heels really a lot to still keep the look stylish and modern. Here a couple of looks, where the skirts SHOULD be too long for me, but I think the heels help: 

    What do you think?

  2. thanks for this! i totally agree with everything. I'm short too (5.3) and find that I often need to wear heels to look put together. i'm forced to wear flats sometimes but prefer heels to help me look taller. Thanks for the advice. 

  3. I'm 5'2" as well and can feel frumpy wearing flats with skirts.  I like ankle boots to add some edge to a knee length skirt - they're still more comfy than full on heels, and I can still chase my 2 year old around :)

  4. Aww, I love Kristine -- thanks for featuring her! Like her, I love wearing long dresses/skirts but it's so hard for me because I'm short (5'3) but I hate wearing sky-high heels all the time. My trick sometimes is to wear nude shoes/heels to help give the appearance of leg elongation. I also tend to go with shorter sleeves on my top to balance out the skirt's length and fullness. Great tips all around from Kristine :) 

  5. love the skirts!

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  9. I love skirts, but I never wear them to school because I do feel frumpy!  And I can't wear heels because of my flat feet.  Thoughts on sandals?

  10. Thanks for the tips! <3 i love your first outfit!! i want it :)


  11. I love the colors you used! & I'm on the shorter side too (5'3"/4"ish) so I think these looks would work really well for me too :).


  12. AH yes, nude heels are a life saver! Victoria Beckham said so in her fashion book, too, so you know we all can't be wrong ;)

  13. Way cute Natasha! Definitely great examples of how heels truly matter!

  14. A good sandal can look really chic and bohemian with skirts, I think :) Just stay away from the super clunky ones with really thick straps - those just add more weight to your bottom half, in my opinion!

  15. so cute! great tips as is hard not to feel frumpy & modest sometimes but there is a balance :)

  16. thanks so much for this post, i really enjoy your blog. i have a couple of questions and perhaps you can point me in the right direction.

    i only wear skirts and they need to be below the knee for modesty. (i am a mama, constantly having to squat and bend over, so the length keeps me covered without having to worry about who i am flashing!)  i wear a lot of maxi skirts but i like tea length as well. do you have any posts on how to wear longer skirts well? 
    personally, i am very tall and 'average' build and cannot walk in heels to save my life. also not very practical chasing a toddler! haha  i also like wearing skirts at the waist, but sometimes feel that looks old fashioned in a bad way. do you have any tips on doing high waist without accentuating a poochy belly and without looking too outdated? i need some fashion help. i am mostly at home as a stay at home mom, so my day to day look is pretty casual and practical, but when i do go out, i have no idea how to pull off modesty in a way that i dont look like a total dork. you make it look so easy! :)

  17. Brilliant!! I don't know why I never thought of wearing heels or my skirts on my waist! Thank you so much!! 

  18. This is perfect.. I'm the same height and haven't worn may skirts for that reason haha!

  19. REALLY like this post :)

  20. Britt * secondhand magpieFebruary 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I LOVE the first two photos!! Striped tops with printed skirts is one of my favorite combinations. One of my favorite posts of yours!

  21. I love the tip for wearing the skirt at your waist, not your hips! Thanks!

  22. I have been looking for modest fashion but couldn't find anything until I found your blog! I'm loving it and so many tips, it is so hard to find modest skirts now, where do you reccomend looking for some?

  23. I find this interesting because I'm very interested in Japanese fashion. I particularly love alt-styles like Lolita (not what it sounds like) and Mori-girl. They're elegant, feminine, and always err on the side of modesty.