During the later years of the Interstellar Wars and the Rule of Man, the skirt and dress entirely disappeared, replaced by the ubiquitous unisex jumpsuit or slacks and shirt combination which came to dominate fashion throughout the Rim during the Long Night. Many reasons have been advanced for this; the final achievement of equality between the genders, the abandonment of luxury under the pressure of the Vilani threat, the lack of practicality of the dress or skirt in space etc. None of these reasons hold up to close scrutiny, but it remains that for some reason over a 200 year period the dress and skirt vanished from humaniti's collective wardrobe, not to return for some 2000 years.
Naturally after so long an absence, the return of the skirt has been marked by controversy and scandal. The first inkling of the return can be found in Yokio Verruchi's summer collection introduced on Terra in 4537AD (year 18 under Imperial reckoning). Her use of a colourful short breach clout [a very short apron like accessory] over a traditional shirt/trouser combination created a storm of comment at the time. Most orthodox designers condemned it as a pointless fad, but next season many young and up and coming designers had worked the breach clout into their offerings; and they were to been seen on many daring socialites of both genders.
The next major development came in 4544AD (25 Imperial). Over the intervening years the breach clout had been gradually achieving more acceptance, having become almost respectable in certain circles. However the entire Old Earth Union was scandalised when Ulongo M'bow took the basic breach clout and turned it into a complete wraparound. Many commentators where shocked by this development, claiming it drew far too much attention to the hips and buttocks. Several major retail chains refused to carry any of M'bow's designs as a result. However it did catch on with a minority of the young and the scandal may have actually aided it's acceptance in certain circles; it is interesting to note that Hine Gordon (founder of the Hellfire Movement) was seen wearing a wraparound on a number of occasions before her death. However despite this, the wraparound remained an item only worn by the daring for at least a decade.
The next stage was slow in coming and notable for being far more widely adopted by women than men. In 4557AD (38 Imperial) Yokio Verruchi took what now appears the minor step of transforming the wraparound into a short overskirt (still worn as an accessory over trousers or a jumpsuit). Even though this was on the surface a very minor innovation, it caused a greater scandal than M'bow's introduction of the wraparound. Most of the fashion establishment was aghast at Verruchi's 57 winter collection. Compared with the soft lines of the wraparound, the overskirt's hard lines were regarded as altogether too provocative. Even amongst the 'smart set' in which the wraparound was now widely accepted (if still considered daring), the overskirt was very slow in being adopted. However Verruchi persevered with it. In her 58 summer collection, she lengthened the overskirt and added a soft flowing flounce [attachment at the back, vaguely similar in effect to a bustle] with a light fabric cascade.
Over the next few years Verruchi's designs where characterised by the both the developing overskirt and the flounce (added to both wraparounds and more conventional trousers and jumpsuits). Slowly Verruchi's overskirt and flounce were taken up by other designers; and while they have yet to achieve even the limited social acceptance of the wraparound, they are both now well established as independent fashion trends. As previously noted, the overskirt was not widely adopted in men's fashions until well into the 4560's, though the flounce was taken up far sooner. whilst the flounce is now as common in men's garments as in women's; the overskirt remains predominantly a female fashion item.
This situation remained relatively static for the next nine years or so. However over this period there was a slow trend for the overskirt to lengthen (going from just below the hip in Verruchi's initial offering, to just below the knee in Adam Frazers 65 summer collection). However the entire fashion industry was taken aback in 4566AD (47 Imperial) when Jane Husaski unveiled her summer collection. In this she took the overskirt; lengthened it to mid calf, and made it an independent garment; doing away with the trousers or jumpsuit entirely. The resulting uproar made the scandals surrounding the wraparound and overskirt seem positively tame by comparison. Claims that she was perverting public morals were leveled at Husaski; and one socialite was even charged and convicted of lewd and indecent behavior for wearing one of Husaski's creations to a diplomatic function. Numerous politicians called for such lascivious clothing to be banned and many social commentators decried it as a sign of imminent social collapse. Many are still outraged by those wearing a skirt as a solo garment.
Naturally, this almost universal condemnation by 'the establishment' lead to cautious popularity amongst the young. Many daring young men and women were soon to be seen wearing shirt and skirt combinations without the benefit of trousers (clothing sure to get one barred in respectable restaurants). The situation was further confused in 4571AD (53 Imperial) when a year before her death Verruchi combined the overskirt with the shirt to produce a high thigh length overdress to be worn with trousers (another development decried in polite society).
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