Gen Z Just Turned This Confusing, Ugly '90s Trend Into Summer's Hottest Item

They're 'discovering' the strangest stuff. Here are a few tricks for styling a (gah!) skort.

7 Ways To Style A Skort Because The ‘90s Trend Is Back
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

I might be relatively new to fashion reporting, but with almost three decades of life under my belt, I'm old enough to know that, like plot lines in literature, there is rarely any fashion trend that hasn't been done before.

As time goes on, clothing items get recycled and reimagined; the next generation finds new ways to wear them and, sometimes, they even try to rename them (stop trying to make "flared leggings" happen — they're yoga pants). So when I'm casually scrolling through TikTok and come across a video in which a Gen-Zer is in awe of "skirts that are shorts," aka skorts, I feel the need to show them the light.

In the original clip posted by @talllivingtiny, the young woman fumbles with her camera and, almost breathlessly, declares, "I gotta show you this." She quickly backs away from the camera and exclaims, "Skirts!" before lifting her hemline, adding, with even more enthusiasm, "that are shorts!" She can't believe it. I can't believe it. Neither can fellow Tiktok content creator, Stu, otherwise known as @janikon_, who's left almost speechless in his reaction video.

"Oh my God. Oh my God, I'm so old," he says, rubbing his eyes. "Are you… are we…," he adds through sniffles. "Are you saying you were born after skorts, and you think it's new?"

Now, I realize the video is probably (hopefully) a parody of sorts, but to think that there very well might be people read this who've never seen or worn a skort outfit — that the concept is so new to them that they don't even realize (or haven't googled) these wonderful bottoms have been around since the late 1800s — hurts my soul. Especially because aside from being a true wardrobe staple in 1990s, the skort has such a rich history in general.

The skirt-shorts hybrid was originally designed with the sole purpose of allowing females to ride bicycles more comfortably, and they were far from fashionable. In fact, the shorts half of the first skort weren't really shorts at all. Deirdre Clemente, a professor of history at the University of Las Vegas specializing in the fashion industry, told Atlas Obscura skorts weren't anything like the traditional shorts we wear today. They were basically pants "more like a skirt with a flat front, and they were very baggy," she told the outlet.

But, despite being considered "athleticwear," the skort caused some controversy, as, per The Atlantic, the Victorian era was coming to a close and the garment not only exposed a woman's ankles (*gasp*), but it inevitably paved the way for less restrictive clothing to come to fruition. So, while to the average 90s and 2000s kid a skort is a comfy, slightly questionable, and in many cases, what we'd consider a conservative alternative to the traditional skirt, it's actually a very symbolic item of clothing that represented the beginnings of a shift in how women dress.

And, I'm pleased to report it's making a comeback.

Based on outfits I'm seeing on fashion influencers, skorts are definitely experiencing a resurgence.

To pay further homage to the skort and all it's glory, I reached out to a few stylists for their best tips on how to style this gem of a throwback in 2021. Read on for a little inspo and a whole lot of nostalgia.

Layer On The '90s Fashion Trends

While the skort has a rich history that goes back centuries, there's no denying the innovative bottom was a '90s wardrobe staple. To lean into that nostalgia, head stylist at Tobi, Joanna Angeles, suggests pairing the piece with a baby tee or micro crop top and either sneakers with tube socks or chunky platform sandals.

"I would also take it one step further and add fun, kitschy beaded jewelry, a baguette bag, and glass or clay bubble rings for a '90s throwback vibe," she says.

DIY a Co-Ord Set

Still on a matching set kick? Lara Knight, VP of design denim and bottoms at American Eagle, tells InStyle you can DIY your own co-ord skirt set by layering a classic jean jacket paired with a jean skort. "We're all about double dipping in this iconic material,"says Knight.

Make It Nautical

Stitch Fix stylist Krista Gonzalez says that one of the most approachable and timeless pairings is the waist-accentuating wrap skort and striped tee, which, when worn together, creates a coastal-living, Hamptons vibe.

"Not only is this a great way to kick off summer fashion, but it creates a feminine yet sophisticated look that can incorporate a layering piece — such as a denim jacket — for chilly mornings," Gonzalez says. "Paired with crisp white sneakers, you'll feel stylish and comfortable for a weekend of activities, from running errands to a stroll on the beach."

Pair It With Romantic Pieces

Whether you have plans to rendezvous with a special someone or happy hour with the girls outside your apartment, Gonzalez tells InStyle a skort with an asymmetrical hem is sure to make a statement. From there, "style with an understated, yet romantic silk camisole on top and a pair of square toe block heels to pull it all together."

Embrace Athleisure

Don't forget: Skorts were originally designed for athletic purposes. So, why not incorporate the piece into your activewear wardrobe? For bike rides and morning jobs, Gonzalez recommends grabbing a sporty low-maintenance running skort and an athleisure-inspired half-zip to "keep you comfortable (and covered)."

Style It With Other Current Trends

Contemporary fashion is never short on trends, so pick and choose the looks you like and incorporate them into your skort outfit. For spring 2021, Gonzalez suggests experimenting with tops that feature of-the-moment prints, like '60s inspired ditsy florals or tye-dye, and hey, if you're feeling bold, fruit and vegetable fashion is a thing now, too.

Keep It Casual

Classic silhouettes are key if an elevated casual look is what you're after. A fresh white tee tucked into a pinstripe skort, styled with your go-to denim jacket is a great way to accomplish this, Gonzalez tells InStyle. Plus, she says the combination will help you ease your way into the season's hottest trend.

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