Move over jeans – the denim maxi skirt is autumn’s most versatile garment

From grungey and casual to sleek and smart, there are so many ways to wear this look

Tamara Kalinic
Tamara Kalinic wearing a blue denim maxi skirt at New York Fashion Week in February Credit: Getty

If someone told me this time last year that I’d be coveting a denim maxi skirt, I wouldn’t have believed them. Too Britney Spears/Paris Hilton circa 2004, no thank you.

But fashion has a funny way of percolating your brain. Slowly, my eye and taste has adjusted to the idea of it, and suddenly it seems like the perfect wardrobe update for anyone a little bored by the jeans-with-everything fashion formula.

At the various fashion weeks over the past few months, there were more denim maxis than bitchy resting faces. Partly because they look interesting and fresh, but also because you can put your own stamp on a denim maxi as effectively as you can a pair of jeans.

It can be grungey and casual, sleek and smart, it can be edgy, it can be safe; like Barbie, it can be anything you want it to be. Nor do you need to be a beanpole to carry it off – in fact, it can have a beanpole-enhancing effect on the wearer’s body.

“There has been a lot of interest in our denim maxi skirts over the past few seasons,” says Tim Kaeding, creative director and co-founder of denim label Mother. “Just like a good pair of jeans, it is a versatile piece with style longevity.”

A denim maxi can be anything you want it to be Credit: Getty

The problem for anyone interested in dipping a toe into the denim maxi water is that there are an overwhelming number of takes on the look flooding stores right now. Finding the right version for your body and wardrobe can feel daunting.

First, you need to identify what you need from it. Will you be wearing it to the office in lieu of your smartest jeans? In that case, you’ll need a black, cream or indigo version that is minimalist and structured, much like a pencil skirt. Ensure that there’s at least one slit, so that you can walk up a staircase comfortably.

If you want a denim maxi to complete your off-duty wardrobe, you might prefer a slouchier version in a faded blue or charcoal, with a bit more breathing room at the waist, and a frayed hem. This needs to be a skirt you can stride in, so take a good walk around the fitting room when you try it on.

And then there’s a lot in the middle ground between the two, as well as patchwork versions, full-skirted versions, shredded versions, you name it. My preference is for the more understated kind, for maximum versatility, high-waisted and slim through the hip.

Once you have your skirt, it’s time to have fun styling it – and that’s an easier hurdle. These are three of my favourite formulas, spotted on fashion industry insiders. All you need to do now is make it your own.

The off-duty

Kathrin Bommann wearing an Agolde skirt, Vival Studio t-shirt and Adidas Samba trainers Credit: Getty

The ingredients for this are a boxy T-shirt worn loose, or a longer one tucked-in. Add a pair of retro trainers (Adidas Gazelles or Sambas are the ones to be seen in this autumn), worn with or without socks. If you need to add an extra layer, consider a cropped jacket as longer, oversized styles like blazers can look a little overwhelming with a maxi skirt.

The double denim

Abraham: 'The more they look like they were supposed to be worn as a set, the better'

You’ve heard of the Canadian tuxedo, now meet the Canadian co-ord. All you need to do is team your denim maxi with a shirt or jacket in a similar hue – they don’t have to match perfectly, but the more they look like they were supposed to be worn as a set, the better. Wear with trainers as above, with boots as below, or with this season’s coolest shoe, the ballerina flats – although, for the latter, you’ll need more of a midaxi skirt as it looks best with a little visible ankle.

The upscale

Scale up your outfit with a boxy knit and boots Credit: Getty

The knit should be boxy, just like the T-shirt above, and don’t be afraid to go for something bold, like fuzzy mohair or a cutaway neckline. The skirt, like your go-to jeans, should be the quieter element of the outfit. Add a stompy Chelsea or cowboy boot by day and a pointed heeled slingback by night.

Six denim maxi skirts to try

Greta maxi skirt, £99, Aligne; Raey split-back organic cotton skirt, £165, Matches; The Candy Stick maxi skirt, £294, Mother

The Icon long skirt, £80, Levi’s; Denim maxi skirt, £79, Cos; Denim split-front maxi skirt, £35, Marks & Spencer

What do you think of the denim maxi skirt? Let us know in the comments