The Evolution of the Jean Skirt

Dear 2004: We see you, we remember you, we regret you.

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Ah, the trusted jean skirt. For millennials, it conjures up a lot of memories, since it was an early 2000s wardrobe staple. But this item has been making its way through fashion's lexicon since the '70s—and it's due for an even bigger comeback than it's already brought. Take a journey with us as we trace the evolution of the jean skirt throughout the years, ahead.

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1840: The Skirt

In the 19th century, a woman's dress code was strictly limited to dresses and skirts with an emphasis on layers and covering one's skin.

Gold Mining
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1873: Jeans

The first pair of jeans were created in 1873 after a tailor engineered a pair from the cotton fabric sold by Levi Strauss. The design was especially useful for workers during the gold rush who needed pants that wouldn't rip.

Woman Boxing Workout
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1890: Utility Skirts

Towards the end of the 19th century, skirt hemlines rose became the go-to piece of clothing for active women when they were boxing, riding bikes, and more.

Young female dancer portrait in Yonkers, NY, ca. 1925
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1925: Shorter Hems

By the 1920s, the hems on women's skirts were higher than ever, grazing just above the knee.

Portrait of Constance Bennett
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1930: Women-Approved

In the 1930s, women dared to wear pants. Actresses like Constance Bennett (seen here) started incorporating jeans into her wardrobe as the textile became more widespread.

Vogue 1948
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1948: Casual Wear

Everyday women started to adopt jeans, but reserved them strictly for chores and yard work.

By The River
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1955: Jean Shorts

We got one step closer to the jean skirt when jean shorts stepped into the fashion scene in the late 1950s. This trend was especially popular in Hollywood.

King's Road Boutique
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1965: The Mini Skirt

By the late '60s, mini skirts had taken the fashion world by storm. From corduroy to cotton to suede, all fabrics were fair game—except denim.

Model Debbie Sullivan aged 17 wearing a striped cotton blouse and brushed denim skirt by Highlight.
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1970: Denim Skirts (Finally!)

Jean skirts were first introduced in the 1970s. They were originally created as a way to repurpose worn denim pants, but pretty soon the trend took off.

JAN 31 1974, FEB 11 1974, FEB 17 1974,; Denver-made costume is denim form top to bottom: spats by Si
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1972: Flower Child Style

The jean skirt proved to be a perfect fit for the free-spirited flower child vibes of the '70s...especially distressed denim with patchwork.

Lise-Lotte. Swedish model seen here wearing a denim dress. March 1975 75-01268-007
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1975: A New Style

Soon, fashion houses took notice of the jean skirt and began producing them in a variety of styles. The most popular? The front snap skirt.

Fashion - Denim and Leather
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1980: Pencil Skirts

In the '80s, fashion was anything but understated and denim was no exception. Pencil skirts were major and if you rocked a matching jacket, even better.

Kirstie Alley
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1986: Oversized Everything

Everything was bigger in the '80s, including denim. Kirstie Alley models an oversized denim jacket with a matching jean skirt here.

Singer Lisa Lisa
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1987: Acid Wash

Acid wash denim was the ultimate trend in the late '80s, with people rocking it on everything from jackets to dresses, and, of course, the jean skirt.

Saved by the Bell
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1990: Acid Wash (Still)

It took a few years for acid wash jeans to filter out of fashion. Even in 1990, the style was all the rage—just ask the cast of Saved by the Bell.

York Family
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1992: Lighter Washes

By the 1990s, people began wearing more subdued denim washes. Here, the Duchess of York styles a billowing jean skirt with a belt and a colorful print button-down.

Beatrice Windsor Horse Show
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1993: For All Ages

Jean skirts officially entered the tot market by the mid-'90s, as shown on Princess Eugenie in 1993. How cute is she?!

Stephanie Seymour Models Chanel Spring and Summer Fashions
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1995: High Fashion

By 1995, you could catch jean skirts on the catwalks in Paris and Milan as fashion houses like Chanel started to embrace the trend.

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1996: The Midriff

Pamela Anderson looks very '90s chic in a light wash jean mini skirt and a crop top. The motorcycle she's posing on adds a great touch.

Britney Spears Portrait Sessions
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1998: The Teen Market

Teenage girls flocked to stores to recreate looks like this one made popular by Britney Spears in 1998. Since jean skirts were so popular with young girls at the time, they were heavily marketed to teenagers.

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1999: Over Pants

Ah, we fully suppressed the memory of this fashion choice from the late '90s. The jean skirt was indeed sometimes worn over pants, as seen here on Gwen Stefani.

2000 ABC Summer Press Tour
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2000: Maxi Skirts

By 2000, everyone was wearing jean skirts—the color and styling was endless. The newest style was the jean maxi skirt, which is being modeled here by Heather Locklear.

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2001: Embellishments

Trendy additions, like crystal embellishments or fringe detailing, really made their mark in the early 2000s. Is there anything more 2000s than Tori Spelling pairing a bedazzled jean skirt with a tube top?

"Austin Powers In Goldmember" Premiere
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2002: The Front Slit

A knee-length cut was a go-to during this decade. As a result, the front slit became very popular. As Gwyneth Paltrow can attest, it looked amazing with a pair of tall boots.

FHM Magazine Celebrating Their June 2002 Issue
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2003: Mini Skirts (Again)

While longer jean skirts remained in fashion, people began playing around with shorter hems again, as demonstrated by Scarlett Johansson circa 2003.

First Annual Us Weekly Hollywood Holiday Shopping Party In Culver City, United States On November 11, 2004.
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2004: With UGGs...

For the teens, pairing jean skirts with boots, like UGGs, was the epitome of style. Tall socks were a bonus.

2005 ABC Winter Press Tour Party - Arrivals
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2005: ...And Tights

In the 2000s, people loved jeans skirts so much that they decided to wear them year-round. Tights were the perfect solution for colder months.

Premiere of Magnolia Pictures' "Nine Lives" Kicks Off IFP's Independent Film Week
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2006: For Any Occasion

Jean skirts were no longer just worn by teens at the mall. They were just as easily styled with a blazer and heels as it was with a T-shirt and sneakers.

Cameron Diaz, Ciara, Rihanna and Mims Visit MTV's "TRL" - May 8, 2007
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2007: Trendy Overalls

Cameron Diaz models overalls, which was the *trendiest* way to wear this staple circa 2007. Shout out to TRL!

Harry Winston Celebrates the Opening of Their New Beverly Hills Flagship Store
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2008: Business Casual

By 2008, jean skirts were fully versed in fashion's lexicon and elevated by the introduction of the denim suit look, a.k.a. a jean blazer and pencil skirt.

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