A Love Letter to Amal Clooney and Her Short Skirts

On all the ways a smart, elegant woman can look.

Amal Clooney
(Image credit: Getty / Design by Betsy Farrell)

When Amal Clooney, née Alamuddin, was photographed disembarking a boat in a Giambattista Valli dress so abbreviated an errant gust of Venetian vento could start an international incident overshadowing her wedding, I knew—this was a new sort of celebrity.

Amal and George Clooney

(Image credit: Getty)

Sure, she had the requisite looks—more even, with that whiff of Camelot-ian razzle-dazzle (opens in new tab)—but there was a crucial difference: She was smart. And for once, a not-small amount of the media coverage was putting her smartness first.

For all the "get you a girl who can do both"-ness that circulated on social media not long ago, this expression of female duality, already limited, reduced women to "cute but psycho but cute." Or Uggs vs. Instagram brows-slip-dress-and-stilettos-on. But there was never one that said hot *and* clever, which makes Clooney's brand of braininess and unabashed beauty still interesting and still semi-mysterious. Because every time she steps out in a mini hemline—Monse or Miu Miu or Oscar de la Renta (opens in new tab)—I'm weirdly, personally proud of her.

It might be that we still still live in a society where intelligence and objective attractiveness seldom intersect (girls with glasses), and when they do, they collide in messy tropes (the nympho librarian). It might be that we now have a president who only thinks of women in one of two ways: f*ckable or "nasty." (Not that anybody in her right mind would want to fall into either.) It might be that I still have to categorize fashion as "boy hot" (long hair and short skirts) or "girl hot" (opens in new tab)—the more cerebral kind, with Prada and Dries van Noten and non-wobbly shoes. It might be that other women continue to do the "You're so brave to wear an exposed bra to work" dance with me, even when it's a scientific fact that a sheer shirt has no affect on my ability to internet. (Meant as a verb.)

Every time she steps out in a mini hemline, I'm weirdly, personally proud of her.

So with a few Hedy Lamarr-type exceptions, no, there haven't been many prominent girls who could do both, certainly not enough to reflect the real-life population. But with the new narrative surrounding Amal Clooney, and with every skirt she trots out that hits mid-thigh, bookish, stylish women everywhere rejoice. "What's 'appropriate' attire for an international-law barrister who's got a movie-star trophy husband (opens in new tab)?" her very existence prompts. Answer: Anything she pleases. And same goes for us, damn those who can't wrap their heads around "what you wear ≠ what you can do."

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.