Skirting the Issue





By Michelle Crowe




Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista twirl on the runway for Isaac Mizrahi’s Fall 1994 Collection.


Some of the chicest women we know—whether dedicated shoppers or simply strategic wardrobe planners—have a little secret. Eveningwear leaves them a bit cold. Who knows if it is the overwhelming sameness of the silhouettes or the feeling that gowns are a departure from our signature style rather than an extension of it?

Enter the all-American answer to looking fab and feeling like oneself.


cz C.Z. Guest mastered the look and inspired every woman of style.


C.Z. Guest loved a skirt and sweater set anytime of day and in every decade of her life. Bill Blass, who knew his way around this, said, “She came into the bar of the Ritz wearing a knee-length tweed skirt, a twinset and moccasins—and in a time when everyone else was tarted up in Dior’s New Look, she stopped traffic.” In Susanna Salk’s C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon, Steven Stolman, who for years designed the most wonderful ball skirts from decorative fabrics—an idea that Blass dabbled with, tells a charming tale of Mrs. Guest coming into his Southampton shop to change before a party for her candle collection that evening. Apparently, she was a fan of his Lurex cardigans, which surely gave a shimmery twist to a style that was such a part of her.



Flawless Sharon Stone.

Because of her influence, so many have adapted the look and made it their own. Sharon Stone at the Oscars, of course, in a smashing black skirt and Gap top from her closet. She followed variations of this formula for years—it’s always a winner. 

Just this week my friend and I exited Neiman Marcus Oakbrook after a wonderful lunch at NM Café, complete with a charming model strolling through in styles from an in-house trunk show, when we came upon a mannequin in a phenomenal silk taffeta ball skirt topped with a cropped, fitted military jacket.

It stopped us in our tracks.



Inverted Pleat Skirt, made to measure from MDS Stripes,

Since our launch last year, it has been obvious that …Style Endures should cover this fantastic, can’t-live-without evening standby, the ball skirt. Our favorite icons have turned to this unwaveringly stylish separate for decades. So as the season marches on and the familiar feeling of nothing to wear despite a lovely closet filled with beautifully displayed gowns seeps in, don’t fret. Back there, looking fresh and perfect are the ball skirts, ready to dazzle and dance with understated chic.



Street Style beauty.