A brief history of combination clothing

Jennifer Lawrence posing in Dior's skirt-pants at Paris couture week.

Jennifer Lawrence posing in Dior's skirt-pants at Paris couture week.

Once in a while I am gripped by a panicked feeling that something ungodly is about to take off and seize the high street. The kind of thing that appears utterly ridiculous until one day you turn up to work wearing the exact thing you've been mocking solidly for five weeks.

Recently, my fear was reawakened by pap shots of Jennifer Lawrence at the Dior Couture shows in Paris, when she was photographed in what can be described only as: skirt-pants.

Straight from Dior's Resort 2014 collection, the half-pants half-skirt concoction is the latest in a long line of fashion experiments that involve stitching two previously unrelated sartorial items together. You may recall “skorts” (skirts and shorts), or the infamous jeggings (circa 2008), which have left a scar on our collective memory from which we're yet to fully recover.

Like its antecedents, the skirt-pants raise some tricky questions. Is it still two different looks if they happen laterally? Should you commit to a certain way of leg crossing? Is J-Law the most confident person in history?


Sadly, according to New York magazine, the ever-stylish Leelee Sobieski has also been spotted wearing a more tailored version of Dior's skirt-pants. It's quite possible this will become a legitimate trend if Beyoncé decides to join the party.

Meanwhile, here are some combo-clothing trends that are in remission, and a few that we hope will would  soon disappear. Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?


Also known as “culottes”, this gentler love child of skirts and shorts peaked in the 1990s and made a brief comeback this decade. The idea is that they maintain the swish of a skirt while protecting the wearer from wardrobe malfunctions. Apparently they are perfect for gardening and horse riding – but there is no known record of anyone doing either wearing one in the history of ever.

Twofer tops

Twofer here refers to “two for one”. The resulting hybrid top looks exactly the way it sounds – daggy. It usually involves sewing long sleeves to a T-shirt, creating the look once favoured by the likes of Kurt Cobain and anyone who enjoys wearing signature shell necklaces or chokers.

The two-look claim is questionable here as the only wiggle room you have is simply rolling your sleeves up. Disappointing.


The year 2008 was mostly remembered for the terrible financial crisis but it was also the year of the jeggings. Though unproven to date, there appears to be an inverse relationship between pant elasticity and economic health.

Celebrities took to them like it was a true breakthrough on the fashion frontier, resulting in a worrying number of ordinary folks wearing bog-standard tights as legitimate pants. Unlike other combo-fashion fads, the basic DNA of jeggings remains to this day – bringing us things such as “treggings” (trouser-leggings) and “pleather leggings”.


They sound comfortable in theory but are in fact a proven hazard to personal safety and dignity in real life. You know the degree of embarrassment is substantial when a journalist is asked to “trial” an item for Daily Mail. High-fashion versions of these flats-cum-platforms have been endorsed by Prada and, Elle Fanning, both with dispiriting results.

Ugg croc toe shoe

It takes a lot of grit and personal commitment to comfort to go there. But as the name of this Frankenshoe suggests, it's a cross between three of the most unflattering forms of footwear to have existed in human history. Snug but at what cost?

The convertible dress

Remember the “One dress, a thousand ways” features in fashion magazines? This is the prototype born from those features. As anyone who has bought – and wrestled with – one of these dresses in the early days would attest, the three-in-one straps were fooling no one. (See also: reversible tops)


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