Handkerchief Hems Are The Latest 2010s Trend Making A Comeback

Like many other Y2k trends, the handkerchief hem is another throwback from the past that's getting a second life in the 2020s. The look describes when the hem of a skirt or dress — or even a top — contains pieces of fabric that hang lower on certain points, creating an appearance that resembles the edge of a handkerchief. The last time the look was popular was in the early aughts up to 2010. However, handkerchief hems have a long history in fashion that goes way before the smartphone age. Back in the 1920s, during the flapper era of fashion, the uneven, flirty hemline was hugely popular as a finish on dresses and skirts. 

There's a lot of nostalgia happening in fashion right now. Looks that were major decades ago are coming back in full force, with fresh twists to make the pieces contemporary. Fanny packs and belt bags are back again. Meanwhile, denim capris have worked their way back into our wardrobes, and are proving to be easier to style than we remembered. Plus, '90s-inspired tie-dye is popular again, but the styling is more elevated than it was decades ago. The same goes for the handkerchief hemline; the creative finish is back, but we're styling it in really glamorous ways now. 

Layer a puffer coat over a handkerchief hem skirt

While some may typically associate the handkerchief hem with satin summer dresses, the flowing cut actually look great over a thicker fabrics. Bring a feminine look to winter by wearing a thick cotton or polyester skirt under a thick turtleneck and your favorite puffer coat. Stick to tonal creams, camels, and browns as you layer. A white, handkerchief hemline skirt works beautifully with a sand color turtleneck and beige coat. If your coat is on the longer side, let the handkerchief hem peek out from underneath it. Finish with knee-high slouch boots to add dimension and interest to the lower portion of the look. 

Embrace the handkerchief hem with a plaid skirt

The whimsy of a handkerchief cut is a great way to bring a flirty finish to your typical fall skirt and boot looks. A paid, wrap style skirt with large folds creates movement and structure underneath a slouchy sweater. Keeping the top relatively simple in color allows the plaid skirt to be the star of the show.  Sticking with tonal oranges, from the sunglasses down to the warm plaid skirt and camel boots, keeps everything uniform. Finally, the simple square handbag gives the outfit geometric stability, while the slouchy sweater keeps thing breezy and casual.

Layer a handkerchief skirt over pants

One of our favorite ways of styling the handkerchief hemline is layered over trousers. The skirt acts more as an accessory piece, rather than a bottom in and of itself. Along with creating a totally unique look, this is perfect for winter months because of the added layers. Pair a dark, handkerchief hemline pleated skirt over gray pants to add dimension to an otherwise plain outfit. Rather than appearing wispy, the geometric hemline will make the outfit appear structured and serious. The pleats also give the asymmetrical hemline a more sophisticated look. Add a woolen turtleneck in a neutral warm shade like tan or beige to create contrast, and finish with a woven, leather handbag and sunglasses. 

Pair a handkerchief denim skirt with a thick sweater

At a glance, this skirt is the perfect oxymoron. We register denim as a casual textile, but the mermaid cut of the skirt, with its glamorous, sweeping folds, gives the look a dramatic effect. In fact, the denim handkerchief hem skirt is one of the most popular ways of styling this trend. Everyone from Alexander McQueen to Isabel Marant to Zara is using denim to craft the handkerchief hemline. Plus, with loose denim having a moment, an overflowing, maxi skirt is a great way to play with the handkerchief hem while being on trend. Pair the skirt with a relaxed, gray sweater and sunglasses for an easy everyday look on mild temperature days. 

Keep the look playful with a short, shredded denim skirt

If the maxi is a bit too maximalist, try a mid-length skirt instead. Opting for a style with a jagged, shaggy finish is a fun, edgy way to incorporate the handkerchief hem into a look while keeping things casual. Remember, the handkerchief hem doesn't always have to be structured and geometric to work. Pair this frayed hem with a black turtleneck and brown, heeled boots and you have an instant outfit that will carry you from day to night. Finish with a geometric handbag to bring some precision to the look.

Combine a handkerchief skirt with combat boots

Another fun way to modernize a handkerchief hem is by being selective about your shoe choice. Pair light fabrics, such as satin or silk, with heavy combat boots underneath. The contrast creates a beautiful pairing that allows you to still incorporate some pieces of summer into your winter looks. A feminine, floral printed skirt with a handkerchief hemline becomes so much more interesting when paired with thick, black lug soles than the typical sandal we might expect. Polish off the look with a dark, belted jacket that ties together the black tones. It's the perfect look for running errands on a busy day.