when is a dress too short?

linen dress for summer

let's discuss...
how short is too short?
at what age do we quit showing our knees?
i think this dress is too short.  larry does not.
it is hot here in the summer.
i wear shorts that show my knees.  is that wrong too?
what are the rules?  and do we need to follow them?



  1. Good question, Janet. I wonder the same thing.
    My husband thinks all my shorts, skirts and dresses are too long - but I am most comfortable with a length right above my knee or at my knee.

    I think your dress length is fine. Longer would be fine too, but not shorter, in my opinion.

    As usual, you look classically chic. The dress looks great on you.

  2. Dear Janet, Firstly, it is a lovely summery dress and no, it is not too short. It is actually a very modest length. You look as if you are off to a picnic or to lunch in an open square in Paris. This topic is near to my heart as many of the older girls at my daughter's school appear to suffer from an acute and alarming shortage of dress. So long as one does not put the people around you in any fear that they may inadvertently witness your undies (or worse these days I understand), the length is fine. Lindaxxx

  3. I have taken down my hemlines this year - as in no more short skirts. I have one J Crew mini that I plan on wearing out but everything else I'm keeping to just above the knee. I just think it's more elegant, I'll be 47 in June so I cant kid myself anymore - time for decorum!
    That's a really pretty dress, and that's as short as I'll go from now on.
    There are always rules, but each to their own.

  4. Janet,

    I wear dresses to my knees and rarely wear shorts anymore...opting for capri's. It is a body image thing for me...
    you have a lovely trim shape and can wear whatever your heart desires and look lovely.

    If you feel good wearing short skirts and shorts
    forget anyone's idea of rules.

  5. I love that dress Janet! I think just above the knee is perfectly acceptable, especially in the summer months. That length is perfect for you and the a-line shape of the skirt keeps it classic!!
    Happy Friday my lovely friend,

  6. I am 51 and I got rid of all my shorts. I don't know any "rules", but my knees do not look like they used to for some reason. I felt uncomfortable in them. I prefer dresses and skirts to hit the knee or fall below on an older woman because I think it looks classier and not like they're trying to stay young looking.

  7. You look fabulous! The only rule I follow at 61 is if I can sit down in it comfortably and modestly. Wear it happily.

  8. adrienne - if larry had his way i'd still be in a string bikini. so i think it's a guy thing.

    linda in chile - omg when i see the high school girls walking by i'm in shock.

    tabitha - i know, the kidding is def over for me.

    leslie - i've never liked the way capris looked on me. but i agree, whatever suits ea person is best.

    t - thanks and i would not go a centimeter higher.

    anon - i so agree with you re the knees. something happens to them! i do think i'm pushing the envelope here and it will prob be my last summer of doing it.

    juhli - i love your rule!

  9. Not short at all! You rock that dress! ~Delores

  10. I have horrible legs so all dresses except a maxi are too short. I say it all depends on the legs. If you have nice legs it doesn't matter the length of the dress. The shoes you put with them though can make a dress look too young.

    I think you look great. You have good legs.

  11. Janet,
    You look terrific! I agree - shorter would be too short, shorts should be above the knee, and this length looks good on you.

  12. Janet,

    You look gorgeous...the dress looks like it was made for you! And it looks great with your copy kate bag!!


  13. you and the dress look great! but, do agree shorter would be too short. I think the dress would be adorable with a lacey border added on the bottom- then you would get some peek-a-boo with a slightly longer length!
    happy weekned!

  14. If you've got good knees, show them! You look adorable in that dress. I've seen some high school girls that wouldn't look that good, so I don't thing age has anything to do with it.

  15. I was just having this thought myself. I am 47, and my knees are disappointing. My legs in general are getting sad looking. I find myself opting for capris and skirts that go closer to my knees. I think your dress is adorable and so are you. It was nice that you raised this question. The discussion that follows is comforting. Have a nice weekend!

  16. I've tried several times now to comment but have only gotten error messages---I'll try one last time. I agree with others that my own knees have become a disappointment! You still have chick legs! For me- I prefer a little bit longer this summer. One other thought, strictly my own musing-any style of empire waist tends to look maternityish on me and I start to worry about looking foolish--just me!

  17. First, let me say that I think that dress is perfectly tasteful and age has very little to do with skirt length. I think it looks cute on you, and you should wear it but only if you feel comfortable in it.

    I myself would wear a dress that length around the house. But for going out in public, I would prefer a longer length (just above the knee).

    For me, it is a matter of proportions. My legs have always been thin and cellulite-free. But I carry a lot of weight in my middle, so if I bare my legs, I look like an apple on toothpicks. I feel like I actually need a little bit of bulk around my lower half for balance.

    I will still wear short-ish skirts, although I prefer long pants. But I've completely given up shorts. I never really liked the look of shorts anyway, and getting older has given me an excuse not to wear them.

  18. Are you still doing the 333 project? Where did you get the dress?

  19. And don't even get me going on bare arms this summer! Oy vey iz mir!

  20. delores - thank you.

    chaina - i want a maxi for this summer too. i think they are gorgeous and cover and look glamorous.

    carol, annie, paige - thank you, you're too sweet.

    joan - i agree and i already bought some lace to try.

    julie - thanks!

    kathy - sad looking is a perfect description. kinda like they are unhappy instead of perky like they used to be. who knew knees could be perky?

  21. Okay first thing: that dress is so so pretty and it looks terrific on you, length included.
    I understand the issue completely. I do not wear shorts and my skirts are pretty much all knee length. I do have some above the knee dresses though and I wear those happily, they are about the length of your dress.

    I also don't wear jeans anymore because I don't like showing my butt. Also because I lived in them during my 20's and 30's when I didn't have the funds for a bigger wardrobe.
    Last year I turned 40 and I spent a whack on clothes, all things I am comfortable in now.
    Have a great weekend!

  22. anon - i agree. i am very much still doing 333. i bought this for summer at marshalls for $20. there is no label so i have no idea who made it. it's 100% linen and lined in cotton. it was 92 degrees yesterday so i gave it a test spin.

  23. mrs m - i agree, i wore the dress yesterday and felt a little naked in it at first, but it was so hot i got over it quickly.

    dani - thanks and no jeans? really? that would be so hard for me. and knee length is perfect for me too.

  24. for knees it's probably the same as for hair: when the hair is healthy and there is plenty, you can wear it at any length.
    if your knees are looking good, you can wear skirts shorter than the knee and they will look good.

  25. When you're uncomfortable. Or your hoo-ha is showing.

  26. It's too short if we can see your lady parts, so I wouldn't worry about this particular dress. It's just fine.


  27. Janet, I do agree that there comes a time when we question what is "appropriate". My girls tell me all the time that I look good in, and can pull off anything, but I don't think I agree with them. The time has come, for me, when I think about appropriateness almost as much as cuteness. Having said that, you look adorable in that dress, and I don't think that's too short. It's not like it's a mini skirt. I say WEAR IT! Karin

  28. paula - i agree with the hair and the knees.

    steve - i see you are in top form today.

    randy - i would have to agree with you on that.

    karin - i know what you mean. just b/c you can fit into something does not necessarily mean you should wear it.

  29. Janet, first off, bless our husbands who keep telling us how good we look in short skirts and high heels.

    Your style precedes you. I think at "whatever certain age" we all start worrying about some part of the legs and arms. But it's the overall combination head to toe that decides: Hair, makeup, outfit, accessories, shoes, bag ... and, of course, attitude. You balance it very well each season.

    Keep on posting ...


  30. You look perfect, and yes, bless Larry for his encouragement. I have always felt that the length has more to to do with the shape and length of your legs. My mom is 83, perfect legs, as she has always been a swimmer. At 5' I think anything over her knees (other than full length) would make it appear as if she has no legs. Like wine pairings...the rules are always made to be broken. Aloha~Connie

  31. lovely dress - the whole ensemble.
    You look very pretty and cool and classic in this outfit.
    I have been slim my whole life, but after 45 something did indeed "happen" to the knees. They look sad and wrinkled like elephant knees!!! It is irritating, as my legs are still slim and shaped fairly well, but the knees - I'm just too vain. So, I avoid skirts and dresses that show them. Shorts, however, I still wear. I feel that they are so casual and so for some reason it doesn't bother me as much to show the knees then. Our little quirks. :)

  32. If you are comfortable in it, you should wear it, because you look rather swish. Marshalls just opened here in Ontario, Canada so I'll have to go take a look. I doubt that dress will be $20 here though.

  33. I think you look great! What matters is what you think and how the outfit make you feel.

    Cat (a new reader)

  34. Love the dress and I think it looks great. I echo what others have said. You'll wear it if you feel comfortable. If not, you'll have 32 other items to wear!

    Also, my three shirts finally arrived. I cleaned out my closet and packed all the other stuff away. I even have two free drawers in my dresser! Loving it so far. The best part is that I know exactly which pair of pants go on the empty hanger in the closet. And I think I need a smaller laundry bin now!

  35. STEVE!

    Janet, If my legs looked as great as yours, I'd show them off too.

  36. your dress looks very nicely proportioned for you, very summery and i don't spot any self-delusional warning signs....

    i'm tall with generally-regarded great legs, but i can attest to the weird sad thing with the knees and so avoid wearing things or shapes or colors that made them appear sadder. sometimes it's length, but not always. but you can always spot it, no?

  37. I have said before that you are my inspiration as an over 50, and I always love your outfits. But I think that dress is a bit short; a little longer and it would look perfect on you.

  38. My dear, if you were a brasilian lady you would never ask yourself these kind of questions. When I go to brasil I feel soooo free!!! you shoul try it and then dress as you please!!

  39. Amazing--Just last weekend I went shopping with my husband and ended up trying on dresses to possibly choose one for an upcoming event. For the first time in my life every dress I tried on that went above my knee was very unattractive to me.(And I have not changed in weight by any means for years.) My husband, like yours, said the dresses above the knee looked very fine to him. I stand firm with agreeing to disagree; I feel much more appropriate and attractive with either middle of the knee or right at the bottom of the knee--nothing too above it or nothing too below it (with the exception of the trendy maxi, of course). I too wear shorts sometimes, but they are shorts that are right above the knee, and when I do wear them, it is usually at home or maybe to run a quick errand to the grocery store. I just realized last weekend that at 52, my knees have drooped a bit--They are no longer as "perky" as you mentioned earlier. Ah, well...As far as rules go, I think, if I am not mistaken, I once read that the perfect length is right at the knee, so I prefer to think that I am now, at 52, with not-so-perky knees, reaching perfection.
    :-) How's that for a shift in perspective?
    Just trying to grow old gracefully. :-)
    BTW-When I was young, my grandmother used to say that my grandfather thought she always looked young...And then she would laugh and add, "That's because he can't see anymore." Ha! In honor of her, I think I will start hiding my husband's glasses every chance I get.
    -Suzanne in Illinois

  40. In the famous words of my favorite drag queen RuPaul...If you got great gams you can work it! lol I say the dress is cute.

  41. Laughed when I read the comment about disappointing knees and slightly sad looking legs - just how I feel about mine!! Your pins, on the other hand, are super trim and you look dandy in the dress. Does depend on the legs I think, but micro-minis are really best on the v young - but maybe i'm just square! In the winter, opaque tights are a fabulous way of being able to get away with shorter, above the knees skirts/dresses without, in my case, scaring the horses!!xx

  42. I haven't read all the comments yet so if I repeat, I am sorry. I think you wear what you are comfortable wearing. It is all about confidence!

  43. Oh Janet I have this problem every summer when looking for appropriate frocks. Down here the hems just seem to be getting shorter and shorter. I loathe my knees but last summer it was dreadfully hot so thought what the heck I don't care if my knees are showing. Likewise I have my limits and would not venture any shorter than the length of your pretty linen frock.
    First and foremost we need to feel comfortable and confident. I've mentioned before about fake tan lotions, this little trick helps me believe my wrinkly(white)knees are presentable!

  44. Dear Janet, The dress length is perfect for summer. I think Larry is right. Very cute too. xox, Joyce

  45. I think it's safe to go a little shorter in the summer, but otherwise I think the "rule" for a woman of a certain age (like me) is just below, mid or just above the knee. Hope that helps? I think your summer dress looks very cute!

  46. I'm with Larry- it's not too short, and you've got the figure for it anyway!

    So sad the Royal wedding is over. xx

  47. Janet, this is why your blog is so great, everyone is talking about what I am always thinking about! And yes my husband says short skirts and bikinis are great but really, I know all of us know better! We may look great but that word "disappointed" fits. It is tricky making the adjustments along the way, hair, makeup, skirt lengths, & stopping to shop Juniors!I do show my knees and wear shorts for the record. You have grace and style and I just love coming here to see what the topic is. Have a great weekend.

  48. Janet....the dress is adorable, classic and really lovely. I think, however, that it's too short. It's just me. I'm 35 and I won't wear dresses above the knee either. It's not a weight issue it's just don't think it looks as classy. That said, the dress doesn't look at all bad and if you feel great in it, that totally trumps what anyone else thinks!

  49. You look great! I don't think it is an age thing...I think it is the appearance of the knees...really! I can think of many younger women who would look better with a little more coverage.

  50. I don't find this dress to be remotely inappropriate for your age. And you, of course, are a beautiful woman in great shape, so there are no body image issues in play. If you feel good, wear it. That said, from a purely aesthetic point of view, to my eye the proportions would be more graceful if the dress were 2 inches longer. That's a purely personal opinion, with no shades of appropriate etc.

  51. P.S. Don't you always feel that it's hard to bare your legs and arms at the beginning of the warm weather season? By the end of the summer, I bet you wouldn't bat an eye putting this dress on...

  52. Weather is weather, hot is hot... when that's the case, I will wear shorter, sleeveless, whatever, just to be cool, calm and collected! Your dress looks chic and any French woman would look just as trim in it in warm weather - go fo it ;)
    I agree, shorter would probably no longer be good but this is still modest. Shorts usually are worn in casual situations, so I don't see a problem with those, either, if the length is geared to the leg and wearer. Again, when it's hot, I'm not about to wear a tent!

  53. I love my mini skirts and often wear them, but there are certain rules. Opaque tights is a MUST for women in their 50s and over when wearing a mini... I always choose black, chocolate brown, plums and steel greys. Leave lighter colors to the teenage crowd! ;) Oh, and try using boots with your minis... they look fabulous!



  54. By the way... love that summery yellow dress... you look marvelous as usual!


  55. The only thing I go by when deciding what is appropriate, is to ask myself "What is my intent?" You can't go wrong with that, in my opinion.
    You have a great blog!

  56. Hi Janet,
    Trying to comment for the umpteenth time, wordpress and blogger seem to be having relationship difficulties.
    Love the colour of that dress on you, I really envy you and FF, I CANNOT wear dresses, I am never comfortable in them.
    Thank you for your kind comment.
    I am going to post the AGE email we exchanged, I must stop procrastinating.
    Read some old posts of yours last night re VEGAN, have no idea what you eat though? I did not watch the video of course (with 4 dogs and 4 birds, and many overnight stays at our place by lost dogs we've found straying from home, then advertised - how could I?) but the calf skinning horrified me. How could a man do that to an animal? How could he do it and go home and hug his own children or pat his own pet????

    Hope this one gets through the web of the web.

  57. Yay, I think it finally worked!!
    Am off to Blighty and FF now before the magic spell breaks!

  58. I'm no fashion expert but i think you look nice in the dress! But it's a good question because I think it is appropriate to dress according to your age. I don't mean elastic waist pants etc but I see some women in their 50's and 60's dressing like teenage girls and I think it looks tacky. At 46 I prefer to look attractive and elegant. Once I saw a woman walking in front of me and from the rear view of her I would have thought she was 20. Long hair, great figure, skin tight clothes (god bless her) but when I saw her from the front and saw a 60 year old face looking at me it was shocking. (I live in Vancouver where the majority of women live in lulu lemon. A trend that does not seem to be fading, unfortunately). On the topic of trends, what about strapless dresses? Why is it that they are so popular with brides I wonder?

  59. The ensemble is lovely, however, think it would be more flattering if you dropped the hem a bit. Best to you. Enjoy your interesting blog.

  60. Firstly, Larry is a keeper. I love the way you look. I think confidence and comfort go hand in hand. Sweet dress and your knees look happy (not to be kneeling and gardening....

  61. I like the length on you as you have the knees and legs for it. The only negative about shorter length skirts is just how much more leg they show when sitting!

  62. I don't think any rule should or needs to be followed. If it compliments your body and you are comfortable in the outfit then I think it is perfectly fine to wear - regardless of age.

    I think you look lovely in your little frock.

  63. janet you sound like my grandma who is almost 101 years old! knees are nothing new, nothing to be ashamed of or worried about who sees them. i am 54 years old and have no worries about who sees mine. if you are comfortable enough in yourself to let the knees, be seen go for it. there isn't a rule book in life that states the knees need to stay under wraps after a certain age. sweetheart be gentle with yourself, you are so lovely and have no reason to confine your knees to solitary confinement. i love that you seem to have so much confidence in the other aspects of your life. PLEASE let them go public and be proud,very proud of who you are and don't add a life sentence to those of us who are "of a certain age".
    ~with smiles and laughter

  64. I don’t think that this dress is too short for you!
    But: I don’t like my knees and how they look in short dresses when I look in the mirror while when seeing me on pictures it is a whole lot better.

  65. I wore a cute little knit black dress yesterday with black leggings, black boots and a sweet little black and white sweater. For work I decided it was the last time I would wear it, but for fun - absolutely. The ONLY part of my 55 year old body that still looks great are my legs and I like to show them off - but I stop about 2 - 3" above the knee!

    You have a great figure - the dress is darling - and so are you!!!


kindness is never out of style.

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