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Skirt and dress

A skirt is a traditionally feminine tube- or cone-shaped garment which is worn from the waist and covers the legs. Unlike pants, a skirt is not divided. The hemline can be as high as the upper thigh or as low as the ground. At its simplest, a skirt can be a draped garment made out of a single piece of material, but most skirts are tailored, with gores, pleats, or panels, of light to mid-weight fabrics, such as denim, jersey, worsted, or poplin.

Some medieval upper-class women wore skirts over 3 metres in diameter at the bottom. At the other extreme, the miniskirts of the 1960s were minimal garments that might not even cover the groin fully.

A dress is a garment consisting of a skirt with a bodice attached.

Skirts and dresses of thin or clingy fabrics are worn with slips to make the material of the skirt drape better.

In Europe and America skirts and dresses can be worn by females of all ages when they are not wearing pants. A skirt may be worn as part of a suit. Skirts or dresses are the garments of choice for many women in formal situations, such as weddings and geopolitical summits. In cold climates, girls and women may wear pants for warmth, with dresses on top to mark their femininity. In traditional societies, such as in many countries in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, it is considered inappropriate for girls and women to wear pants rather than a skirt or dress.

A disadvantage of skirts and dresses that contributes to many girls and women preferring pants is that they may be either too tight and therefore limit freedom of movement such as when climbing ladders, or too wide, in which case one, because of modesty, may feel the need to take the trouble to avoid exposing underwear or "too much leg" during daily activities or when there is a strong wind. Skirts and dresses however can be cooler and less confining than many pants styles, and they are more practical for relieving oneself in remote outdoor areas.

The cultural prohibition against the wearing of skirts and dresses by men in the Western world is one of the strongest clothing taboos and is seldom violated. The association of skirts with the feminine gender is such that "skirt" is a slang term (offensive to many) for a woman. In some places men may wear what are de facto skirts or dresses (although they are never called "skirts" or "dresses" but always by another name). Examples of this include the kilt in Scotland (now usually worn only in ceremonial of formal occasions), and skirts for men as part of 1990s fashion design and of some counter-culture's or youth style fashions (e.g. gay culture, techno music). Also the sarong is worn commonly by men and women in some parts of the tropics.

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