Playboy Retro: The Return of the Miniskirt

By Staff

<p>We'll let you decide which is more ridiculous: the pictorial or the accompanying essay. </p>


With the weather getting warmer, we thought what better time to review one of spring’s sexiest rites of passage: the breaking out of miniskirts.

We feel the same way about them now as we did back in January of ’88 when essayist Bruce Jay Friedman authored a treatise on what he called “the ultimate treat for men” to accompany the pictorial featured this week in Playboy Retro. The pictorial is over-the-top, obnoxious and 100 percent ’80s, but it’s the essay that’s the real prize…

It is a kind of absurd PSA for men, advising all who may encounter the miniskirt of the renewed code of conduct we are expected to employ. It seems that at some point when the miniskirt was first introduced into our society we behaved badly, perhaps misconstruing a lady’s intentions. Any specific incident is never mentioned by name, rather glossed over like a dark period in our history we’d prefer to forget, but the whole thing is quite funny. Truly high satire, though today, even as such, the essay itself would definitely not fly in any magazine. But in 1988…

Miniskirts. The ultimate treat for men. No need to devise clever strategies for peeking at panties and possibly throwing out your back. Miniskirts make that unnecessary. And women are trotting around in them, proving that they do like men after all and are interested in more than just their fair share of the market place.

A woman in a mini is not just saying, “Come over and hop right on.” That’s what caused all the trouble the last time around. Men would see those little skirts and say, “Goddam it, she’s asking for it.” And sometimes she was. But not always. Inside some of those miniskirts were the proud and curvy little bods of feminists upset that they couldn’t wear a teeny skirt without sending out the wrong signal. So the mini was taken away for a few decades, forcing men to consider their behavior.

However, it’s back now, though with the clear understanding that just because a woman has one on doesn’t mean she wants to take it right off. She may want to keep it on for a while. She may have just bought the damned thing.

And even through she’s wearing this little wisp of a garment and is just about exposing the entire package, it does not mean she is ready for action. She may be considering the proper stance for America in the Persian Gulf—and, at the same time, airing out her legs a little. Men didn’t understand that on the first go-around, but they sort of do now.

Some of the new minis seem begrudging and tightly bound, forcing their owners into a ducklike waddle that only a small group of sophisticates will enjoy.

But most of them remain short, shorter and Where Did That Sucker Go? Who looks good in them? Surprisingly, not many. If you’re talking pert-and-saucy Mary Hart, fine; but a flimsy on Diane Sawyer would undercut her serious approach to world affairs. A mini on Raisa Gorbachev comes off as a cheap glasnost ploy. And for God’s sake, keep Margaret Thatcher in something sensible.

Minis look best on distant, anonymous women with coltlike legs, slipping through the night to sip import beers with investment bankers.

Also attractive in minis:

-  Undercover decoy cops.

-  Candidates’ daughters.

-  First novelists.

-  Old broads who hung around with Papa in Paris and always knew that the legs were the last to go.

-  Female characters in minimalist fiction. Joyous when they first come barreling out, these heartland honeys can be counted on to have an attack of K mart angst, vomit on their minis and wind up sitting in a pickup, waiting for the geese to fly over.

-  Anyone’s girlfriend except yours. You’ve seen Joanie’s legs. You see them all the time. It’s other folks’ legs you want to see.

Read the rest of the essay on iPlayboy…


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