According to CBS News, the skirt is worn by women as a personal style choice, but this was not always the case. For centuries, the skirt was used to show wealth and prestige. This is because more fabric meant more money, and skirts centuries ago were long and required a lot of fabric to produce.
Because a woman's wealth was measured in part by how much fabric she was wearing, women used to wear devices under their skirts to help give their hips more girth. This way, it took even more fabric for the skirt to cover the device and still reach the floor.
According to Valerie Steel, the director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the skirt is the second oldest garment in history. The only garment that predates the skirt is the loincloth. Although skirts are considered women's garments, it is believed men also often wore skirts in early history.
Skirts were usually only worn long until the 1920s. Since then, the lengths of skirts have risen and fallen. An old myth stated the shorter the hemline of a skirt, the better the economy. The longer the skirt, the worse the economy. This is a common myth that Valerie Steel believes has no merit.