Hemlines have gone two ways this season - very long or very short. Received wisdom says only teenagers and the very slim should wear minis, while maxis remain the preserve of older ladies. But what if you want to break the rules? ALICE SMELLIE asked former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond, 56 - presenter of BBC2's The Great British Menu - and her daughter, Emma, 17, to swap skirt lengths for a week. Standing in the village shop, I am positively squirming with embarrassment. Behind me someone is sniggering, muffling the sound with their hand. I remember that excruciating scene in The Witches Of Eastwick when a sexily dressed Susan Sarandon goes to buy groceries and the disapproving local women stand behind her muttering. The long and the short of it: Jennie Bond roadtests miniskirts while daughter Emma tried out a few maxis How the pair dressed before the swap Perhaps a woman over the age of 40 should keep her knees covered after all. Or possibly these women are not so silently laughing at the psychedelic colours of a dress which comes from the teenage section of a High Street store. Still, a few unfavourable glances are not going to be enough to put me off the challenge of wearing miniskirts for a week. After all, I remember wearing them the first time around. When they were first in vogue in the Sixties, I was young and had reasonable legs. I used to wear pastel-coloured minis and flowers in my hair. I'm rather more conservative today, however, and I wouldn't dream of wearing the short skirts that are in the shops this season, especially since my legs are a bit on the chunky side these days. I'm not usually afraid to ignore whatever unwritten fashion diktats there are on what one should wear at what age, but I'm willing to challenge the rule that only young girls and size zero stars should wear miniskirts. A bit of research soon shows me that High Street stores are overflowing with them, and my first choice is an £85 gold sparkling dress from Warehouse which stops a terrifying four inches above my knee. On the plus side, it has a wonderfully flattering low-cut neckline. I slither it on along with some killer heels. When I walk - rather nervously - into the sitting room to show my husband, Jim, he does a double-take. "You look really nice," he exclaims, surprised. "You look so young." His mouth doesn't even quiver, so I have to assume he is being serious. I am thrilled by his compliments, which give me the confidence to climb tentatively into the car - knees firmly together - and drive to a restaurant to have lunch with my daughter. Fuelled by Jim's admiration, I sashay into the restaurant and sit down carefully, gently tugging the skirt down to something close to a decent level. I seem to be causing a bit more of a stir than usual - with appreciation, I hope, rather than horror. I had forgotten that miniskirts ride up when you move. It doesn't matter so much when you're a teenager, but perhaps over the age of 50 one feels the need to be covered up a bit more. We order lunch, and perhaps it's the glass of wine or just my imagination, but I swear the waiter tips me a wink when we ask for the pudding menu. So far, so promising. The next day I wander up to the village cafe for a cup of tea. I'm wearing a little green skirt, also from Warehouse. I love it, but it is very short. As well as being about five inches above my knee, the design means that the material floats around my thighs, and as I walk out of the house I pray there is no sudden gust of wind. As I walk into the cafe, I am greeted by a spontaneous round of applause from a group of holidaymakers for "her off the telly" in an outfit they'd never have expected to see me in. I guess I do look pretty different to when I used to report for the BBC from outside Buckingham Palace. Well, so far, miniskirts are turning out to be rather fun, which is something of a surprise. I thought I might feel more self-conscious or perhaps receive more negative reactions. When we run out of milk, I throw on a dazzling silk minidress in vibrant green and turquoise which hangs around six inches above my knee for my foray to the village shop. Chris, the owner, who usually sees me dressed in a pair of old jeans, greets me with a "Wow!" I know I look ridiculous, but I feel cute. Sadly, I suspect the look is quite preposterous, and the sniggering customers behind me appear to agree. Apart from the constant possibilities for ridicule, it's getting boring not being able to move freely. Much less stressful to wear something a bit longer and not wonder what people are saying about you the whole time. And yet, while most of my instincts tell me I should shy away from wearing a miniskirt, I really like some of them and I'm damned if I'm not going to wear them. I think that when you get to your mid-50s life should be as much as possible about having fun. And wearing clothes that are a little bit skimpy - even when I probably shouldn't - comes under that big heading of 'having fun in your 50s'. It's much more of a fashion crime to wear them if you have mottled calves and thighs covered in cellulite - whatever your age. Mind you, I might keep mine for the hottest of summer days, and even then wear them only in the seclusion of the garden. Don't want to start a riot now, do we.