The Pencil Skirt


I am frequently asked about skirt lengths. That is a good question. I like to go back to my theory of proportion and fit as key elements in choosing a skirt length for your individual height and body type. Today I am focusing on the pencil skirt because it is very on trend. This skirt is specific and needs to be put together well and fit properly to pull off the total look. It can be classic and sexy at the same time. The shape of the skirt elongates your body and gives the illusion of height. It also exaggerates a woman’s curves in a very flattering way. So here is the Fashionomics tutorial on this current trend.

I looked up Pencil Skirt on Wikipedia because I wanted to be sure I was clear on the difference between a pencil skirt and a straight skirt.
A pencil skirt is a slim-fitting skirt with a straight, narrow cut. Generally the hem falls to, or just below, the knee and is tailored for a close fit. It is named for its shape: long and slim like a pencil.
NOTE: I am always talking to my clients about having a skirt “pegged”. It gives it a more modern look and keeps from having so much extra fabric. This works on a shorter skirt as well. In my opinion a pencil skirt is pegged and comes to or below the knee which gives it a unique look. Very sexy and best worn with a high heel (in my opinion)
Narrow fitting skirts have a long history in western fashion. The predecessor to the pencil skirt is the hobble skirt, a pre-WW1 fad inspired by the Ballets Russes. This full-length skirt with a narrow hem seriously impeded walking.
The French designer Christian Dior introduced the classic modern pencil skirt in the late 1940’s, using the term H-line to describe its shape.
The pencil skirt quickly became very popular, particularly for office wear. This success was due to women’s desire for new fashions in the wake of Second World War and Cold War rationing, coupled with the austere economic climate, when fabrics were expensive.
The pencil skirt is usually worn either as a separate piece of clothing or as part of a suit. The slim, narrow shape of a pencil skirt can restrict the movement of the wearer so pencil skirts often have a slit at the back, or less commonly at the sides. Sometimes a pleat, which exposes less skin, is used instead of a slit. Some classic shoes for wearing with a pencil skirt are pumps, or high heels. (Back-seamed hosiery recalls the classic pencil-skirt era of the 1950’s.
Pencil skirts can also be worn with flats for a more casual, youthful appearance that echoes the 1960’s. Pencil skirts and loafers are classic “Prep”.
The pencil skirt feels different from looser skirts, and can take some adjustment by the wearer in terms of movement and posture in order to manage it successfully. Walking needs to be done in short strides; entering and leaving a car gracefully takes practice; and when sitting the legs are held close together which some find restrictive (though others like the feeling of their legs being “hugged” by the skirt). Activities such as climbing ladders and riding bicycles can be very difficult in a pencil skirt. the pencil skirt is warmer due to the reduced ventilation, and is less likely to be blown up by gusts of wind.
A vent or kick pleat in the center back seam of the skirt makes it easier to walk with a normal stride, while preserving the slim line.
Click on the names below to get suggested pencil skirts:
Alice and Olivia Sequin Pencil Skirt (perfect for holiday parties)