woman walking near sedan

The Classic Pencil Skirt


The pencil skirt is a fashion classic.  Worn by such fashion icons as Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner, the figure-hugging, straight skirt has been popular with women since the late 1940’s.  Its versatility and sexiness make it a staple of most women’s wardrobes.

The history of the pencil skirt began with the ‘hobble skirt’ created by the famous designer, Paul Poiret in the early twentieth century.  The slim, clinging skirt was given this name because it restricted the wearer’s movement so severely that it hobbled her walk.  The skirt was meant to be extremely tight.  Women even wore hobble garters which limited their strides so that their skirts wouldn’t rip!

Women eventually rebelled against these impractical skirts.  They found them unsuitable for getting in and out of cars, and very uncomfortable. Skirts therefore became looser and easier to wear.

Christian Dior invented the pencil skirt in the late 1940’s.  The slim skirt with its pencil-like cut soon became popular with women.  The period after the war was a time of economic austerity so the lack of material required to make the skirt was seen as an advantage.  Full skirts needed a lot of material so they were seen as wasteful.

Women also liked the attractive design of the pencil skirt.  It became extremely popular as office wear in the 1950’s. The skirt could be worn with a blouse or as part of a suit. Business women also liked to wear pencil skirts in the 1980’s when ‘power dressing’ came into fashion.  Pencil skirts blended well with the big-shouldered jackets regarded as essential for the office.

How To Wear A Pencil Skirt

The pencil skirt is very flattering look for most women because it accentuates their curves.  Most men regard them as sexy for this reason.  However, if you buy a pencil skirt that is too tight it will ruin the look altogether.  Terry Agins at the Wall Street Journal advises women to test whether the skirt is suitable by sitting down in it and then standing up.  If the skirt pulls or bunches up across the hips it is too tight.  If this happens, it is best to buy a larger size.

Don’t buy a skirt that is too uncomfortable.  Pencil skirts often have a back pleat or slits at the sides to make walking easier.  Be sure to find one that is not too restrictive to your movement, especially if you intend to do a lot of walking in the skirt or you want to wear it to work.

Pencil skirts are very versatile – they can be worn in many different ways.  For example, for an evening event wear a glimmering top with the skirt and high heels.  If you want a more casual look, pair the skirt with a T-shirt and ballerina shoes.

Every woman should have a pencil skirt in their wardrobe.  If you don’t have one, perhaps it’s time to go shopping!

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