The Straight and Narrow – Your Essential Pencil Skirt Guide

model pensil skirtLike the A-line skirt, the pencil skirt is a universally flattering skirt that every woman can wear. Don’t believe us? Keep on reading and let us change your mind! A properly fitted skirt will skim the body and has a straight, narrow cut. However, we will discuss variations to suit your unique body shape and proportions.

A pencil skirt offers a sleek silhouette as it is fitted at waist and hips down through to the hem, and typically reaches around the knee. It fits snugly around the stomach area and slightly looser over the hips, thighs, and rear. Many women wear pencil skirts as a layering piece under long tops, tunics, or long button-down shirts, in which case the skirt should be more fitted and closely tapered below the knee as to show the narrowest silhouette possible below the shirt hem. The trick is selecting the right pencil skirt size and shape for your particular figure to ensure the perfect, flattering fit.

Don’t be timid about tailoring.

Pencil skirts are meant to be close fitting, but the size should be chosen carefully. Often, the perfect fit can only be achieved with some simple tailoring. Alterations to take in a seam or a waistband are inexpensive and well worth it. Most pencil skirts are at least moderately tapered at both the waist and knee. However, in order to avoid a too large skirt that will be baggy, or a too small skirt showing unsightly lumps and bumps, follow these general guidelines when shopping for a classic pencil skirt:

Your hips don’t lie…

To get that perfectly smooth fit and narrow silhouette, choose a skirt that fits the largest part of you. It’s critical to ensure there is no puckering or pulling of the fabric. If you can see horizontal lines pulling across the hip while you’re standing, it’s too tight. When in doubt, opt for the larger size because it can be altered to fit, while the smaller size will not offer enough give as you walk (teeny half-steps don’t count). Have curvy hips? Find the right tapering angle at the hem so you avoid looking like a light bulb or a box. If you want to minimize full thighs, find a pencil skirt with two darts in the front so the fabric camouflages any bulges.

The ultimate waist fit!

A pencil skirt should smoothly skim your curves — make sure it comfortably drapes over your hips and that there’s no gaping at the waist. Some pencil skirts are cut straighter and are ideal for women with boyish shapes, while others are meant for curvier women with a bigger hip-to-waist ratio. If you can insert one finger under the waistband comfortably, it’s a fit. Two fingers under your waistband or if you can loosely move the skirt around you indicate that a skirt is too large. However, if the skirt can be easily tailored at the waist and is otherwise a great fit, don’t rule it out.

pensil skirtsDon’t forget to check your rear:

No skirt should crease at the backside. The drape of the fabric should be straight and smooth. Take a good look at your profile in the fitting room mirror (a good tip whenever you are trying on clothes.) If the skirt’s too clingy or shows any unsightly bulges— and you plan on wearing it with tops that won’t cover your rear—move on.

What is the right length?

Take a seat. If the skirt feels constricting or bunches and rides up your thighs, skip it. Anything too high isn’t appropriate and anything too long will ruin the shape of the skirt. If you want your hips and legs to appear leaner, select a skirt length right below the knee that hits the slimmest part of your calf and pair with flesh-tone shoes.

Matching the fabric for the occasion.

Pencil skirts are typically made of medium weight fabrics, including cotton, rayon, and wool, often with small amounts of Lycra, for a stiffer drape and to add stretch, to maintain its defined structure. Heavier satins and jacquard mixed with lycra are dressier options for a pencil skirt. Be sure to choose smooth underwear underneath and go for a heavier gauge fabric if lines are apparent.

Proportionally speaking…

Should you wear the pencil skirt high or low-waisted? Based on your body shape, with a standard below-the-knee length, you can easily adjust both the position of the skirt waistline and the tapering of the hemline to achieve a flattering fit for any figure. For curvy figures, a pencil skirt with a slight (in contrast to a significant) taper at the hem, works with the natural curves of the body to make curvy hips and thighs look more proportioned. Full-busted women should avoid styles that are particularly high-waisted – thereby making their bust line appear disproportionately large. Instead, choose styles that fit at your natural waist. Women with straighter figures can leverage narrower hemlines and a lower waistline position to create a curvier look.

Pencil skirts can be a great addition to your closet, no matter what your body shape, as long as you know what styles are most flattering on your figure. We want to hear from you, comment below and let us know if you are a die-hard pencil skirt wearer or new to this style. Do you have a favorite skirt or brand that you look for? What kind of tops do you pair your skirts with?


1 Comment on The Straight and Narrow – Your Essential Pencil Skirt Guide

  1. Barbara
    September 19, 2014 at 9:31 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post, nice job with adjusting tips on pencil skirts’ lenght and cut according to your body type etc 😉


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