I enjoyed writing the little piece on Breton Stripes at the beginning of this month, so I thought I could make it a semi regular feature, where semi regular means “as and when I feel like it”
A good pencil skirt is one of my go to wardrobe items. Smart enough for business, but also versatile for every day wear, and actually quite comfortable too as well as being flattering if it fits right.
The pencil skirt is essentially an updated version of the hobble skirt, which was a short lived pre WWI fashion that was so tight around the knees and ankles that it impeded normal walking.
Knee length straight skirts were economical on fabric and popular during WWII, but the pencil skirt as we know it now is credited to Christian Dior as part of his post WWII “New Look” which didn’t just contain the full skirts we see so often, but also longer calf length skirts that hugged the legs and made walking more difficult.
You can certainly see similar long line narrow skirts back in the 1930s as well, which were said to be Dior’s inspiration, but there is little doubt that the sexy, figure hugging, below the knee pencil skirt we think of now springs from the Dior collections of the late 1940s and early 50s.
The pencil skirt lost a little of it’s popularity through the 1960s and 70s, before becoming immensely popular again in the 1980s when power dressing became the office wear look of choice for many women.
A pencil skirted suit, complete with hat, gloves and heels is an early 50s look, swap the jacket for a tight fitting jumper for a style that’s very Marilyn Monroe or team it with flat shoes and a beehive for a 60s beatnik feel.
I have a couple of well fitting pencil skirts that I wear to death. I am in need of a new black one at the moment as my custom made Lady K Loves one is on it’s last legs, I wear it so often.
Finding good pencil skirts on the High Street can be a tricky job if you’re outside of the average measurements, as this is a skirt that really needs to be fitted across the waist and hips. I would always recommend trying on pencil skirts to find your perfect fit.
Here are a few good versions from High Street and reproduction sellers. I’ve picked some classic black ones, but most of these places also have them in a range of colours and patterns, particularly the Vivien of Holloway version!