The Art of the Pencil Skirt

The pencil skirt is perfect for top-heavy women with small hips or slim thighs (i.e. upside down pear). Why? It follows a similar formula to the one behind The Power of an A-Line Skirt, but in reverse.

Classic pencil skirt

Classic pencil skirt

Essentially, if you wear something very fitted at the slimmest part of your frame, (a pencil skirt) and something looser at the largest part (a layered blouse and/or jacket), you create the illusion that the body is in fact, slim all over.

A classic pencil skirt is long (to the knee) and skinny, like a pencil. It looks best when fitted across the hips and thighs. Also, the more tapered it is at the knees, the more it reveals your curves, without showing any skin. An outline of what’s beneath the skirt is far more tantalizing than a miniskirt that leaves nothing to the imagination. Wouldn’t you rather look expensive than cheap? So, while you are completely covered down to the knees, and no-one could accuse you of being indiscreet, the va-va-voom factor is undeniable. (Yes, our mothers knew a thing or two about getting around social rules, without looking cheap.) The beauty of it is that it is both age-appropriate and work-appropriate, yet still very sexy. This is what I call women’s wear, versus girl’s wear.

To achieve an elegant look, hem it at the knee or just below: the longer and more snugly fitted the skirt, the longer and slimmer you’ll look; the shorter and looser it is, the more blocky and bland-suburban-housewife it looks. Just don’t go too tight across the thighs and rear, or you’ll start to ressemble a paid escort.

However, if what you’re aiming for is a ‘sexy secretary’ look, you can’t go wrong with a narrow knee-length black leather or suede pencil skirt. If it also has a discreet slit up the back, I assure you your exit will be as dramatic as your entrance. Note: leather requires minimal cleaning and no ironing. Just make sure it’s lined with fabric or you may get a nasty rash, which is neither comfy nor chic.

Variations

Straight cut pencil skirt

Straight cut pencil skirt

If you carry weight in your thighs (aka saddlebags), keep the skirt narrow but straight (a true pencil).

On the other hand, if you have slim thighs but a plump tummy which you’d like to minimize, you will look fabulous in a tapered-in-at-the-knee pencil skirt paired with a loose blouse that comes down to just below the belly, so that the slim, fitted thigh area is still visible, but the tummy is covered by the blouse.

Also, look for one with an interesting border print (like a sari border) that draws the eye away from the waist and down to the thighs and hemline.

For a more casual look, an all-over floral print will also hide  a thousand flaws, plus fabric wrinkles that accumulate during the day.

Straight cut pencil skirt

Straight cut pencil skirt

If your tummy is also slim (lucky you), show it off in a high-waisted pencil skirt with some stretch (i.e. 2% lycra, not the 100% lycra or jersey unless you’re planning on pole-dancing in it). These are super comfy, and will look great on you in a single block color. Pair it with a feminine loose blouse tucked inside the skirt. The looser and more flowy your top is, the more the eye will be drawn to the fitted skirt, and the thinner you’ll look from the waist down. Plus you’ll look as glamorous as an old-time movie star.

TIP: Look for a skirt with a small slit in the back or on the thigh so that you can move more easily. Or a fine wool or linen with a touch of Lycra.  You don’t want to rip a seam taking the stairs two at a time. Avoid the 100% Lycra look, especially in neon colors: it will just make you look cheap.

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