The Straight and Narrow on Pencil Skirts

Dear Deborah,

I just went back to work after many years at home with my kids, and I’m trying to figure out how to dress. I still have a pretty good body ( hourglass shape ), and I want to look businesslike but feminine.  Lately, I’ve noticed many pleated skirts in fashion magazines, but I don’t really like them.  Our pencil skirts are still in, and if so, what should I be looking for in a pencil skirt?  Thanks, Jill

Pencil Skirt - Black


Hi Jill,

The pencil skirt is a classic style that never dates. I think it would be perfect for you because it would highlight your curves, but you’d still look professional. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a pencil skirt.

1. Fit is Key

Your skirt should be wide enough across your hips that it doesn’t pull, but it should also be snug enough around your waist to look sleek.  ( You shouldn’t be able to get more than 1 or two fingers between your waist and the waistband)

If you have trouble with the fit, find a skirt that fits your hips and takes the skirt in at the waist, not the other way around. The better the quality, the better the fit.

Pencil Skirts - Striped

2. A Printed Pencil Skirt is Modern

Pencil skirts in solid black, taupe, navy, or camel are the most appropriate for business, but cute pencil skirts with a pattern are popular. They give off a professional, more creative vibe than a plain colored pencil skirt.  Wearing one is like saying, “I’m all about business, but I’m not boring!”

Pencil Skirt - Blue and Black Print



3. Keep your Look Streamlined

Remember, a pencil skirt’s idea is to show off those curves, so you don’t want to wear a loose, bulky top or so long that it covers up half of your skirt. Pencil skirts look best with tops tucked or that end just at or a bit below the waist.

4. A Jacket Cranks up Your Authority

A sleeveless blouse can look lovely with a pencil skirt, but at work, it’s always best to always have a jacket on hand for those times when you want to show more authority.  A tailored jacket will instantly elevate your credibility and status.

A dark, solid-colored jacket worn with a matching pencil skirt projects more authority than coordinating separates. You’re more likely to see this matched suit combination in high corporate environments like law or finance. Mixed co-ordinates are more acceptable in businesses like communications and sales and more relaxed corporate environments.Pencil Skirts - Black


5. Pencil Skirts Look Fab After Hours Too!

Pencil skirts for work don’t have to be boring. Switch out your regular work pump for a sexy shoe with ties, ankle straps, and other alluring details, and you can take your pencil skirt from the boardroom to the bar for after-work drinks and dinner with friends.


Jill, have a wonderful time back at work, and dress Fab Boss Lady!


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3 thoughts on “The Straight and Narrow on Pencil Skirts

  1. Like the first two, the third one fits poorly even on the model. There is a definite indentation at the lower hip where the skirt is too tight, and you can see how the pocket slits above it bulge out a bit. A good fit is essential with the cut. Otherwise, you look lumpy!

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