Pencil Skirts for Every Shape
A wardrobe workhorse, a pencil skirt is something everyone should have hanging in their closet. This no-brainer pick for office-friendly outfits (they work just as well as part of a suit look, or broken up with mix-and-match separates) has a sleek silhouette and is available in fancier fabrics than staid wool suiting—think brocade and even sequins—that translate easily into evening wear. Don’t be intimidated by this skirt’s form-fitting shape, either. Because it sits close to the body and has a long line, this style adds no bulk and actually helps visually elongate legs. Read our expert tips for finding the one that’s just right for you.
If You Have an Hourglass Figure
Choose a slim, but not tight, fit that follows the contours of the body. Opt for a style that hits at or below the navel. “High-waisted skirts tend to exaggerate the bust and shorten the torso,” says Bridgette Raes, a style expert based in New York City and the author of Style Rx ($11, amazon.com).
To try: The pronounced waistband of the James Coviello silk-blend skirt highlights a small waist, while darting ensures an accurate fit through the hips.
Wear it with: A close-fitting top, a nipped-in jacket, or a tucked-in blouse to show off your slim waistline.
If You Have Full Hips and Thighs
Make sure the skirt tapers, but just a bit. “If it goes straight down from the hips, you’ll resemble a square. Too pegged and you’ll look like a lightbulb,” says Raes. Pick a dark solid in a substantial cotton or lightweight wool that has some stretch. (Avoid bulky wool, brocade, or tweed.)
To try: This wool skirt by Brooks Brothers has a roomy fit through the hips but gently tapers at the hem. An acetate lining prevents clinging.
Wear it with: A tucked-in button-down or a belted cardigan will emphasize the narrowest part of the body. Aimee Wolpin-Evans, the women’s design director for Brooks Brothers, likes to add opaque tights in the same color as the skirt to create a long, lean line.
If You Have a Straight Figure
Try a fitted, tapered cut in a pattern or a thick fabric to make the bottom half look more curvy. “Create the illusion of an hourglass figure with embellishments like a high waistband, pleats at the hips, or a belt,” says Ricci DeMartino, a celebrity stylist based in Los Angeles.
To try: The nubby tweed and the front patch pockets of the formfitting Nine West wool skirt “help build up the hip area,” says Raes.
Wear it with: A body-hugging turtleneck or a peplumed jacket will help define the waist, says DeMartino.
If You Have a Tummy
Select a style with a wide waistband to hold in the stomach. Keep the midsection free of eye-catching details, even belt loops and pockets, says Wolpin-Evans.
To try: The wide waistband of this skirt by Eileen Fisher streamlines the midsection. The stretchy viscose blend provides just enough give through the middle.
Wear it with: A hip-length flowy top. “Just make sure to wear a fitted jacket over it. Otherwise you’ll look bigger than you are,” warns Raes.