Buying Guide for Pencil Skirts
Why buy a pencil skirt?
Pencil skirts are defined by two factors: their straight, longer cut and their close, slim fit. That is the source of their name since they’re slender and straight like a pencil. Pencil skirts usually fall around the knee, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. They can be worn in various ways, casually or professionally, with or without a belt or high heels. Pencil skirts also have the bonus of flattering every body type and shape, giving the wearer a longer and leaner silhouette. Pair it with a belt—wide or thin—and you’ve got a fashion-forward look.
What should you consider when shopping for a pencil skirt?
- Length: Knee-length pencil skirts are the most popular and traditional length, but you aren’t limited to this. Plenty of pencil skirts fall below the knee, just above the knee, and even midi-length. However, when the skirt is longer than midi-length, it’s a good idea to try it before you buy as you might find that the slimmer cut of this skirt may change your gait as you walk.
- Design: While you can find minimalist pencil skirts with little to no embellishments, you can also find highly stylized options that can act as the anchor for your outfit. This can include pleats, small ruffles, slits, or raised knitted designs. Some pencil skirts come with belts or are decorated with buttons and other small decorations. Likewise, you can opt for prints such as florals, plaids, and abstract styles.
- Material: Pencil skirts are often made of medium-weight fabrics such as stretch cotton, cotton/linen blends, twill, and polyester. Heavier fabrics like wools and tartans are pretty standard too. If you want to mix up your look, you can also find pencil skirts made of leather, denim, and lace, which are great options for casual, leisure, and nightlife styles. Don’t forget that you can also find pencil skirts with a bit of stretch. This can make them more wearable, especially for longer hem lengths that might otherwise inhibit your natural gait. Especially for skirts made from nonstretch material, look for a back vent that allows you to walk naturally.
What’s the difference between a pencil skirt and a mini skirt?
Traditionally, a pencil skirt is usually knee length or longer, although you can find some that are slightly shorter. A mini skirt is usually significantly higher than knee length and usually has a hem that hovers around the lower hip region. However, you can also find ultra-mini skirts, which are usually significantly shorter with a hem that hovers around upper to mid-thigh, depending on your height and leg length.
Our Picks for the Best Pencil Skirts
H&C Women's Premium Ponte Stretch Pencil Skirt
This gorgeous pencil skirt is equal parts retro and modern with Ponte stretch and a back slit for wearability.
Pros: If you’re new to the world of pencil skirts, it’s always best to go with a classic length and style that will easily transition from professional to casual settings. This just-below-the-knee length skirt features a back slit that makes it more wearable but is also made from stretch Ponte fabric for added comfort. You’ll like that there’s a structured waistband that works to create a defined waistline.
Cons: The waistband stretches over time and doesn’t hold its shape very well.
Bottom Line: With a wide color selection, a sleek silhouette, and a back vent for added comfort, you can’t go wrong with this classic pencil skirt.
Kate Kasin Wear-to-Work Pencil Skirt
A fun twist on a classic style with a wrap front and asymmetrical hem that create visual interest.
Pros: If you like the idea of a pencil skirt but dislike the minimalist versions that can be a bit boring, allow us to introduce you to this fun reimagined style from Kate Kasin. Made with polyester and spandex, you’ll have stretch and comfort while the silhouette hugs you in the most flattering way. With a twist tie-front design and an asymmetrical hem, there’s plenty to elevate your style. Plus, a wide color assortment makes this a solid choice for most people.
Cons: The material is thin and seems to highlight rather than mask any potential body imperfections.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for something that doesn’t look like your everyday skirt, this is a fun update to the traditional pencil skirt.
Verdusa Women's Elegant Plaid Midi Skirt
This patterned midi-length pencil skirt serves a more dramatic approach.
Pros: If you’re unsatisfied with solid-colored pencil skirts, this fun plaid pick from Verdusa is a great way to switch up your style. These are midi-length skirts, meaning that they have a calf-length hem. You’ll get an elastic waist and 5% spandex content for added comfort. Choose from a wide range of plaid patterns.
Cons: The plaid prints aren’t correctly matched at the seam. Also, note that while this is a midi length, there’s no back vent. Even with spandex, this might still be a difficult skirt for some people to walk in.
Bottom Line: If you like the idea of a pencil skirt with a print, this plaid option is a fun alternative. With a midi length and spandex, it creates an elongated silhouette.
Simlu Faux-Leather Below-the-Knee Pencil Skirt
This sleek leather skirt can easily transition from the office to drinks with the girls.
Pros: There’s something about a leather skirt that will make you go weak in the knees. This sleek interpretation of a faux leather pencil skirt is a fun way to create a modern look while capitalizing on this iconic and timeless style. Available in four classic colors, you’ll like that the sizing is designed to be compatible with US sizes 2 through 22.
Cons: Although the waist is a bit loose, the rest of the skirt fits like a glove. Likewise, because this is faux leather, the material is a bit thinner.
Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with a leather skirt because of its sleekness and sophistication. This pick has a wide size range and comes in four great colors.
Urban CoCo Women's Stretch Pencil Skirt
This is an affordable option for budget-conscious fashionistas.
Pros: Just because you’re shopping on a budget doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to fun fashion. If you’re starting a new corporate job, this affordable below-the-knee pencil skirt is an excellent option made from entirely stretch material that’s simple and easy to put on. You’ll also have an excellent selection of solids and prints to choose from to spice things up if needed.
Cons: For those craving the truly fitted design from waist to knees, note that this skirt won’t do that.
Bottom Line: Budget fashionistas will appreciate this wallet-friendly pencil skirt that hits just below the knee and comes in various colors and designs to elevate in-person meetings and nights out with friends.
A pencil skirt is a fashion-do in our opinion because it’s a timeless style that complements so many body types. Since you can opt for a range of hem lengths and have more flexibility than a short skirt, there’s no reason to skip it. Whether petite, average height, or taller, you can find one that fits your style and liking.