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The Best Pencil Skirts

Maksim Ladouski/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated September 2023

If your closet doesn't include a few pencil skirts, you're missing out on a tried and true piece of clothing that creates a flattering silhouette on just about all body types. Check out some of our favorite stylish and top-rated pencil skirts below to upgrade your office wear or night-out look.

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  Top Choice Most Color Options Best Patterns Best Leather Best with Belt
Women's Premium Ponte Stretch Pencil Skirt
Kate Kasin
Wear-to-Work Pencil Skirt
Women's Elegant Plaid Midi Skirt
Faux-Leather Below-the-Knee Pencil Skirt
Kate Kasin
Women's Stretch Pencil Skirt with Slit
Our SummaryA gorgeous pencil skirt that's equal parts retro and modern with stretch and a back slit for wearability.This fun twist on a classic style with a wrap front and asymmetrical hem to create visual interest.This patterned midi-length pencil skirt gives a more dramatic look.This sleek leather skirt can easily transition from the office to drinks with the girls.You won't have to worry about finding the perfect belt to pair with this pencil skirt, since it already comes with one.
Pros✓ Knee-length
✓ Wide color selection
✓ Back slit
✓ Versatile
✓ Asymmetrical front hem
✓ Twist-front design
✓ Wide color selection
✓ More formal look
✓ Midi-length
✓ 5% spandex for a nice stretch
✓ Wide selection of plaid prints
✓ Good color variety
✓ Knee-length
✓ Faux leather
✓ Four colors
✓ Wide size range
✓ Fits true to size
✓ Belt included with purchase
✓ Good variety of color choices
✓ Stretchy and comfy
✓ Flattering, contoured fit
✓ Versatile
Cons✗ Waistband stretches over time
✗ Doesn't hold shape
✗ Thin material
✗ Highlights potential problem areas
✗ Longer length may make walking difficult
✗ Plaids don't match at seams
✗ Thinner material
✗ Waist runs large
✗ Noisy to walk in
✗ No lining
✗ Belt may not fit everyone
✗ Too-short slit
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The Best Pencil Skirts

A woman standing on the stairs in black pencil skirt.
Maksim Ladouski/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Pencil Skirts

Fashionable female model in black blouse and pencil skirt.
Kseniia Perminova/Shutterstock.com

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 or just above the knee. 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 embellishments. 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 wool 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 non-stretch material, look for a back vent that allows you to walk naturally.

What’s the difference between a pencil skirt and a mini skirt?

As mentioned, a traditional pencil skirt is usually around knee-length, although you can find some that are slightly shorter or slightly longer. (They rarely reach midi-length or longer, though it’s not unheard of.) 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 the upper to mid-thigh, depending on your height and leg length.

Our Picks for the Best Pencil Skirts

Top Choice

H&C Women's Premium Ponte Stretch Pencil Skirt

This gorgeous pencil skirt is equal parts retro and modern with stretch and a back slit for wearability.

Pros: If you’re new to 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 well. Therefore, this pencil skirt might fit you properly when you first buy it, but it won’t hold up or fit you as well long-term.

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. Just be aware that it likely won’t last as long as some other, more durable clothing.


Most Color Options

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 of this skirt is definitely on the thinner side compared to most and seems to highlight rather than mask any potential body imperfections.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for something that doesn’t look like an everyday skirt, this is a fun update to the traditional pencil skirt. The twist at the front gives it a slightly more sophisticated flare that makes it well-suited for office wear.


Best Patterns

Verdusa Women's Elegant Plaid Midi Skirt

This patterned midi-length pencil skirt serves a more dramatic approach.

Pros: While classic pencil skirts tend to be a single, usually neutral, color like black, these are far from your only options. If you’re unsatisfied with solid-colored pencil skirts, this fun plaid pick from Verdusa is a great way to switch up your style. Choose from various plaid patterns, ranging in color from neutrals like black and white to deeper red, light pink, and beyond. These are midi-length skirts, meaning they have a calf-length hem, an excellent and harder-to-find option if you want a pencil skirt with a bit more coverage. The elastic waist and 5% spandex also provide you with added comfort.

Cons: The plaid prints aren’t always correctly matched at the seam. Also, note that while this is a midi-length skirt, there’s no vent at the back. Even with extra stretch provided by the spandex, this means it might still restrict movement and 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 to classic solid-colored models. With a midi-length and spandex, it creates an elongated silhouette that can be tricky to achieve in classic pencil skirts.


Best Leather

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 hits differently, and this faux leather pencil skirt is a fun way to create a modern look while capitalizing on that iconic and timeless style. Knee-length and available in four classic colors, it’s sized from small to 3XL, ensuring that it’s suitable for a wider range of body types. But no matter which size you offer, it should fit to size; no need to order a size up or size down. And it’s more affordable than a real leather skirt would run you, without harming any animals to make it.

Cons: The waist tends to run a bit loose, though the rest of the skirt should fit like a glove. Likewise, because this is faux leather, the material is a bit thinner and less durable than real leather. And it can be a bit noisy, making a creaking sort of sound when you walk around while wearing it.

Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with a leather skirt because of its sleekness and sophistication. This faux leather pick has a wide size range and comes in four great colors, perfect for date nights, a night on the town with friends, and other special events where you want to dress up a bit.


Best with Belt

Kate Kasin Women's Stretch Pencil Skirt with Slit

You won't have to worry about finding the perfect belt to pair with this pencil skirt since it already comes with one.

Pros: Picking out the right outfit also means finding the best possible accessories to go with it. This pencil skirt, however, does some of this work for you in that regard, as it comes with a belt included. No matter which of the 32 color options you pick, you can rest assured that the belt will suit your new skirt. The fabric is nice and stretchy, allowing it to comfortably fit and flatter most body types and sizes. It’ll contour to your shape without feeling tight or restrictive. There’s a small slit along the side, and the kick pleat coupled with the belt make this skirt equally suitable for the office or casual wear.

Cons: While the included belt is a nice touch for most, it may not be the right fit for everyone. Depending on your body type, it might be too loose or too tight for you to wear comfortably. The slit may also be too short for some to walk freely in, and keep in mind that this skirt lacks any lining; you may want to wear a slip underneath for extra coverage and support.

Bottom Line: Accessories can make or break an outfit, and finding the right ones that complement your clothes in both style and color can be a time-consuming process. But since this pencil skirt comes with a belt, it saves you some of the trouble—at least where one accessory is concerned.

Final Thoughts

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.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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