How to wear a pencil skirt

I love a good pencil skirt. It’s terribly grown up, office appropriate and beautifully tailored. With the added bonus of being just a wee bit sexy. Basically, an office staple you can take out to drinks.

How to wear pencil skirts

Pencil skirts make up a good proportion of my corporate wardrobe. I have a couple of black pencil skirts, a floral printed skirt and a sturdy black slip dress that doubles as a very high-waisted pencil skirt. The silhouette works for my body shape and pairs back beautifully with the soft, floaty blouses I favour. Pencil skirts also play well with my collection of belts for extra waist definition.

While I appreciate the ease of a good dress, separates are fantastic for their versatility. And a pencil skirt combines the femininity of a dress with the practicality of being able to make a host of different outfits.

Here’s my guide on how to wear them well: 

  1. The great thing about pencil skirts is that they give you an hourglass silhouette instantly. But I like my hourglass to go out-in-out, not out-in-out-in-out-in courtesy of love handles. So I have invested in some suck-it-all-in underwear. Just not the full body armour. That’s way too uncomfortable for work.
  2. I love adding a belt for extra wait definition. Belted waists don’t work for everyone, but they do help with that hourglass thing.
  3. A high waisted pencil skirt looks beautifully tailored and works best when you show of the waist line. Which means that I always tuck the top or wear a shorter top. A certain level of top half volume also works proportionally.
  4. Because this is such a classic look, a nod to forties/fifties dressing works well. Check out this pinterest board for some ideas.
  5. To up the glamour factor, pair with seamed stockings. Ooh la la!
  6. If you are taking your pencil skirt out on the town, try a slinky cami in jewel tones paired with a black pencil skirt and some sky-high, stunning heels. Just make sure you pack the ballet flats for the serious dancing/heading home.
  7. If you have a great black slip dress in a sturdy, stretch fabric, consider it’s potential as a pencil skirt. I have a dress just like this, that I would never wear on its own, but looks fantastic paired back with cropped shirts. It allows me to wear tops I cannot tuck but still maintain that classic, pencil skirt shape.
  8. Consider wearing your pencil skirt over a tighter dress. This gives your dresses new leases of life as tops.
  9. Be careful about the fabric. Stretch is a great option for ease, but it will cling to all the bits. The stiffer the stretch, the less this will occur. I find that the most flattering fabric for a pencil skirt is a structured fabric with a small percentage of stretch.
  10. Find your sweet spot hem line and stick to it. Experiment with a skirt you already own and play with different lengths in front of the mirror. There will be a certain length that just works. If you buy a longer skirt, hem it to your sweet spot length.

Pencil skirts and curves go hand in hand – whether you are faking them or making the most of them. Such a tight fit can be a bit daunting at first, but I would recommend every woman try it out. You might be surprised how well it suits you.

Also, don’t discount pencil skirts if your working situation is a casual one. It’s a great date night option and can look very cute with t-shirts and sneakers for a casual spin. I have pinned a great range of ways to wear pencil skirts.

If you are a sewer, pencil skirts are a fairly easy project. Look for fabric with a bit of stretch and you will need to get out that zipper foot. Your pattern should have front and back darts for shaping and a vent at the back for easy walking. This pattern from Burda is a great example.

Most retailers that stock office fashion will have a range of pencil skirts. Try Cue, Review, Atmos & Here (online), Shieke, Uniqlo and Veronika Maine for a few different options.


Are you a pencil skirt fan? Any other tips?



These were my corporate outfits for the past week.

6 thoughts on “How to wear a pencil skirt

  1. Stephanie says:

    Don’t think I’ve actually worn a pencil skirt since my work day before children (over 10yrs) but I love that floral one, it’s lovely. Robyna where is that white top from you’re wearing in the third picture…don’t tell me you made it?

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