The Pencil skirt. Sharp style, indeed. Described perfectly as a slim-fitting skirt with a straight, narrow cut with the hem typically falling at the knee, or just below, it is certainly tailored for a close fit. Long and slim, it is appropriately termed “Pencil”.
Looking back into fashion’s archives, it is none other than French Designer Christian Dior who appears to have brought this sensational cut into Vouge in 1947. Harken back further and perhaps it can be said that Dior’s inspirations were taken from French Designer Paul Poiret, who in the early 1900’s presented the “Hobble Skirt” (which was long and narrow at the hem). Poiret is known for his contributions to twentieth-century fashion include releasing women from corsets and fashion shocking inventions including the “Hobble” skirts, “Harem” Pantaloons and “Lampshade” tunics. It is interesting to note that Poiret’s major contribution to fashion was his draping approach to dressmaking, which is said to have been an extreme departure from the tailored patterns of the past. Like its namesake, the “Hobble Skirt” was narrow in width at the hem. In addition, “The tighter the better” philosophy of that time period added to the romantic look of the time. Certainly, in order to walk gracefully in a skirt that was constricting was evidence of a woman’s grace and sophistication! Said to be a pre-WWI fad inspired by the Ballet Russes, the trend soon faded, as with the invention of automobiles, it became difficult for a woman to ascend and descend gracefully in these new means of transport. Fifty years later, it took the foresight of French Designer, Christian Dior, to revive the tapered, slim style Poiret had created…
Christian Dior was wise to reintroduce and unveil the style of skirt as part of his first collection in 1947. Dior used the term “H-Line” to describe its shape, which was a sharp contrast to his infamous full skirted “A-Line” skirt. Interestingly, the actual name of his first collection was entitled “Corolle”, which was literally the botanical term corolla or circlet of flower petals in English. Who knew? Dior is even quoted as saying “I have designed flower women”. Indeed. It was the highly revered editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow, who coined the befitting creed: The “New Look”. Again, who knew? The “New Look” is said to have rejuvinated fashion and the modern form of this sleek “Pencil” skirt quickly became the fashionable statement of the time. In addition, the “New Look” is said to have reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world after WWII. Quite an accomplishment by this iconic designer. This new skirt, straight and flat in the front and in the back, was more functional for the modern woman, typically offering a subtle slit in the back (kickpleat) to assist in ease of walking without trading the sleek shape of accentuating a woman’s curves. Curvy, indeed. Interesting, it is thought that the popularity of this particular skirt increased in desire partly due to the fact that it required less material, of which was rationed after WWII. Who knew? The modern pencil skirts of today follow in Dior’s ease of wear designs in fashion, minus the back-seamed hosiery of the 1950’s, of course…
Fashionable and classic, the apparent resurgence of the pencil skirt within fashion’s pages and catwalks of style are not surprising. Dressed up or down, whether in classic black or a multitude of fabrics, colors and textures, it is a no-fail wardrobe classic that is sure to accentuate a woman in an elegant fashion. A Versatile wardrobe basic. Paired with heels or flats, the skirt is limitless as to the combinations and attitudes of style that can be presented in a stylish, personal way. Figure flattering with hip-hugging curves, the pencil skirt goes beyond seasonal trends. It is a true classic that has returned to the limelight, yet has never quite faded into fashion’s archives. I say, “Pencil it in” to your list of must-have’s for any season. The question is, what color and fabric to choose? Start with black, always a perennial classic, and move forward from there…in style.
Sharp style, indeed.
“The simpler the skirt, the better the fit must be. A slim skirt must never be so straight that you cannot move in it- this is ridiculous. Like everything in fashion your clothes must always give you the feeling that they are easy to wear” – Christian Dior