Did you know that the modern day pencil skirt was inspired by an early fashion torture device named the hobble skirt? First appearing as a long skirt with a strap around the ankles in the 1880s, and later becoming popular in the 1910s by Paul Poiret, the hobble skirt featured an extremely tight hem. Hobble refers to the limited movement one experiences while wearing the skirt, though alternatively, the hobble was a strap used around the legs of a horse to restrict movement.
One can only imagine why this style became so popular again in the 1950s. Women did not wear pants and were supposed to act ladylike and this skirt did the trick. I think it was a Father’s dream outfit for his daughter as it shortens the stride rendering the wearer unable to run and allows virtually no leg spreading or any object to pass between the legs. No thoughts of trying out for the track team or necking in the back of Bobby’s parent’s Bel Air.
Regardless of the history, the pencil skirt embodies Parisian style mixed with beatnik cool. It is a timeless style that is constantly recycled. Any woman can wear it (especially the Spanx version with the modern day corset). This type of skirt elongates the legs and creates a sleek silhouette. The key to a flattering fit is to wear it slightly above the knee to not less than an inch and a half below the knee. If you have great legs, wear it as high as mid-thigh. If you have shorter legs, wear it with classic 2 inch heels, low vamp, and pointy toe.
Left: Spanx Pencil Skirt
Middle: Soda Blu Pencil Skirt
Right: High Waist Pencil Skirt