How to Wear a Pencil Skirt

Master the pencil skirt look. Our style guide has all the tips and tricks for rocking this chic staple.
Last Updated
April 3, 2024
Editorial Staff
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If you’re looking to up your street style game, pencil skirts are a must. They add a touch of luxury to any outfit and can be styled in so many ways. Wearing a pencil skirt is all about making sure that your outfit is tailored to flatter your figure.

A pencil skirt can be a great addition to any wardrobe, but it can also be intimidating for those who are new to wearing them. If you’re not exactly sure how to pull them off, don’t worry. We’ve got everything you need to know about wearing pencil skirts.

From choosing a flattering fit to pairing the right shoes and accessories, here’s everything you need to know about how to wear a pencil skirt.


The 17 Ways to Wear a Pencil Skirt

Generally, a pencil skirt is a versatile piece that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. But here are the golden rules that you should know for wearing a pencil skirt properly.

Choose the Right Length

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When it comes to wearing a pencil skirt, there are right and wrong lengths to choose from. If the skirt is too short, you may end up revealing more than you intended, which can be embarrassing and unflattering. If the skirt is too long, it can make you look frumpy and matronly.

So how do you find the perfect length for your figure?

The general rule of thumb is to wear a pencil skirt that falls about two inches above your knee. This will flatter most body types and show off your curves in all the right places. If you’re shorter or taller than average, you may want to adjust this length accordingly.

If you’re still unsure about what length will work best for you, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and choose a longer skirt. You can always have it hemmed to the perfect length, but you can’t do much about a skirt that’s too short.


Go for a Flattering Fit

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When shopping for a pencil skirt, it’s important to find one with a good fit. The last thing you want is a skirt that’s too tight and makes you feel uncomfortable or one that’s too loose and doesn’t flatter your figure.

To find the perfect fit, start by finding a pencil skirt that has some stretch to it. This will make it more comfortable to wear and will help it hug your curves in all the right places. Next, make sure that the waistline of the skirt hits you at your natural waist. This will help create an hourglass shape and make your waist look smaller.


Know Your Shape

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Most women know that not every skirt style looks good on them. For example, a full, flared skirt may be too much for someone who is petite or curvier on the bottom.

A pencil skirt, which hugs the body from waist to hem, is a more figure-flattering style for all body types. But knowing your shape is key to wearing a pencil skirt properly.

If you’re apple-shaped (with a larger bust and narrower hips), look for skirts with darts or pleats in the front to create a more balanced silhouette. Avoid high-waisted styles, as they will only call attention to your midsection. Instead, go for a low-rise or mid-rise skirt that sits just below your natural waistline.

If you have an inverted triangle body type (with broader shoulders and a narrower waist and hips), look for a pencil skirt with some detailing or embellishments at the waist.

This will help draw attention to your narrow waist and make you look more proportional. You can also opt for a belt pencil skirt to further accentuate your waist.

If you’re pear-shaped (with wider hips and a smaller bust), look for skirts with a little bit of flare at the bottom. This will help balance out your hips and make your legs look longer.

A-line or tulip skirts are a good option. You can also go for a wrap pencil skirt, which will accentuate your waist and create an hourglass shape.

If you have an hourglass figure (with a larger bust and wider hips that are in proportion to each other), you’re lucky. Just about any style of pencil skirt will look great on you.

But to really show off your curves, look for skirts with seaming or princess seams that run down the center of the skirt.


Consider Your Top

Young woman in a white blouse, blue pencil skirt and hat on a background of the sea horizon
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The top you wear with your pencil skirt should be complementary to your figure. If you have a smaller chest, you may want to choose a top with some ruffles or embellishments to add some volume.

If you have a larger chest, make sure that your top is fitted and not too loose. You don’t want your top to add bulk to your waistline or make you look larger than you are.

In general, it’s best to avoid wearing cropped tops with pencil skirts. Instead, opt for a longer top that hits at the hip or below. This will help create a long, lean silhouette and make you look taller and slimmer.


Accessorize with Care

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When it comes to accessorizing your pencil skirt outfit, less is usually more. You don’t want to overdo it and end up looking like you’re trying too hard.

A few simple, tasteful accessories are all you need to take your look from day to night.

For a daytime look, pair your pencil skirt with a light scarf or some delicate jewelry. If you’re going out for the evening, swap your daytime accessories for some glitzier pieces, such as a statement necklace or earrings.

And don’t forget your purse! A small clutch or handbag is the perfect finishing touch to any pencil skirt outfit.


Pay Attention to Your Side View

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There is one cardinal rule when wearing a pencil skirt: always be aware of your side view. Pencil skirts can be extremely flattering when worn correctly, but when they’re not, they can make you look wide and frumpy. To avoid this, pay close attention to how you’re standing and sitting.

When you’re standing, make sure that the front of your skirt is parallel to the floor. If it’s flared out or pooled around your feet, it’s not doing its job of flattery.

When sitting, be mindful of crossing your legs or putting too much weight on one side; both will distort the shape of the skirt. Sitting with your legs slightly apart and your back against the chair is usually the most flattering position.

If you notice a pouch when you are sitting or standing, then the perfect solution is to buy a size larger and get it tailored, and/or wear a body shaper with the skirt.


Start with the Right Undergarments

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Before you even think about putting on a pencil skirt, make sure you have the right undergarments. Wearing the wrong type of underwear can ruin the look of an otherwise perfect outfit.

If you’re going to be wearing a fitted pencil skirt, avoid wearing granny panties. Instead, opt for a thong or boyshorts that won’t show through the fabric. If you’re worried about your stomach, you can also wear a control top or body shaper.

And if you’re wearing a high-waisted pencil skirt, make sure your bra isn’t showing. The last thing you want is to have your underwear peeking out from under your clothes.


Petite? Tuck it in. Tall? Leave It Out

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If you’re petite, the best way to wear a pencil skirt is to tuck in your shirt. This will help create the illusion of a longer torso and make you look taller.

If you’re tall, you have more leeway when it comes to pairing a pencil skirt with a top. You can choose to tuck in your shirt or leave it out.

If you do tuck it in, make sure that the front of the skirt is parallel to the floor; otherwise, you’ll end up looking frumpy.


Go for Color

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The perfect way to wear a pencil skirt is with a color that suits the situation. While most people’s everyday go-to would be black, we recommend exploring other hues like blue or red for an added pop of personality to your outfit!

If you’re bottom-heavy and looking at hiding up the lower half of your body, then avoid any colored pencil skirts, as these may accentuate those parts more than others would do so otherwise.

If you don’t mind or want to show off your amazing lower half, then go for the colors! And it doesn’t have to be difficult. You can start with a neutral palette and then add one or two colorful pieces. If you’re feeling daring, you can even wear a print.


Pattern Play

While a solid pencil skirt is always chic, don’t be afraid to experiment with patterns. A printed pencil skirt can be just as versatile as a solid one.

The key to wearing a patterned pencil skirt is to keep the rest of your outfit simple. If you’re going to wear a patterned skirt, pair it with a solid top. And if you want to wear a print-on top, opt for a solid skirt.

Another thing to keep in mind when wearing a patterned pencil skirt is the scale of the print. If you’re petite, go for a smaller print; if you’re tall, you can afford to go for a larger print.


Add Interest with Textures

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If you want to add interest to your outfit without going overboard, try playing with different textures. Wearing a skirt in shiny fabric with a top in the matte fabric is a great way to add contrast.

You can also try pairing different textures within the same piece. For example, a skirt with a ruffled hem is a great way to add some dimension to your outfit.


Keep It Simple

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When in doubt, always keep it simple. A pencil skirt is a statement piece, so there’s no need to go overboard with the rest of your outfit. If you’re wearing a printed skirt, pair it with a solid top.

If you’re wearing a colored skirt, pair it with a neutral top. And if you’re wearing a textured skirt, pair it with a simple top.


Consider the Weather

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When choosing what to wear with your pencil skirt, always consider the weather. If it’s cold outside, you’ll want to pair your skirt with tights or leggings.

If it’s warm out, you can get away with bare legs. Just make sure that your skirts are long enough that they don’t ride up when you walk.


Get Creative with Your Layering

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One of the best ways to wear a pencil skirt is to get creative with your layering. If it’s cold outside, you can layer your pencil skirt over a pair of leggings or tights.

You can also try layering a denim skirt over a printed pencil skirt. This is a great way to add some contrast to your outfit and create an interesting look.

If you want to add even more layers, try pairing your skirt with a chunky sweater or a long cardigan. This is a great way to stay warm while still looking stylish.


Play with Proportions

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One of the best ways to wear a pencil skirt is to play with proportions. If you’re petite, try pairing your skirt with a cropped top or a cropped jacket.

This will create the illusion of a longer torso and make you look taller. If you’re tall, you can afford to go for a longer skirt.

You can also experiment with different skirt lengths. A mini pencil skirt is a great way to show off your legs, while a midi skirt is a great way to keep things demure.


Accessorize Wisely

Brown midi pencil skirt, beige knitted oversize sweater, bag, belt, black loafers or flat shoes on grey background
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The goal is to add just enough accessories to make the outfit interesting without going overboard. A great way to add interest to your outfit is with a statement necklace.

If you’re wearing a neutral-colored skirt, a brightly colored necklace is the perfect way to add a pop of color. You can also try pairing your pencil skirt with a belt.

This is a great way to cinch in your waist and create an hourglass shape. Just make sure that the belt isn’t too bulky; otherwise, it will ruin the look of the outfit.


Finish with the Right Shoes

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The best way to finish off your pencil skirt outfits is with the right shoes. The type of shoes you wear with your pencil skirt can make or break your outfit.

Wearing the wrong shoes can make you look frumpy or careless, but choosing the right ones can elevate your look and make you appear more stylish and put-together.

As a general rule, you should avoid wearing flats with a pencil skirt. Instead, opt for heels or wedges. This will help lengthen your legs and make you look taller and leaner.

If you’re going for a more casual look, you can wear ballet flats or ankle boots.

And if you’re dressing up your pencil skirt for a night out, don’t be afraid to break out your stilettos. Just make sure you can walk in them comfortably!

With these guidelines in mind, you’re ready to start shopping for pencil skirts. But before you do, keep reading for our top tips on how to wear a pencil skirt for any occasion.





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