Pencil This On In

Perusing a fashion magazine this weekend, I was struck by the predominant length of the hemlines for spring: to the knee! Hmm… Have we finally said good bye to miniskirts and maxi-dresses? Probably not, but Prada‘s current ad campaign has me wanting to stock up on pencil skirts and break out my Versace sunglasses for warm weather. Knobby knees? Less-than-toned thighs? A burning desire never to wear hosiery? Knee-length pencil skirts are perfect for all of these quandaries. Ooh. That rhymed. Nice. There’s something very lady-like and feminine about this silhouette, that effortlessly pairs well with everything from structured blouses to loose cardigans; from flats to the highest heels (again, see right). I should mention that shorter gals will have to be particularly careful about this look, though, and might need a simple hem job on their skirts to get just the right length. Anything longer than what you see above and it’ll veer into school-marmish territory. And we don’t want that! Keep the fit looser than what you normally see on television and look for higher waistlines. Too-tight clothing flatters no one (I’m looking at you, Britney) and a little flare at the hemline is a girl’s best friend. Forthwith, some of the best options and inspirations for spring, summer, and beyond…

I’ll start with some inspiration from Reiss, with their Tessie skirt. Currently available for purchase online only in the UK and Ireland, this might be available in some US locations, but I’m not sure. Mainly I picked it to show you the cut: higher-sitting waist, straight but not tight fit, hits just below the knee. See how great it looks with tights? If tucking in a shirt is not an option for you – I know it’s not a flattering one for me – then go with a flowing blouse and vest, or untucked camisole and cardigan. If you wear tights, make sure your shoes are the same color as the tights, especially if you’re wearing flats. Your legs will look longer. If you choose to pull off high heels, then you can add a dash of color. For a playful take on this trend, try Rachel Comey’s Black Ration Skirt. Again, the skirt sits at the natural waist (Which is what I mean when I say “higher-waisted.” We’ve all been ruined by low rise!) It’s in silk with wrap detail on the left side. I love the cut of this one, too: slim but still flattering. And the allover black and off-white print lets you downplay the usually more formal feel of a pencil skirt. This one’s been paired with a purple t-shirt, for example. Available online from Creatures of Comfort for $138 (marked down from $345) and in size medium or large, this is a piece that can take you from work to weekend without any effort. Love it.

If you want your skirt to be the focal point of your outfit, look no further than Robert Rodriguez’s Tiered Plisse Skirt in red silk and cotton. Rodriguez makes just gorgeous, classic pieces and this is no exeption. I love how the layers lie perfectly flat, creating visual interest without adding bulk. The line down the front is black velvet, which means you probably won’t want to wear this past the spring, but it would be great for Valentine’s Day, no?

The fit on this one’s a bit straighter than the others and the fabrication and style are certainly dressier. Paired with an elegant black blouse and high heels, this would be a great cocktail party piece. It’s currently marked down 60% off, to $129, on Only a couple of sizes are left, but there are several other Rodriguez pencil skirts worth perusing, too. His stuff is so great!

Oh pencil skirts – so fun, so flattering, so easy to incorporate into my existing wardrobe. Where have you been the past few seasons? Why did you leave me with minis, capris, and those wretched gaucho things? I shall ignore you no more…