Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fall Essentials ~ Retro Rack Style ~ Trumpet Skirt

The trumpet skirt or fluted skirt, regardless of what you call it, has been everywhere for Fall 2012. This cut has made itself known in dress form and as a separate.

 A cocktail number from Giambattista Valli, and a grey day dress from Neiman Marcus

Fashionable Reader, I urge caution with this style. Don't get me wrong it can be really good, that bit of extra fabric at the bottom can counterbalance a top heavy figure, much as an a-line. But, because it's so tight in through the hips one must be quite confident in one's derrier and avoid the VPL like the plague.

There's a range in extremes with this skirt, let me show you what I mean . . .

This is the most extreme version of a trumpet, basically a tight pencil skirt with a ruffled hem. Unless it's something like this black one, quite simple and elegant in a knee length it's going to come off as 80s, like this one does:

My preference is for something a little more subtle. I like a flare that's part of the cut of a skirt, rather than added onto the bottom like a ruffle (although that's a fun DIY for an old pencil if you're up for it). Some would call this cut more a short mermaid skirt. This is more vintage in look as well, harkening to the 1930s and early 40s.

Here's one similar from my closet.

From a thrift store in the Mission, San Francisco. c. $10

It's just below the knee, like the leather one above, with kick pleats. It's wool, fortunately lines as I'm allergic, but not at the waist band. So I have to tuck in any tops to protect my skin. Since i prefer tailored tops that don't tuck in, I don't wear this skirt as often as I might if it were a different material.

Here's a more muted modern and streamlined approach to the trumpet skirt...

I like this style a great deal. If you're too self conscious to commit to a tight-all-the-way pencil, one of these is a fantastic option. As you can see it pairs with either pumps or boots, and because of the flare doesn't do that odd gap top thing that a pencil can with riding boots, for example.

 My two skirts, the left is a Max Studio from a thrift store, can't remember where or how much. The right was made for me by my wonderful mother.  I tell it's story here.

Here's some great vintage ways to style this silhouette:

 Somber grey with black and a pop of red; simple black with a pussy cat blouse.

 Cheerful turquoise dots with funky neutrals, and an all neutral picnic take. 1987 Entre Nous  Christian Lacroix for Patou  The Indianapolis Museum of Art

And now I've hunted around for three of the best deals on this kind of skirt, in my opinion, and styled them put with items from my own closet, as a sort of "see how it's done segment."

I'd wear it with:

 H&M a few seasons ago, $25 and Irregular Choice from Shoe Biz, $120 Haight Street, SF

An ultra-feminine pink knit top and some crazy wedge pumps.

I'd wear it with:

 Cream turtleneck from thrift store. BCBG studded pumps, outlet mall, $65.

A basic cream turtleneck and some hard rock studded pumps, to combat how girly the skirt is.

I'd wear it with.

Vintage top, source forgotten,  and Via Spiga cream peeps from Norstrom Rack $65

Cream knit top and creamy peep toes.

Not excited about the idea of a trumpet skirt? How about a trumpet coat or dress?

 1965-1973 Bob Bungnand,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1950s Christian Dior  The Frock

Something for Prudence to wear in this vein?

1902  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


  1. Ok, I'm rather amused because I am in fact wearing one of these skirts at work today! The black version- pencil skirt w ruffle, but I'm pretty happy with wear the ruffle hits just around my knees.

  2. I LOVE these skirts but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for anywhere!! I want one like the skirt on the left in this picture:

    Can you help me?

    1. Well those are patterns you can get on Etsy, so you could make your own. But I'd haunt thrift stores and vintage for ones of the right cut I could hem to the desired length. Good luck.


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