Friday, June 22, 2012

Closet Staple ~ The Black Pencil Skirt with Gail Carriger

White it is mid summer for most of us, the runways are showing Fall/Winter. So, Fashionable Reader, I thought I would visit my favorite closet staple for the up coming season ~ the black pencil skirt.

I have several. In fact I have even posted bout my longer wool middi length in the past. However, the knee length skirt is more flattering on all figures, and less difficult to style.

 I have had mine for so long I can't remember where I first got it. It's not vintage, but modern, it has a bit of a stretch, a little slit at the back, and nice wide reinforced belt, and, best of all, pockets! I do love the pockets.

Strangely enough, I don't wear it all that often. I usually have the pin stripe that's part of a modern suit or the velvet that's part of a vintage suit with me when I travel. They just parse out to more outfits. Or I take the 1940's because it's more esoteric or the striped fish tail because it's more quirky. Inf ace, just writing about it makes me feel guilty. Poor neglected skirt.

Regardless, this is a closet staple I think more ladies can wear. Particularly if it is tailored properly. And it is so incredibly versatile. Plus I always think it's a good idea to put black away from ones face.

 Vintage, Retro, and Modern takes on the black pencil.

Of course, my favorite thing to do with a black skirt? Yes, you guessed it, pair it with red!

Queen Dita

So let's think about how to style it for different occasions. How about a glamorous evening look?

I'd add a nice silky blouse. Not necessarily cream with The Rack, but perhaps a jewel tone blue or green for the fall and winter and a nice coral or sage for summer or spring.

And for day?

 First is from the What I Wore blog

 A nice cool printed blouse, shake it up with fun accessories.

If it's really warm this skirt can even work with a tank for summer. Although, tanks are always difficult with the Rack and I, again, try to avoid white. If not possible throw on a jean jacket to break up the up top volume.

 Pencil skirts can be worn with flats but I tend to think heals work better, unless the skirt is a few inches above the knee.

The black pencil is also good for business attire.

If the black skirt doesn't come as a suit you can still pair it with a black blazer. Just pick a blazer that is a completely different pattern or texture than the skirt. That way the miss-match look intentional.For example I might pair my black skirt, which is a basic matte stretch, with a black shiny brocade, a black lace, a black tweed, or a black leather blazer. Alternatively you can match the shirt and the jacket, rather than the skirt and the jacket.

A word on boots with pencil skirts. I suggest ankle boots, and then only with a shorter (two inches above the knee) skirt. The same applies to pumps with an ankle strap. Boots can cut of your legs oddly. You can do a knee high, but pair with black tights so that there is no weird flash of skin. Otherwise stick to oxford style booties, Mary Janes, or regular pumps.

 There are also many ways to style this skirt for fall and winter.

Mix it up with jewel tones and neutrals like camel and grey, or make is trendy with a navy top and army green jacket, or turn it serviceable for travel with a belted trench, collared shirt and ballet flats.

Lastly a few more fun retro ways to style the black pencil. With spots and splashes of red and with a nice cross front flutter sleeve top, peep toe pumps and a flower in the hair.

And something for Alexia to wear?

Dinner dress  Emile Pingat, 1877-1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What to read while wearing your black pencil skirt?

Tumbler by Brand Gamblin is a fun story of the classic loner western. A stranger rides into town with nothing, saves the day, wins over a community, and has a happy ending. Except that this happens to be set in space. And the stranger is a tough woman. I found Libby an engaging main character and the supporting cast was fun. A nice quick read.

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


  1. I have to say, as a chubby girl, I have never felt comfortable in a pencil skirt. However, I think the key to finding one I would be comfortable is finding a nice wool skirt with a good structure. I have a gray wool knee length skirt with a bit of an a-line that I'm going to wear until it falls apart. And the wool is nice and light so I can wear it on all but the hottest summer days.

  2. While I love the shaping a true pencil skirt gives, ever part of me disagrees with wearing it - even though it suits my figure well. I just can't quite get behind the restrictions I find when walking in a pencil skirt - I want to stride, and the ones I've tried always make me teeter everywhere.

    I do love to see how other people wear them though - they are quite the stylish piece; and I only wish I could feel more comfortable in them!


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