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Nothing beats a classic, and a sleek pencil skirt is just that. While the name can conjure images of the '50s and Audrey Hepburn, this piece never went out of style and still has a talent for pulling together an outfit to this day.
Pencil skirts, which today are versatile enough to complement a whole range of aesthetics, weren't as sleek as they are now when they first hit the scene. The origin of the iconic look seems to have been in 1908, when Edith Berg tied a rope around the bottom of her skirt to hold it in place while riding Wilbur and Orville Wright's airplane. With everything about her ensemble being highly visible thanks to the historic nature of the flight (Berg was the first female airplane passenger), the look caught on and the hobble skirt, a traditional long style tied just below the knee, became a 1910s trend.
Fast-forward to the '40s and Berg's practical travel fix had evolved into more intentional design, as pencil skirt shapes rose in popularity throughout the fashion sphere. In 1954, Christian Dior's H-line collection is where you can see what looks like today's pencil skirt. Ever since, it's been an office staple as well as a style statement that's evolved both aesthetically and technically without ever losing its recognizable shape.
Looking to work the iconic piece into your style, but not sure where to find the best versions in 2021? Scroll on to find 15 pencil skirts that would make a great addition to any closet.
Buttoned Pencil Skirt
For a meeting at the office, a classy evening out, or any time when you want a sleek and structured silhouette, you can't go wrong with a buttoned pencil skirt. Today, the high-waisted design is as much a trend as it is a staple, and a black one with gold buttons stands out while coordinating well with almost anything. Pair one with a crisp white shirt and flats for work, then switch into pumps for dinner that evening.
Classic Black Pencil Skirt
If you're looking for a pencil skirt that's more versatile than any other, a classic black style is your answer. The one below features technology to accentuate curves, but still has the shape that made pencil skirts famous. Wear it with a bodysuit and blazer for the perfect anywhere, anytime look.
Linen Pencil Skirt
Linen pencil skirts are a great option to work this look into your summer style, as they provide an airy yet tailored feel that will follow you from serious business to adventures around town. Pair yours with a breezy button-up, mules, and a statement bag for the ultimate easy uniform.
Denim Pencil Skirt
Whether you want to feel especially put-together in denim or are looking for a pencil skirt that plays well with casual pieces, the denim pencil skirt is the best of both worlds. This black option is made of water-saving organic cotton and would look great with a classic white T-shirt and fashion-forward sneakers.
Fishtail Pencil Skirt
Pay tribute to Berg with a maxi-length fishtail pencil skirt that gathers at the knees before flaring out. Also easy to find in a knee length and a range of colors, this style would pair well with a tank top or bodysuit and may be the type of vintage-inspired piece you'd want to search for secondhand to find a truly unique version.
Tie-Waist Pencil Skirt
To switch up the pencil skirt's classic silhouette, try an option with a tie waist. This style embodies modern polish with its bright red shade and button closure, with the elegant bow at the waist being the cherry on top. Pair it with casual neutrals for an easy look as you're out and about, or go monochromatic with other red pieces for a full-blown statement.
Tweed Pencil Skirt
Work gear doesn’t have to be boring, and you can make it less so with a tweed pencil skirt that features vibrant colors in a classic print. Pair this above-the-knee style with a coordinating blazer for full Clueless vibes, or try a bodysuit to make the tailored look work for a night out.
Lace Pencil Skirt
For a sophisticated, evening-ready feel, try a lace pencil skirt. Even though you can also wear it to work, the floral print and rich colors of this style make it elegant enough for celebratory events like engagement parties or baby showers.
Leather Pencil Skirt
Nothing's more sleek than a leather pencil skirt, and the crocodile texture of this style takes it into full-on fashion territory. A front slit works great for a night out, so pair it with your favorite ankle boots and a statement crop top for a look to remember.
Knit Pencil Skirt
Many pencil skirts have a stiff feel, so if you want something a little more comfortable, try a knit style. This one is stretchy with side slits, making it great for everyday wear while still being posh enough for special occasions.
Ribbed Pencil Skirt
For another comfortable piece that still makes you look perfectly pulled together, try a stretchy ribbed style. Pair one with a coordinating tank to jump on the matching sets trend that's a current favorite for nights out.
Ruched Pencil Skirt
For a look that fits with the most modern interpretations on the pencil skirt, try a close-fitting, ruched style. Great for parties, casual drinks, a day out and about, or anything in between, this rose gold number makes a statement alongside a minimalist tank and bold accessories.
Camel-Colored Pencil Skirt
For a staple piece that will carry you through fall and winter, try a camel-colored pencil skirt in a substantial, fully lined fabric. The off-center slit here works well with boots, and the concealed zipper gives a polished finish. Finish this classic look with a beige shirt, a simple cardigan, and pearls.
Belted Pencil Skirt
Nothing ties a pencil skirt together quite like a belt, and a pale pink shade is fun for warmer months. Pair this style with a neutral top and sneakers or polished sandals for a look that pops at your next brunch or wherever you decide to take it.
Colorful Pencil Skirt
Nothing says fun quite like a brightly colored skirt, and this ivory style embodies sunshine and summertime. Embrace the shade to switch up your everyday work look, or use it as a statement piece for a garden-party ensemble.