If the idea of a pencil skirt conjures up images of flight attendants or ‘60s office workers à la Mad Men, it’s time to reconsider. SS18’s catwalks revived the prim and proper office staple in an array of prints and fabrics, demonstrating a thoroughly contemporary way to style the skirt.
The first pencil skirt as we know it was designed in 1954 by Christian Dior and presented in his H-Line collection, which deviated from the fuller skirts and nipped-in waists of his New Look. With an emphasis on the hip rather than the waist, the skirt skimmed the silhouette down to the ankle. Marilyn Monroe made the style a feature of her everyday wardrobe after costume designer Orry-Kerry put her in a beaded tassel dress with a pencil skirt for 1959’s Some Like It Hot.
Away from the glamour of the silver screen, thanks to post-war austerity the pencil skirt became a popular style due to its economic use of fabric, filtering through to become staple workwear for the 1.8 million female clerks of the early ‘60s. The most memorable recent iteration of this look came courtesy of Mad Men's inimitable Joan Holloway (played by Christina Hendricks), gliding around in her hip-hugging pencil skirts and dresses.
But if the demure sophistication of the pencil skirt isn’t your aesthetic, don’t write it off just yet. From Balenciaga’s kilt-inspired heritage check number (paired with an oversized striped shirt, proving clashing prints are here to stay) to Victoria Beckham’s feminine but contemporary sheer dusky pink piece, the catwalks of SS18 provided ample inspiration for ways to style the skirt now.
Our favourite pieces were heavily printed. Salvatore Ferragamo’s snake print brought further sex appeal to his silk camisoles, while Fendi made us fall in love with diagonal stripes, namely in brick and duck egg hues. Christopher Kane’s print of choice was ditsy florals straight from the English countryside, while Virgil Abloh referenced Princess Diana via polka dot pencil skirts at Off-White.
Whether you wear with a long-sleeved slogan print and box-fresh kicks for a streetwear switch-up, make it modern with abstract prints, or layer over silky underskirts, there are endless ways to style your new wardrobe staple. Click through to find the best we’ve seen for the season ahead.