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The History of Pencil Skirts

While it has some roots in the hobble skirts of the early 1900s, the modern pencil skirt didn’t make its fashion debut until 1954, when it was introduced as part of Christian Dior’s H-line collection. Other relevant precedents can be seen in some of the skirts of the 1940s, although most featured notably boxier shapes. The work of Dior’s contemporaries — particularly Cristóbal Balenciaga, who cut clothes directly onto the contours of the body — also influenced the pencil skirt as we know it today. The pencil skirt quickly became a defining garment of the 1950s and early 1960s and frequently appeared in movies. The fact that they were worn by stars like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly no doubt furthered the appeal of pencil skirts among the public as they sought to emulate the chicness of Kelly or the sensuality of Monroe. Interestingly, the pencil skirt also made a name for itself as a practical garment for working women. Simple, chic, and neat, it often included a little pleat at the back to facilitate moving around, making it a solid choice for women in the workplace. And indeed, the pencil skirt remains a crucial part of the office wardrobe today. It is especially favored by businesswomen, politicians, lawyers, and others working in fields with a more formal dress code.

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