13 August 2007

Sharpening the traditional pencil skirt

I love searching for that perfect black mini dress.

I love looking high-and-low for that ideal pair of skinny jeans in a color I don't yet have.

I love hunting for another fantastic pair of simple back-strapped thongs.

But when I think about what makes a shopping trip really worth the "regrets only" decline to my most recent wedding invitation, it has to be the quest for that single item of clothing that when found - and found at an affordable price - has the ability to make my heart flutter more intensely, my lips part more breathlessly and my back arch with more Mmmhmmm pleasure than any other.

That's right, I'm talking about that one article of clothing that when draped just so makes almost any woman seem sleeker, smarter (in both the American and British senses) and more sophisticated than she probably is -- the fitted black pencil skirt.

But just as any dynamic has a tendency to grow stale if not regularly reinvented, the relationship between a woman and her favorite wardrobe essential - especially one that is a simple, neutral, traditionally-for-the-workplace piece - can and often takes an unfortunate turn toward indifference after only a few seasons of togetherness.

So my best advice in avoiding a premature breakup with the one, two or (ahem) nine black pencil skirts hanging neatly in the homage-to-Britney-speak "muh favoritest" section of your closet is to invest in a slightly less conventional version of the working-girl staple so as to give yourself a break from the simple and traditional and afford yourself an opportunity to once again genuinely look forward to slipping into the clean lines and slight back kick-pleat of your old standby.

Below I've assembled for you a collection of traditional black pencil skirt alternatives. Enjoy.

Bubble pleated pencil skirt by BCBG Max Azria ($78 at bluefly.com)
Kylie skirt by Antonio Melani ($99 at dillards.com)
Linen blend tulip skirt by 3.1 Phillip Lim ($315 at net-a-porter.com)*
Pleated skirt by Catherine Malandrino ($169.20 at fashionchateau.com)
Tyler skirt by Tory Burch ($265 at scoopynyc.com)
Ruffle waistband skirt by Ziji ($189 at couturecandy.com)
Manola pencil skirt by Diane von Furstenberg ($255 at saks.com)*
Preston strip skirt by Semantiks ($78 at nordstrom.com)
Katrina skirt by Elie Tahari ($248 at nordstrom.com)
Caroline high-waist skirt by Tart ($75 at pinkmascara.com)
*your editrix's favorites (though, admittedly, I love them all)


Candid Cool said...

The Manola pencil skirt by Diane von Furstenberg is gorgeous!

Teek said...

Think the Preston skirt is probably the best for my body type, and actually falls in budget, but sadly, am neither a two nor, happily, a 14. A true narrow pencil skirt tends to make me look either top heavy or rather like a sausage. But now I'm excited to go questing for the perfect addition when the fall preview turns to fall clearance.

TXN in DC said...

I'm relatively new to this blog, but I'm already a loyal daily reader! I love the skirts you picked out but in almost every photo, the model's top is tucked into the skirt. When I do that with a button down dress shirt, I end up with an air-pocket (as I like to call it)... my shirt bunches up (in the torso area) and I feel like a balloon. My body type might have something to do it with (I'm typically a size 2 or 4, with a 32D chest). Can you suggest other types of shirts to wear with skirts, other than the sweater sets I'm stuck with now???

EmilyCox said...

I just Love the one with the buttons on it! of course with my salary I could never afford something like that. Maybe I'll find some good prices on designer stuff when Im in Italy..hey it wouldnt hurt to come back with a whole new wardrobe....

brown rowergirl said...

I covet almost everything Phillip Lim designs. This skirt is so eye-catching and fabulous. Damn the $300+ price tag. Damn it to hell!

dc girl said...

I know this is going to sound Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Single White Female," but I have to mention to your readers (esp those who doubt your legitimacy as a fashion commentator) that I saw you walking to work this morning, and really do practice what you preach: high waisted black tulip skirt, white sleeveless button up (tucked in perfectly) and painfully high (to me!) black peep toes.

A true fashionista.

(and cute guy, btw!)

Marsha said...

TXN in DC: our measurements are quite similar (32D between size 0-4). How odd, esp. considering I am a DC person now in Texas. How tall are you?

I have avoided the sweater sets my whole time (4 years) in DC, and I have found that the Banana Republic fitted with stretch material button up shirts are very flattering.

Another suggestion is spending the extra money and getting tops tailored.

Anonymous said...

I ran into her over the weekend, and she was so nice despite my embarrassingly profuse praise! Fashionable and approachable! And that dog, oh my god, even cuter in person!

Love the 3.1 Phillip Lim skirt.

Anonymous said...

I just bought the DvF skirt a couple of days ago. I can't wait to wear it!! Nice choices.

Johanna said...

Candid Cool/Emilycox-

I know, I know, I made love to it in my mind when I tried it on in Intermix on Saturday. So beeyooteous.

Anonymous 4:43, you certainly have me green with envy.


happy shopping! I'm pleased as punch to hear that you take your shape into account when choosing your outfits. So many women don't and end up looking much less fabulous than they otherwise could look!

txn in dc-

I have one word of advice and that's "Spanx." Sure, most people buy Power Panties to slim and trim their mid-section, but the benefit I most appreciate from mine is how easily they accommodate a slim-tuck. Certain shirts - those that are boxy and have a shapeless bottom-half, for example - will never achieve the desirable, air-pocket-free tuck you seek, but as long as you stick to tailored, and thin-gauged materials like merino wool, silk and single-ply knits, a pair of Spanx should do the trick.

brown rowergirl-

so with you on this one. I like his skirt even more than the DvF.

dc girl-

Don't compare yourself to JJL in SWF! Next time, just come up and say "hello" in person! Neither my admittedly cute friend (!) nor I would have minded in the least. I met 3 "fans" over the weekend, and had really nice conversations with each one.

thanks for the compliment -- I love that skirt more than life itself. It's my current obsession.


Wow, you and 'txn in dc' have spectaculs specs! Size 2 *and* a 34D chest?? I knew half-Asians were special, but not THAT special! Thanks for offering such good advice to my readers :-)

anonymous 11:24-

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you, too! Monte sends you an air-kiss for the compliment.


TXN in DC said...

Thanks to Marsha and Johanna for your feedback! I'll try the Spanx and let you know how it goes! If all else fails, like Marsha recommended, I'll walk my ill-fitting shirts right to the tailor!