The history of pencil skirt

Updated April 17, 2017

The pencil skirt trend has come a long way from the 1950s and has been on the catwalk for years. However, who created this versatile skirt? Where did it originate from? Here are the answers to these questions.


A pencil skirt has a very straight and narrow cut that hugs the curves of a woman’s body. Usually a pencil skirt ends just at or slightly below the knee and they are very popular in the women's workforce.


The pencil skirt was created by French designer Christian Dior in the early 1950s after World War II as part of his “new look.” Dior assumed that the post-war era wanted something new after years of nothing but struggle. His “new look” was reminiscent of the long skirts, tiny waist lines, and striking fabrics that his mother had worn in the 1900s. Also, this traditional style of clothing supported the idea of women leaving their wartime jobs to come home as housewives once their husbands returned from war. Post-war women were to be caring housewives who were capable of creating a happy home for their husbands and children. Dior’s “new look” fit this idea perfectly.


Although Christian Dior’s fashion statement was new and unique, the creation of his pencil skirt originates from the hobble skirt of the early 1900s. The term “hobble skirt” became used in 1910 when French designer Paul Poiret fashioned long skirts that were narrow at the hem which “hobbled” the wearer. Early on, the trend was “the tighter, the better”. This idea brought about accessories such as the hobble garter. The hobble garter limited a woman’s stride so that she would not cause the skirt to rip. Eventually the trend faded with the invention of cars as it was difficult to climb in and out of vehicles in such tight fabric.

Fashion pros

Pencil skirts are very fashionable because of their versatility and ability to accentuate a woman’s natural curves. Pencil skirts can be worn at work, and can be dressed down with different coloured tights, shoes, and accessories for casual wear. Also, a pencil skirt can be bought with slits on the sides for greater mobility when out dancing or walking around town.


Even with slits on the sides, pencil skirts are still tighter than most skirts. When worn below the knee it is very difficult to walk in, and the wearer must be practised in walking in this type of pencil skirt as they may make themselves appear awkward in the workplace. Be sure to buy a pencil skirt that allows you to appear upright and confident rather than uncomfortable or pained.

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About the Author

Jessica Huff is a college student working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism. In her spare time, she began writing professionally in 2009 in order to further her career as a young journalist. So far, Huff has written a variety informative articles for eHow on topics such as holidays, gift ideas and social etiquette.