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The Evoloution of The Pencil Skirt

The Evoloution of The Pencil Skirt

10th June 2016

Sexy, sartorial and stylish the pencil skirt is one of fashion most enduring and timeless looks…

Fiercely feminine and unapologetically seductive, like most iconic pieces this look was fashioned for function…

We take a look back at the evolution of this style staple


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In 1908, an era where wide-brimmed hats and trailing skirts were de rigueur, a woman by the name of Mrs Hart O Berg was selected by aeronautic engineers Orville and Wilbur Wright to be the first female aeroplane passenger.

In order to avoid a mid-flight disaster, the Wright brothers bound the hem of Ms Berg’s dress around her ankles with a rope to prevent her skirt being caught in the propellers. The flight caught the attention of the worldwide media and it was from this point that the fad (if you’ll pardon the pun) took off.

Named after the awkward gait that the style exacted, the hobble skirt was all the rage from Paris to New York, with Parisian fashion innovator Paul Poiret refining the look, binding the skirt at the knee in 1910.

The call for women to join the workforce during World War II had a profound effect of fashion, with the call for practical and functional women’s clothing being essential during this Era. Silhouettes were slimmed down and lines were shortened due to the rationing of fabrics.

The first pencil skirt as we know it today was designed by Christian Dior as part of his “H-Line” collection of 1954. Dior had spent the previous three years moving away from his “New Look” which had dictated fashion from 1947 until 1950, with its tight waist and full skirts.

Dior shifted the emphasis from the waist to the hip, tailoring the skirt to curve over the hip and narrow towards the knee. This silhouette not only looked different it felt radically different to wear and encouraged women to walk with a “wiggle”..

Throughout the decade, the skirt was widely worn by everyone from female French resistance fighters to Hollywood’s Joan Crawford. Alfred Hitchcock’s version of the film noir heroine exemplified by Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and Tippi Hendron, saw the pencil skirt’s continued popularity throughout the 1950s

Since the Mid 50’s, the pencil skirt has become a staple of working wardrobes, with the hemline raising and lowering depending on the prevailing trends of the day. In the 1970’s Lycra became more widely used in fabric production adding, stretch and ‘recovery’ properties to both knitted and woven fabrics. This has led to skin-tight clothing that still allows the wearer ease of movement.

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