Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Chapter Nine: The Pencil Skirt

Believe it or not, the story of the 'invention' of the pencil skirt is actually quite a good one. In 1908 the brothers Wright chose the wife of a business associate as the first female passenger on one of their planes, and because the possible flapping of her long skirts near the propellors and engines of the plane posed a dangerous threat they decided to tie her skirts around her legs. The pictures of this legendary flight went all over the world and almost everyone saw them. Parisian fashiondesigners were strangely inspired by this 'tied skirt' and they created a skirt shape that would soon become known as the Hobble skirt. It was a fenomenale hit and for a while the extremely tight and unpractical silhouette dominated the western fashions. Because the women who wore these skirts often had to tie their knees together they had great difficulty walking, and therefore the new fashion was jokingly called the 'speed limit skirt'. We know it now as the official predecessor of our beloved pencil skirt.

The first real pencil skirt was introduced in 1940 by French designer Christian Dior, who also created the complete opposite look of the wide circle skirt with petticoat. Women all over the world were excited about the tight and sensual shape of this new look; they had become tired of the shapless forms of the 1920's and the economic and social dullness of the 1930's, and the pencil skirt embodied their need for change and extravagance. This need became even stronger after the second world war and by the end of the 40's the pencil skirt was an enormous fashion hit.

At first it was mostly worn as an office outfit with a matching jacket, but eventually it was combined with fitted blouses and soft sweaters, accentuating the female forms with nipped-in waist and curvy hips. The trend was taken over by some of the hottest celebrities of the era such as Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, which is probably the reason why we still associate the sensual pencil skirt with the 1950's.

  It stayed in fashion all through the 60's, altough the lenght of the skirt became considerably shorter and became known as 'The mini'. The pencil shape is, like many other styles that were born in the 50's, a timeless piece of feminine fashion beacuse it is a classic silhouette that flatters women in many different shapes and sizes. 
It did not surprise us that this year (2012), when we watched the spring and summer collections of the big designers glide over the catwalks, we saw the return of an old friend. Take a guess..... Yes indeed

The Pencil Skirt! 

Of course we have a wide range of pencil skirts in our collection, here are some examples: 
Angle Skirt:

Cherry Pencil Skirt:

Pencil Skirt, Black:
 These, and many more, are available at our store Bennies Fifties in Scheveningen (Holland) or online at Come and have a look, we are available at any time with the largest collection of retro clothing for women and men.


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