the how-to: styling a full skirt

first off, i owe serious apologies to dear reader christine, who asked me weeks ago if i’d show her how to wear that american apparel skirt i featured last month.  naturally, i said yes, because i love helping you guys out whenever i can!  but then, i promptly forgot my promise.  fortunately, my brain resurfaced, and i’m ready to tackle the challenge!

and to be honest, the timing couldn’t be better. believe me, you’ll be needing this advice for fall.  every fashion mag for august is telling us that round skirts (with mid-calf lengths, no less) will be all the rage when the weather turns chilly.  personally, i’m skeptical, if only because i think mid-calf lengths are terrifyingly unflattering most of the time.  for me, i’ll be sticking with lengths that just cover the knee…i’ll be close enough to be on-trend, and my legs will look oh-so-much better.

now, on to the styling.  the key with a full skirt is the waist.  it’s the “raison d’etre” of a full skirt…the entire point is to create an hourglass silhouette.  if you keep your top half lean and fitted, and fit the waist of your skirt to the thinnest part of your torso, you’ll end up with a shape that’s flattering on nearly everyone. so even if it terrifies you, wear this skirt at your natural waist – it’s the thinnest point, and will create the best silhouette.  after years of low-rise jeans, i know it’s scary, but trust me.  you’re going for this:

and of course, because we’re trying to create an hourglass, that means no untucked shirts (this one is a struggle for me, i admit).  but if you go for the untucked look, you’ll end up looking more dowdy than anything else:

Picture 4

not ideal, clearly.  though i do think it’s possible to make this look work with an intentionally oversized, slouchy shirt or sweater that can balance out the fullness of your skirt without overpowering it.  but you’ll need a wide neckline, and it absolutely must narrow back out at the waist.  something, perhaps, like this:

Picture 5

in general, for a full skirt, i’d keep the styling relatively simple, but do try to keep the colors and accessories young, or you could end up in donna reed territory.  and don’t be afraid to add patterns!  try a fitted jersey tank, tucked in, with the waist of the skirt kept high at your natural waist (you could even add a belt to accentuate the waist).  add a short cardigan for work (v-neck or a wide scooped neck would be better than a crew, which reads a little 1950s).  or, i love the idea in this month’s vogue of using a longer, thin cardi and tying it at the bottom to create a high-waisted silhouette.  for the weekend, try a denim jacket with the sleeves pushed up.  pile on a few bangles or a great necklace (i’d suggest choosing one or the other, not both), top it off with a simple ballet flat for day or a sandal for the weekend, and you’re set!

full skirt styling

just a few words of caution: i’d stay away from a heel or boot with this look – it’s best done with a subtler shoe, though a kitten heel could work.  and while these full skirt rules will work with everything from a mini to a mid-calf, i’d stick right around knee-length for the most flattering overall silhouette, especially if you want this look to be work-appropriate.

christine, i hope this helps!  and for all of you dear readers, don’t hesitate to send those style questions in…i so love that reader mail, and i promise to get to each and every one!

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5 comments on “the how-to: styling a full skirt

  1. Kristina

    Where is that cardigan in the picture from? That’s not the one the link takes me to! (Although that is a great price for a JCrew cardi!)

  2. Christine

    Hi there! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This has helped me so much. I am going to definitely purchase a few of those AA skirts! I love your blog! 🙂

  3. Melissa W.

    I love this post! Sometimes I look at pieces in the store and think, “How in the world would I wear that?!?”

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