Safe or smokin': Put some lead in your pencil (skirt)

For 2011, I resolve to buy three pieces that add snap or sizzle, to choose the spirit-elevating instead of the stalwart. Only three, not counting staples.

My first item: I'm looking for a skirt, and dadgummit, will not permit myself the stultifying sameness of another black pencil. (I had five, all black.)
Talbot's wool pencil

Safe: A nice, well-cut pencil: most of us own one, or its gored or A-line cousins. Here's Talbot's seasonless wool blend version, charming enough thanks to two little pleats at the hem. Price, $99.

if you, like me are resolved to break the safe skirt habit, I've found some break-the-mold examples at various price points. (If pencil's not your shape, the same ideas apply for A-line or gored styles.)

Smokin' pencils 

Try lace by day, worn with a simple cashmere or fine cotton knit tee. You are grown up enough to carry it with distinction. 

Talbot's version is on sale this week on the web site for $90, in misses, petites and womens' sizes. I might change the lining from bronze to charcoal, so it's more day-wearable, not a complicated alteration. Or I'd leave the bronze and wear it with a black tights.

Talbot's lace pencil
Lafayette 148's sexy lace skirt, shown with a silk charmeuse blouse, is also offered in misses and women's sizes. Dressier than Talbot's but also wearable beyond evening; price, $328. 
Lafayette 148 lace

Live a little! Swap your hardworking neutral for a cheeky colour, like this Malene Birger Marly satin pencil skirt, $265 from net-a-porter. If red's not your fave, have one made in steel blue, leaf green, dreamy wisteria.
Red satin pencil skirt

Rock it in leather. This one is from Danier, on sale (sizes 2-14) on their web site for $129. Superb for kicking it up a notch, and the supple lambskin is a three-season weight. Would look fab with booties; shoe on model is not what I'd suggest.

Lambskin from Danier
Print with that pencil!

Jean Paul Gaultier's ruched rose print is eminently wearable but hardly dull. The indistinct print does not add bulk and keeps the eye moving, rather like those strategic swimsuits. The open braid detail means I'd wear it with tights, or add a barely opaque lining to that section.

Priced well for JPG: $430 from Bergdorf Goodman. Worth a click to see this one in zoom view.

Talbot's crysanthemum print also needs a hipper shoe, caramel boot now, pink pump for spring. Price, $89 from Talbot's. (Their skirts shown are too short for me, but right for you average-to-petite lovelies.)

Crysanthemum brocade from Talbot's

I don't know where I'll find the skirt (or the other idiosyncratic items), but am looking forward buying with more focus–and to enjoying what I have.

May 2011 be a healthy, happy, peaceful year for you... and may our closets be free of just-okay clothes!


Susan B said…
I've been eyeing that chrystanthemum print beauty, and may have to take the plunge. It also scratches my itch for Asian prints.
Susan B said…
But then I'd *have* to buy the Loubie nude pumps I've been swooning over since last summer...
Show us your 3 when you find them...please!

I only own one pencil skirt and it is in a pointe suprise!
LPC said…
I have always worn pencil skirts - so the risky bit for me would be to find some full ones, sort of like Carrie wore on Sex in the City. I love the idea of lace. And I too have been swooning over nude pumps:).
Rubiatonta said…
I'd like one of each, please! Right now I've got two pencil skirts in my wardrobe, both black. Yawn.

I miss my black leather skirt. I used to wear it to work with a twinset and scarf, and it always felt nicely subversive.

And brocade! There are lots of online sources for beautiful brocade yardage -- I may just have to get out the machine and whip one up. Pencil skirts are easy-peasy to sew, even if you want to get fancy and line them.
Mardel said…
I've been wearing more and more pencil skirts, which I had stopped wearing when I stopped working in the corporate world. I loved one with a big print that I wore all summer so am looking for something special and not basic black. Right now I have one skirt and it is black.

I'm itching for the black lace though, and love your idea of the gray lining.
Belle de Ville said…
I have a thing for pencil skirts with pleats near the hem. I think that they are sexy in a grown up way.
Also, I'm really impressed with some of the pieces from Talbots. I even like those shoes with the bows from the photo of the Talbots lace skirt.
Duchesse said…
Pseu: And the spring lookbook has another great looking print one.

hostess: OK!

LPC: I can see you in a lace skirt. Remember the extraordinary Prada lace pieces from a year or two ago?

Rubi: A black leather skirt is such a perfect piece for travel, too. I find making them not as simple as they look, it's the hang from the waistband and the details like a nice pleat. But then I'm pickier now- would not want the tube skirts I used to whip up in an hour when in college.

Mardel: I remember that skirt, as I recall it got too large for you... but it was so pretty!

Belle: Ah, the sexy secretary look... devastating with pearls :)
Anonymous said…
Personally, I love the fit of my basic pencil skirts...and have been in search of a red one! The chrystanthemum is beautiful, but Deja Pseu makes a good point--one thing leads to another.
Marsha said…
These are all charming and seductive, but I keep noticing that they appear to be a bit tight, even on the models (e.g., Talbot's skirt with the two pleats at the bottom seems to be stretched over the model's upper hips). I am personally never so uncomfortable as when I am stuffed into a skirt that is too tight. Please tell me this is not the trend (not that I'll follow it, but it may discourage me from wearing the skirts I have that do fit, which would be a pity because they go with my new boots and are crying for some nice blouses . . . )
Duchesse said…
Terri: Great- who makes yours?

Marsha: There is a sweet spot in skirt fit where they fit closely, but at the same time don't look too boxy. I think the fit has to be perfect and many off the rack are too tight for me. Matte jersey stretch wool and lace give as does good leather but eventually it bags at the seat and then, new skirt time. I've torn out a few pleats back in the day, but now I wear them looser ;)
frugalscholar said…
I vote for the lace. Strange thing I just realized. I've probably only worn a skirt 3 times in the last several years...they seem like so much trouble compared to pants.
Pearl said…
Love the lace skirts and chrysanthemum print, both. I love your resolution for 2011, and look forward to your "final picks."
Duchesse said…
Pearl: I'd buy the crysanthamum skirt if it were longer! Might have the have mine made. I like your name!
Judith said…
What great skirts..what memories the black leather one brings tights,pumps,white shirt & pearls ready for business....(crying) now pencils make me look lumpy round the go with it girls who can wear them so chic & sexy. Ida
Suburbohemian said…
Riding myself of the "just ok" will apply to more than just skirts.
Duchesse said…
Ida: A line is the eased version- and like you they are much easier for me to wear.

suburbohemian: Me too... just okay is a waste of money.
Anonymous said…
I have the talbots grey skirt, it is a beauty but it pulls across the front even with the touch of stretch in the fabric. I am keeping the skirt and losing the 10pounds - it is a great motivation. But definately cut slimmer than their usually skirts.

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