Elf's Fashion Advice for Pippa Says - #1 - Pencil Skirts


Like most people in the world, I have to get dressed, regularly, and due to this constant requirement from society so that I don’t end up in jail or on a list somewhere, I have come to acquire a specific taste and interest in clothes and fashion. I love it. As an open-minded human I dislike very few things fashion-wise and after years of trying to find clothes for my shape and height I have learnt that there is nothing better than discovering an item of not-yet-understood worth from under piles of moth-eaten toot in Rokit, the local Oxfam shop, or on the back rail of Topshop in the Maternity section.

The ‘trick’ my mother taught me was that you can get away with any print, colour or style as long as the tailoring is well-done. This is pretty much rock-solid advice. Never rush the tailoring. However, for my first entry for Pippa, and after a good deal of thought, I’ve realised there is ONE item of clothing that despite religious focus on tailoring, is the most IRRITATING, Impractical and inconsiderate of any other.

Every Autumn, the Pencil skirt returns. Like a cold. A boring, tweedy, mildly flammable, beige and grey cold. It will be marketed as THE key item to have in the wardrobe: the ‘sexy autumn staple’, the ‘Mad Men’ item that makes your look ‘sharper’, ‘sassier’, ‘sexier’. #Yawn.

It’s rarely in bright colours, rarely in print, occasionally in leather, but rarely in a stand-out design that you can wear and feel brilliant in. The pencil skirt is either designed so it is ‘work serious’ or ‘I AM SO KOOKY ONLY A CRAZED DRAMA STUDENT WOULD WEAR ME’. I’ve had enough of seeing this skirt being put forward as a “must-have” – and here are some key reasons why they should be banned once and for all.

REASON ONE: Impossible to run in

The question we all ask ourselves when curating any outfit is simply: Can I run in this? If, after being held at a red signal, the tube finally pulls in at Victoria at 7:19, will I have enough leg room to sprint to platform 18 to get the 7:23? If the apocolypse happens, will this be the outfit to spur me on or slow me down, and will I look fabulous as I do it?

These are the questions that occupy my mind every morning at 8am. Which is why most of my dresses look like what my friend Ruth once described as shrouds or ‘baggy colours*’. Anything that is spacious, tent like, easy to whip off and encouraging of open leg movements is my idea of heaven.

No one can walk effectively in a pencil skirt. I don’t care how sexy you look doing it, you are probably walking 20% of your usual speed and that is frankly inefficient and the muscle work to walk sexy in a pencil skirt feels like you are curdling your upper thighs. Don’t do it. Also, love-making wise, pencil skirts are a nightmare to whip off. I have heard.

REASON TWO: They are chafing uncomplimentary corsets for the bum

Disagree? You never see anyone in a pencil skirt at an all-you-can-eat-buffet. Why? Because wearing a pencil skirt is the fashion equivalent of gastric sleeve surgery and a tape worm. These skirts do not encourage relaxing with food. They encourage IBS, chafing and unnecessary heat in key areas. Women in ra-ra skirts or onesies, however, are ALWAYS happier. FACT.

REASON THREE: Impractical length

The Pencil Skirt is not long enough to pretend you’re in an Austen-esque BBC Period drama and it’s not short enough to pretend you are Sharon Stone in Fatal Attraction. SO WHAT IS THE POINT? You can’t wear them with tights without overheating your bottom so you end up wearing them barelegged. WHO WANTS TO BE BARELEGGED IN OCTOBER? NO ONE. Except werewolves (because they are far hotter than most animals).

REASON FOUR: Nothing fashionable about pencils