Staple Wardrobe: The Skirt
A-Line skirts -- so named because the silhouette resembles a capitalized letter A -- are pretty universally flattering, since the the style skims over your thighs, makes your waist the smallest part of your body, and balances the top half of your body. It's not too full or form-fitting, and it's totally comfortable. Strictly speaking, an A-Line skirt has a flat front and is A-shaped (think two pieces of fabric simply sewn together on the two sides), laying relatively flat around the pelvis and flaring out. To get the look, start with the most basic A-Line style with either the formal Classic A-Line Skirt ($79, Banana Republic) or more casual Converse One Star Terry Skirt ($16.99, Target). If you're feeling sassy, there are other A-Lines that incorporate panels and pleats, for added visual interest like the Cotton Taffeta Belle Skirt ($79, J.Crew -- search for "97636" to view), Color-Blocked Skirt ($69, Banana Republic), or Linen Pleated Skirt ($39.99, also Banana).
If you can imagine taking a circle of fabric, cutting a hole in the center big enough for your waist, then slipping into the middle, you've essentially envisioned a circle skirt. Sometimes called a "full" skirt, the style tends to look a bit more retro, hailing back to the days of poodle skirts and sock hops. They look thoroughly modern though in sleek fabrics and contemporary prints. The fullness just gives them an ultra-feminine appeal. Plus, they have a lovely swing when you walk. The style definitely looks a tad more voluminous, but doesn't add serious bulk to your lower half. However, if you are concerned, look for styles that are described as "full", as they likely aren't quite a true circle skirt and carry less fabric (ergo, less volume). If you only have room for one, you must go for the Isaac Mizrahi for Target Eyelet Border Circle Skirt ($29.99, Target). It doesn't get more classic than black! We also love this Lux Coated Linen Circle Skirt ($54.99, Urban Outfitters), which gives the timeless style an update by way of a shiny, almost vinyl-looking, material. Or, go bold with a graphic print, like the one found in this Lux Carousel Circle Skirt ($49.99, also Urban Outfitters). Finish your darling look off with classic pumps, slingbacks, or ballet flats.
A pencil skirt is a great option for when you want to exude sex appeal, without exposing skin or wearing super tight clothing. Favored by sexy secretaries, the style keeps you covered but follows the contours of your womanly figure. That's because a pencil skirt tapers in a bit, which is perhaps more noticeable when you lay the skirt down on the ground. "Straight" skirts -- which don't taper as much -- achieve a similar hip-hugging effect. The style works exceedingly well for women with curves but, depending on how high the waist comes, may slightly emphasize a tummy. This Denim Pencil Skirt ($49.50, The Gap) is a fantastic way to try the style because it integrates so well into a jean-loving gal's wardrobe. We also recommend the Linen Belted Pencil Skirt ($59, Ann Taylor Loft) and the Isaac Mizrahi for Target Safari Skirt ($29.99, Target) as slightly more edgy options.
If you've got great gams, why not show them off? Just be weary when choosing a mini skirt, as it -- more than any other skirt style -- walks the line between cute and over-the-top unflattering. Just remember to keep it simple. It's meant to be form-fitting but never tight. If it's clinging to you, it will more than likely ride up as you walk like you can't believe. Also avoid ruffles, as they look very young. Think of it this way: your skirt is already short, and thus very sexy, so do you really need additional distractions like ruffles? Clean lines always work. The most classic, casual mini style is the jean skirt, so we love this White Denim Mini Skirt ($44.50, The Gap) and the AE Denim Tab Front Mini ($19.95, American Eagle). The Pleated Mini ($9.99, Old Navy) is another great option, and you can also try a bit of color with this Chino Clean Skirt ($39.50, Ann Taylor Loft). It's best to wear flats or a low heel with a mini skirt, as skyhigh pumps may invite unsolicited catcalls as you walk down the street.
Whatever your body type or personal style, the perfect skirt is crucial to having a complete, versatile wardrobe. Plus, with the hot summer weather upon us, practically nothing keeps you cooler than a breezy skirt.
-- Lindsay Sakraida
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