While the pencil skirt is seen today as one of the "working women's staples", it actually has a long and interesting history before it came to become what it is so commonly known and viewed as today. The history goes back all the way to 1908 with the first female airplane passenger. When Edith Berg boarded the plane of Orville and Wilbur Wright the brothers were afraid that her long skirt would get caught in the machinery. In order to keep it together they tied a cord around her skirt right below the knees, and after the pictures of her went public the "Hobble Skirt" was born! The hobble skirt was a skirt that was tight at the top, and below the knee would flare out with ruffles.
In the 1940s Christian Dior brought about two new fashion revolutions starting with his line called the "New Look". Following the Second World War there was an end to rationing which meant that people could get clothes with a lot of fabric in them. The New Look consisted of cinched waists and huge skirts with ruffles and crinolines which was very exciting and popular, but got old very fast as women began to realize that carrying around all that fabric is not as much fun as they thought it would be. In order to combat that loss of enthusiasm Dior decided to do a complete 180 and created the "H-Line" which featured, you guessed it, the pencil skirt.
The H- Line pencil skirt had the popular familiarity of the hobble skirt, but did not have the ruffle on the bottom that seemed "outdated". The new pencil skirt showed off women's feminine curves, while not disturbing the daily post war routines that women had, unlike the New Line. There were, of course, some new difficulties that women faced with the new pencil skirt as the skirt was so tight it was hard for women to walk; especially if the skirt covered the knee. This is when the slit became not only a fashionable addition, but a necessity for women to have enough room to walk properly.
Many celebrities took this new fashion trend as an opportunity to show off their femininity. Most famously, Marilyn Monroe took to the pencil skirt, and it became a staple in her wardrobe and overall look. Other celebrities such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn got on the pencil skirt bandwagon thereafter.
The dance the Twist became popular in the 1960s not only because it was a fun, but because it only involves swiveling the hips which was easiest for women in pencil skirts to do.
The connotation of the woman who wore a pencil skirt was one of a woman who was confident with her femininity and sophisticated. Following the 1960s the pencil skirt began to be seen as a more dated look, as the mini skirt was coming into style, but the pencil skirt always remained on the shelves.
The skirt has been making a comeback today with celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Amal Clooney looking as beautiful as ever sporting a pencil skirt, just like Marilyn used to do.
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