1950s Women's Clothing

The Rise and Popularity of the Pencil Dress

Ever see a dress and instantly be filled with a feeling of awe? The pencil dress is modest, and elegant dress that evoke feelings of wonder. When it comes to women’s fashion, very few outfits have the versatility of the pencil dress. Yes, you can’t wear it on a run, but it is a great dress for formal, casual, and celebratory events. So, what makes the pencil dress special? Let’s look through time and explore when the pencil dress arrive on the scene of women’s fashion and why it became popular.

The Reason We Have Pencil Dresses?Pencil Dresses

Apparently, many believe that we can trace the history of Pencil dress back to time man first invented the airplane. One might wonder was does airplanes have to do with dresses? Well, back in 1908, Orville and Wilbur wright took to the sky with the wife their associate the delightful Edith Burg. She is the first woman on an aeroplane, decided to grace the occasion wearing a hobble skirt.  However, as stunning as her skirt was, the brothers were worried that the wind could make the skirt get caught on some machinery. In order to prevent any accident they decided to tie the ankle of her skirt.

That one gesture, made it way to the press, and it did not take long for fashion designers in Paris to adopt the idea. As a result, the Parisian designers design Hobble Skirts with similar pattern to that of Edith Burg. However, the skirts despite being fashionable weren’t comfortable. Ladies found it difficult to walk in them reducing their popularity. In way, we can thank Hobble Skirts for the birth of Pencil dresses.

The Gap Period

Despite the early excitement about the designs of the early pencil dress, the dress and its skirt variant failed to gain more massive appeal at the time. The turmoil that came with the world wars ensure that people embraced practicality over beauty. As a result, between the 1920s and the early 50s, the pencil dress and skirt seemed a failed experiment.

The Resurgence Of The Pencil Dress

Pencil DressesThe pencil dress resurfaced again in the 50s with a bang. Thanks to the new redesign debutted by Christain Dior during his H-Line collection fashion show. The H-Line by Dior helps shape 50s fashion. According to Dior, the H-Line leaned into shrinking and lengthening of the burst. As a result, the dresses get to form a tall letter H.

After the debut of the H-line, women fashion began to focus on highlighting the female figure and curves. In addition to the design, the pencil dress offered women of the 50s the functionality it lacked in previous decades. It became possible to wear the pencil dress and walk around comfortably. There is no denying the impact of the pencil dress and skirt on 50s women fashion. The pencil soon became a signature outfit for the great Marilyn Monroe.

Tips For Styling The Pencil Dress

The pencil dress remains relevant today as much it did back in the 1950s. No other dress has had the level of influence in flattering the female figure like the pencil skirt. It is a dress that can be worn for almost all occasions. Below are a few tips for how to style the pencil dress;

  • The Vintage Retro Look: If the goal is to mimic the golden era of vintage fashion. Then, the pencil dress look from the 1950s is the way to go. Simply, pear the pencil dress with a stretchy shirt of similar colour. Finally, to draw attention to your figure, add a belt. The belt will help highlight your figure while maintaining a smart look.


  • Business Professional:For the everyday office look or a business conference, you can rely on the pencil dress to help you look your best. You cannot go wrong with a blue, black, or gray pencil skirt pair with a white blouse. Remember to tuck the block into the skirt. Also, you can keep it a little light by adding cashmere to your look or strictly stick to a fitted blazer.


  • Playful:Perhaps, you are simply stepping out for a day of fun with friends, there is pencil dress look for you. You can opt for a pencil dress with floral patterns or shapes. You can include a neck tie for good measure.


  • Casual Date: Should you have plans to meet up with your special person, or it could be a first date. You can’t go wrong with a pencil skirt or dress. All you need to do is wear your pencil skirt with a sleeveless shirt and pair it with your leader jacket –preferably black. Finally, do not forget to wear heels, or you can be hip and wear snickers.


Final Words

From the moment the pencil dress took the world by storm in the 50s, there are few fashion choices that define eras. The pencil dress glorified women in 50s fashion. Today, it is part of our everyday look. So, if you have a place to be, and you want to make a statement, then you should be wearing the pencil dress.

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