Fashion Fact: Find Out How French Designer Christian Dior Fathered Both Pencil And A-line Skirts!

Both the pencil skirt and the A-line skirt were designed by the famous Frenchman Christian Dior, who is single-handedly credited with inspiring 1950s fashion.

Lets first talk about the inspiring pencil skirt trend that has taken the world by storm.

By definition, the pencil skirt is a slim-fitting skirt with a straight, narrow cut. Generally the hem falls to, or is just below, the knee and is tailored for a close fit. It is named for its shape: long and slim like a pencil.

Pencil & A-line Skirts

The versatile pencil skirt may be worn either as part of a suit or as a separate, individual piece of clothing. The slim, narrow shape of a pencil skirt can restrict the movement of the wearer so pencil skirts often have a slit at the back, or less commonly at the sides. Sometimes a pleat, which exposes less skin, is used instead of a slit, to allow the wearer to move about freely and modestly

Some classic shoes for wearing with a pencil skirt are pumps, or high heels, with sheer stockings or tights. Back-seamed hosiery recalls the classic pencil-skirt era of the 1950s. The pencil skirt brings a feminine sexiness to a woman's outfit without having to show skin.

Pencil & A-line Skirts

Pencil skirts can also be worn with flats for a more casual, youthful appearance that echoes the 1960s. Pencil skirts and loafers are classic "Prep."

Narrow-fitting skirts have a long history in western fashion. The parent to the pencil skirt is the hobble skirt, a pre-WWI fad inspired by the Ballets Russes. This full-length skirt with a narrow hem restricted walking about freely.

It was in his 1954 Autumn Winter collection did the the French designer Christian Dior introduce the classic modern pencil skirt.

Pencil & A-line Skirts

The pencil skirt quickly became very popular, especially for office wear. This success was due to women's desire for new fashions in the wake of Second World War and Cold War rationing, coupled with the austere economic climate, when fabrics were expensive.

Pencil & A-line Skirts

The pencil skirt feels different from looser skirts, and impacts the wearer's movements and posture. Walking needs to be done in shorter strides; and entering and leaving a car gracefully takes much practice. When sitting, the legs need to be close together. Activities such as climbing ladders and riding bicycles can be very difficult in a pencil skirt, making a woman more 'lady-like' in some vague sense. The pencil skirt is warmer due to the reduced ventilation, and is less likely to be blown up by gusts of wind.

A vent or kick pleat in the center back seam of the skirt makes it easier to walk with a normal stride, while preserving the slim line.

Coming to the stylish A-line skirt.

An A-line skirt is a skirt that is fitted at the hips and waist and gradually flares out towards the hem, giving the impression of the shape of a capital letter A. The term is also used to describe dresses and coats with a similar silhouette.

Pencil & A-line Skirts

The term was first used by the same French couture designer Christian Dior who fathered the pencil skirt, as the label for his collection of spring 1955. The A-Line collection's feature item, the "most wanted silhouette in Paris" back then, was a "fingertip-length flared jacket worn over a dress with a very full, pleated skirt".

Pencil & A-line Skirts

Although an A-shape, this silhouette was not identical to what is now understood to embody the A-line idea. That idea was given its definitive expression and popularized by Dior's successor, Yves Saint Laurent, with his "Trapeze Line" of spring 1958, which featured dresses flaring out dramatically from a fitted shoulder line.

Pencil & A-line Skirts

A-line clothes remained popular in the 1960s and 70s, disappeared from fashion almost completely by the early 1980s and were revived by the retro trend of the late 1990s. By that time, "A-line" was used more loosely to describe any dress wider at the hips than at the bust or waist, as well as a number of flared skirt styles. "True" A-line shapes on the pattern of Dior and Saint Laurent saw a revival in the early 2000s.

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