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What Is a Straight Skirt?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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A straight skirt in its simplest form is a rectangle of fabric, either long or short, with an elastic waistband. This is the easiest type of skirt to sew and it makes an ideal beginner's sewing project. More complex skirts have a fitted waistband with a zipper fastener as well as side darts to shape the skirt to the body. Full, flouncy, pleated and layered skirts are opposite in style to the straight skirt.

Since straight skirt styles are plain, they can be worn with detailed tops without creating an overdone look to an outfit. Textured or cabled sweaters and multi-colored blouses may be paired with these skirts. Ruffled or embroidered blouses are other tops ideally suited for the plain texture of straight-lined skirts. Other names for straight styles of skirts are the pencil and the column. An A-line skirt is a more flared version of the straight look.

Slash pockets or a back pleat are subtle details that can add interest to a skirt. The back, or kick, pleat helps make movement easier. Slash pockets are sleek openings that blend in with the skirt's seaming and shaping. A fitted waistband and zipper create a more fitted look to a straight-styled skirt than elastic at the waist. This type of tailored skirt is popular in women's suits and office separates.

The straight, pencil or column skirt suits all figure types except those that are either very full or extremely slim. These skirts may overly accentuate the narrowness and lack of curves in thin figures. Ruffles, layers, pleats or fullness tend to be better skirt features for lean body types. In the case of fuller figures, a straight shape of skirt may create a top-heavy, unbalanced look. An A-line skirt, which is basically a straight skirt that flares gently downward, tends to be much more flattering on rounder figures.

By contrast, hourglass body types are flattered by the skirt's extreme line. Pear shaped figures in which the top is narrower than the hips tend to look more balanced in straight-styled skirts. Soft, flowing fabric cut in a straight line can be especially flattering on pear shaped bodies. Shorter women may appear taller in an above the knee straight skirt — especially one with vertical accents or stripes.

Straight skirts tend to look best when worn with high-heeled shoes and boots rather than chunky or flat-soled footwear. Varying the fabric types in skirts make them ideal for all occasions. For example, a long straight-lined silk skirt can be ultra-elegant for evening, while a straight denim skirt is a casual classic.

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