Quest for a Classic Red Pencil Skirt

After seeing these beauties on Anh and Elle, I toyed with the thought of getting my own classic red pencil skirt. In China, red symbolizes luck, so I’d finally have something to wear for future lunar new years (I always forget the red undies on that day : / ).

First I got the same Ann Taylor one that Elle has. Sz 0P was the smallest in store, and it was on clearance, but still $40 and required slimming and hem alterations. The material was so stretchy and comfortable, but I wasn’t gung ho about spending $65+ on it.


Whoopsies, sorry for the obnoxious “watermark.” I hemmed and hawed over this skirt, then magically came across a red 100% wool Petite Sophisticate (RIP) one at my favorite thrift store, Savers (thank you again Kerry for sharing about this lovely chain of thrift store that sorts items by size), for a more wallet-friendly $7.

The skirt felt crisp and new, but upon further inspection, I noticed a splotchy stain on the front. Yuck! “Okay…it’s a no…time to go…” Poor Nick was getting itchy from the thrift store and I could see he was hungering for the neighboring Taco Bell, so I had to leave it behind.


A week later I was still thinking about it. You know those things that you leave behind and keep on wondering…”what if?” …well, I realized it’s not worth losing sleep over when it costs $7. So back I went. I asked for a discount due to le stain and they kindly reduced it to $4. Score! Here it is post-alterations…


Skirt + hemming + waist taken in + dry cleaning = $29. Not bad for this vibrant skirt. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end happily here because they made it much too small. My intestines were smooshed, so I had to go back and do what I despise: bravely asking for re-alterations. It’s always stressful doing this, because tailors will rarely admit that they didn’t do a great job.


Alas, I just got this back from re-alterations, and the waist now fits perfectly but the hips puff out strangely (these pics were taken pre-2nd alteration, so you can’t see the puff). I wish my tailors took a little extra time in pinning it but they claim they “know” my body now and were a bit hasty. So now I need to muster up the courage and get it fixed yet again.

Skirt: Petite Sophisticate sz 2P, thrifted and altered (similar)
Shoes: Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps in Saddle Brown sz 5 (use FRIENDSFB for 30% off)
Belt: came w/these Forever 21 Woven Shorts sz XS   Necklace: Target

On another note, if you haven’t come across new blogger and YouTuber Wendy’s Lookbook yet, prepare to be completely hooked. Thank you dear bloggy friends AprilAthena and DSKSteph for telling me about Wendy. She has an infectious personality, and I’m pretty certain she’s on an accelerated path to become the next big YT “guru.” I’ve taken notes aplenty from her styling tips, starting with this 25 (24?) ways to wear a scarf video.

Readers – have you ever received unsatisfactory alterations? Do you sadly suck it up, or go back and demand re-alterations?
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  1. This outfit is great. Love the way you style your skirts. The color of that skirt is great!

    I'm having a $100 dollar Shopbop giftcard GIVEAWAY on my blog! Come check it out 🙂 It's open to international bloggers as well.

    Collections Giveaway

    Posted 4.12.11 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Checked out a few of Wendy's videos from your post.
    Then saw her blog today. You and her look eerily alike, especially in the blog photos. You have a beautiful vibrant smile too.
    She talks of being adopted. I wonder if she has Korean blood in here like you.

    Posted 4.8.11 Reply
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I have had bad bad bad alterations and unfortunately have never had the chutzpah to go back and complain. My tailor sometimes does great work and sometimes does terrible work. Except for plain vanilla hems, it's a crap shoot. So when something needs something unique, I usually decide not to bother.

    Posted 4.7.11 Reply
  4. I love this skirt on you! It's so bright and fun and will look great with your neutral work pieces.

    Posted 4.7.11 Reply
  5. Jillian wrote:

    Like you, I hate going back to the tailor for re-alterations, but I do it b/c I paid for it to be done correctly the first time! It's always awkward but always worth it in the end. You obviously do a lot of business with your tailors, so they should want to make you happy. 🙂 BTW, that red looks fab on you!

    Posted 4.7.11 Reply
  6. @Ping I'm shocked, Ping. I thought my tailors overcharged for $25 to shorten sleeves. This must be a fine blazer!

    @Leena Lol! Too funny, Leena. If you still have that skirt you sould bring it back. It seems like you do a lot of alterations so your tailor should be happy to fix it for you!

    @Revanche I "check" it while I'm there too but they always hastily tell me it looks great. I'm rushed out the door and then don't have time to truly assess til I get home : (

    @Jacquelyn S. Wow, that is something detailed that I'm not sure I would notice myself! I'm glad it has a happy ending because I'd be nervous asking for that fixed.

    @Wendy Oo, what did you get? I spent some time looking for similar red pencil skirts in wool, and came up empty!

    @Ying I'm the same, Ying. Or used to be, at least. Unless it was terrible, I was too scared to go back. I've also gone back a few times and it was unsuccessful (they just didn't agree that anything was wrong and said there was nothing to redo).

    @mirigoround Hi Mirigoround! Nick says: H&M;, Theory, Hugo Boss. It also depends on what body type your finace has. Sometimes the Euro H&M; stuff and contemporary Theory is cut TOO slim. For Theory suits, Nick checks stores like Saks off 5th or Neiman Marcus last call for sales.

    @Lucia I don't think PS was able to keep up with more modern looks. Stores like ANn Taylor have had to change "with the years" but when I went into a PS store right before it shut down…the styles were still dated. It's a shame!

    @Canadianpetite Hi Canadianpetite : ) I don't use anything because I like the leather getting a nice patina, BUT I am seeing that the handles are changing much darker b/c of my hand oils than the rest of the leather trim, which is no good. I hear good things about Apple brand leather protectant spray and their other leather products. Check ebay…I'm watching a few things on there by Apple.

    Posted 4.6.11 Reply
  7. @Cee I'm taking it back for you, Cee! Lol! This is the first time something came back too tight, and it was so uncomfortable I knew I didn't want to go through a whole day holding my breath.

    @Justine I get them from H&M; and Forever 21 (really $3 or less retail price) but the one shown here in the first few photos is a Theory tubular "len" tank which I love. It is one size fits all but is SO fitted and holds everything in…it's long and I use it as a "slip" sometimes under clingy skirts/dresses.

    @Janine aka J-Ezzy @ *La Dolce Vita* Awww you poor thing! And on your wedding day, too? You deserve the best on that day! I have no doubt you had a fabulous time regardless though.

    @libbeh Wowzers, Savers was around 10 years ago? I hope it's here to stay!

    I am in no way a "true petite" … petite means in general women under 5'4" and we come in all shapes and sizes. I just happen to be scrawny and child-sized. I have no doubt you are beautiful in your own way, and women can't be truly happy until we learn to embrace ourselves just the way we are. It's our personal challenge to find things that flatter our own body types yet suit our personal style. Have you seen Gigi's Gone Shopping? She is a curvier petite and is always trying on cute new stuff!

    @Jackie I've seen something of yours (forget what exactly or how) but I remember it is very RED! You need a red skirt…powerwoman!

    @Michelle Aww, poor Michelle. That sounds so uncomfortable!

    Posted 4.6.11 Reply
  8. Thank you ladies for your comments. I am definitely going to go back a third time with my new-found courage from your support, Lol!

    @Anh Very sad, Anh. Well at least your have your gorgeous red Valentino one.

    @Sunshine Aww, don't let it be the story of your life…us victims of botched alterations must stick up for ourselves! It is a little disheartening because even though i thought I found my 'perfect tailors' they have still botched several items. This one is fixable but some past ones were not.

    @littlenashua Unfortunately this only will get wear in the warm weather. For us new Englanders, that's not too much time in the year. I tried it on with black, gray, olive etc tights and it just didn't look right.

    @PetiteXXS Oh, please blog your first suit from Petite Sophisticate : )

    @Twenty-5 Oh noooo, that's the worst! Often times that can't be fixed because the tailors have messed up the overall cut. I have a pair of botched butt pants in an old post about finding a good tailor : (

    @thestylishbarrister Hi there : ) You must check out Anh @ and search for how she wears her red skirt. She hasn't worn it too many times yet, but each time has been lovely and not too sexy. As long as your red skirt isn't too fitted, a nice silk blouse would look nice tucked in. if it is fitted and very curve hugging, I would probably not suggest wearing it for work.

    Posted 4.6.11 Reply
  9. I think it actually looks really great in the first photo with alterations. Couldn't tell it was too tight at all! What a great deal but it sucks that you have to get it re-altered so many times. I have a love/hate relationship with tailors too. Most of them can come across as quite arrogant and like they could do no wrong 🙁

    Anyway, yes my skirt in the last post was the F21 scalloped one! It fits okay but it's a bit low-waisted for my liking. Also, I guess I should have expected this because it's linen, but it crinkles like crazy! Unfortunately I think it's only going to stand a summer of wear at most.


    Posted 4.6.11 Reply
  10. As always, your outfit looks superb! That red is the perfect shade/tone. I don't remember how I found Wendy and yes, I think her posts are a must too.

    Question about your Louis Vuittons. How do you keep the handles from discoloring too much? Do you use a special product?

    Posted 4.6.11 Reply
  11. skirt is bootiful. I have never heard of Savers. Anyone from the West coast heard of this? Only know of buffalo exchange. been eyeing a similar belt @ American Apparel w/real leather. they make their belts in XXS I believe. I'm hoping all this talk about going out of business is true so I can snatch it up for cheap!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  12. I love the skirt it looks really good on you. It's really hard to find a beautiful red skirt these days.

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  13. Looks so good on you!! Ahh.. I remember Petite Sophisticate. My mom was an avid shopper there until it closed down at our local mall SSP.

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  14. Kristy wrote:

    WOW, this post just convinced me to buy a red pencil skirt 😀 You proved it that the classic skirt can go for work and play! Mmmm.. now where should I buy one? 🙂

    Wendy's Lookbook –> completely HOOOKED! I just found her YT channel last week and I've watched ALL her videos. Very bubbly with a great sense of style. What's not to love? 😀

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  15. Lucia wrote:

    I thought I was the only one who remembered and commiserated Petite Sophisticate! When I was a little girl it was a definite stop on my mother's shopping route, so it's a shame that it's not available for today's petites.

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  16. I've only had bad experiences with tailors- back when Seven jeans had only one length. And I never ended up wearing a nice pencil skirt because the job was left unfinished- just a hemmed line but a poofy volume like a weird tulip skirt. I think I got scared away from buying anything that doesn't fit perfectly because I'd pay and wait, only to have disappointing outcomes =P But I'll have to do my research when my wedding dress comes in!

    I was wondering if you could relay this question to Nick– where does a guy buy slim fitting suits? Whenever my fiance picks out an off-the-rack suit, it's always too baggy. =( Alterations didn't work out for him either!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  17. Ying wrote:

    LOVE the skirt! Obviously you were meant to be because when you went back, she was still there! I hate when I regret not buying something…and then I get nervous thinking that when I go back, it's not going to be there. And then the sheer joy when I return and my item is still waiting for me – priceless. 🙂

    The alteration drama though – good for you for being brave enough to go back. I had a dress altered once and because I needed it THAT weekend, I never asked them to fix the job they did – the top was still too big. Plus, I'm not nearly brave enough to tell someone they did a bad job unless it's REALLY bad.

    Thanks for the recommendation on Wendy's blog! I love! She is gorgeous and I lover her style!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  18. wrote:

    you look absolutely dazzling in it! congratz and especially with those shoes!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  19. Wendy wrote:

    You look amazing Jean! Thanks to you, I just ordered a red skirt =D Thank you for the inspiration!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  20. That skirt looks awesome on you! I love your hair. One time I went to get my jeans hemmed and I realized afterwards that the seams were a different colour than the seaming on the pockets, it didn't match. So I just went back and told them and they agreed to fix it!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  21. Chloe wrote:

    Gorgeous! I've been eyeballing all the pretty-pretty-pretty red skirts showing up on bloggers lately, and this one takes the cake. I used to hit up Savers all the time when I was in high school, and what an awesome find! Isn't it the worst having to have tailors um…re-tailor? But hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

    & thanks for linking + sharing Wendy's Lookbook- she is adorable!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  22. Revanche wrote:

    I've always tried on the altered clothing before leaving the shop to make sure it fit no matter how long I've been using a tailor so I haven't had problems with asking for re-alterations before – the tailor usually checks it while I'm there.

    Hope you get that puff fixed because that red skirt is striking!

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  23. Leena wrote:

    wow, what a steal on that beautiful red skirt! now i want a red skirt too 🙁 as for alterations, yes i've mustered up the courage to ask the tailor to re-do a piece of clothing that didnt fit perfectly. there is one skirt, however, that was done too narrowly for me. it was lined so i just sucked it up and didnt say anything. i just walk around like a penguin 🙂

    Posted 4.5.11 Reply
  24. Ping wrote:

    jean– i love the thrifted skirt, more so than the AT one. the color is just so much more rich and vibrant. the results are fab and you look great.
    i hate paying for alterations. i went to my normal alteration guy for the shortening of the blazer sleeves, he said $60. i said heck no! then i went to nordies, they said $45 because i didn't buy it there. i have one more place to go before i give up. lol

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  25. Michelle wrote:

    Gorgeous!! I am glad that you were brave and asked for re-alterations! I love how you paired this skirt! So beautiful!

    I have had one bad alterations experience…it was with a bridesmaid's dress. Sadly, I did not ask for it to be fixed…this was years ago, I was not as forward then. The armpits were so tiny, and the bust was taken in too much, and there was HUGE padding! I was so uncomfortable in the dress. Unfortunately, I had to wear it twice! Eek! I am sort of tempted to put it on now. :p

    And yes, am following Wendy now…I saw her featured on Liane's page! 🙂 Loving the scarf video!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  26. Jackie wrote:

    OMG, Jean!! How do you always know what I like? I've been wanting a red skirt since I founded my company (whose color is a very bright red)! I can see myself making an entrance at a networking event in a red skirt!!

    It looks great. I'm jealous =D

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  27. libbeh wrote:

    This is a really clean, simple, yet pretty outfit! I've been trying to incorporate more bright colors into my usually dark wardrobe, and this skirt makes me want to get a red pencil skirt for it! I love Savers… unfortunately, the only one in the area closed 10 years ago, but I have fond memories of thrifting there w/ my older sister when I was a teenager. 🙂

    I'm so jealous I'm not a true petite like you and RP. You ladies are able to pull off the petite look w/o looking like a pudgy oompa loompa like myself. I'm short, but I generally wear a 6-8 in bottoms, and M/L in tops, and often have to hem my pants, skirts, and shirts to fit my petite lengths 🙁

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  28. most embarassing alteration story, i bought my wedding dress from a super thin russian chick and i was slightly bigger than her (she was like 6 inches taller though, lol) and i took it to a sweet alterations lady and i had her make the dress bigger but since it was made smaller already, there was very little fabric to work with (not enough for me) so she added fabric and worked really hard on it…turns out she made it too big, granted i had lost weight, but i was much too timid to ask her to fix it…so my dress was falling throughout my wedding day, that's what i get for not mussing up the courage, i've changed ever since 🙂

    i think the red skirt looks great!! if the last 3 shots are post alterations, i don't think the hips are an issue, no harm in getting it fixed just to make you happy 🙂

    i agree, tailors have a lot of pride and don't admit any fault, haha

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  29. I love the skirt post alterations! It looks amazing and so worth it! And how can you beat the price of thrift stores!!! The color is amazing!!! So glad you went back and got it:)

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  30. Rinny wrote:

    The skirt looks great on you after the alterations! And you got it for such a bargain too. Too bad about the many trips to the tailors though – I can understand how you would feel because I'd hate to have to go back and tell them they altered it wrong.

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  31. Justine wrote:

    I love your red skirt!
    Btw, where do you get your tanktops/undershirts?

    Just Better Together

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  32. This skirt is amazing and you look gorgeous! I really liked how you styled it with the chambray shirt and necklace. I'm taking notes right now 🙂

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  33. Cee wrote:

    You look absolutely gorgeous, Jean. The skirt hugs you in all the right places. I can kind of see the hippiness, but definitely take it back since it bothers you. Who knows, maybe as your tailors are reading this post, they're berating themselves for not doing the perfect job.

    As I'm typing all this, I really should listen to myself more! I've had post-alteration clothes end up being too tight on me and I just sucked it up. Literally and figuratively =/ I really should be more assertive. So what do you say? You take back this skirt for a redo and I will do the same if it happens to me again in the future 🙂

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  34. Hi Jean! Found your blog a little while back and really love it! I definitely wouldn't consider myself "extra" petite – we'll say petite in height, not so petite in girth.
    Love the skirt! I also have a red pencil skirt (closer to the color of the AT skirt), but I admit that I'm too chicken to wear it to work. I guess I'm afraid it's a little sexy.
    Anyone have ideas for how to wear something like this to work?

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  35. kileen wrote:

    i love this red skirt on you and have been looking for one of my own too! and i hope your tailors can fix up the puffy hips issue. considering how much business you give them, they should definitely be willing to do it for you! 🙂

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  36. Loving the red – Jean, you give those tailors so much business, you shouldn't even think twice about going back and asking them to fix it! I'm sure they'll be happy to do it, too, because you will certainly be back! BTW, I love Wendy too – she's an angel!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  37. Twenty-5 wrote:

    That red skirt looks so cute! The colors all go well together.

    The last time I got my pants altered and for some weird reason, the butt part looked real funky. I haven't gone back since I don't know how they will fix the butt part? I could swear it looked fine before…

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  38. PetiteXXS wrote:

    Oh Jean, I swear I've been on the search for a red pencil skirt too after seeing 9to5chic! 🙂 I even emailed Elle about her extra red AT skirt in size 2P a while back, but like you, the cost of alterations deterred me. I think I might just bite the bullet though, since I doubt I'm going to find anything of quality for any cheaper since I don't thrift shop like you. I figured a 2P shouldn't be that much different from say, a 0P or 00P, for them to take in (after, all you did alter that Theory skirt from a size 10!)

    Btw my first suit was from Petite Sophisticate! Terribly ill-fitting now in retrospect, but they were pretty much the only option at the time… BR didn't even offer petite sizing when I got it.

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  39. Erin wrote:

    I am loving everything about this outfit from the red/chambray color combo (which I never would have thought to do) to the bold striped belt and the beautiful brown pumps. The whole thing is made up of so many different colors, but they go together PERFECTLY. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  40. The skirt looks lovely on you post alterations. I love this vibrant shade of red. I am glad that you went back twice for your perfect fit. Good for you! $29.00 for this lovely skirt is not bad at all. I’ve tried the AT skirt in store too but it wasn’t flattering on me so I passed. You've always found the best stuff at the thrift stores. I love it!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  41. p.s. I loveeeeee Wendy's bubbly personality and her vids

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  42. Totally brave of you for going back .. TWICE! haha I'd need a lot more than just courage. I'd bring a few friends to help. LOL Also love the necklace.

    btw I thought you guys had Value Village in the States? 'cause I just checked out the Savers site and it's the same font and layout as VV's…then I searched for locations and all the Value Villages popped up! Or maybe they just have diff names for US and Canada.

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  43. Callandra wrote:

    Wow Jean, you're very brave to take the skirt back for re-alterations….twice! It does look good on you though and I can't wait to see all of the ways you'll style it 😉

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  44. Elaine A wrote:

    Funny I JUST (like 5 minutes ago) found Wendy on FB and "liked" her!!!!

    Good score with the skirt! I do see the slight puffiness, but with how much business you give your tailors they should be ok tweaking it!

    The colour is perfect! Some reds I find are too orangy but this one is gorgeous!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  45. Aubrey wrote:

    Gorgeous, Jean! I was so disappointed for you when I saw the first photo… thinking perhaps you bought it online and it didn't fit (again!). Then when I saw the first "after" photo I was blown away! So glad you got it at such a steal as well! So so worth it.

    I know what you mean about the whole tailor thing. :- I'd do it for ya if I lived closer! It's always easier to do it for someone ELSE. lol It looks stunning though. Great great find!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  46. I am glad you were able to find something at Savers. Sometimes I wonder if you guys think I am weird for being so obsessed with the place (notice I have not been there much lately? I have cut back on Savers trips, lately I only go to donate).

    I am glad I don't rely on tailors and can do things myself – on the rare occasion that I am not happy with my own alteration it's something I can easily put aside, then come back to again to finish.

    The red color of that skirt is perfect. I am on the fence about adding a plain red pencil skirt to my collection. I have red with a subtle pinstripe, but it makes it harder to wear with prints (though I did wear it last week with a navy and white nautical style sweater and it worked).

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  47. Elle wrote:

    Your skirt is such a beautiful shade of red! (rivals the rich Valentino interpretation). The AT one pales in comparison! And I am so glad you added a red pencil skirt to your closet because now you'll do amazing things with it and I'll be enlightened by your ideas. 🙂

    And definitely go back and ask them to work on the strange puff (though it's not too obvious in these pictures). Alterations are supposed to make skirts fit as perfectly as they can and if you aren't completely satisfied you may not wear it as often as you would!

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  48. It's a lovely skirt. Sorry to hear you had to deal with so much for the alterations.

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  49. Sunshine wrote:

    awww it's the story of my life jean. i have had over 20 botched alterations at different locations but i'm too chicken to say anything. the times that i actually muster up my courage to mumble some words, they always blame it on me, the material, blah blah so i just cried silently and walked away :'(

    i have the ann taylor red skirt too! it's a teeny big on me at certain places…i think i'm 1/2 size bigger than you 🙂

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply
  50. Anh wrote:

    Ah – this is a lovely shade of red and I'm SO glad you went back for it!

    Funny coincidence this weekend! I convinced my hubby to come with me to the Haight where my favorite thrift store is. I had seen a red leather pencil skirt a while back and it was still ON MY MIND. I wasn't as lucky as you though – it was long gone! …And this is how I justify impulsive purchases – usually by the time you realize you actually need it, it's gone! =)

    Posted 4.4.11 Reply

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