Dressed down pencil skirt

pencil skirt denim jacket

J.Crew no. 2 pencil skirt in double serge wool (taken in), Signorelli tee c/o, H&M; girls jacket
J.Crew strappy mirror pumps in metallic blush

I rarely wear pencil skirts outside of work, but packed this since it wasn’t getting enough love in frigid Boston. Although the thick wool material is suited for winter, the mustard yellow color has me stumped with opaque tights pairings (okay with gray, so-so with navy, and a bit bumblebee with black). For a warmer climate, a graphic tee and worn denim jacket toned the skirt down for weekend wear. Adding strappy heels made it dressy enough for dinner without being “business.” I’d try substituting in neutral or leopard print flats for running around.

left outfit from this post

pencil skirt for work and weekend All the sunshine must’ve gotten to my head, as I picked up a bright sleeveless dress in the middle of winter. I really love this dress – it comes in 3 colors with all sizes available (black would make a sharp LBD), and I ordered as soon as I saw my favorite color chartreuse. The fit and flare shape is universally flattering. This dress is a keeper but I did want to point out a few things.

ASOS Skater Dress in Bonded Fabric (in black, pink, or chartreuse) – sz UK4 / US0, on sale

This dress is from ASOS regular (if only they made this in this in petite sizing, versus the interesting sheer jumpsuits and cutout dresses that’s been dominating that department as of late!) and the torso was slightly long on me. The waistline and bust darts again fell an inch below my ideal spots. Not bad so this may not even be an issue for ladies my height (5 feet) but a little bustier. I’ll be bringing this to my tailor for the usual “lift by the shoulders” job. Aside from the torso length, I thought the US 0 was nice and fitted like an H&M; sz 2.
neondress1My one concern is that the back zipper does not lay completely flat on me. From the stock photo I was hoping its an invisible zipper, but it is exposed – just in the same color as the dress so a little less noticeable than metal. If the zipper wrinkle is due to poor construction, I hope it’s a one-off issue because I examined the “runway” video (not easy to photoshop) for this dress and the back zipper looked nice and straight. I’ll ask my tailor if he can fix/replace it, but if not this dress is still a keep for me.
neondress2Please note that the material of this dress is stretchy and neoprene-like. I like this as it has good weight and helps the dress keep its structure, especially at the pleats. You see a lot of higher-end designers using this material now for their full shaped pieces. The torso is lined in a same-color jersey, and the skirt is unlined so you see the white neoprene backing.

Measurements of sz UK4 / US0: 15.5″ from top of shoulder to waistline, 17″ from waistline to skirt hem, 12.5″ across the waist, 14.5″ across the armpits, 40″ across the bottom hem when skirt is extended (full skirt). 95% poly, 5% elastane. The vibrant chartreuse color, true to its name, is more lime yellow than a sunny yellow.
pencil skirt denim jacket1
pencil skirt denim jacket2


53 thoughts on “Dressed down pencil skirt

  • Melissa Olson January 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I love your t-shirt and skirt combo! It looks a bit more casual, but it still has the classy look that you are known for!

  • sbk January 8, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I feel your pain re what color tights to wear with mustard!! I've been pairing brown tights with my mustard skirt and found that I like that combo the best:


  • Jackie January 8, 2014 at 10:56 am

    This is perfect! I love the shoes!

  • pretty little things January 8, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I love the casual way you styled that yellow skirt! xo


  • ChocolateFashionCoffee January 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

    this is such an amazing look! love how you dressed down the yellow pencil skirt ๐Ÿ™‚

    ChocolateFashionCoffee Facebook Page
    ChocolateFashionCoffee INSTAGRAM!!!

  • Krizia January 8, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Hi Jean! I've been following your blog for a few years now and just have to say how I love how your style has evolved since the beginnings. Such an inspiration for classic, chic, streamlined, and clever dressing. Thank you!

  • Hannah January 8, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Absolutely loving that ASOS dress. Now I'm torn on what color to get!
    Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer Budget

  • Style Squared January 8, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Very cute, love the metallic shoes!!;)


  • Janice January 8, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Hi Jean,
    This dress is on sale at H&M; ($15 – 25% using code 6428, free shipping) that I think you would love. Only left in an XS! ๐Ÿ™‚ Looks like the same cut as your b&w; bow dress.


  • Carol Li January 8, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I loved how you dressed the skirt up and down ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Dressed with soul January 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Me too and I want to add that your look is brighthen up my day ๐Ÿ™‚

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena


  • Ann January 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Love the versatility of the skirt!

    Quick question: How would you wear the Asos dress? Or rather, where would you where it to? Would the style and color and the dress be a bit too much to wear to work? I still love the cheerful vibe the dress gives off though!

  • Rosie January 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Love this skirt . . . loved how you paired this together!


  • racingcourne January 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I work version is nice but I actually really love the casual version!

  • Anonymous January 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I also own a skirt in mustard yellow and pair it with forest green opaque tights. You seemed not so glad about most of your color choices. I, on the other hand, had never considered gray so far – don't know why. I'll add it to my considerations in the future (without winter weather here in Germany; I fear I'll rather have to break out my spring fashion like Wendy over at Wendy's lookbook)

  • Plum Pretty Sugar January 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Gorgeous color and outfits for the skirt! To adore!



  • SimplyxClassic January 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    i really like that you paired a casual tee with a structure skirt! looks great!
    and I agree, the wrinkled zipper is meh! Mine does that too!

  • Suzie Q January 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    I love how you styled the pencil skirt into a casual outfit. It looks perfect with those metallic shoes! For winter time, I pair my mustard yellow pencil skirt with black tights and it actually works (can be seen here). I also absolutely adore the ASOS dress as I have a penchant for structured flare dresses currently.

    Suzie Q

  • Ella Pretty Blog January 8, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Love the rooftop pictures – gorgeous! And love how you paired the pencil skirt with a graphic tee – such a chic & casual look!

  • Anonymous January 9, 2014 at 2:29 am

    Longtime lurker here with a question!* Can I wear a black blazer with non-matching black pants? If so, how? I just found a blazer at Mango that I love, but I'm unclear if I can pair it with pants from other stores.

    * Unrelated to the post, but I wasn't sure where else to put it. Sorry!

  • yerandfrankplusjared January 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I love the casual pencil skirt look but how do you get rid of the bumps of your shirt/blouse when tucked into the skirt? I have several skirts from Ann Taylor and while the skirts look best when paired with a tucked in blouse, you can always see the blouse underneath the skirt in the waist and midriff area which is extremely unflattering and defeats the whole purpose of the pencil skirt. And will you do a cozy sweater + pencil skirt outfit?

  • eve January 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    wow, I'd never be brave enough to wear a mustard coloured skirt. you pull it off amazingly! also, I like how you give the option to dress it up or down, this is really interesting for me, as I wear office clothes a lot and just sometimes run out of casual styles, so thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
    xx, eve


  • JazzyJ January 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    So pretty! Honestly I would have never attempted to 'dress down' a pencil skirt, you certainly know how to put it together as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Michelle R January 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Those strappy heels are gorgeous! The weekend look came together nicely.

    And great rooftop photoshoot. Nick (I assume!) did a great job with the camera placement (does that even make sense?) Almost zero knowledge of photography lingo. :/ Basically, I like the placement of the railing in relation to the camera and the blurred background.

  • phiphis blog January 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    tons of fun – the tee is a great pairing with the skirt, Jean! xo

  • DearStephiiie January 10, 2014 at 2:13 am

    The pencil skirt looks amazing! You've got such great style!

    Stephy โ™ฅ http://dearstephiiie.blogspot.ca/

  • Dice January 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Love how you dressed down the skirt with a t-shirt! =)

    Love the ASOS dress as well.

  • Marga January 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Love the skirt and the t-shirt outfit! Love the shoes as well. Great choice of outfit indeed!

  • Tram Nguyen January 12, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Hi! Where do you go to have your clothes tailored? We're around the same area and I'm looking for someone trustworthy.

  • LF January 12, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Just tried a denim jacket from Anthropologie and the size xs fits very nicely like a size 2/4 in HM… it also comes in petite sizing..worth checking out if youa re looking to invest in a comfy good quality one ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Melanie January 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Phyllis Pan January 12, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Did your tailor manage to fix the zip? I am in love with this dress which I think will be great for our vow renewal day! But I've the same concern as the zip. I usually wear a Petite US Size 2 at ASOS.


  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Krizia, thank you so much for following along over the years! That means the world to me. I hope you'll consider adding some posts to "my petite wallet" : )

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Janice! It was very popular and looks to be sold out.

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Hi Ann! I think it's a great spring/summer outdoor party, drinks with the girlfriends, even a wedding-appropriate dress. To dress it down I'd pair it with flat brown sandals or wedges, and a denim jacket if an extra layer is needed. I wouldn't wear it to a business casual/formal workplace because the combination of the very bright color and the full skirt makes it more fun and less professional, but that's just my personal opinion!

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you for the forest green tights suggestion! I ordered a pair recently and will have to try it out : )

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Hi there! I've done that a few times before I had a full black suit, and I don't think there's any problem with it as long as the shade of black and the suiting materials are very similar. If you don't have anything that's similar enough, I'd suggest going the contrast route so it doesn't come off as unintentionally mismatched. Try the black blazer with patterned bottoms or sheath dress (lots of elegant black & white prints out there) or you can coordinate a colorful piece with black and still be business formal. Good luck experimenting!

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Hmm … I think it has to do with both the thickness and how snug the skirt is, as well as the material of the blouse. I find with sturdier material skirts like this thick wool one I don't have a problem. I also have soft knit skirts that are lined from Ann Taylor, which also don't have the lumpiness issue (perhaps the lining is what also helps). For blouses I try to find thin, fluid silk-like materials. When shopping, I usually try on skirts with tops tucked in, and vice versa when buying tops so you know before purchasing if that will be an issue. If your skirts are unlined I'd try a slip – I get mine at Target, Vassarette brand.

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Tram! My tailor's shop does not have a name but he is located on Knapp St in Chinatown right by a hair salon in the alley (you can see the sewing machine from the street through a large window). I think he's there daily from 10am-5pm. He only speaks Cantonese, but can understand basic gestures like hemming and taking in : )

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Cute, thanks for sharing! I've heard such great things about Pilcro petites denim at Anthro.

  • Jean January 12, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Phyllis – he said he'd replace the zipper for me, but I won't get the results for a few weeks. Congrats on renewing your vows : )

  • Tram Nguyen January 12, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Thanks so much!

  • Anonymous January 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you so much for responding! This was super helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous January 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Jean! This is sort of unrelated to this particular post, but I'm about to start at a new job soon and was wondering if I can wear a pair of burgundy T-strap pointed-toe suede wedges for work. I recently bought them on sale and love them, but wasn't really sure if it's appropriate for working in a financial-services firm (like you). Thanks!

  • heyxgrace January 15, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I really love both takes on the skirt. I love that you paired it with a jean jacket! I always feel like I'm going back to the 90s whenever I try and wear mine LOL but it looks so classy with the skirt!! love love love. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Maggie Adofo January 17, 2014 at 2:44 am

    LOVE both of the looks. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Maggie A

  • MiszDreyy January 30, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Jean!

    First off, I love reading your blog! You have such awesome tips and style! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I just have a question… Do you think you can give me a quick run down for what's appropriate for business casual? I just graduated and I'm going to be working at a small CPA firm and you seem to know what's appropriate and what's not. I'm mainly concerned about pants and if I can wear sweaters instead of button downs and such. For instance, J.Crew has these pants called the minnie pants but I'm not sure if that would be ok or not. Thanks so much for responding ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous March 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    hi jean, what size of girl denim jacket that you wear. i want to get one. thanlks

  • Anonymous March 10, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Hi jean! Was also wondering what size your jacket

  • Jean March 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

    ^ Hi ladies, I believe it's an 11-12 girls

Comments are closed.