Thursday, May 3, 2012

J.Crew Pencil Skirts on Sale: How I've Been Wearing Them

It can be pretty maddening when J.Crew rolls out a brand new selection of clothing only to send it to the sale section 10 days later. Sometimes it feels like purchasing at full price is a waste of money...but I still do it when I think that something might sell out in my size or my preferred color. However, with a little patience (and a lot of jungle panther-like stalking), you can get great deals on some of J.Crew's classic pieces like Jackie Sweaters, Cashmere Long-Sleeve Tees, and No.2 Pencil Skirts. There have been a lot of pencil skirts on sale recently, and I've taken full advantage since they have become real work-wardrobe workhorses for me. In case you've picked up some of these skirts as well and are looking for new ways to wear them, here are a few examples of how I've been wearing mine.

FYI: All of the following personal images were taken in the Executive bathroom at my office, hence the snazzy bathroom decor.

No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Medallion Paisley

This skirt is currently sold out online, but keep watching the sale section and I'm sure it will pop back.

The Medallion Paisley Pencil was a really great buy - I've probably worn it once a week since I purchased it. The material is a strong but lightweight cotton twill, almost like denim, but the simple pattern and shape make it appropriate for the office. I bought it in a size 6 and it's fairly loose. I probably should have sized down to a 4, but it's more comfortable in the larger size when I'm sitting at my desk all day.

Late March and early April brought cooler temperatures to Georgia, so I was able to pair this skirt with some of my beloved cashmere sweaters for work. The purple and white print of the skirt compliments many solid-colored tops like gold, tangerine, and blush.

Here I've paired the skirt with two of my most favorite wardrobe staples: the Schoolboy Blazer in Navy and the Selvedge Chambray shirt. The shoes are Calvin Klein - about as basic as a navy work pump can get, but they are comfortable and polished.

No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Basket-Weave Tweed, Marine Blue

I reviewed this skirt in a previous blog post HERE.

I've worn this skirt with navy sweaters and button-downs, but here I decided to go a little bolder and pair it with my Talitha Blouse in Vintage Berry. I can't get away with wearing very much jewelry at work, but J.Crew's navy Sunflower bracelet adds a fun little pop of color.

I might be one of the few people who really liked the heavy, stretchy knit of the Jackie Pullovers, but I bought 4 of them and they've been in heavy rotation ever since. This simple combination of skirt and sweater is dressed up a bit with an old J.Crew golden chain necklace, double looped at the throat, and a leather and gold bracelet that I purchased at Monkees in Southern Pines, NC. The shoes are my trusty Nine West Austin pumps. They're comfy, cheap, and come in about a dozen work-appropriate colors.

No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Gardenshade Floral

Also currently sold out, also certain to pop back.

As far as sizing goes, this skirt is comparable to all of J.Crew's other pencil skirts. The quality is great - it's fully lined and the silky, slightly stretchy cotton barely shows wrinkles at all by the end of the day. I honestly wasn't too sure of this skirt when I pulled it out of the shipping box since the colors were so much more..."muddy" in real life than they appeared on the website. However, I started pairing it with tops in my closet and discovered that it looked great with my Jackie Cardigans and Perfect Shirts in various shades of pink and blue.

Worn here with a Pale Coral Jackie Cardigan, random TJ Maxx tee, and an old gold J.Crew skinny leather belt. It also looks great with blush and navy Stretch Perfect Shirts.

No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Ultra Eyelet

I bought this skirt at full price in the Chili red color when it first rolled out, and I'm glad that I did because it's now sold out in that color. The Navy version is now on sale.

Maybe it's just me, but there's something about wearing a red skirt that makes you smile when you look in the mirror. I LOVE this skirt. I was reluctant to buy it at first because of the nature of eyelet (it catches easily on things) combined with the nature of me (a.k.a. Mayor of Klutzville). But the cotton is smooth and stretchy, and there is plenty of give to the fabric. A lot of reviews mentioned the "shadow effect" at the inner thigh area that occurs beneath the lining and shows through the eyelet layer, but it doesn't bother me. It comes off more as visually interesting than "Hey, here's my crotch."

The Chili Eyelet skirt looks great with blue, white, and camel, and I also like pairing it with gray. Here I've gone for more of a retro ladylike look by combining the skirt with the shell portion of a gray Jackie twinset and a white cotton blouse with short puffed sleeves. The shoes are gray leather skimmers that I got at Target ages ago (I knew I would be running around a lot that day), and the necklace is from Madewell.

This is one of my best popback scores: the Scoopneck Blouse in Seine Stripe. I was afraid that the striped top paired with the red skirt would have me singing a certain Lee Greenwood song all day, but the fact that the lighter colored stripes are taupe instead of white or cream ensure that the outfit is not too "theme-y". I'm wearing the same gold chain necklace as in the second Basket-Weave Pencil Skirt image above, but not looped this time.

Have you purchased any of these pencil skirts on sale? How are you wearing them? Please share - I love to hear your ideas!


  1. Love your pairings! Also love those Jackie pullovers -- one of my favorites. Thanks for posting.

    1. My pleasure - thanks for stopping by!

  2. I LOVE these outfits!!! They're all super, super cute!

    1. Thanks Rynetta! I know you love your pencil skirts, too :)

  3. I don't have any of the skirts you featuring here but I love how you styled them. I think my favorite is the eyelet skirt with seine striped blouse but they all look great.
    And yes to bright light in the office bathrooms, your is much nicer than mine, makes the pictures less antiseptic, lol.

    1. Ugh, bathroom pics! I wish I had a full-length mirror at home, but we're renting and I can't find a good place to hang one without messing up a door.

      Thanks ajc!

    2. I think they have full length mirrors you can hang over the top of a door, like wreath hangers. I'm pretty sure I've seen it. Or go for it and get one of those ones you screw into the door. That's a rental upgrade. I can't imagine someone being annoyed that you added a mirror. I think I added one of those to every rental I ever lived in. lol

  4. Great outfits Whitney. Love your sense of color and proportion. I'm one who didn't like the Jackie pullover fabric but I have very sensitive skin. I thought the linen Tippis might be an alternative but when I saw them in store they were so thin, I decided to pass.

    Have a nice weekend!

    1. Thanks, xoxo! I totally get how the pullovers could irritate your skin - I do prefer cotton or silk/cotton sweaters for softness. And if 100% merino or lambswool gets anywhere near my neck...hello hives! Thanks for the tip on the linen Tippi sweaters, I wondered about how sheer they would be irl.

      You have a great weekend, too!

  5. Awesome outfits. I like the seine, too, the Talitha and the medallion paisley outfits.

  6. I love them all, but ESPECIALLY the striped shirt with the red pencil skirt. Gorgeous :)


    1. Thank you!

      PS - I adore your blog.

  7. OK, I am new to the pencil skirt world. I absolutely love how you matched them up. I do not work in an office setting so I would most likely wear them out to dinner or church. Any suggestions on how to start.?

    1. Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for the compliment :)

      For starters, I would buy a black pencil skirt in a lightweight wool gabardine or crepe with a little bit of stretch. You can wear a skirt like this almost all year 'round, daytime, evening, church, you name it. From there, you can pick up other neutrals like gray, camel, or navy - whichever color would work the best with the majority of tops in your closet. I'd try to buy these in the same lightweight wool as well because they will truly last you for YEARS if you take care of them. After you have your basics covered, have fun looking around for fun printed cotton versions for summer and thicker woolens and tweeds for winter. It's such a classic shape that you're sure to find plenty of options.

      Three things to keep in mind with pencil skirts are the fit, the lining, and your shoes. Pencil skirts are meant to skim the figure - they shouldnt be so tight that you have trouble walking. You can go tighter if it will strictly be an evening-out skirt, but for everyday wear I usually ask myself if I'd be comfortable wearing it in front of anyone my grandmother's age. I always like my pencil skirts to be lined, and I have no preference as to the material but you want to make sure that it won't cling to your tights when you wear them in colder weather. Lined skirts last longer, drape better on the figure, and help to camouflage any visible panty lines. As for shoes, you will always look fabulous and appropriate if you pair your pencil skirt with a classic pump. The higher the heel, the sexier the look. If you want to see how pencil skirts are DONE, go and watch some old movies from the 1940's and 1950's. Ballet flats, loafers, and brogues can be harder to pull off without appearing too dowdy and making your legs look short, but experimenting with different looks in front of a full-length mirror is half the fun ;)

      I hope that this helps you find some pencil skirts that you love and love to wear. Happy shopping!