The Knee-Length Skirt

This length is classic and a little bit retro. The best part: It looks good on just about everyone. We have tips, tricks and tidbits to help you wear it in style.

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The Knee Length

Radiates: Ladylike chic.


It’s just right when: Hem hits at (or just below) the kneecap.


Ideal for: Work, cocktails.


Designers who do it best: Donna Karan, J.Crew, Marc Jacobs.

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By Body Type

If you’re full figured: Choose fabrics that “give” (look for added Lycra and a bias cut).


If you’re tall: Wear a slightly longer length (two inches below the knee-cap) to visually enhance an hourglass shape.


If you’re short: Hem skirt to just above the kneecap to give the illusion of longer legs; wear as high a heel as you can stand (it’s tough-love time).


If you’re pear shaped: Avoid styles that taper at the hem (they magnify your booty); wear sheer hose (not opaque) to break up the heaviness of your lower half.

Courtesy of Corbis

Patron Saint of this Length: Joan Holloway

We have a major girl crush on Christina Hendricks, who plays Holloway on Mad Men. She puts the sass in secretary and does more for knee length (with her va-va-voom curves) than anyone else on TV.

Courtesy of Everett Collection

Famous Skirt Chasers in History

1. King Henry VIII

2. Casanova

3. John F. Kennedy

4. Eddie Fisher

5. Frank Sinatra

Courtesy of Corbis

Hosiery Guide

Best Bets:

Narrow ribbed: The texture adds a cool factor.

Sheer black: Always right, never wrong.

Sheer black with back seam: Ubersexy, with a slightly retro vibe.

Opaque: Best in any jewel tone.


What to avoid: Overly busy designs—like lace—and anything super bright.

Courtesy of First View

Get a (Shoe) Clue

The heel can be stacked, square, slim or chunky, but to really dress up a cap-grazing silhouette, a pump is our first choice.


Walter Steiger suede pumps, $855;

Courtesy of Casadei

She Wears the Skirt: Three Tips

1. Style should be fitted but not so tight that it puckers. Bold colors look modern.


2. Skirt should have a lining to ensure smoothness; avoid bulky fabrics.


3. Flats are not an option. Always (always!) wear this length with a heel.

Courtesy of Rodney Smith

A Brief History of the Secretarial Pool

Historically, women who worked were most often teachers, but in the early 20th century, they hit offices in droves and secured jobs as typists. They sat in a group and looked anonymous—a far cry from their fashionable cubicle counterparts today.


If you can't get enough of the feminine silhouette, modesty gets a makeover with midcalf skirts.


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Courtesy of Getty Images

First Published October 27, 2011

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