Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Wrinkle Me This, Wrinkler

So, I recently got some Banana Republic suiting separates, including a couple of pencil skirts while they were on clearance because I need some good pencils for the summer months in DC.

Unfortunately, they wrinkle like crazy! I wasn’t expecting extraordinary quality form Banana, but still, they are nearly unwearable. So my question: I know my wool skirts that are…inadvisable in the summer won’t wrinkle, but what kind of fabrics/brands am I looking for in a spring/summer pencil skirt that aren’t equivalent to wearing linen?



There might be a number of reasons why your skirts are wrinkling and most have nothing to do with fabric content.

Fit. Pencil skirts that fit too high or too tight across the hips will wrinkle without any help from the fabric.   This is because when you sit, you spread out (to put it nicely), and if there isn’t a little bit of give, the skirt will buckle and crease to create space.

Low-rise skirts are less prone to this problem.  Also, a pair of Spanx can sometimes keep you squeeze in enough to prevent the wrinklage.

Frumpled.  Yes, that’s a word.  It’s a combination of frumpy and wrinkled.  Need a better definition? Walk around the Capitol on a warm, humid day and you’ll see what I mean.

Frumplage (also a word) is caused when skirts with a high cotton/linen content wrinkle because they absorb moisture from the air and the heat from your body causes them to crease.  Skirts made from animal materials (wool) will wrinkle less because the fabric is stretchier.

Speaking of stretch, a fabric that has cotton + polyester/acetate/modal + spandex where the acrylic fabric content is more than 20-25% will likely be a wrinkle magnet.  This holds true for tight fitting pieces (trousers, pencil skirts), but a wrap dress or loose blouse may be fine.

Sit Test. When you try on a pencil skirt, take a minute to sit down in the dressing room.  Check your e-mail on your Blackberry and kill a couple of minutes.  Then cross your legs and shift around a bit.  If when you stand up after three or four minutes and you’re wrinkled, run away from that piece.

Wool.  You can weear wool year-round if you choose a good quality, worsted wool. I buy the J.Crew Super 120s pencil skirts.  They’re not too hot in summer and they wrinkle less in the humidity than my cotton skirts.  Because, as I mentioned above, wool bounces back better than cotton.

When All Else Fails.  Buy a skirt that will conceal the wrinkles.  Like this ruched pencil from J.Crew.

Pleated Zip Pencil (J.Crew, $128)

Steamer.  If you want to make it through the humid months without spending your whole paycheck on dry cleaning, you need to buy a steamer.  You can go all out and buy a stand model or just grab a handheld steamer.  This will be more effective and less damaging than an iron, and if you live in the South it will save you a fortune at the cleaners.


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  1. BiblioMOMia says:

    I can't recommend Downy Wrinkle Releaser enough! I buy the biggest bottles they have at Target, and it works on EVERYTHING.

    April 19, 2011/Reply