Ask Belle: Skirts Under-$100

Jan 22, 2013

Hi Belle,

Could you suggest a few work appropriate skirts that are under $100? I absolutely love all of the outfits you post, however it’s hard to afford most of them on a staff assistant budget! 

Noelle

Skirts are a great addition to the working woman’s wardrobe because most can be worn in any season.  Luckily, for those just starting out in their career, there are a number of stylish, versatile skirts that cost under-$100.

 

From Left: Jones New York Tweed Skirt ($59) // Halogen Dynasty Skirt ($69) // J.CREW Dotted Brocade Skirt ($99) // Addison Pencil Skirt ($30) // High Waist Peplum Skirt ($49) // Anne Klein Pleated Skirt ($36)

A-Line.  At some point, the A-Line skirt fell out of favor.  Examining the virtual racks, yield few stylish choices–mostly just a lot of knit jersey skirts more suited to the beach than the boardroom—but this tweed number from Jones of New York is the exception.  Adding a wide leather sash, like they did in the photo, really lifts the look and defines the waist beautifully.

If you would prefer a basic a-line skirt in a fabric that you can wear year-round, Banana Republic makes their suit skirts in an a-line.  I also found this skirt with a chevron print (if you’re not over that trend, yet) and this breezy white colorblocked skirt for $120.  And if you’re looking for a dress with an a-line, try this colorblock shift from Loehmann’s or this slight a-line dress from Ann Taylor in an all season cobalt blue.

Need a plus size option? Most of what the industry calls a-line is just a less-snug pencil, but I did find the Jones skirt above in a plus size and this lovely teal tweed skirt.  And if you’d like something more versatile, this paneled skirt in black has a slight a-line and would be a good choice for the office.

Pencil. There are three pencil skirts above: a tweed, a brocade and a bright wool.  I wasn’t sold on the tweed when I first looked at it.  After all, the picture is a bit blah.  But once I saw how the folks at Nordstrom styled it, I saw its true potential.  It also comes in a vibrant jade and a cool cobalt that would be ideal for warmer weather…whenever that arrives.

Sadly, this dotted brocade skirt is sold out online–a casualty of the final sale–but you can still find it in stores if you call J.CREW.  If you like brocade, this skirt from Anthropologie comes in a lovely mint and a basic navy.  But if its the dots that you are after, this micro-dot skirt has a pencil shape with a flirty flounce at the bottom.

Bright fabrics are a fun addition to your closet.  Pair them with neutrals and basic shapes for a modern work look that still has personality.  If you’re into orange, this skirt with a pieced-bandage style has the potential to be very cool (provided it’s not too tight) for just $17.  If pink is your preference, Jones of New York offers this bright pencil.  If it’s cobalt you’re after, Emporio Armani offers this skirt for under-$100 and Express has a pencil with a ruffled peplum for $59.

If you’re plus size and looking to add some color to your wardrobe, try this bright cobalt skirt or this deep green-teal pencil.  This black and pink color block also offers some brightness.  And I LOVE this charcoal grey skirt with just a hint of sparkle. I so wish it was still available in my size.

Peplum.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, not everyone can wear peplum.  It depends on the length of your torso and the placement of your rear end.  I was lucky enough to find a skirt at Zara this fall that only had the peplum in the front, since I could never find one that didn’t make it look like I had two rear ends.  As for the trend factor, if you look good in peplum and build an outfit that works, your ability to wear it won’t be limited to just one season.  

If the skirt above looks like it might fit too snugly for your taste, this skirt from Nordstrom has a more traditional pencil cut and a similar price.  And if you’re still not sold on the peplum, try a flounce at the bottom instead.

Plus size? ASOS’s Curve line is where to go looking for peplum pieces.  And Land’s End has a skirt with just a bit of flounce if you’re not into peplum.

Pleated Waist Band.  These skirts are not easy to find, but I see a couple of them each spring.  I like the pleating and draping around the waist band because it’s visually interesting, helps conceal a slight belly and can be worn to work or in your off time.  I also found this bright teal number in the same shape.

If you can’t find one, you can easily substitute a tulip shaped skirt, but be careful how much you’re revealing.  Piperlime has one in red or green, and ModCloth offers a fun one in black.  And if these shapes don’t strike your fancy, you can always choose a traditional knife-pleated skirt like this blush and black one or this dotted one from Target.

And if you need these shapes in a women’s size, try this red or black pleated skirt, this slight-tulip shape or this deep purple skirt with draping.

My best advice for finding great skirts at Staff Assistant friendly prices is to bookmark sites like Banana, Ann Taylor, Loft and Limited, which regularly have sales offering 20- or 30-percent-off.  These sales can yield at well made, stylish skirt at a great price.  You can also follow Alterations Needed or Corporette for sale roundup posts that will tell you where to shop, when. 

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  1. Lexi says:

    thanks for the extensive post, and for including plus size options!

  2. Kate says:

    If you like pencil skirts, the jcrew no.2 pencil skirt is to die for. I have picked up quite a few for well under 100 during their sales, so keep an eye out online, and if it's sold out online it's always worth checking the stores (their 'find it for you' service is great, gets you free shipping, and honors additional sale discount prices) – i got one of the wool skirts for $30 a few weeks ago!!

  3. ChinaRette says:

    Definitely follow Corporette for sales. I just follow it instead of subscribing to a never-ending stream of store emails. Never buy Banana or Ann Taylor full price, since they have so many specials going on.

    I wish designers were putting out more A-line skirts. It seems like the pencil has truly taken over for several seasons, but well-designed A-lines are flattering on more people. I like my pencil skirts, but I love my A-lines. Most came from Banana Republic.

  4. Lisa says:

    I have been eyeing (okay… eye f*cking…) that J. Crew polka dot pencil skirt for a while now… I have PLENTY of pencil skirts, but this one is special! I'm glad you featured it for this question/answer

  5. Cait says:

    Thank you so much for including the plus size options!!

  6. Kimberly says:

    I cannot recommend the Halogen skirts from Nordstrom's enough! I am curvy (waist 13 inches smaller than hips) and petite, and figured I was stuck with A-lines (that I almost always have to hem, to boot). But I find that the Halogen pencil skirts are very true-to-size, are short enough to be knee-length and office-appropriate for petites, and they flatter very curvy figures. At this point, I have four of their pencil skirts in my “fat” size and five in my new skinnier size. Of course, I also have a Nordstrom visa and like to earn coupons with it, and I'm generally loyal to brands, but I've never been this loyal.

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