Skirts have been around for centuries and different types of skirts have evolved as the length changes or the fullness of a skirt varies. Skirt styles can be figure-hugging or voluminous. Skirts can emphasize a waistline or change the hemline.
Types of Skirts
Make a skirt your own by searching for the right pattern and fabric to create the perfect skirt for your figure and a fashion statement. The following list is just the beginning of the types of skirts and variety available.
Did you know that skirts have been worn by both men and women! From the kilt to the sarong, skirts have made an impact on modern fashion and dress codes.
Listed here are twenty -one different types of skirts. Within each category of skirts, the length may vary from micro-mini to full.
Here is a skirt length guide to help you identify the best and most flattering type for your shape.
The A-line skirt is a great skirt for the pear-shaped figure (that's me!). This skirt is usually knee-length and forms a triangular shape when laid flat. It is an easy to sew option and makes up nicely in most fabric types.
The A-line skirt flares out gently from the waist and does not cling to the hips making it a flattering skirt option. Because of its flared shape, it does not need slits in the side or back in order to easily walk. A-line skirts are generally fitted at the waist and as such need shaping in the form of darts or a gently curving waistband. The waistband can be high, lowers or even elasticized.
The design of this skirt relies on the asymmetrical lines created by the cut of the fabric and the different levels of the hems. An asymmetrical skirt is usually cut on the diagonal across the body with one side lower from the other. This is different from a high-low skirt where the asymmetry is at the front and back.
Asymmetrical skirts can be tight, flared out or billowing.
Box pleat skirt
The box pleat skirt is a variation of the pleat types of skirts. A box pleat is made by allowing the two folds of the pleat to meet each other and form the box part of the pleat. The same pleat pattern is continued round the skirt. Box pleat skirts are often made in thicker fabrics to give volume and shape to the skirt.
Further Reading: How to Sew Pleats
The bubble skirt puffs out at the hem because the fabric of the hem is gathered onto a band instead of a turned up hem. This band is kept under the skirt so the top of the skirt ‘bubbles’ over the band.
These kinds of skirts take a lot of fabric as essentially you have 2 skirts - one straight skirt underneath and then the gathered portion on the outside. These are a fashion piece that tends to come and go rather than a wardrobe staple. Bubble skirts tend to be cut above the knee as any longer adds a lot of volume to the skirt.
The circular skirt, sometimes known as the skater skirt, is cut in a circle. The fabric is attached to a waistband that sits exactly on the wearer's waist. The skirt forms a circle when it is laid flat.
The circular skirt takes a fair amount of fabric. It can be made is all sorts of lengths from long and flowing to short and sassy. The circular skirt makes a great skirt for active outdoor wear and is often used for tennis skirts.
Variations of the circle skirt include a half circle skirt or even a double circle skirt for maximum flare.
The cowl skirt adds extra fullness to the area just under the waistband. The fullness is created by cutting curved lines from three points marked on your skirt pattern. Mark the designated points and the curve and then cut and alter accordingly.
The curve when opened out adds fullness to the pattern and creates folds that drape at the sides of the skirt. The cowl skirt is suitable for soft flowing fabrics.
The gathered skirt is a very straightforward style to follow. These types of skirts are gathered onto the waistband. The fullness of the skirt is determined by the amount of fabric in the skirt part of the pattern and the gathers pulled up to fit onto the waistband. A gathered skirt can be any length from short to full length. It is best in fine to medium weight fabrics.
Godet and gored skirts
Godet and gored skirts are full of extra flare and movement. The godet is a triangular shape of fabric inserted into a panel in the skirt.
Gores are the panels of the skirt that have been cut with extra flare. The flare may begin from thigh-length or knee-length to give extra fullness to the skirt.
The handkerchief skirt is a fun to wear skirt with points hanging down as the handkerchief shapes are attached and drop down from the waist. It is cut in a rectangle or square shape to achieve this look. Soft fabrics that drape must be used otherwise the points will stick out adding a lot of unwanted volume to your skirt.
The high/low skirt is exactly how its name describes it. The front of the skirt is higher than the back creating a high and low effect. This skirt is best sewn in soft flowing fabrics. The samples below were made in a rayon voile giving the skirt movement and elegance as you walk. The difference between the front and back can be subtle or quite dramatic. Some high-low skirts are so low at the back that it becomes a train draping out from behind the body.
High waisted skirt
The main feature of this skirt is a high waistband. The fullness of the skirt is attached to this band and it is usually a decorative part of this style. High waisted skirts can be created with elastic or flat bands like the photo on the right. They can also be paired with a tight pencil skirt. High waist skirts look best when worn with a tucked in fitted shirt to create a flattering silhouette.
Mermaid or fishtail skirt
The mermaid or fishtail skirt gives the wearer an hourglass shape and the tailpiece flares out at the bottom of the skirt. These types of skirts are often used for wedding gowns with the back becoming a train which can be short or really long. Mermaid skirts need to be paired with a fitted bodice to accentuate this design and is great for creating an hourglass shape.
An iconic skirt associated with the 1960s, and as the name implies, it is a very short skirt. Dress designer Mary Quant made this skirt popular. It is economical to make as it uses very little fabric. Mini skirts are traditionally fitted but can also be flared or even circular. Denim miniskirts are easy to wear for a casual look.
Pencil skirts have become the favored option for women in the professional and business world. These types of skirts are cut straight down to the desired length and forms a rectangle when laid flat. Some may also taper inwards at the knee.
If it is not made from stretch fabric, it will generally need a slit at the back or side. Without a slit, they can be really hard to walk in especially with a pair of heels.
The basic underskirt of this style is the pencil skirt. The peplum is an added flare attached to the waist. It is a very decorative style of skirt. The peplum is close to a circular shape and the bias cut helps with the flared effect enabling it to fall softly. Peplum skirts are great for balancing out wider shoulders and hide hips for a flattering look.
The pleated effect of this skirt varies with the size of the pleats. Knife pleats that sit flush with the body of the skirt are flattering. Pleated skirts are worn in different lengths and with different size pleats.
The pleats follow a pattern, once the size of the pleat is decided, the same size is followed to complete the skirt. Pleated skirts are often made in synthetic fabrics that can be permanently pressed so the pleats do not fall out when washed. You do not want to be ironing pleats back in after every wash.
This skirt is a must-have for a holiday on the beach or for a casual day by the pool. It wraps around the wearer at the waist and ties at the side. It can be made in different lengths and is usually made of cotton or natural fiber fabric. A sarong skirt can be short above the knee or much longer. It typically shows some legs on one side as you walk due to the long slit created. If you require more cover then consider a wrap skirt.
Tiered and layered skirts
These skirts are similar in the effect they create. Layers of fabric are used to create fullness and ‘swing’ to the skirt.
Tiered skirts are layers joined together while layered skirts may have the layers free to give a ruffled and frilly look. Layered skirts are often in girl's clothing designs and for women can give a free, floating and bohemian look. They are flattering for many body shapes particularly if the skirt is made in a soft floating fabric with a drape like rayon.
The tulip skirt is based on a straight skirt design, but with an irregular hem edge. This gives the skirt the appearance of a tulip design. The edges of the tulip skirt can be bound in bias tape to pick up the overlapped detailing.
Wrap skirts are very flattering as they wrap around your figure and tie or fasten at the waist. Wrap skirts come in different lengths and fit any occasion. This example has a frill added but many are plain with the wrap opening on the side. Wrap skirts do take more fabric to make but are an easy sewing project for beginner sewers.
Many wrap skirts fasten with ties wrapped around the body but buttons can also be used to hold the wrapped portion in place. An additional button is used to hold the inside wrap of the skirt.
Using a yoke effect at the top and on the waistband creates a slimming look for the yolk skirt. The yolk hugs the figure and the skirt is gathered or eased onto the yolk to complete the design. The yoke may be narrow or much wider and is cut on a curve in order to not need darts to shape at the back.
Types of Skirts - In Conclusion
Churchill once said, with reference to skirts and good speeches, that a speech, like a skirt should be ‘long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to create interest.’
With this in mind, and all the interesting skirt styles available, it is easy to see why a skirt is always going to create an interesting fashion statement. Choose types of skirts that flatter and make you smile and feel comfortable. There is no right or wrong in fashion, just wear what makes you happy.