InStyle’s Fashion Director Cindy Weber Cleary has been a fashion editor for the past 20+ years. Needless to say, she’s picked up some tricks along the way. Catch her column here each week for how-to tips and style secrets on her favorite, timeless styles.
There is something wonderfully feminine and freeing about wearing an A-line skirt (which is wider at the bottom, like the capital letter A). It accentuates a woman's hourglass curves—but, unlike a pencil skirt, allows freedom of movement. Instead of stepping carefully, one can stride—or even sashay!
The silhouette was introduced by couturier Christian Dior in his premiere collection in 1947 (above). It caused a sensation and changed the way women both dressed and moved.
This slightly retro shape can be ladylike or wildly sensual, depending on the fabric and volume of the skirt. Stiffer materials tend to be more conservative and work-appropriate. I have a black silk jacquard one that I wear to work with a turtleneck in fall and winter and a white shirt in spring and summer. I also dress it up for evening by pairing it with a black chiffon blouse and a dramatic collar necklace or a white cropped tuxedo jacket, year round. And fluid full skirts can be downright seductive! The temptation to twirl is hard to resist.
It's easiest to pair a wide skirt with a fitted top, such as a turtleneck or a slim shirt, tucked in. That said, a boxy cropped jacket or a blazer with a nipped or belted waist also work beautifully. The key is keeping the waistline defined! Marisa Tomei, Michelle Obama, Carolina Herrera (below) pulled off the look beautifully.
Another thing I love about an A-Line skirt is that it works with a wide variety of shoes, ranging from a pointy-toe flat to a slingback with a kitten-heel or a high-heel pump. Boots with a graceful heel are another smart option.
This skirt shape is a classic that will never go out of style. If it suits your figure—somewhat smaller at the waist—you can think of them as timeless investment pieces. My waist isn't as tiny as it once was, but I still feel wonderfully womanly wearing a full skirt!
Shop the styles above (clockwise from top left): Tibi, $750, net-a-porter.com; Oasis, $72, oasis.com; Burberry London, $750, net-a-porter.com; Ted Baker London, $135, tedbaker.com; DKNY, $195, net-a-porter.com; H&M, $35, hm.com.