For some it’s a white tee. For others it’s a pair of blue-wash jeans. But for us, the best go-to item for building an outfit when you have no idea what to wear is a black skirt. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer short or long, silk or cotton or even leather, a classic black skirt is the ultimate base for any look that’s posh and easy to wear.
With that in mind, we pulled together 19 timelessly chic outfits for all seasons and occasions—and yes, every single look features a black skirt. (Psst, screenshot your favorites to use as inspo on those “I have nothing to wear!” kind of mornings.)
1. Cropped Jacket + Black Skirt + Ankle-Strap Heels
Because of their status as a workwear staple, pencil skirts can sometimes feel a bit stuffy when worn outside the office. But when you pair it with a cool denim jacket that’s buttoned up as a shirt and cropped to hit right at the waistband of your skirt (which also creates the illusion of an itty-bitty waistline), the whole outfit feels much more fashion-forward.
2. Black Blazer + Black Tee + Statement Necklace + Black Skirt + White Pumps
We’re suckers for a good monochrome ensemble and we absolutely love the slimming effect of wearing black from head-to-toe. The trick to avoid turning into a shapeless blob, which is especially risky when you’re wearing multiple layers in the same shade? Ensure your ensemble is not only fitted, but also provides a healthy mix of fabrics and finishes. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a bold piece of jewelry and a contrasting shoe.
3. Cardigan + Black Skirt + Black Shoes
Cardigans are one of the biggest sweater trends of 2020 and luckily, they’re so easy to wear with your beloved black skirt. Opt for a looser fit, a bold pattern or unexpected detailing (like beading or deliberately loose threads) to avoid looking like a secretary from Man Men.
4. Vest + Black Skirt + Colorful Flats
If you do plan to rock a pencil skirt to the office (or any other event with a business-attire dress code) why not swap your regular blazer for a sleeveless version? Try out pastel flats during the warmer months or slip on a long-sleeve blouse and ankle boots for fall and winter.
1. Balloon-Sleeve Blouse + Black Skirt + Pointy-Toe Kitten Heels
We’re all about drama, but only when it comes to playing with proportions. By that we mean you should rock a sleeve that’s almost as big as your skirt. As a bonus, all that volume will make your mid-section look even smaller. Complete your sartorial balancing act with a pair of dainty kitten heels and minimal accessories.
2. Graphic Sweater + Black Skirt + Statement Bag + Classic Pumps
For some a tulle skirt is only appropriate for ballerinas, semi-formal occasions and Carrie Bradshaw Halloween costumes, but that doesn't have to be the case. A cute graphic sweater and a brightly colored everyday handbag can help tone down the naturally fancy vibe of delicate tulle.
3. Khaki Jacket + Belt + Black Skirt + Bright Accessories
Rather than tuck your shirt in before you leave the house in the morning, and then continue to tuck and retuck it for the rest of the day, define your waist with an A-line skirt, a casual jacket and cinch the whole thing together with a belt. Adding a few extra pops of vibrant color with your accessories can also make a voluminous satin skirt feel far less formal.
4. Turtleneck Sweater + Black Skirt + Over-the-Knee Boots
Covering yourself up from head to toe doesn’t have to mean turning into a wall of fabric, even if you’re rocking a long, black skirt. Stick to lighter tones, like pumpkin spice orange or dandelion yellow, and try out playful details, like a thigh-high slit, so you’ll end up equal parts stylish and warm.
1. Structured Jacket + Turtleneck + Black Skirt + Flat Boots
Channel your inner Cher Horowitz without the aggressively ‘80s color palette. Match your jacket and skirt to create a mod suit or go the mismatched route with a change in fabric or color. Either way, a structured topper helps to balance the juvenile features of a mini to leave you looking appropriately adult-like.
2. Oversize Knit + Black Skirt + Tights + Black Shoes
Miniskirts are fabulous for making even the most petite stems look miles long. Turns out, slipping on a pair of sheer black tights and black shoes only works to emphasize those leg-lengthening qualities. Top it all off with a chunky knit in place of a silky blouse for a more casual, weekend-ready feel.
3. Long Coat + Graphic Tee + Black Skirt + Flat Booties
As Cake says, she wore a short skirt and a loooooooong jacket. And so should you. Just add flat ankle boots. Why, you ask? As a wise PureWow editor once said, the shorter your hemline is, the lower your heels should be. Hence the flat shoe. As for the jacket, the mix of long and short hems creates a sartorial equilibrium that’s neither too modest nor too sexy.
4. White Blazer + Fitted T-Shirt + Black Skirt + Sandals
We’re a sucker for a good black-and-white pairing, especially when it also mixes multiple aesthetics, like this workwear blazer and beach-ready denim mini. It’s all at once polished (as suiting is meant to be), sexy (because how often does your upper thigh see sunlight?) and bold (let’s be honest, this outfit is far from boring). Pro tip: Keep your choice in footwear fairly simple or neat and save the tassels or pom-poms for another day.
1. Graphic T-Shirt + Black Skirt + Strappy Sandals
It doesn’t get any simpler than this, folks. This three-piece combo has all our favorite wardrobe staples and is appropriate for anything from a day at the office to grocery shopping and even dinner with friends. The trick is all in the skirt; the satin finish and silky material elevates a basic tee and easy sandals to a far more elegant place.
2. Blazer + Colorful Blouse + Black Skirt + Pumps
More comfortable than a pencil skirt and less girly than an A-line, slip skirts are an excellent choice anytime you want to look a bit more professional. Choose one that hits just below the knee and tuck in a contrasting blouse for an outfit that’s comfier than your average suit but still formal enough for a holiday dinner with the in-laws.
3. Oversize Sweater + Black Skirt + A Nude Shoe
Meet your coziest Thanksgiving outfit ever. A nude shoe helps to continue the line of your leg and balance out the fact that your top-half has been rendered rather shapeless. (You can also add a belt over your sweater if you’re not into the cozy sack look.)
4. Slim Knit + Black Skirt + Tall Boots
Finding ensembles that both show off your figure and keep you warm is a difficult feat. But this particular trio manages to do just that. Tuck your sweater in or choose a cropped knit that hits right at your waist and be sure to opt for a skirt that hits no lower than one or two inches below the knee. This way you can still show off your boots, without baring any skin to frigid winds.
MIDI OR MAXI SKIRT
1. Cropped Jacket + Light-Colored Blouse + Black Skirt + Heels
Super long skirts have a tendency to overwhelm the eye and cause your lower half to basically lose all shape, especially when they’re dark in color. Pairing them with pieces that are either light in color, show off some skin or clearly define your silhouette is key, which is why a cropped jacket that shows off your waist is an excellent option.
2. Chunky Knit + Black Skirt + Slim-Fit Boots
If you do decide to go big on top—in this case, in the form of an oversize turtleneck—you’ll need to balance it all out with a pair of tight sock boots or some pointy-toe heels and black tights. It doesn’t hurt to accessorize with a chain-strap cross body or long lariat necklace to draw the eye inward and any potential blob-like effects from wearing so much fabric.
3. Blazer + Belt + Black Skirt + Strappy Heels
Yes, a long black skirt, even one that isn’t skin-tight, can absolutely look just as sexy as a mini. Simply choose one in a sexy fabric, like lace or silk. Then add on a slim-fit black blazer that’s belted at the waist and slip into a pair of lace-up stilettos, if you really want to play up the date-night vibes. P.S. If going out without a real shirt on is giving you major nip-slip anxiety you can always layer a lacey cami underneath.