Skirts evolved from a need to have a more practical dress for both men and women. Since the 20th century, this versatile piece of clothing has changed from utilitarian clothing to a form of feminine expression. With all the different types of skirts available, you are guaranteed to find a piece that will make you look as prim or as racy as you wish.
Incidentally, did you know that the first types of skirts to rise above the ankle were called rainy daisies? That’s because their short length (about 3 inches off the ground) allowed them not to soak up water in the rainy season. They were also convenient for walking through crowds, playing sports, or for horse riding.
Skirts have become much shorter and more creatively designed than ever before. Today there are probably hundreds or thousands of skirt designs, but we will only go through the most common ones.
Short skirts, long skirts, colorful skirts, skirts with embellished designs – there is no shortage of the different types of skirts to choose from. However, skirts tend to fall into these major 21 categories based on their design, and you can choose any of them that best fits your body shape.
These skirts are fitted at the hip and widen towards the hem, forming the general shape of the capital letter A. The same term applies to dresses with a similar flaring profile. They can be long or short, but most are knee-length and look very chic.
Also called high-low skirts, they are skirts whose hem lies at different levels. The front could be higher than the back, or the sides could be cut higher or lower. One such example is the handkerchief skirt. Asymmetrical skirts tend to be voluminous and dramatic, so don’t take the attention from them when accessorizing.
The classic miniskirt is a skirt whose hemline rests well above the knee. They are usually 10-17 inches in length and come in many different types, as we will see below. No matter the type, miniskirts are always informal but fun to wear.
A pencil skirt is a form-fitting skirt cut falling to just below the knee. They are also called fitted skirts and preferred by professional women due to their formal yet flattering look. Pencil skirts made of stretchy fabric are called tube skirts.
Fitted skirts generally taper towards the knee and have a slit to make walking easier. Another type of pencil skirt called straight skirts lack this taper and are thus a little looser.
A pleated skirt is any type of skirt that has folds formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and stitching it in place. The pleats can be free-hanging or knife pleats which sit flush with the body. Pleated skirts are also called accordion skirts and have a decidedly feminine vibe. They are usually casual, but they can also be formal depending on their cut. A little more about pleated skirts below.
A high-waist garment is one that is worn higher than waist height. They are usually made of flowing fabric that makes them quietly flattering and elegant. High-waisted skirts are very popular because they work great for almost any body shape, and they can be made casual or formal depending on their length. If you want to look modern and chic, go for this trend.
This is a type of (usually short) skirt with a billowy silhouette. It starts fitted at the waistline, but the hem is gathered by an elastic band inside the skirt (a kind of two skirts in one design) that puffs it up. They are also called balloon skirts and are usually made of bright, delicate materials to be statement pieces. You can view our piece on the types of silk materials here.
These skirts are essentially circles of fabric with a hole for the waist. They are made of one piece of fabric or can be cut in multiple sections with the same result. Due to this cut, they tend to flow smoothly from the waist with no darts, pleats or gathers necessary. Circular skirts are also known as skater skirts or tennis skirts and can come in any length.
More flatteringly called a mermaid skirt, the fishtail skirt is designed to be form-fitting from the waist to below the knees before flaring out at the bottom. Like the typical wedding dress, they create a very flattering hourglass figure but need to be paired with a fitted bodice to complement this look.
This is a very unique type of A-line skirt with four flaring panels. Each panel has a cowl (hood-shaped material) on the seam which can be buttoned up or undone to alter the overall shape of the skirt.
The tulip skirt was first designed by Christian Dior in the early 50s in the shape of an inverted tulip flower, hence the name. It features an irregular hem with an overlapping front panel and is wider in the middle than the hem or waist.
A gathered skirt is just that – a skirt with a straight piece of fabric drawn at the waist with the help of a fitted waistband. It is also called a bouffant skirt or full skirt and is the traditional design for skirts. There are different types of gathered skirts such as bell skirts, prairie skirts, dirndl skirts, and hoop skirts.
A godet skirt is a kind of pleated skirt with a special triangular fabric insert added to give it extra flair and movement. These are called godet panels and start at thigh or knee-length to give the skirt extra fullness.
This is a type of asymmetrical skirt made of panels of different lengths of fabric. This results in a very irregular hemline consisting of hanging points, much like a handkerchief held up by the center with the points hanging down.
This is another type of asymmetrical skirt with a high front and low back, giving it an elegantly flowing movement. High-low skirts are made of soft flowy fabrics and are usually casual wear. They are also called waterfall or mullet sides, and they can also have the hem higher in the sides instead of the front or back. Lace fabrics are especially popular for the types of skirts that need to flow smoothly.
In fashion, a peplum is a gathered and slightly flared piece of fabric that forms a flounce over the hips. A peplum skirt is basically a pencil skirt with a peplum on top, which gives it a decorative look while helping to hide the hips.
This is one of the types of long skirts we have. Adapted from the Indonesian sarong, a sarong skirt is a fabric that wraps around the waist and ties at the side. This creates a long slit on one side in the typical beach sarong style.
This is a type of skirt with overlapping layers all the way to the bottom, which makes it seem as if it’s made of distinct tiers of fabric. However, the different tiers are actually joined together as opposed to its close cousin, the layered skirt.
Tiered skirts come in A-line or straight shapes and have a very peasant or bohemian look. If you’re looking to sew a tiered or layered skirt, you should at least have one of these automatic sewing machines to help ease the workload.
This is a skirt with a fitted band (or yoke) at the waist instead of a waistband. The skirt usually flows from the yoke straight down, which gives it a very slimming look. Some skirts have both a waistband and a yoke, giving them a very sophisticated look. The yoke can also be round, asymmetrical, or triangular depending on the design.
This is a skirt with actual layers of ruffled fabric laid one on top of the other. They give a very bohemian and usually flattering look to any body type, but they take up a lot of fabric to make.
This is a more conservative type of sarong skirts which is also called the draped skirt. It is made of a tubular fabric that is wrapped around the body and gathered at the side to make a skirt.
Pleats on skirts are used to create volume and shape. They can be found on any type of skirt, but there are six major types of pleated skirts depending on the design of the pleats.
Box pleats are made by folding and pressing equal lengths of fabric outwards and ironing it in place. They are mostly found on draperies and have most of their material showing.
A box-pleated maxi skirt is a full-length skirt with a pattern of box pleats, which are usually pressed into knife pleats facing away from each other.
The inverted pleat is actually an upside-down box pleat. This design keeps the majority of the pleat hidden from sight, which makes it the most popular type of pleat on skirts and dresses.
Kick pleats are one kind of pleat usually found on tight skirts and designed to help you walk easily (hence the name). A kick-pleated skirt is usually of medium length and will have a few short pleats leading up from the hem, either on the back or front of the skirt.
A plain pleated skirt is a simple skirt with any of these types of pleats in a simple, usually formal design. It is the longer equivalent of the skater skirt.
Initially made for ballerinas, tutus are frilly miniskirts with layers of silk, nylon, or tulle. They are also called tulle skirts and are usually worn at the narrowest part of the waist.
A godet is a type of pleat with special panels inserted in the hem at intervals to give the skirt more shape and swing. If it is made of triangular godets (gores), it is known as a gored skirt.
The miniskirt, also known as a mini, exploded into popular fashion in the ’60s mostly due to the efforts of pioneer designer Mary Quant. It has always been a symbol of rebellious culture and boldness for women and is probably the most popular clothing item to date. There are different types of miniskirts as described below.
The tiny black mini skirt is a versatile item that can be worn with almost anything under the sun. it is sexy, bold, and really cool. It can be a pencil skirt, an A-line mini, pleated, leather, or whatever you want it to be, but wear it boldly.
Talking about leather, a leather mini is one of the coolest ways to show those legs. In summer, pairing a leather mini with a tee or sparkly top and high heels is the perfect way to show up for casual events.
While miniskirts like the leather mini are one of the easiest to design and sew, you need to have a reliable set of sewing machine needles on hand. Users have found that this set of 50 Shmetz universal sewing machine needles are very cost-effective, reliable, and work great for any sewing project you have. They are highly recommended for universal sewing machines.
This is an A-line shimmery mini made out of textured and patterned jacquard fabric. The flowy style, patterned silky finish, and silky-smooth feel make jacquard almost hypnotic and a must-have statement for every woman.
The denim or jean mini is another must-have. The classic denim mini roots back to the 70s, but now styles now make it to popular culture and even on the runway. These include frayed denim, patchwork denim, printed, and even polished denim miniskirts. Working with denim does require the right sewing machine for denim fabric because of its tough characteristics.
The button-front miniskirt is another old-school fashion trend that has remained highly popular due to its versatility and authenticity. Button-down skirts are defined by the buttons they spot – whether shiny metallic ones, muted plastic tones, oversized buttons, and more. They are practical and casual, and you can wear them anywhere you would wear a denim skirt.
The mod mini lets you tap into the modernist subculture of bright, stylish, tailored, sometimes black-and-white clothing. A mod mini skirt will have that vintage rusted look and come in an A-line or fitted design for maximum effect.
This is a miniskirt with an irregular hemline, usually interrupted by a short slit to form a high-low design.
The metallic mini-skirt will have a shiny, metal-foil kind of shine to it. It is the ultimate rock-and-roll kind of look and is very easy to style for a casual day out.
The embroidered mini skirt has intricate multi-colored embroidery, transforming it into a fun and flattering statement piece.
This is a mini-skirt with an A-line silhouette, which means a slim fitted waist and flared hem. This generous shape makes A-skirt minis favorable for any body shape.
Suede is soft and tough, so a suede miniskirt could be the ultimate summer or party piece. They usually feature a side slit to allow for more movement, but this gives suede miniskirts an extra degree of “oomph” as well.
If you are going for a sparkly, party-esque look, a sequined miniskirt never disappoints. It can be one made of glossy sequin fabric, but you can also embellish an existing suede, satin, or other types of skirt with shiny sequins.
To sew sequins with a sewing machine, you need a sturdy sewing machine capable of doing a zig-zag pattern and the corresponding presser foot. One such machine that our experts highly recommend is the Juki HZL-600 computerized sewing ad quilting machine with 255 sewing patterns.
In addition to its guaranteed industrial-quality toughness, users love how easy it is to use even for beginners and its low-noise operation. That’s why Juki is the brand of choice even for commercial operations.
Skirts used to be worn by both men and women not too long ago, but they have today become definitive of the feminine side. Skirts have actually evolved to allow women to have a more active lifestyle and be more expressive of their feminine side.
The various types of skirts we have today including maxis, midis, and miniskirts are all testament to the versatility of the skirt. Thanks to a wide array of fabrics, designs, silhouettes, and plain creativity, it would be difficult to go over all the different types of skirts the world has. However, these major categories should suffice to get you started on sewing and designing your own skirts in no time.