How to Make a Classic Garment Suit a Casual Lifestyle


I’m an H shape, this means that straight (pencil) style skirts suit my figure much more than flared ones (this is also true for 8 Shapes).

Pencil skirts are traditionally classic garments. They originated in the suit and are synonymous with the business world and the corporate office.

I don’t work in one of those (my studio is inside my home) yet I have a skirt body (cos of my flat butt, which makes trousers hard to fit) so I prefer to wear skirts over trousers. So how to make them less classic and more suitable for my everyday more smart casual dressing style?

The answer to this conundrum lies in the fabric.

Instead of a woven fabric that a traditional straight skirt is made from, I prefer some sort of stretch fabric like a ponte knit or a scuba knit.  Why is this?  Well I’m taking a vertical, straight garment which is yang, and creating it in a fabric that is softer, with often curvy patterns which are both yin (you can find out lots more about the yin and yang of clothes here).

The Classic Pencil Skirt Made Casual

Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual

Unable to find anything in the stores that fits my criteria for pattern, shape and length (not doing the mini anymore) I’ve recently made all the skirts in this post.  It’s a super simple two seam design and because of the stretch fabric, no need for zips and fastenings!

I like to add in a pattern that takes away all “office” feelings from that skirt.  A fun abstract pattern like this scuba fabric skirt above would never look right in a conservative office.

By adding a chunky knit jumper (sweater) this takes away that classic business feeling of this skirt (this one I made from a stretch woven fabric).


Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual


If I want to dress this skirt up, I just team it with a more fitted knit and a textural cutout jacket, which in no way resembles a suit jacket.

Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual

Another skirt I recently made from a ponte knit is this one with spots.

Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual

It’s comfortable for everyday and I can dress it up more with a jacket or down with a casual poncho as I’ve done here.


Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual

A multi coloured pattern makes it easy to mix lots of different tops in a variety of colours with my skirts to change the feel depending on my mood and the occasion.

The skirts above and below are both made from a scuba knit which make them super comfortable and easy to wear.  If you want to think about the same concept with jackets, look for stretch knit jackets like this one that I’ve teamed with this floral pencil skirt.  It naturally has a more relaxed vibe because of the fabric and construction.

Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual

The Classic Blazer Dressed Down

Another classic item that you can easily dress down is the blazer.

Making a classic style garment feel more relaxed and casual

When adding a jacket to your jeans outfit it dresses them up, but as you’re still wearing the jacket with a casual garment (as jeans are always casual) it stops you from looking too dressy for a more casual lifestyle.

Using a medium colour to create a medium contrast from high

Adding a colourful scarf is another way to dress down your blazer, as the more patterns and colours you add to an outfit the more we read it as casual and relaxed.

If you’re not sure of your body shape, you can do my quick body shape calculator quiz and download your body shape bible here.  Or alternatively, if you’d like my professional opinion I give this (along with a personal colour analysis) as part of my 7 Steps to Style program.

whats my body shapeHow to Make a Classic Garment Suit a Casual Lifestyle

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I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Kudos for making your own skirts, they are lovely. I knitted a ribbed tube skirt in a chunky (a.k.a. bulky) weight wool years back in a light navy and it was so comfortable and cosy x

  • I’m a big fan of the knit straight skirt too, and have sewn quite a few. So comfy! Some patterns I’d recommend are Butterick B6464, Colette Patterns Mabel and Style Arc Halle, Taylor, Adrienne or Rita patterns. All are very easy.

  • I love these skirts. I discovered that wearing a knit pencil skirt I purchased in Melbourne a few years ago was very flattering and comfortable but haven’t really seen anything much since. I too am a H shape so I now understand why. I just need to follow your example, find some fabric and make my own. I had sworn years ago I would never make garments again after sewing so many for my children when they were young. Your skirts are making me wonder if I can get my overlocker working again! Where do you source your fabric from Imogen?

    • Gemma these fabrics are all from Spotlight. I think they cost less than $15 each to make. It’s so annoying when you can’t find what you want in stores. I did a lot of sewing a long time ago, and have lost a lot of mys skills, but these are super easy to produce which makes it worth my while!

    • I cut a basic pattern from a scuba knit skirt (you’ve seen it here before, it’s white with a floral pattern) that I’d bought. And then I sewed the two side seams, put a facing on at the waist with a piece of the same scuba fabric, and then hemmed them. No zips or closures, super simple because of the kind of fabric.

  • Hi Imogen,
    I think I need to start sewing again as I just live in jeans in winter and shorts in summer. I look to buy patterned skirts but I never like the patterns. If I am big on top , would an A line skirt be better ? Any pattern suggestions?
    Would you consider doing another frocktober or skirtober challenge please? I’m at present doing the evolve style challenge very slowly and I am finding that the challenges get me thinking. many thanks

  • Hi Imogen. I too live in stretch pencil skirts, all year round (8 shape). As well as making my own, I’ve bought some fabulous ones from Metalicus and Diana Ferrari. I don’t normally shop in Rockmans, but I got several in lovely patterns and colours last year (very light weight fabrics). My pet hate is when they are not straight, but taper in at the bottom. Makes the hips look enormous and you can barely move your knees!

    • yes Metalicus does do them frequently (I have one of theirs too), it’s good that you can find a few around that suit you, but that hobble version isn’t as great a shape!

  • Hi….I love your posts….here, you’ve spoken about yin and yang clothing….my question is it it ok to intermarry formal and informals? I know for men it is avoidable….but what about for women? What the is thumb of rule when combining yin and yang styles (i saw someone wearing a black lace top with black trousers and a white structured work blazer….didn’t quite feel right). Also, how much is too much when making a statement….should only one accessory be overpowering?

  • Thanks for the great inspirations for patterned bottoms! My usual default is solid bottoms and toppers with printed tops, but this is a nice change from that, while still integrating my entire wardrobe. Another super-easy straight skirt pattern for knits and stretch wovens is The Magic Pencil Skirt from Pamelas Patterns (

  • Hi Imogene,
    Thanks for your informative posts. The skirts are fantastic. My favorite outfit is the one at the very top. Just wondering where you got that sea green knit jumper?


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