If you love making your own clothes, you need to know about the different types of skirts that exist so that you can be better able to choose the right skirt sewing pattern for your needs.
In this guide to different skirt types, we’ll look at the various skirt styles and skirt shapes as well as skirt silhouettes and names too.
If you love dresses, I also have this very in-depth guide to the different styles of dresses!
Please note that the images included in this guide are from Canva Pro and should not be downloaded and used without a subscription to their service.
Let’s start with skirt types first. As I’ve mentioned in other guides like this, we can look at ‘skirt types’ as being the different ‘genres’ of skirts and then I’ll dig into skirt styles further down – because the style is where all the fun happens!
In easy to understand terms, think of types and styles like this:
Skirt Type is like a book type or genre – poetry, fiction, horror, autobiography
Style is like the, well, the style of the book – contemporary, modernist, Victorian,
So, back to types of skirts! There are just five types of skirts:
- A Line skirts
- Circle skirts
- Fitted skirts
- Straight skirts
- Yoked skirts
1. A Line Skirts
I love me an A line skirt!It’s a skirt that is very easy to make for yourself, with the shape creating by extending the side seam down and out from the waist to hip as in the photo below.
What Is An A-line Skirt
An A-Line skirt flares out from the waist in an A shape hence it’s name.
A-Line skirts can be created with different lengths in mind, but look best when the hem finishes just above the knee.
A Line vs Pencil Skirt
We can easily say that A line skirts and pencil skirts are quite opposites when it comes to skirt types!
With the A Line skirt flaring outwards from the thigh and the pencil skirt being more constrained towards the thigh, the two are very different skirt shapes!
2. Circle Skirts
Circle skirts are created with a waist and a hem that are circles or part of. There are no straight edges on a circle skirt pattern – except the side or front and centre back seams!
A circle skirt can be modified to create different styles of circle skirt – I’ll cover those further down under skirt styles!
If you’re keen to make your own circle skirt I have a full circle skirt pattern tutorial!
3. Fitted Skirts
Fitted skirts are created to fit the body’s contours, so are fitted at the waist, through the hips and down to the thigh.
If fitted very close, fitted skirts often have a split or vent to allow movement. This could be a vent at the centre back, or slits at the side seams and / or centre front.
A great example of a fitted skirt would be the pencil skirt (woven and knitted) or the tube skirt (knitted only).
4. Straight Skirts
Straight skirts are a type of skirt that you then apply different styles to, in order to create different skirt shapes and silhouettes
Creating a straight skirt block is easy – and the block you make with your own measurements is then the basis for all the different skirt styles we’ll look at further down!
Straight Skirt vs Pencil Skirt
A lot of people confuse a pencil skirt for a straight skirt. A straight skirt is a skirt type, with the skirt pattern being quite straight.
A pencil skirt is a significantly more fitted skirt – so a skirt style! – and would need a slit or vent of some sort to enable movement when worn.
5. Yoke Skirts
A yoke skirt is a mash up skirt type. Yoked skirts combine a fitted upper section with a more fuller lower section below the yoke.
Because of the fitted nature of the yoke, a yoked skirt can be quite flattering, usually incubating any dart shaping that has been applied to the waist area of the skirt.
Skirts with yokes can be of any length, shape or silhouette creating endless style opportunities.
Skirt Styles Names
So, within the four above mentioned skirt types, there are different styles of skirts and the way the style is applied to the skirt type greatly affects the:
Other things to consider which also affect the style of a skirt are length, fabric choice, and details.
A great example would be:
Denim mini skirt – this is a specific skirt style, inspired by the construction details of denim jeans (curved front pocket, twin needle top-stitching detail, jeans back patch pockets to name a few). The mini length is a style choice, and if the skirt were cut with an A-line skirt shape or circle skirt shape, that would be the defining skirt type.
1. Asymmetric Skirt
A skirt with anything asymmetric is not a skirt type, but is a skirt style. You can have straight skirt type with one half of the skirt being fitted and the second half being gathered along a centre front seam.
When looking at the skirt from front or side on, if the two sides are not mirrored, you are looking at an asymmetric skirt.
2. Asymmetric Hem Skirt
Skirts with hems that are not consistent all the way around can be said to have an asymmetric hem and so be classified as a skirt style of their own.
Examples of asymmetrical hem skirts are:
- Handkerchief skirt
- Fishtail skirt
- High-low skirt
I had a handkerchief skirt when I lived in NYC in 2002 and I loved it. It had a thick black elasticated waistband – approximately 14cm deep! – and then the skirt section itself was made from a poly chiffon, in a white / grey colour with black and pink swirls on top.
I loved that skirt and wore it constantly until it wore too thin to be decent.
3. Blanket Skirt
This is a style of skirt where the fabric used is blanket in style. The shape could be anything – A-line, mini, midi etc – but usually blanket skirts are made from a warm wool or brushed boucle for that ‘blanket’ feel.
4. Bubble Skirt
The bubble skirt is created by attaching a top skirt to a bottom skirt – with the top skirt being longer and bigger than the bottom layer, a bubble effect is created when the hems of both are joined.
It is rare to see a midi- or maxi-skirt version of a bubble skirt. Not only because of the amount of fabric that would be needed for two skirt layers, but also because the excessive amount of fabric needed would result in limited mobility.
5. Cowl Skirt
A cowl skirt is usually created through draping on the stand or a human figure, but can easily be recreated by connecting the front and back pattern pieces of a skirt, and opening them up to add in extra volume at the side seam location.
You could add this extra volume anywhere, but added to the centre front or centre back and you end up with a not-very-flattering cowl skirt!
6. Flared Skirt
A flared skirt is a skirt style where the skirt flares out away from the body. Consider it the antithesis of a very fitted skirt. It can flare gently like the image below, or more dramatically like the second image I have included.
A flared skirt can be created in some of the following ways:
- The straight skirt pattern can be opened up to create flare
- A single gored skirt pattern piece can have flare added so when all the gores are connected, the flare becomes pronounced
- Godets can be added to increase flare within panelled sections of a skirt
7. Gathered Skirts
I have fond memories of gathered skirts as they were the go-to for my Gran – she could knock up a gently gathered skirt in a mere moment and I thought she had mad magical skills each time I saw her do so!
The best bit was that she always hand sewed them. Right up until I was a teenager, she would sew a simple gathered skirt by hand whenever asked.
A gathered skirt is often created with a rectangle of fabric, a long running stitch to gather the long top edge of the fabric and this is then ‘captured’ by enclosing it inside a waistband.
This results in gathers at the waist, with the skirt falling in gentle folds down to the hem.
8. Gored Skirt
The very first skirt I created a pattern for on a course at central saint martins was in fact a gored skirt.
Gored Skirt Definition
Gored skirts are created from separate sections equal in size to create a fully round skirt. Gored skirts usually exist as:
- Four gored skirt
- Six gored skirt
- Eight gored skirt
Gored Skirt Styles
Gored skirts can be created from A Line, straight or circle skirt types! The important detail is that each ‘gore’ is equal. (If not, then it would be a panelled skirt style.)
If you’ve ever seen a trumpet skirt – that is a an example of a gored skirt style!
9. High-Waisted Skirt
High waisted skirts are a style choice that some people love, where the waistband of the skirt sits significantly higher on the body.
High waisted skirts can help give an hourglass look to the person wearing them – I personally dislike them as I have some fab curves that just don’t like being squished with a high waisted skirt!
That said, a high waisted skirt doesn’t have to be fitted! Instead it could be a tiered or layered skirt falling from the high waist down.
10. Micro Mini Skirt
This is most definitely a style of skirt that is not suited to me. With the hem finishing just centimetres below your bum, the micro mini skirt takes some confidence to wear out and about.
That’s not to say they shouldn’t be worn. Just not by me. Ever.
The photo below isn’t *quite* a micro skirt – the only one I could find to illustrate my point had a bum and lady bits hanging out, not something we need to see while reading about skirt types! 😉 So this is a mini-bordering on micro skirt!
11. Mini Skirt
Back in the 1960’s a British woman by the name of Mary Quant made the mini-skirt super desirable. But what is a mini skirt?
A skirt of mini skirt length usually finishes at mid thigh. It is a less revealing skirt style than the aforementioned micro-mini skirt and a skirt style that I am quite fond of.
Because it requires less fabric to make, in the 1960’s the mini skirt was a more economical skirt to make whereas in the 2020’s it is a skirt that can often be easily created by repurposing old items of clothing or household furnishing made from suitable fabric.
The mini skirt style can work for all seasons. I love a short flirty mini-skirt in silk chiffon for summer, a ragged denim mini-skirt for spring, and a wool mini-skirt with tights for those autumn and winter days.
12. Midi Skirt
A midi skirt finishes around mid-calf length. It is a length that I am personally not a fan of, unless it is a pencil skirt or a skirt very eclectic in style that I no longer view it as a midi-skirt.
The word for some reason brings images to mind of old fashioned and not very flattering skirts. I know, I need to get over that!
As well as existing as separates in fashion collections, you will often find that midi-skirts form part of a skirt suit look – great for a more tailored work look.
For a contemporary feel, look to create midi-skirts with interesting details – pleated, a centre front slit, or oversized front pockets with top stitching detail to draw the eye away from the skirt length?
13. Maxi Skirt
A maxi skirt is the perfect skirt for many in the summer – light and airy when created from lightweight floaty fabrics, a maxi skirt can encapsulate all things summer.
Maxi skirts can also be created in heavier weight fabrics and worn in the winter months too.
14. Pencil Skirt
The pencil skirt is a fitted skirt type, but with various style choices applied, one pencil skirt can look greatly different to another, like all the skirt styles discussed here.
Design choices when looking at creating a pencil skirt include:
- Waist level – normal or high waisted
- Length – above or just below the knee
- Waistband or waistline facing
- Front slit or back vent
- Fabric choice – woven, knitted, non-fabrics (leather and suede)
- Peplum attached (or not)
Depending on the fabric you chose, a pencil skirt can be quite a tailored look for work, an evening wear look for parties and events or a casual look for day to day wear out and about the house.
15. Pleated Skirt
I’ve seen ‘box pleated skirt’ listed as a type of skirt on several guides – but this skirt type would come under a ‘pleated skirt style’, much like a knife pleat skirt or an accordion pleated skirt would.
For that matter, a kilt would also be considered a skirt style. It is a combination of a part pleated skirt and a wrap skirt, with one front section wrapping over the second front section.
Pleated skirt styles change with different skirt types, skirt lengths and pleat type.
There are many different types of pleats that can be used when creating skirts – I’ll go into those in greater detail in another article.
16. Sarong Skirt
It’s safe to say that a sarong is a skirt style – not quite a wrap skirt because there is no overlap. The sarong style skirt is an open skirt with ties at either end to hold the skirt in place, whether at waist level or hip level.
Usually the sarong skirt is worn during more warmer months of the year – it’d be a tad too draughty in the winter months me thinks!
If you plan to make a sarong style skirt, then use a natural, lightweight fabric suck as cotton or silk. Anything man-made will feel quite hot and sticky in warmer temperatures.
17. Tiered / Layered Skirt
A tiered or layered skirt is a fantastic skirt style, quite full and swishy when worn.
Due to the multiple layers, this skirt style also lends itself well to repurposing or up-cycling projects from old unworn clothes.
Tiered skirts are often maxi in length and made from light weight fabrics for summer months.
When extra width is added to each tier or layer compared to the one above it – and gathered in – a wonderful full silhouette is achieved for the skirt and can have a slightly boho – gypsy-skirt feel to it.
18. Tulip Skirt
One could say that the tulip skirt is an asymmetric hem skirt style. With the hem not actually being uniform all the way around.
Tulip skirts are made from overlapping panels like the tulip flower – hence it’s name! – and can be short or long in length.
One of my favourite dresses is in a black knit fabric with a crossover neckline and a tulip midi-skirt.
19. Wrap Skirts
While many people consider a wrap skirt to be a type of skirt, I’ve popped it here in the skirt styles section, because a wrap skirt can be created as any skirt type and any skirt length.
Very popular in lighter weight fabrics during the summer months, wrap skirts are also very popular in winter, made from heavily fabrics such as tweed and boucle.
Different Skirt Lengths
Skirt of course come in different skirt lengths and the length of the skirt style will always make it look very different.
The different lengths of skirts are:
- Mini – usually finishes around mid thigh
- Knee length
- Midi – usually finishes mid calf
- Maxi – usually finishes at ankle
- Floor length
You can apply a skirt length to any skirt type along with other details to create unlimited skirt styles.
Which will you be making for yourself first? I’m all set to make me a fab mini skirt for these cold Dutch winter months.
Other Garment Type Guides
If you loved this, and would like to learn about other garment types and garment construction aspects, these guides are for you:
Types of collars – learn all about the different collar types and how they can change the look of a garment
Types of necklines – necklines have a bog impact on the design of garments
Types of sleeves – sleeves are another great way to take one design and create variations
Types of sweaters – a look at the different sweater types for those who love this cold weather garment
Types of shirts – for both men and women, a look at the different shirt types
Different types of clothing – an overview guide of all the different clothing types available to us in the 21st century!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.