Update: We still stand by this advice on how short is too short for a skirt at the office — but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion on when is a dress too short for work (including what’s a modern length, and if the perfect skirt length is different for tall or short people).
How short is too short for a skirt at the office? Can you wear shorter skirts if you wear dark tights? Does it matter if you wear heels or flats with your dark tights?
Conversation was sparked by yesterday’s workwear report, and we thought it might be a good idea to try and get a consensus on this: how short of a skirt can a professional woman get away with? See our uber-fancy diagram, and vote below.
Kat’s $.02 — D would probably be my limit, but only with dark tights… I heard a rule long ago that the higher your skirt the lower your heel should be; I’ve always found success with that.
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Some of our favorite pencil skirts for work as of 2023: J.Crew* / Vince Camuto* / Ann Taylor / Spanx* / Boss / Black Halo (also check Calvin Klein, Theory, and this Amazon seller) (*plus sizes available – plus-size readers also love Eileen Fisher skirts) (also: readers love these slip shorts!)
Update: The vote is closed! The official question to readers: when does a skirt become too short for the workplace? The answers:
- 31% of readers said the skirt length shown at C is fine — just above the knee.
- 18% of readers said the skirt length shown at D — about one hand above the knee
- 12% of readers said the skirt length shown at D is fine, but ONLY if you’re wearing dark tights
- 6% of readers thought the skirt length shown at F was fine (fingertip length!)
- 4% of readers thought any skirt length for work was fine
- 4% of readers thought the skirt length shown at E was appropriate for work — about one hand longer than fingertip length
- 5% of readers thought the skirt length shown at B was fine — mid-knee
- 4% of readers thought the skirt length shown at
- 3% of readers thought the skirt length shown at E was fine, but only with dark tights
- 2% of readers thought the skirt length shown at F was ok, but only with tights
- 1% of readers thought the skirt length shown at A was the only acceptable answer (phew!)
Some of the best plus-size dresses for work as of 2023: 1) Karen Kane 2) Lands’ End 3) CeCe 4) Calvin Klein 5) Talbots (not pictured but these also)
Ladies, let’s discuss further — when do you start to worry about skirt length? How short is too short for a skirt for work?
I think this picture is a bit misleading…the model has great, long legs. I too have long legs and what it an appropriate skirt on a mannequin is not always office appropriate on me…. A better diagram would have been for a “normal” person. Even so, your relative descriptions led me to pick D. I’ve never had a client/employer complain when the skirt is classy and I am well dressed, and I have worked at very conservative banks and law firms.
My two cents–from the girl with the 36″ inseam
Exactly! I’m 5′ 3″ with a 30″ inseam, and based on the skirt length text descriptions D is actually shorter on me than E. Then again my arm span is a tad longer than my height. Anyways I generally go with B or C because I don’t like how most pencil skirts rise up indecently when I’m sitting.
I think there may not be an “E” on most people — but then, hey, who knows.
I think D is fine – also that it depends on your office and particular group. If you are working in a stuffy office, then D could well be too short. But if your office is more stylish (so far as that goes in a law firm, which is to say, not far), I think D would fit right in if you were wearing tights. Also, sadly, I think it depends on the state of your legs. If you have skinny toned legs, you can get away with that. If you have legs that look like you’ve been sitting at a desk for the past five years without respite (like me), then B or C would probably be the best choice …
I think that the safest bet for most people (no matter the size and shape) is C, but I think that height and weight play a role in what looks appropriate.
For example, I’m relatively short (5’4″) and even when I wear a D-length skirt, I’m not showing much leg. Likewise, if you’re slender, you are more likely to still look professional in a D-length skirt.
Conversely, there is someone in my office who has terrible looking looking knees (that weird droopy flab + scars and discoloration) who I really wish would stick with A-length or longer.
For a conservative office, no matter how short or in shape you are, I think that anything shorter than D is a no-no.
I definitely agree that height and weight make a difference as to whether the skirt looks too short or not, but also, dresses v. suits make a difference. If you have a longer suit jacket on, even an A or B hem can look short, whereas a cropped suit jacket or dress can allow D to look plenty conservative. In general I think D is the shortest you should go for office but I definitely think a lot factors into whether it looks office-appropriate or not.
Don’t forget to test how long the skirt is when you sit down. Please, please, please.
i picked E…and im a woman.
Frankly if you are toned you can get away with E. F is a miniskirt.
But i think skirt height should depend on height and the shorter the person the shorter the skirt. No reason anyone has to look frumpy if they dont want to.
I always pick F….definately! sometimes shorter. I’m a petite 5’1 so it’s easy for me to get away with it. But I dress for the occastion. I’m conservative at work, but any other time I’m with my husband and he loves it when a dress in short stuff!!
I went to a conservative high school in South Africa and the measure of a “too short” skirt was below the finger tips. I just measured and my finger tips are 8″ above my knee! I am 5’6″ and thin with long legs, so even when I buy what I think is a longer skirt (2-3″ above the knee), it just looks short. When I sit and cross my legs the skirt is not too short. Now I just accept the fact that I have nice, long legs and it is too difficult to find a skirt / dress that goes to my knees and fits properly.
Yesterday at work, I noticed three women from an office in an adjacent suite out for a walk at break time. One was wearing capri pants, one was wearing a mini at about C or D length, but the third one was wearing a mini that was cheerleader short! It wasn’t even fingertip length on her! It was even shorter than F above! I noticed while they were walking that she occasionally pulled on the skirt to keep it from riding up on her! She was walking between the other two women. I am surprised that they didn’t occasionally “tsk tsk” at her. Maybe they did! Must admit, she has nice legs! (Ironic to note that had she been a student, and wore a skirt that short to school, she probably would have been sent home!)
At our own office, we occasionally see women with skirts at about E length, but I have not seen any shorter than that. And ironically, WE have a casual dress code!
Okay, it gets even better! Noticed these three women again today. The one who was wearing the micro-mini skirt wore it AGAIN today!! Woohoo, I was beside myself! This skirt is literally just long enough to cover this woman’s butt, and that is it!! Granted, it has been very warm here in Tennessee this summer, but WOW!!
The fact that she wore this micro-mini again tells me that she got away with wearing it previously, and that there were no complaints about it! Furthermore, if anything, she looked even MORE confident in it this time! No constant tugging at the skirt, well maybe once or twice. She OWNED that micro-mini skirt while walking around the parking lot with those other two women today! Good for her!
She has nice tanned, toned legs, so she clearly knows what she is doing!
I would compare her skirt to a cheerleader’s A-line skirt. I kid you not; it is THAT short!
Link here shows a photo of a woman wearing a skirt about the same length as the skirt that the woman that I observed was wearing:
Worth noting that the woman that I saw was not wearing a jacket (this was outside in the summer time!) and was wearing flats, I believe sandals, with her mini.