If I had a dollar for every time someone battled to match a skirt with the right top, I’d be very wealthy. I find orphan skirts in most of the wardrobes that I review. So much so that I created the skirt rule:

Don’t purchase a skirt unless you already have a top in your closet that will work or can purchase the accompanying top at the same time as the skirt.

By tops I mean knitted tops, knitwear, T’s, tanks-tops, blouses and button down shirts.

It’s too late to enforce the skirt rule if you already have orphaned skirts in your closet, but not all is lost. I want you to wear those orphan skirts so here is a list of five easy solutions to get you started.

  1. Leave the top un-tucked: For most skirts you’re looking for a relatively short, form fitting top with waist definition. You can absolutely wear longer more voluminous tops over pencil skirts but proportions start to get tricky so proceed with caution. Wearing a tailored layer like a jacket over a less form fitting top gives the ensemble great definition too.
  2. Tuck in the top: This is the most neglected option because dressing has become so un-tucked. Don’t be scared to tuck. Try tucking in the tops that you have. Chances are high you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the result. You can create further waist definition by adding a belt to the tucked-in look. Sometimes the combination of belt and tucked-in top has a great girdling effect.
  3. Belt the un-tucked top: This is how you can make a longer and less form fitting top work with a skirt. The definition of a belt in the right place does wonders for the belt plus top combination. Refresh your memory on how to wear a belt if you’re unsure.
  4. Button up a cropped cardigan: In true 50’s style, button-up a cropped cardigan and wear it with a skirt. Here the cardigan is acting as a top, rather than just a layering item.
  5. Layer a cardigan over a tucked-in sleeveless tank top: Tuck a plain tank top into a skirt and layer over a cardigan. The cardigan can be cropped or boyfriend. Cropped cardigans look great with A-line skirts whereas pencil skirts work with most lengths of cardigan. You can leave the cropped cardigans loose or partially buttoned. Longer length cardigans look best unbuttoned. You can also belt the cardigan for extra waist definition.

If you’re worried about a top and skirt breaking up your long lean line, use a low contrast color combination. And remember that these aren’t the only options. There are countless creative ways to wear tops with skirts, especially when you start layering.

If you have an orphan skirt, you just got homework! Shout in the comments or on the forum if you get stuck.