Now Trending: Pleats Come In



Continuing our S/S 2014 Trending Series, today’s spring wardrobe forecast predicts a high fashion treatment for a signature schoolgirl look. Designer runways from New York and London to Paris and Milan showed pleats a-plenty, with innovative tucking and ruched fabrics. This resurgance in-crease-es upon some 2,000-plus years of rich history.

In plain terms, a pleat is a fold in fabric back upon itself, as in a garment or upholstered item of furniture. Pleats are categorized as pressed, that is, ironed or otherwise heat-set into a sharp crease, or unpressed, falling in soft rounded folds. They may be decorative or functional, as when employed to fit or size cloth to an underlying form. In ancient Greece, women washed their garments in the Tiber River, then twisted them to dry, creating fresh unpressed pleats.


Greek linen-hemp pleating, c. 400 BC


Over subsequent centuries, many distinct types of pleats were developed and named: Cartridge, Fluted, Box, Accordion, Honeycomb, Knife, Broom, Plissé and Watteau, among others. Our favorite pleats are named for Mariano Fortuny, the legendary early 20th Century Spanish couturier.

One can’t help but note the similarity and figure-enhancing elegance embodied in both Greek pleating and Fortuny gowns. Fast forward a few short decades, and an iconic Hollywood image took the familiar folds in a fun, sexy new direction.


Fortuny Tea Gown, 1917 and Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, 1955


To be sure, this trend is not just a fad. It can also be quite flattering, contrary to common misconception. So as not to look like a frump or a school marm, stay away from patterns that add fullness. Better yet, select metallic or leather-like fabrics. Below, a little runway inspiration to kick off a season of pleats, plus three buy-it-now finds.


Pleats On The Runway




Salvatore Ferragamo














































Sonia Rykiel















Vionnet Paris













Shop The Trend




Satin Dress, Armani Jeans ($280)















Tie Waist Maxi Skirt, ASOS ($114)
















Pleated Faux Leather Skirt, Macy’s ($21)













Additional Research by Natalie Starnes. All runway/product images via individual designers and retailers.