Pleats: women’s trend

A leather shell top worn above a skirt of floating, floor-length pleats. There was a sunny romanticism to Chloe’s spring 2011 pairing, and it was a look much imitated. But it wasn’t just Chloe: remember Lanvin’s similarly captivating pleated gowns from the same season?

We’ve mentioned along the way the prevalence of pleats for spring 2011. And now we’re here to tell you they’re staying on as a trend for fall 2011.

So don’t pack up pleats just yet, and don’t be afraid to invest in them if there’s that special statement piece you’re considering. Pleats are back, and they’re going to be with us for a while yet.

vera wang fall 2011 pleats
Pleats at Vera Wang A/W ’11

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Styles of pleats in 2011

Invariably, every season something hits the catwalk that’s pleated. But what particular types of pleats should you be on the look out for in 2011?

Most dominant as a 2011 fashion trend are knife pleats and their cousin, the sunray pleat. Knife pleats are single pleats that all go in the same direction; sunray or sunburst pleats are knife pleats that are cut to start smaller and get wider towards the bottom, creating a flared-out effect.

When you’re looking for a statement, pleated item we’re tipping our hat towards dresses. In particular, the maxi dress and the very-on-trend sheer maxi dress. If a pleated maxi dress isn’t your thing, look then to midi and knee-length dresses.

dion lee fall 2011 pleats
Knee-length pleated overskirt at Dion Lee A/W ’11

You’ll note that we’ve excluded shorter hem length so far. They can work, but this is a trend that is about early 20th century influences and a sense of elegance, or a contrasting sense of 70’s glamour. Shorter pleated items will come back in, but it’s too early for a school-girl skirt revival just yet.

Pleats for Spring

When looking at pleats as a spring trend in 2011, what we’re really looking at is lightweight fabrics; not boxy, school-girl pleats but flowing, ethereal ones.

When it comes to wearing these types of pleats in Spring:

  • Fabrics like crepe and silk tulle and anything that’s to the sheer side is particularly on-trend.
  • For spring, as well as fall, the lightweight pleated maxi can easily be dressed up or down.
  • In the evening, it’s utterly perfect with a 70s revival spin.
  • It can also work in a shorter length with a flapper / 1920s feel.

jill stuart fall 2011 flapper
Pleated flapper dress at Jill Stuart A/W ’11

Pleats for Fall

Stepping off the spring runways and onto the fall ones, not much has changed. Despite the appropriateness to the cold weather, sheer and lightweigh fabrics are still key, though for winter there’s also the option of something heavier.

The main difference for fall is how you style it. Here are some styling tips for the colder weather:

  • Pair a sunray pleat maxi-dress with socks or tights and heels, and some cosy layers on top. Having your soft, pleated gown flowing out from under a coat or jacket is simple yet effective.
  • Play it down in a rock-chic pair of boots instead of heels.
  • Mix styles for contrasts, like the dreamiest of pleated skirts with a bohemian fur or a tough biker jacket.

richard chai love fall 2011 pleats
Layered pleats at Richard Chai A/W ’11

A bonus

The dominance of pleats amongst 2011’s fashion may thus far be all about dresses and skirts, but it’s not going to stay that way. So here’s a bonus for the fashionisers who like to lead: you’re going to see a big comeback for pleated trousers across coming seasons both for men and for women. There’s your bonus: one to get onto now.


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