How to wear pleats, gathering, ruching, ruffles, and all that

I will be re-posting from TRS’s archives throughout the week. This post first appeared in January 2011.

Gathered, ruched, ruffled, or pleated detail can be a full bust’s best friend, or a mid-section’s ugliest enemy. And when it goes wrong, it can go really really wrong. Here’s what to watch out for… and how to do it right.


These are examples of insanely bad ideas when it comes to fabric detail. When looking for a flattering gathered top, there should be no bulky extra fabric anywhere near the mid-section, as in exhibit A and B. Not only does this look sloppy, but it adds volume to the tum and hips– areas where a lot of us want to appear slimmer. Exhibits C and D have good intentions but fail miserably. They are roomy, but without shape. Both cuts (bubble hem on c and trapeze cut on D) puff up the mid-sections by being too roomy and wide.

Be wary of: heavy fabric, too much fabric, cuts that swing way too far from the body


Above are examples of how to use pleats, etc. to your advantage. Look for these details at the neck and bust, in a design that’s smaller and lies semi-flat on the fabric. This creates a flattering camouflage. The grey top offers a looser fit that’s not too billowy. The pleats fall lightly down the torso but in a straight direction, instead of flaring out.

Seek out: more lightweight fabrics and finer detailing (i.e. thin pleats, small ruffles)


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