How to Work the Pleats Fashion Trend If your memories of pleated skirts take you back to the horrors of school uniforms and gymslips then it’s time to stand corrected. Pleats are back in fashion for Spring Summer 2011 and they are definitely nothing like the frumpy styles you were forced to wear as a child! It’s a really easy trend to wear; perfect for incorporating into daywear or office outfits, yet very ladylike and elegant for evenings too. There are many different styles coming back into fashion – follow our advice guide to make sure you get it right. One thing you’ll notice though, is that all the styles are used for the full circumference of the garment – a single pleat at the front or back of the skirt is not fashionable. Sunray Sunray pleats are neat, narrow pleats, that radiate outwards like the rays of the sun at the edge of the garment where it gets fuller. They are usually used on lightweight fabrics such as chiffon and give soft and flexible movement as opposed to being stiff. The sunray folding technique is most often featured on skirts and dresses to add volume. The look fits beautifully with the seventies fashion trend that’s back in a big way this season, yet also gives a subtle nod to ballerina style, as inspired by the year’s film smash, Black Swan. For a different, yet still seventies-style take on the trend, sunray pleats can be used on large voluminous bell sleeves on tops and dresses. A variation on this style of pleat is the straight, narrow pleat, which is the same in all respects except that the folds are equidistant all the way down. This style, once very retro, is now back in vogue and gives a less voluminous look to skirts and dresses compared to the sunray style. Structured If the sunray look is a little too retro or feminine for you, you may prefer a more structured style, with wider, boxy, knife-edge pleats. This gives a very neat and crisp look, which is perfect for the office. A structured, pleated skirt is very versatile. Team with a jacket or blazer for a very smart look or soften your appearance with a ladylike blouse or cardigan. It’s not just skirts that look great in this style – full-skirted Macs and trench coats also look fabulous. Look for pieces where the inside of the pleat is a contrasting colour to really emphasise the trend. Soft A great middle ground between the sunray and the structured look is a relaxed, informal pleat. This is perfect for casual summer skirts and dresses. When choosing a skirt, look for styles that start right at the narrowest point of your waist to emphasise your curves and finish the look with a skinny belt for seventies chic. Maxi dresses look set to stay in style for some time to come, and are now joined by their fashion sister, the maxi skirt. Give the maxi dress an in-season update by choosing a gently pleated style; gorgeous with toe post sandals for your holidays. Horizontal Horizontal pleats give a striking look to tops and dresses. Keep the style very simple to avoid a fussy look as the texture of the pleating will already add a lot of interest. Try a bandage style body-con dress to emphasise an hourglass figure for a striking evening look. Diagonal textural pleating to tops gives a quirky, fashion-forward look that will show you’ve really captured this versatile trend.