Since pleats are a fashion staple for every fashionista, I compiled all the creative ways you can wear pleats in this comprehensive style guide.
I used to have a love-hate relationship with pleats. In high school, our skirt uniform was pleated and I didn´t like the way the back pleats would wrinkle if I didn´t sit a certain way — they could easily look ugly.
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It`s only when I started fashion blogging that I got over my dislike of pleats. Instead, I fell in love with them. I couldn´t help it, there´s just so many gorgeous pleated looks from the runway! The type of pleats that I have now does not require me to spend hours ironing it or baby-ing it when worn. The accordion pleating, often soft and floaty, is what I wished we had back in high school.
But accordion pleats are not the only gorgeous pleats that are available now in the market. There are many, many options and they come in different sizes, styles and material. Most importantly, there are lots of ways that we can wear pleats nowadays — from long pleated maxi dresses, long or short pleated skirts, pleated culottes and tops, to even just a hint of pleats in an outfit. The options are massive.
In the last seven years of fashion blogging I´ve written several blog posts on how to wear pleats. This is because pleats always come back as a trend for springs and summers, and then they transition nicely for fall. It proves that pleats are a fashion staple for every fashionista. I decided to put all the style tips I´ve written about pleats into this one, monster post. The result? Your ultimate style guide to wearing pleats.
1. How to Wear Pleats: The Pleated Maxi Skirt
Get Similar Pleated Maxi Skirts: Mac Duggal Peach / Natasha Zinko Printed / Max Mara Floral Print / Forever 21 Accordion Pleat
If you´re going to wear pleats on a warm summer day, pleated mini skirts are your best option. But what about on days prior to the hot season? We know that temperature in spring can swing high and low quite unpredictably. How do you wear the pleats in transition weather?
Rochas´ spring 2013 runway gave us an idea. Why not wear a long pleated maxi skirt with white flat tall boots? It´s dressy but has a casual attitude in it. I actually love it! Eight years back I remember myself wearing ankle length skirts with boots. I like this pairing better than with high heels.
A. Color block pleated maxi skirt with white cowboy boots
This look is more like blending earthy hues — pink, cream, gray, ivory, and white. Get a fitted cropped top to wear with a cream pleated maxi skirt and add a white belt. Toughen up the look with a white cowboy boot.
B. Light blue pleated maxi skirt with white knee-length boots
The light blue pleated maxi skirt is the center of attention in this look. Because the skirt is fitted around the hips, a peplum top in cream is perfect to go with it. Add another shade of blue through your clutch. A pair of knee-length white boots will complete the look nicely.
C. Floral print pleated maxi skirt with knee-high boots
Here´s a very cute floral print pleated maxi skirt which is very feminine. Wear it with a lace top or a fitted tee top in beige. Add a pair of flat tall boots, then finish off with a great hat. It´s like adding an edge to a feminine look through your white boots.
D. Pleated Midi Skirt with Ankle Boots
I´m really amazed with the suave ability of a classic accordion pleated midi skirt to highlight our curves without giving away much. It outlines your curves without clinging uncomfortably to them.
And since we´re talking about curves, team the skirt up with a black and fitted high neck top for a really stunning silhouette. This is a high glamor outfit, so stiletto ankle boots in suede is the most suited pick.
What do you think of these looks? Would you wear a pleated maxi skirt with tall white boots or with ankle boots?
2. How to Wear Pleats: The Pleated Long Skirt
The best thing about pleated maxi skirts is that you can dress them up and down. If it´s for work or formal gathering, wear a bright pink pleated maxi skirt with black top, black blazer and black ankle boots, or dress up a peach pleated maxi skirt with a silky dark nude top that fits right and just wear it untuck.
For street looks, go for a green swingy pleated maxi skirt to mix with denim jacket, or a beige maxi skirt with sleeveless printed top. Opt for open toe sandals for a very chic yet casual result.
Pleated Long Skirt as a Work Outfit?
Since I wrote about how to wear maxi skirt to work, stylish women from around the world have been encouraged to test the versatility of a long skirt, especially the pleated long skirt. It makes sense, an (accordion) pleated maxi skirt looks way more elegant and pleasing than most of the maxi skirts out there.
That said, this black and yellow outfit is more for a special evening event than work, but if you work in a creative field, then that really works!
For a formal work environment however, a knee-length is preferable.
3. How to Wear Pleats to Work
Fendi, Phillip Lim, Burberry: Fall 2019
It seems that pleats are so much easier to rock at the office in fall. You can quickly pull everything together with a jacket, or you can simply slip into a onesie — all-black piece featuring pleated-front trousers.
4. How to Wear Knee-Length Pleated Skirt
Depending on the kind of pleats you have, a knee-length pleated skirt is the most versatile skirt you can have. You can literally wear it with sweaters in cold seasons and then transition it to warm seasons with a sleeveless top.
Try playing with pastels and soft hues this spring and summer, such as this skirt featuring soft rose print. It´s whimsy, clean and feminine. You can easily wear it to work on sunny days, or whenever you have the desire to dress up girly. I love how perfectly each piece blended together in this look. So classy!
5. How to Wear Pleated Mini Skirt
Pleats keep swinging back as trend, there´s no question about that. But while pleated long dresses and skirts are utterly gorgeous, they´re not always easy to keep. So unless you´re wearing it to work, to formal occasions or to dressy events, you may want to opt for a cute pleated mini skirt, which is easier to maintain, instead.
A. The Pleated Raw Finish Pleated Mini Skirt
When I first saw this fabulous pleated raw finish denim skirt from Sea, I was completely smitten. The figure hugging upper part makes the skirt easy to wear, you you don´t have to worry about the meticulous pleats getting spoiled because of careless sitting. Its wide pleated waistband also offers a gorgeous fit and easy movement. The raw contrast hem provides a modern finish.
If you have hips, this pleated mini skirt will really emphasis your sexy shape.
B. The Vegan Leather Pleated Mini Skirt
A soft faux leather done in a preppy-inspired style results to a chic pleated mini skirt. It´s easy to wear and provides playful movement. Its shade of blue is super fabulous especially if complemented with nude pieces. Go for a sexy pair of beige ankle boots to complete the look, or toughen it up with some black lace boots and leather jacket.
C. The Metallic Jersey Pleated Mini Skirt
If you´re looking for a cool and trendy skirt, this metallic jersey pleated mini skirt tops the list. Create an edgy street look by teaming it with a white-off shoulder top. Black metallic cuff and black strap sandals will help channel that fierce, cool look. This is also a very fashionable interpretation of the season´s black and white monochrome trend.
D. The Circuit Pleated Mini Skirt
Girls love bright colors and that´s one reason why colorblocking trend is here to stay. You can definitely create a colorblock look with a pink circuit pleated mini skirt by adding an orange top. Stick to two colors and keep things relaxed by accessorizing the look with black sandals and black jewelry.
Which look above do you heart the most? How would you wear a cute pleated mini skirt?
6. How to Wear Pleats: The Pleated Dress
Bouchra Jarrar, Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier FW12
There is something very enticing about long flowy pleated dresses and skirts. As you walk, the skirt moves shaping your legs in front while arching the back part like hems of a cape. It makes you stand tall and urges you to act girly. Whether it´s to wear maxi skirt to work or to a party, long pleated maxi dresses and skirts are a very trendy pick-me-up.
We´ve seen two-toned pleated dresses from Valentino´s FW12 runway, futuristic pleated dresses from Jean Paul Gaultier, and polished long pleated skirts at Bouchra Jarrar´s runway stage. Have you tried this trend?
Here are some looks to inspire you if you haven´t.
A. Long Pleated Maxi Dresses with Strappy Heels
- Shop similar dress: Colour block pleated midi dress, Lilac
Long pleated maxi dresses are made to make you look like a goddess. They´re even more perfect for you if you´re tall because you can swing those pleats really well. These dresses are great for formal occasions, evening or day parties. Always wear them with strappy high heels to channel that sexy appeal down to your toes. Finish off with a great clutch.
B. Pleated Maxi Dress in all-nude
Pleats of long dresses are often eye-catching, so that´s probably the reason why this beauty came in a lovely neutral hue. I love its charming lace overlay bodice connected to a long flowy refined lace skirt. I´d like to wear it with strapped high heels and sequined little clutch.
If you´re petite and you can find a petite version of this dress, it can really elongate your vertical line.
C. How to Wear Pleats: Pleated Hi-Low Dresses with Gorgeous Heels
- Shop similar dress: Directional stripe maxi dress, hi-low/ Dip hem pleated dress, bright green
Remember how hi-low dresses and skirts were once a huge trend? This trend hasn´t retired entirely, instead it´s revived into a more trendy form — pleated hi-low dresses. I personally adore this version in blue, that´s my favorite shade of blue! Its pleats are layered and sufficiently thick making them easy to maintain. It speaks of a perennially statement-making piece.
On the other hand, the two-toned and the colored pleated hi-low dresses are more fun and flirty, creating optical illusion appeal and striking palette paint features.
D. Pleated Mini Dresses with Slim Belt
If you´re looking for a dress that´s perfect for the upcoming holidays, for an engagement photo session, for a wedding party, or if you´re simply chasing dresses that really flatters your figure, these little pleated dresses are for you.
You can opt for a conservative yet contemporary look with perfect pleating and elastic waistband, or a solid block in striking colors. If the belt is too slim for you, swap it up with a wide, buckled elastic waist belt.
Another thing to consider is a two-toned, sleeved pleated mini dress. It´s also very flattering — showing off your legs while keeping things conservative on top. It also comes with a contrast belt that highlights and slims your waist.
E. How to Wear Pleats: Contemporary Pleated Contrasting Skirt
This Elbany Pleated Dress with a classic, very polished look is an investment you can rely on for special events. You can wear it as a wedding guest dress or to any cocktail parties. I admire its contemporary vibe, and I believe that a pair of black stunning shoes and a cool black clutch are the only accessories to complete the look.
F. Sleeveless Fit and Flare Pleated Dress
- Shop similar dress: Fantasia bow neck midi dress, Pale Pink
She´s definitely a stunner! With its dark floral print that´s very neat and an A-line silhouette that features banded waist and solid insets at bodice and skirt, this knee-length dress is a summer staple I am ding to have so far. Not only is it a summer necessity for a femme fatale, it can also easily transition for cold seasons because of its dark hue.
G. Pleated Sleeveless Dress to Create Curves
This double layer pleated sleeveless dress in jade (also available in coral) is such a stunner. It looks great with some snake print high heels, but I opted to complete it with this pair of metallic vamp, colored stripes high heels.
I´m sure you would agree with me that the heels really gave the dress justice. Finish the look with simple accessories such as a black clutch and a silver wrist watch.
If you have narrow hips, this look will give you an illusion of a wider hip, But if you´re already gifted in the hips area, this dress will add you weight.
Between pleated maxi dresses and pleated mini dresses, which style are you?
7. How to Wear Pleats: The Pleated Blouse
When it comes to pleats, we often wear them either as a dress or a skirt. For this outfit though, we´re wearing it on top. This Oldfield pleated top iis an investment piece and can be worn to work with some slightly cropped black pants and some chic stiletto ankle boots. Adding bright color to the look through your handbag will quickly brighten up the mood of your outfit.
Because your top is already airy, you will need to balance it with a fitted trouser. But if you have an Apple shape, steer clear of pleated tops. They will make you appear bigger than you really are.
8. How to Wear Pleated Cullotes
You may always have heard that check is back, but did you know how to create a contemporary look with check? It takes only two simple steps — pick a diagonal checked print mocked top and team it up with some pleated culottes. Stick with earthy tones such as gray, light pastel pink and taupe. A stacked heel ankle boot is perfect to complete your contemporary statement.
Of course, the trick is to wear your culottes with a fitting top. The sway of your pleats will look dramatic as a contrast to your figure fitting top.
Are you more for pleated tops or pleated cullotes?
So that´s pretty much about it, girls. You may wonder why I still feature old runway looks in this guide if I`m talking about pleats as a trend. The thing is, I don´t believe in wearing trends for the sake of keeping up with trends per sé. I believe more in adopting the trendy looks from the runway into our own personal style and giving them our own creative spin, and may be calling it our own.
I hope that this guide on how to wear pleats has inspired you to get creative with the pleated pieces that you already have in your wardrobe. If you found this post helpful, please send me love by sharing this post.