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Flatter Your Figure --- Pleased in Pleats

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It's interesting that most of this spring's trends have names starting with a "p." So, I will dedicate all my April posts of this year to them, beginning with pleats, which are not only popular right now but have never been and will never be out of style. That means we can feel free to stock up on them this season.

Many people only think of pleated skirts when pleats come to mind. In fact, pleats can appear in other types of clothing as well. The pleated front panel of my ivory blouse is just one example.


In the ad below is a pleated blouse you can use to put together your own pleats-on-pleats ensemble if you are interested.

Pleats are pretty, but let's be aware of their magnifying effect, which is usually great on the bust (even bosomy women wouldn't mind a little enhancement there), just NOT so good on the hips, unless you have a boyish shape. If you happen to have proportionally wide hips as I do, don't make the same mistake I once made by pairing an accordion-pleat skirt with a waist-length top that barely covers the elastic waistband.

I was actually skinnier then than I am now. My waist was 25 inches then versus 26 inches now, but my midsection in this past photo looks larger than it does in the two current photos above, all because the accordion pleats right below the waist optically enlarge the upper hips.

Let's see --- skirts cling to the upper hips but hang loose around the lower hips in most cases (only except skin-tight skirts made of elastic materials). Therefore, if the upper part of a skirt has lots of gathering or pleats, it will make the upper hips look bigger. In the meantime, the lower hips are unaffected because the lower part of the skirt is not attached to them.

For those of you who have been following my blog, let me remind you that I already brought up the same theory in my previous post about tennis skirts ( Since my white tennis skirt is pleated, I'm reusing it in this post about pleats. If you find it figure flattering (contrary to conventional concept about the color white), it's all because its pleats start from below the widest point of the hips! Take a look at the skirt again below and you'll see.


Another factor to consider is the width of the pleats. The wider they are, the slimmer you look.

The ad below shows you an extreme example.

Your pleats don't necessarily have to be that wide to flatter your figure. A little more than an inch wide would be fine, but keep in mind that knife pleats should be just like knifes --- the sharper, the better.

What if you just can't resist accordion pleats? Well, I can certainly understand that because I really liked the silver accordion-pleat skirt I got, despite my frustration with how unflattering it looked on me. The best photo of me in it was shot in a sitting pose because it's not showing my figure (sorry that I must make this photo small because a larger version would show terrible glare on my then-oily face).

I was fashion-forward when wearing the silver skirt in broad daylight. That was more than a decade before this spring's daytime shimmer trend. If you agree that the color silver meshes well with spring flowers, here's a pleated skirt strikingly similar to mine but shorter (mine was above-the-knee length whereas this is a mini).

If you purchase it, just don't repeat my past mistake. Instead, wear a belted longer top over it, like the way I now style my accordion-pleat skirt in a high-low cut.

High-low cuts are what really update accordion-pleat skirts this season. Otherwise, accordion pleats are nothing new. They have long existed, dating back at least to Marilyn Monroe's prime years.

The accordion pleats of the iconic white dress start right below the waistband, but the solid waistband really cinches the waist and goes a little down into the upper hips. That's why this design looked fabulous on Marilyn Monroe and can work for other women with Marilyn-like curves. However, most accordion-pleat skirts are unlike this one. They usually have an elastic waistband, which makes them waist-relaxing and hip-expanding at the same time, only OK on a boyish body.

In the ad below are some high-low skirts with accordion pleats, unfortunately all starting right below an elastic waistband.

Even so, I'll say go ahead if you want to pick one of them, because there's something you can do to change its hip unfriendly nature. The accordion pleats of my high-low skirt actually start right below the waist, too, but their upper part is covered, so they cannot enlarge me.

I wish I could've done the same with that silver skirt I got, but thank God I know better now. I'm glad that I finally get to enjoy the beauty of accordion pleats without paying the price of looking bigger.

Somehow the high-low cut just makes these accordion pleats look incredibly romantic. I also love the splashes of color on my high-low accordion pleats. These color strokes reflect another huge trend of this spring --- painterly prints, which will be the topic of my next post. See you next week!


About the Blog

Flatter Your Figure is a weekly blog on about how to make the latest fashion work for real women of different body types. It presents a new post every Wednesday or Thursday.



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