Tuesday 23 April 2019

How to wear... the pleated skirt

Autumn's hard-working wardrobe hero comes in a variety of colours, textures and prints, writes Meadhbh McGrath

Look to Charlize Theron and throw a blazer on top. Photo: Getty Images
Look to Charlize Theron and throw a blazer on top. Photo: Getty Images

Meadhbh McGrath

The pleated midi was the must-have skirt of 2015, 2016, 2017, and now it's back again this year. It's become a wardrobe staple, one that looks breezy and stylish with a T-shirt and sandals in summer, and polished with a jumper and boots in winter.

Pleats have proven one of the most popular details on the catwalks in recent seasons, particularly at Givenchy, where creative director Clare Waight Keller's pleated evening gowns have become a red carpet hit, spotted on the likes of Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Emma Stone and Keira Knightley.

For everyday, however, the pleated skirt is a very wearable choice that keeps things interesting while being muted enough to dress up or down depending on the occasion.

Givenchy has been the go-to brand for Meghan Markle since she joined the Royal Family, and the cobalt skirt and jumper she wore on the final day of her Australian tour is easily one of her best looks to date.

It's simple, yet striking and sophisticated - an outfit we're sure will be much copied on the high street over the next few months, albeit for a much smaller budget. Samsoe & Samsoe's version, available at Arnotts, nods to the gradient effect with black and blue stripes.

What makes the pleated skirt so special? Firstly, it flatters all shapes and sizes. The elegant pleats elongate the silhouette, and the waistband adds subtle definition to your narrowest point.

Givenchy has been the go-to brand for Meghan Markle since she joined the Royal Family
Givenchy has been the go-to brand for Meghan Markle since she joined the Royal Family

Pear shapes should opt for a style that rests on your waist, with a slight flare in the skirt to glide over your lower half. Hourglass figures will benefit from a skirt that sits higher on the waist, and tucking in your top will help to highlight your shape.

If you carry weight around your middle, go for a thin accordion pleat style to avoid adding bulk, and when browsing, take care to get a size that drapes gracefully and doesn't pull the pleats flat across your tummy.

The most common and accessible styles are the accordion (narrow mountain and valley folds, just like the instrument) and knife pleats (which fold one way). Fuller skirts with inverted and box pleats tend to look a little dated, but in luxe metallics and jacquard, they make a glamorous evening option.

The hemline should be midi length, which means below the knee to mid-calf, depending on your height - definitely no higher or you're entering school kilt territory.

Red, €49.99 from H&M
Red, €49.99 from H&M
Blue, €164.95 from Samsoe & Samsoe at Arnotts
Checks, €55 from M&S
Faux leather, €77 from Warehouse
Green, €280 from karenmillen.com
Asymmetric, €710 from Sportmax at Brown Thomas

Now that the pleated skirt is so pervasive, the key is in getting the styling right. Luckily, it's a hugely versatile piece that will become one of the hardest working pieces in your wardrobe. You can tone down the look with a chunky jumper or a slim-fitting knit tucked in, topped off with a pair of trainers or knee-high boots.

If you want to go smarter, keep the boots or try a pair of sharp courts with a fitted rollneck or a crisp white shirt tucked in - & Other Stories' oversized style provides a menswear-inspired contrast to the delicate pleats.

Try an asymmetric hem - it gives M&S's checks a contemporary twist that steers clear of the uniform look - or look to Charlize Theron and throw a blazer on top (however, we'd recommend avoiding underwear-as-outerwear for the office).

Charlize's leather Dior skirt gives the pleated midi a rock 'n' roll edge, and Warehouse offers a similar faux version that is particularly winter-appropriate.

Bodysuit, €22 from M&S
Bodysuit, €22 from M&S
Jumper, €39 from Next
Shirt, €69 from & Other Stories
Boots, €330 from Dune

A lush satin, like H&M's rich red skirt, or decadent metallics, such as Karen Millen's gleaming emerald number, will be fabulous for the festive season. Switch them up with neat bodysuits, slightly sheer shirts, glittering knitwear and silk blouses, finished with sparkling party shoes, for foolproof party glamour.

Irish Independent

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