Pleats to please: six ways to wear the skirt of choice for 2016


Beyonc and Alexa Chung have put a new spin on it, Gucci brought it to the catwalk, and Strictly added sparkles to take it up a notch. Do you need any more reasons to bring the pleated skirt to the top of your spring wardrobe wish list?

Take note, iron-averse style watchers: pleated skirts are the only ones that pass fashion muster right now theyre everywhere from the catwalk to the red carpet to your iPlayer catch-up session. Like denim hair, big logos or contouring, pleats popularity is partly down to the fact that theyre really photogenic. They might not be desk-job-friendly (those wrinkles from sitting down do tend to spoil a pleats line) but when snapped moving as on a Vogue editor on the way to a fashion show or wafting through a waltz, they have a pleasing three-dimensional quality that an A-line mini or pencil skirt just cant claim. In this brave new world of skirts, the pleat semantics are a minefield. Heres our guide to six pleats and what they mean in 2016.

The knife pleat

The knife pleat Gucci, AW16, Milan fashion week. Photograph: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Beyonc showed her fashion mettle in the opening outfit of Formation wearing a monogrammed knife pleated skirt and shirt by Gucci, a brand with the power to bring on palpitations in any even vaguely fashion-conscious woman. Starlets like Zendaya have since followed suite with the knife pleats, wearing them on the red carpet. As any hitmaker knows, when you have a chart-topper like this, you have to keep one-upping yourself. Gucci designer Alessandro Michele showed he was a master of the pleat in February, when he brought another version of the knife pleat into the Gucci autumn/winter show. If this all sounds like the difference between Blue Steel and Magnum, such pleats might not be the ones for you. But, suffice to say, Gucci pleats will be taking their place in the front row at fashion shows in September.

The metallic pleat

The metallic pleat Alexa Chung, New York, 2015. Photograph: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

A picture says a thousand words, and one of Alexa Chung in a Gucci skirt and jumper, at a dinner for the brand late last year, speaks volumes, mainly about the fabulousness of wearing a metallic, pleated midiskirt with a jumper. This look which Chung has repeated since, as seen here is already a bit of a cult reference among fashion editors, as a way to do dressed up but not too much. Fashion blog The Man Repeller even created a whole post dedicated to Chungs look. Its the swishiness and shine of the pleats, paired with a nerdy jumper that makes it pop. The ripples of this image will be making their way through fashion throughout 2016. A case in point: Chungs upcoming collection for Marks & Spencer, which includes a pleated midiskirt.

The retro pleat

The retro pleat Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men. Photograph: Justina Mintz/AMC/PR

While many of the female advertising employees in Mad Men wander around in miniskirts and love beads in the final series, copy chief Peggy Olson wears the kind of clothes that might be suitable for a job as a flight attendant. See cravat ties, boxy jackets, white gloves, and lots of pleated skirts. These come with a dropped waist on some dresses, for a little bit of 20s style in the late 60s. Wear them now in 2016! and youll be covering both eras, thereby signalling to everyone that youre a total fashion-history nerd. And when has that ever been a bad thing?

The micro pleat Proenza Schouler, SS16, New York fashion week. Photograph: WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

The micro pleat

The springy, super-tight pleat was originally created by Issey Miyake with his Pleats Please line in 1993, using a machine that heat-presses fabric. Similar pleats have made their way into the work of other designers in recent seasons see Proenza Schouler and Hugo Boss and they are worn by fashion insiders such as Katie Hillier (who has a penchant for Miyakes pleated fishermans trousers) and sussed celebrities such as Solange. Very Frieze art fair, this is a pleat for the high-minded. Bonus: the micro pleat is so springy, it travels very well; all the better for jetset arty types.

The Strictly pleat

The Strictly pleat Kellie Bright launches Strictly Come Dancing, September, 2015. Photograph: David Fisher/Rex/Shutterstock

Sure, Lupita Nyongo in Guccis green wafty dress on the Cannes red carpet last year is great, but the kind of accordion pleats used here not to mention the sparkles is totally ballroom, as seen on Saturday night favourite, Strictly Come Dancing. Forgot Chung down-playing the glamour, this is all about using a pleat to take it up a notch. The more sparkles, the better. Time to channel the likes of Georgia May Foote, Helen George and Anita Rani with a dress just asking for a waltz. In style terms, its four 10s from us.

The prep school pleat

The kilt is pleated, apparently, to show off the sett the pattern of the tartan just so. While it has come a long way from its Highland beginnings, this principle still holds especially in fashion. The neatness of lines appeals, as does the association with school uniforms. See London label, Le Kilt, designed by Samantha McCoach. The autumn collection was fabulously bratty Chanel Oberlin meets Blair Waldorf with a dash of Marmalade Atkins. These pleats are made of stiff stuff to keep up with the after-dark adventures of their eye-rolling wearer. Note: this pleat is Mrs Prada approved. The designer often wears a midi-kilt for her post-show bow.

The prep-school pleat Le Kilt AW16. Photograph: Le Kilt

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