Style Advice Q & A

Modern Ways to Style a Pleated Skirt and Look Slim

Hi Deborah,

I’ve been seeing a lot of pleated skirts lately, but can I still wear them now that I am in my 50s and a little heavier around the middle? Do you have any tips for styling a pleated skirt and looking slim?

Thanks, June.

taupe skirt

Hi June,

Gone are the days when pleated skirts were dark, stiff, and bulky, associated with thick midlife waistlines and dowdy librarian looks. Today’s pleated skirts are lighter, brighter, and airier. Fine, knifepoint edge pleats are popular,  and shiny pleats that shimmer when they swing give off a futuristic vibe.

Still, Many gals avoid pleated skirts because they worry that extra fabric will bulk them up and out!  If you carry a lot of weight around your middle, there is some truth to that, and you must proceed cautiously. However, the good news is that all kinds of finer, lighter fabrics that drape the body are being used today for pleated skirts, so many more options now can work.  Also,  different types of wrinkles work for various body types. To wear pleats with confidence, try:

Graphic Pleats

Dowdy, traditional prints have turned some gals off pleats, and a bold graphic print pleated skirt has a fresh, modern twist. With a busy print, it’s best to keep your top plain and simple with a V or scoop neck.

TIP: Pleats should lie flat over the hip area and bottom without spreading out of the wrinkles. If your skirt pulls, it is too small, and you need to go up a size.

Drop Waist Pleats

If you have a tummy and want to wear pleats, try a wide drop waist to flatten out any jelly belly and slim you down. You’ll love the swingy feel of this pleated skirt style.

Go Monochromatic

Try this trick if you are worried that pleats will make you look wider instead of taller, wear a monochromatic look. All one color from head to toe will make you look taller and leaner.

Tip: Keep your skirt a few inches above the knee if you don’t want to look at the schoolgirl.

Add Architectural Accessories

To emphasize the strong, clean lines pleats make, pair your pleated item with other pieces with strong shapes, too. For instance, choose pumps or flats with a pointed toe instead of a rounded toe, or wear a pleated skirt with a chunky, high sandal with a bit of an edge.

Avoid a slouchy bag and go for something structured with hard edges. It’s all about underscoring how sharp pleats with other strong lines create a new, almost futuristic look!

Be Bold With Baubles 

In the same vein as the tip above, you can choose something other than itsy-bitsy or dainty jewelry to go with a pleated item- it’ll be lost in the look.

Instead, pick one bold piece with no frills and a strong shape. A cuff bracelet, for instance, is a bold piece that perfectly matches your wrinkles! Just make sure to go easy on the jewelry- you want the focus to be on the wrinkles and their strong lines.


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