The rules of engagement for wearing pleats are clearly defined -- if you dare to wear.
Katie Trotter: pleasing pleats
Forget the important stuff. Struggling finances? Yawn. Global unrest? Whatever. Such is the nature of fashion that it is 360-degree knife pleats that are causing an uproar.
You know the type. Think one part school uniform, one part Fifties granny and one part Marilyn's white dress in The Seven Year Itch.
Pleats are probably one of the most difficult, unflattering and irritating styles known to woman - which means the trend is set to catch on.
It seems there is a huge chasm between trends and actual wearers once more. And the stubborn question that refuses to go away is whether we pull these rather unflattering beasts off with any kind of panache?
The first problem arises (as always) with the old middle area, and what is added to it. Think mathematics. A pleat is made up of right angles, with the lines squared off - and to create a pleat one must triple the amount of fabric. That's right, triple the amount. Which adds a lot of bulk to certain places most of us don't need it. Flattering it is not. But when has that ever stopped us?
Pleats ruled the roost in the Fifties, were disregarded in the Sixties and made a comeback in the Seventies, lasting right through until the mid-Eighties. And since there is no doubt I know as much about wearing pleats in these times as Malcolm McLaren knew about the establishment, it would be reckless and irresponsible of me not to do some research. My own history is more netball skirts and kilts in the Nineties, but here is what I know:
Don't go near short pleated skirts or dresses. You are not (I truly hope for your own sake) going for the "Hit me baby one more time" sort of appeal. Look only to full length or a midi for a modern take.
In terms of fabric, there are two ways to go, and no in between. A light, fine, bouncy chiffon in a coral or peachy summer shade is great for the romantic joie de vivre feel this season demands. If that's all a bit sugary for you, there is a more utilitarian way to go. Opt for a stiff, good-quality wool that will hold its shape, and mix with a cropped leather jacket and hard accessories.
For those of you who are shorter in stature, avoid full-length pleats, which will only make you feel like a rather oversized cupcake. Instead look for pleated details - perhaps a sleeve or pin pleats on a shirt. If you're curvier, stick to the A-line longer skirts to balance things out.
To wrap things up: pleats are not easy. Even those who seem to arrive in life fully armed, swanning around with clarity, ease and inherent poise, will struggle. Which, all things considered, is rather a satisfying thought.
This week's highs and lows
PRETTY IN PINK The new must-have summer colour seen on Diane von Furstenberg's "Harper" Day Bag at www.boutique1.com.
PRATFALLS Naomi Campbell's "Fashion For Relief" starred three models tripping on their dresses/own feet.
ART NOUVEAU Oscar de la Renta's resort collection combines just the right amount of glamour and deco structure.
KATE THE COOK Kate Moss apparently enjoys making her own jam - a new launch in the pipeline?
NEW AND IMPROVED YSL updated its classic Touche Éclat illuminator to include more shades to suit your skin tone.