Pleated skirts might bring to mind the 1950s, but the iterations being worn by fashionistas today are a far cry from their dowdy foremothers. In fact, when styled correctly, this throwback look is more likely to garner compliments like "elegant" or "classy."
Skirts with pleats can be found in several variations these days, but the pleated skirt – when the fabric is laid in narrow pleats that often run the length of the entire skirt – are particularly popular. Classic pleated skirts, on the other hand, feature much wider pleats.
The pleated skirt was a staple of girls' wardrobes for a long time in the 1950s. It's since made an appearance here and there in modern fashion over the past 10 years, and each time is a bit of a surprise. After all, it doesn't have a particularly sexy or modern reputation.
But it's this reputation that current fashion is playing off of, similar to the slipover being reinterpreted and having a moment.
Berlin-based fashion adviser Valeriya Licht sees the pleated skirt as having one particular advantage: "The beauty of this skirt shape is that it's really easy to combine." That means you can dress it up or down depending on the occasion and create a variety of new looks.
All you need is a little fashion sense. Or put another way: "Although the skirt can be combined endlessly, there are a few items that should not enter the mix," says Alexandra Schoeb, fashion editor at Germany's Glamour magazine. For example, a tie-neck blouse should not be paired with it, as the two together make the wearer look "staid."
Instead, Schoeb advises using a contrast, incorporating a "disruptor" into the outfit. "This could be a casual oversized blazer or a wide shirt in menswear style," she says. "The combination of a pleated skirt with a rugby shirt, many of which traditionally have wide stripes, is super hip and results in a casual college look."
Licht has a few looks to recommend, depending on the occasion: When running around the city, pair a pleated skirt with a shirt, casual leather jacket and sneakers. For the office, loafers, a slightly fitted blazer and a slim-fit turtleneck look especially smart. And for a nice dinner date, wear it with a sequin top and high heels.
Schoeb also says that a popular look on the catwalks at the moment is wearing a pleated skirt over wide-cut, loose trousers, both of which are tone-on-tone. "Sounds strange at first, but it looks amazing."
Sneakers, loafers and high heels have already been mentioned. If you're going to wear pumps, opt for ones with a pointed toe, says Schoeb. "They look more modern than rounded-toe pumps. In winter, you can also combine the skirt with slim riding boots or combat boots."