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Style file: Pleats please

Get into the fold and sport a gathered skirt for spring, says Emma Akbareian

Fabric fashioned into folds may seem like a relatively inoffensive concept in fashion terms but dig a little deeper and pleats reveal quite a colourful past; think Britney Spears schoolgirl-inspired attire circa 1998 or Marilyn Monroe’s billowing white frock in The Seven Year Itch . Now thanks to a slew of runway appearances, pleats have re-emerged with vengeance for spring.

A pleat is a fancy way to describe a technique used for centuries in garment construction; quite simply, it’s a fold in fabric. Japanese designer Issey Miyake is perhaps one of the most famous pleat proponents; in the late 1980s his experimental work with fabric led to an entire collection solely constructed using the technique. It’s still sold today.

The most obvious and easiest way to sport a pleated skirt is to go girly in soft chiffons and pastels. The appeal of concertina fabric largely comes from its fluidity and movement, a quintessentially feminine effect put to good use by Raf Simons at Dior.

For a more contemporary take on the trend, look to Victoria Beckham’s sports-luxe spring/summer collection. Look out for minimalist styles, monochrome colours and thicker fabrics ironed into crisp folds.

Don’t discount pleats for evening; Dries Van Noten and Proenza SWchouler offered pleated metallic skirts, an elegant nighttime look  also picked up by the high street with Whistles and Mango proposing their own takes.

However,  consider your hem length carefully. Unless you have Amazonian-like proportions, steer clear of floor-sweepers. By far the easiest option is a style that falls just below the knee. Miniskirts are best left to teenagers for fear of straying into overgrown schoolgirl territory.  Oops, don’t do it again.