Fashion: THE STYLE POLICE; Don't be shy of this season's staple, writes James Sherwood. Knife or box, knee-length or maxi, there's a pleated skirt to suit everyone
Sunday 20 September 1998
Imagine changing gear from fifth to first in a brand-new BMW. This season is fashion's answer to an emergency stop. After the initial jolt, we assess the damage. No, everything seems to be in working order except that knife- pleated skirt which swings from the hips and sits on or below the knee. This skirt shape is not as voluminous as the Fifties prom dress but it owes a lot to Fifties high-school campus chic; particularly when worn with the twin-set and Mary Janes. Crucially, this skirt reminds generations of British women of the grey flannel pleated skirts they wore at school. This institutional association is hard to suppress.
The second objection is how unflattering a pleated, on-the-knee skirt can be unless you have a stomach like a washboard and long legs. Last season the fashion press dissed pedal-pushers and it was the first damned thing you all dashed out to buy. This time, we're practically salivating over the pleat skirt and you aren't convinced. Style Police can't abide fashion that excludes anyone so let's see if we can make sense out of the knife-pleat skirt.
Correct, the full knife-pleat circular skirt is not going to be easy on hips wider than a razor's edge. However well the garment is cut, there will inevitably be a slight ballooning from the waistband. Now here's the clever part. That's why labels as diverse as Nicole Farhi, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Warehouse have intentionally styled this skirt with a slouchy sweater which should sit over the hips. Problem solved. If you're looking for a full pleat that sits on the knee in charcoal grey then you should be looking at Monsoon (pounds 45.95), Next (pounds 34.99), French Connection (pounds 80) or Warehouse (pounds 35.99).
That full pleat doesn't necessarily have to sit on the knee. Mid-calf is going to give you more cover and, in Warehouse's case, ankle-length is positively purdah. Now the calf length is fine and dandy as long as you're happy with your calves. If not, run for the hills. You'll feel more confident in a pencil or a maxi. But Morgan do the most marvellous calf-length pleat at pounds 59.99. If you're feeling flush, then pop yourselves down to Nicole Farhi for her calf-length charcoal knife pleat (pounds 169). As with all these pieces, you must try every variation on before buying. Trust Style Police; there will be one cut that works for you.
There are variations on this theme designed to make it easier on y'all. The first is a skirt cut to pencil mid-thigh then pleated from that moment on. Iceberg, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan have all gone with this cut. This is essentially a homage to the Twenties pleat skirt which appears to drop the waist. Wallis has produced the drop-waist pleat from pounds 45, and a jolly good one at that.
The other is a box pleat. Here comes the science part. A box pleat doesn't sit in a row like the knife. It pleats inwardly so, stationary, you are wearing a pencil but with inverted pleats which will be revealed when you move. On the knee, the latter looks a bit schoolmarm-ish, especially in institutional grey.
You're going to need to get yourselves down to Burberrys if you really want to see the pleat skirt cut with near-scientific precision. They do all the above in the usual charcoal/black/gunmetal. They also do the box- pleat skirt in edible icy blue and cream satin (from pounds 175). If you dare, then how does a Whistles fire-engine red satin box-pleat skirt grab you (pounds 225)? We guarantee you won't be mistaken for a history teacher.
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
Life & Style blogs
Low-cost metal 3D printer could be the next step in home manufacturing revolution
$183,000 fine for man who joined Anonymous attack for 'one minute'
People who drink alcohol outlive those who abstain, study shows
Exercise most effective lifestyle choice for preventing dementia, researchers say
GTA 5 update: Content Creator released, online heists and story mode updates coming soon
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
- 4 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Junior/Grad C# .NET Wi...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (VB6,.NET, SQL, Winforms) Wokin...
£35999 - £44001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top Tier practi...
£41000 - £46000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Academically Exce...