One of my first fully formed memories has to do with me—age five—and a dress. Particularly, a pink rough-silk party dress with giant layers of ruffles around the shoulders my mom had bought me for, well, parties until I insisted on wearing it to school.
Normally, it was reserved for special occasions, but I clearly was of the mind—even then—that pretty things shouldn’t sit in a closet waiting for a fabulous, exciting place to be worn (also known as Grandma Helen’s Passover seder, but whatever). The point is, I wore that pink dress to preschool twice a week—with cowboy boots, with sneakers, with moccasins—and I still, decades later, cannot resist the pull of a good ruffle.
Lucky for me, then, that the historically childlike detail has gotten a high-fashion makeover during the last couple of seasons, with designers such as Miu Miu, Marni, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Simone Rocha, and others showing pieces with exaggerated ruffles, voluminous frills, and structured flounce.
Of course, what goes up must come down, and you can’t walk past an H&M or Zara, or sign onto sites like Loéil, Shopbop, or Nasty Gal without seeing scores of ruffles—on sleeves, on skirts, on dresses, even on shoes.
The trick to pulling off flounce and looking like an adult: Make the ruffle the focal point of your outfit, and make sure it’s dramatic and structured—a high-style signature—as opposed to a bunch of limp, half-assed frills, which can look cheap and indecisive.
Ahead, check out outfit inspiration and shop the season’s most affordable ruffled pieces!