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Another day, another fashion revival. The number of retro fads that have made modern-day comebacks is always growing—sometimes, leaving us in a near-constant state of cringe (skinny brows, anyone?). Though 2019’s ruffles trend might not initially seem to fall into this bucket—it’s not as decade-specific as, say, shoulder pads—I can’t seem to separate it from visions of my youth. Growing, my mom used to dress me in the girliest, frilliest pieces she could get her hands on. She wasn’t wrong to do so—toddlers look absolutely adorable in ruffles. But what about city-dwelling 20-somethings? Ruffled-neck onesies look adorable in baby pictures, but on Instagram? I wasn’t so sure.
Still, as a fashion writer, I’m down to give any up-and-coming trend a try—no matter how out-there it is, or how much it reminds me of my first years of life. (I draw the line at ruffled-neck onesies, though. Only infants can pull those off.) And 2019’s ruffles trend has definitely earned its status as an “up-and-comer.” The look pervaded spring/summer runways at September’s New York Fashion Week, meaning it’s starting to trickle into retailers circa now.
So I dove head-first into the frill-covered movement; I stocked up on all kinds of ruffled pieces and challenged myself to style them in veritably adult ways. Then, I photographed my efforts. (Because as with anything that happens in this era, pics or it didn’t happen, right?) And spoiler alert: As I skipped around New York City in various ruffle-covered looks, I felt delicate, dainty and delightfully like a kid again—without actually looking like one. I basically floated everywhere I was headed (the light texture of the ruffles definitely helped me achieve this vibe). Did I just find the sartorial fountain of youth? Lmk.
The most approachable way into the major ruffles movement seemed to be with something frilly but not terribly delicate—like a sweater. I grabbed this neutral, ruffle-sleeve top from Lulus, figuring it would match just about anything I paired it with. I wanted to play around with textures a bit, so I opted for a pair of olive vegan leather pants. Adding the brown leather cap and matching brown accessories really pulled the look together—leaving it feeling cohesive and on-trend.
The ruffle sweater felt statement-making without being over-the-top—and it definitely gave people something to look at. (And trust me, they did, seeing as I was endlessly twirling around and shaking my arms while wearing it.)
Now that I’d mastered the ruffled sweater, I thought tossing on a ruffled dress might be a particularly fun way to rock the trend. Since it’s still winter (womp, womp), I didn’t want to completely freeze for the photo, so I tossed the dress on atop a good ol’ pair of black tights. This is always one of my favorite ways to make spring/summer pieces work during colder months—so they don’t end up in the back of my closet for half the calendar year.
The bubble sleeve on this joyful dress really balanced out all the ruffling at the bottom, and the whole thing felt incredibly delightful. Again, I totally spent a lot of time twirling around in this number. Why do ruffles make you feel the need to prance around more than usual? Who knows, but I’ll take it.
Perhaps one of the most nonchalant ways to sport ruffles is along the sleeves and necklines of tops. (Fun fact: This shirt actually doesn’t have a ruffled collar, but I untucked the collar of this top to make it look ruffles—which added some serious flair to the look, if I do say so myself.) A fun patterned shirt with a unique texture always pairs well with denim anything, so naturally, I went for a full-on denim jumpsuit and the most in-your-face belt I could find.
The look felt fit for 1970 and 2019 all at once—and definitely didn’t leave me reminiscing on my toddler self’s wardrobe.
When you’re in the mood to feel like an actual snack (a cupcake, to be specific), look no further than this fabulous tiered ruffle dress (under $100, you guys!!). As soon as I saw this dress on the website, I instantly pictured it looking stunning at a summer wedding. But given the temperatures, I decided to wear it with this floral top (also equipped with ruffles, because I’m now convinced you can never have too frilly magic, OK?!).
In my opinion, this dress is truly a jaw-dropping number that you could rock any time of the year. But considering the fact that these ruffles mean business, I definitely don’t suggest wearing it unless you’re ready to turn heads—and get all kinds of compliments.
A version of this story was originally published in September 2016.