Home » History in Fashion: The Pleated Dress

History in Fashion: The Pleated Dress

A huge trend we are seeing on this year’s 2014/2015 runways were pleats.

Plisse (french for wrinkles) is an antique technique to alter the shape of the fabric, in order to create symmetrical stripes; a geometrical pattern, that turns a bi-dimensional surface into a tri-dimensional decoration.

The Ancient Method

The history of plisse began with the Egyptians. They used to pleat their garments (pouring eggs over linen and drying it in the sun), using them as a symbol of power and luxury. Some archaeologists found a wood instrument with narrow grooves, which suggested the use of pleated garments during the Egyptian’s domination.

To pleat a natural fabric (silk, cotton and wool) was not simple, nor cheap, not only for Egyptians, but in general for even the aristocratic people, to whom pleated garments were imposed by fashion dictates.

Today – most pleated fabrics for fashion are made by pleated machines. Only couture garments are pleated by hand and are for obvious reason – more expensive.

The ancient age of the Greeks – used to pleat their linen tunics by hand.

We can compare those tunics to contemporary couture garments – just to get an understanding of why the plisse was an aristocratic privilege and considered a symbol of luxury.

The only institution, which could repeatedly afford pleated garments, was the church. Cardinals and popes loved the lightness and the preciosity of a pleated muslin or silk tunic. They have worn them for many centuries – even when out of fashion.

Gorgeous Ruffs

Ruffs were considered to be the most exquisite artisanal product of their time: at the end of the 16th century, men and women used to adorn and frame their faces with circular pleated rigid collars, made with laces and muslins and sometimes decorated with pearls and precious stones (Elizabeth the First’s portraits testify the greatness artisanal work behind the ruffs).

The wavy shape of the ruff was given by warm metallic cylinders, which were used each time the fabric was washed, due to losing it’s shape and volume.

Plisse was alternatively used also to decorate tunics and shirts, bonnets, cuffs, ribbons and hems of skirts.

Mariano Fortuny

At the beginning of the 19th century the genius mind of Mariano Fortuny gave new life to the ancient Greek peplum, creating a dress, called Delphos, made with pleated fine silk.

Extremely beautiful, the dress’s intent was to show off the natural curves of the female body.

Fortuny’s pleating process was created and done by hand: he built two wax cylinders with narrow grooves, which could be warmed up and used to first dye the fabric, according to his own color palette, and then he scrolled the fabric between the two cylinders. The result was elasticity, shine and geometrically creased surfaces.

Make way for new pleats

Issey Miyake was a famous designers, who offered a solution for pleats. Which helped pleats not wash out after each wash.

He designed a polyester fabric collection naming it, “Pleats Please.” Which launched in 1993 – the clothes were first cut and sewn together from fabric that was nearly three times as the finished piece, and was then sandwiched between sheets of paper and put into a pleats machine. Making the clothing functional and practical – and easy to store, travel, required no ironing, could be machine-washed, and dried within hours.

Next time you find yourself wearing something pleated, thank polyester or better yet thank Mr. Miyake!

More Fashion Fabula

5 Travel Accessories You Actually Need

Traveling can be strenuous and tough to handle if you aren’t properly prepared. Travel-savvy companies are always brainstorming for the next handy device the world

The History of Swimwear

Let’s be honest. You’ve been ready for summer since January! With the summer months just around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at

History of American Women’s Fashion

In 2010, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City ran an exhibition called, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.” It explored

10 Habits of Well-Dressed Women

While there’s no universal code or to-do list that all stylish women adhere to, there are a few select habits that aid the process of

Beauty Masterclass : Kajal Eyeliner

We’ve always been a fan of smoky, dramatic eyes. Ever since ancient times, kajal and kohl (note: you can use these terms interchangeably) have been

On Trend: Animal Prints

Animal prints are a huge trend right now for Spring/Summer 2015. It’s a fun and simple way to make a bold statement! Leopard and snakeskin

What to Wear to a BBQ

5/23/2016 With Memorial Day right around the corner, barbecue season is here. Officially! While great fun, BBQs can be tricky to style for. They are

History of the Female Suit

The female suit symbolizes a triumph of contradiction, between sexy and modest, masculine and feminine – and has been considered a symbol of sophistication and

History in Fashion: The Tracksuit

So much of the modern woman’s wardrobe finds its origins in the world of sport, and the tracksuit – unsurprisingly, given the name – is

How to Wear White Denim

Style can sometimes mean stepping outside of your comfort zone. And let’s face it when it comes to denim, this means going beyond the everyday

How to Dress for a Date

Ah, the always unnerving ‘what to wear on a date’ scenario. It’s hard trying to blend what makes you feel comfortable with the expected dress

History in Fashion: Skirts

The original idea of a modern skirt was born during the 15th century form the gotic sukiene, which split into two elements : the corset

Professional Look by Topshop

Clockwise from left to right: Lips in Fawn, Eyelet Blazer, Long Sleeve Blouse, Bone Heel Ankle Boots, Split Pocket Pencil Skirt

Los Angeles: The Garment District

If the tag on your clothing reads made in Los Angeles, they more than likely come from the Fashion District. Hollywood costume departments have custom

Sunglass Obsession: The Right Fit

Quick, name one item you never leave home without. If you said sunglasses, you’re on the ball. Sunglasses, just as much as your hairstyle, purse

How To Organize Your Closet

There’s little point in owning the latest bag or dress if you can’t find it in your closet when you’re getting dressed. A clean, well-organized

How To Explore Your Own City

Travel addicts are dreamers. We long for the far away, picture ourselves on planes, and love to imagine strange surroundings. That is, until reality sets

Work Week Style Hacks

Ah, Mondays. The quintessential day of work that actually ends up being the most dreaded day of the week. When your brain’s operating on fun

History in Fashion: Raw Denim

Raw Denim. Have you heard of it? Before you start thinking it’s just the latest trend in fashion, we invite you to consider it’s historical

Latest Fashion Coupons

There are no coupons currently available

Fashion Brands


Use a social network:


Feedback/Suggest Brands

Again, welcome to Your Brandzaffair. Our goal is to be your daily source for immediate access to all your favorite brandz with their best offers, in addition to providing insights and reviews in your lifestyle interests. We want to always continue to improve your experience. Please tell us what you think and what we can do better.

Spread the Word