Soft, subtle and romantic

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Phillip Lim played around with rows and rows of ruffles in his spring line, putting vertical layers down the front of a pink shift dress and even on the back vent of a trench coat. He also edged some of the ruffles with zippers, giving them a more sculpted quality.

Off the runway, it’s best to sample this trend as a soft detail, not a heavy focal point. Stay away from shirts with ruffles on the collar, bib and sleeves -- they were meant for Mozart, not modern-day dressing. And keep it to a few ruffles in the same color as the rest of the garment, unless you’re putting together a tango costume.

There are other pitfalls. Ruffles can look too juvenile if done in a heavy lace or cotton candy color, so keep colors neutral and layers soft. And be careful about placement. If you don’t want to draw attention to your hips, stay away from tiered ruffle skirts, as they add volume. Instead, let the ruffled fabric add a subtle romantic touch to a cap sleeve, the edge of a pocket, the top of a shoe or the front of a simple T-shirt.


J. Crew is making a tissue cotton tank top with diagonal layers of ruffles that is super feminine and easy to dress up or down. It’s simple enough to flatter any age or shape, and the soft ivory shade is versatile for day and night. For a bright daytime look, pair it with a skirt in a deeper tone and play up the texture with a colorful bib-style necklace that sits above the neckline so it doesn’t crowd the detail on the front of the shirt.