A design detail involving folds or pleats of material – why not give your outfit a swoosh with ruche.

Lighter than light, like a mousse, the ruche is an ancient sewing technique which comes from the French word to plait and is a stylish silhouette-enhancing detail on outfits at Compton House.

A strip of fabric or ribbon is gathered in a repeat pattern and as the gathering thread is drawn up, the strip forms scallops or petals.

Throughout history, ruching has been an embellishment or trim on women’s clothing often seen on a neckline, sleeve, hem or bonnet.

The perfectly placed ruching found in historic pieces has led several historians to believe that ancient seamstresses used some sort of tool to create even spacing. Around the 1850s, quilters started using the technique to create three-dimensional flower appliques for quilts.

The large almost bubble-like dresses and skirts of the Victorian era saw many a ripple and ruche sweep over the length of a skirt to give it texture and flounce. In the 1870s women’s fashion placed an emphasis on the back of the skirt, with long trains and fabric draped up into bustles with an abundance of layers and ruching.

However on wedding outfits and evening gowns today modern ruching is about gathering and pleating the material to accentuate the body rather than add volume.

It helps enhance the shape of the dress adding interest and movement to the fabric. It playfully skirts a dress or pleats a hip to show there’s more to fabric than just falling simply to the floor, it needs to bend twist and do a little dance first.

There is plenty of playful ruching on the dresses or special occasion outfits at Condici. One eye-catching emerald design has ruching all down the body to add detail and depth to the dress. It also has a matching jacket and delightful contrasting feathery corsage.

The ruching on the lightest toffee-coloured silk dress gives it texture and movement like a frothy waterfall effect, which is both stylish and flattering.

At Presen, the outfit consists of a patterned charcoal grey skirt with ravishing ruched detail.

At Ispirato there is the perfectly coloured bluebell blue dress with just a hint of grey added to the blend. The result is an eye-catching shade further enhanced by the ruching to the skirt on the outfit.

The neckline of the black and white wedding outfit at Cabotine is enhanced with ruching detail, where the effect is striking and simple at the same time. The outfit is further adorned with a little diamond detail to the waistband to really give a slinky silhouette.

At John Charles, the shimmering slate-coloured dress is ruffled with ruche and layered with lace. The finished look is subtle but has a swish to its shape due to the twist and fall of the fabric. There’s a rosewood pink wedding outfit which also has ruching detail to the waist to give impact with its intricate detailing.

Ian Stuart has pinker, girlier ruching. And if you want to say it with ruche and flowers for an alternative look try the sizzling pink dress with a corsage atop the shoulder and another nestling at the hem.

From the same fabric family as the ruche comes the strip. Where the ruche drapes and gathers, the strip has its layers lined up in thicker pleats, to give an effect almost like an open fan. Among the Ian Stuart and Irresistible collections, there are many dresses with these slightly sharper bands of fabric which make a great look.

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