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The Pleat Goes On

Pleated skirts, long associated with schoolgirl uniforms, reappeared as a key item for the fashion flock last summer. But these weren’t your standard gabardine skirts. Made in sheer, chiffon-like fabrics, they were nearly floor-length — a cute look for twentysomething ingénues, but potentially dowdy for women of a certain age.

Now that trend has evolved, and the latest wave of pleated skirts — in shorter, mid-calf and just-below-the-knee lengths — is much more suitable for women in their 40s or older. They come in a wide array of hues, including great candy colors like bright orange and kelly green, but if you want to play it safe, go for a neutral. And pay attention to the length of the lining. Some of the skirts are like a layer of chiffon over a miniskirt. Look for a lining that’s almost as long as the translucent outer layer to ensure that the skirt isn’t too revealing.

Keep in mind, too, that this look should be modern. Wear the skirt with a menswear shirt, a drapey T-shirt or a cropped, boxy top — definitely not a blazer. Most important are your shoes: That’s what will make the look contemporary and sophisticated. Stylish pumps, sandal-style booties or strappy sandals are the best options.

Here are three pleated skirts with the new, more grown-up look. (Never mind that they’re always shown on young girls.) ZARA: Cut just below the knee, this fine-pleat skirt is adorned with beading, for an extra-feminine look. MANGO: This one comes in two neutral colors. The “dark piedra,” an unusual oyster shade, is especially chic and refined. CLUB MONACO: The Matie Pleated Skirt would look great with sandals. This skirt is longer than the others, but don’t worry, it’s not too long. —Lola Ehrlich

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