We Need to Talk About Frills

In any given sartorial scenario, even the very mention of the word ‘frills’ has always been enough to send me running for the hills. When I think frill, frills or, even worse, frilly, I think cloyingly cutesie, horrendously fussy and ridiculously flouncy. When I see an overtly ruffled dress, I immediately imagine one of those knitted doll toilet roll covers old people with pink porcelain bathroom fixtures rely on not only for decorative purposes, but to hide the bog roll’s modesty, obvs.  Quite simply, frills feel cliche. They’re just so blatantly girly.

That’s not to say I’m not all for the overtly feminine. Give me a bodycon dress, a butterfly motif or something sheer and pink and I’m all over it. However, to my mind frills either scream ‘little girl’ or ‘granny’, and don’t do much else for the self-respecting woman in between. That said, this season, I’ve been proven wrong by one glorious, sophisticated, summery and sexy frilled style in particular: the off the shoulder top and or dress.


This Bardot inspired look, as seen in every high street store worth it’s salt, is one I can get on board with. I think it’s the baring of the shoulders that does it for me; this look is low key and makes me feel anything but trussed up. One of my favourite writers, stylists and all-round-envy-inducing insta queens is The Sunday Times Style section’s Pandora Sykes, and it was she who got me first thinking about the possibility of the frill. Sure, she’s tall, blonde and skinny, but it was the effortless ease with which she wore numerous off the shoulder frill pieces that made me realise: this is a look I can work around. So off I went to potter around the shops, and much to my delight I happened upon this lovely number in Zara.

This light blue and white, subtly (vertically) striped cotton dress has been one of my favourite items of the summer. It worked fantastically on holiday, either as a breathable ‘cover up’ to throw on during the day or a pretty evening dress jazzed up with some strappy heeled sandals. I love this dress precisely because of the frill, which enables you channel your inner romantic without being swathing ones self in layer upon layer of fabric.

My boyfriend’s comment was that it was sweet, although he would like it more if it was a little tighter. Well, c’est la vie, I like the sackish vibe here. This is definitely a look ‘for the girls’ as opposed to a man pleaser, which is precisely what makes it so brilliant. The horrendously girlish can also be chicly feminine. If, like me, you decide to take the plunge and invest (mostly emotionally) in something – shock horror – frilly, then there are three necessary things worth remembering.

Rule 1: It must be one frill and one frill only. Layered frills are reminiscent of layered cake or, as per my previous point, fancy toilet roll covers. In the same vein, remember to keep things simple. Print can work, but any extra adornments such as bows or beading is very unlikely to.

Rule 2: Be aware of colour here. White, pastels, or even a bold hue such as a vibrant red can all work wonderfully. But do not go for a garish pink under any circumstance, unless your purposefully attempting the “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” look.

Rule 3: Remember to bare in mind your frame and frill accordingly. If you’re petite, then a giant frill will swamp you and make you look like a present. You want to go for gypsy girl, not gift wrapped.

Aside from Zara, River Island, Topshop and ASOS (Lavish Alice do a great dress with an asymmetrical hem) to name just a few have all done impressive things with the off the shoulder frill, whether in dress form or as sweet little tops, perfect for pairing with denim shorts or a nice skirt. If all of this still doesn’t have you convinced, then remember, as well as allowing your armpits to breathe, this merciful style also covers them up. Pretty and practical, these pieces are perfect for those summer days when you haven’t quite had time to get round to shaving. Nuff said.

Dress: Zara
Sparkly slip ons: Office
Twisted body chain: ASOS