How to wear ruffles: 5 ways to style this statement summer trend according to a style expert

Here's how to wear ruffles with confidence for every occasion

Three women wearing a ruffle shirt, a ruffle dress and a ruffle skirt - how to wear ruffles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering how to wear ruffles? One of the biggest summer trends, don't feel intimidated by this fuller fabric style. Instantly injecting joy and femininity into your summer wardrobe, ruffles can be worn everywhere, from weddings to dinner dates. Quickly becoming a wardrobe staple, you will want to rock a ruffle for every occasion. 

Elevating a simple outfit in seconds, a strategically placed ruffle can accentuate your figure while creating gorgeous movement as you strut your stuff. Ruffles give a romantic but elegant look that is just as perfect for every day as it is for those all-important occasions on the calendar.

Although ruffles are timeless, they are making a big comeback this year as one of the biggest fashion trends of 2023. Think romance, flamboyancy, and femininity. Ruffles were seen all over the Spring/Summer 2023 runways from Issey Miyake to Bora Aksu and Saint Laurent. A trend that can feel quite 'cutesy,' if you're wondering how to wear ruffles with a grown-up feel, we've got five ways to style ruffles for every occasion.

How to wear ruffles for every occasion 

One of the hottest summer fashion trends, learn how to wear ruffles and your occasionwear and casual looks will be sorted for the season ahead. From ruffles great and small we have all the styling tips you need to wear this look with confidence this season.

1. How to wear a ruffled shirt

Three women wearing different ruffled shirts, how to wear a ruffle shirt

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A ruffled shirt is one of the simplest ways to add glamour to any outfit, with minimal effort and maximum style. Opting for a ruffle shirt brings all the attention up top and can create the illusion of a fuller bust or broader shoulders. To get this look, opt for horizontal or draped ruffles around the collar or chest to accentuate the bust area. 

A ruffled bust detail needs balance, so pair a ruffled shirt with chic slim-fit pants. Add an open-toe heel, and your ruffle shirt will take you through the summer and into the fall months too. For an afternoon Spritz, style with your favorite jeans for a daytime appeal. 

Wondering how to wear ruffles to detract attention away from your top half and elongate your silhouette? It's easy, create the illusion of a smaller top half with vertical ruffles, which will elongate instead.

To maximize or create an hourglass silhouette, try using ruffles as a tool to wear with  wide leg pants. A tucked-in shirt with a ruffled collar, or a vertical ruffle down the center front adds width to your top half, narrowing at the waist, before a fuller wide leg pant, giving you a curvaceous silhouette. 

2. How to wear a ruffled dress

How to wear a ruffle dress: three women wearing a ruffle dress.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A ruffled dress is one of the best cocktail dresses for every occasion as it adds a little dose of drama to any look. The key to rocking a dress with ruffles is to let the ruffle be the center of attention and frame the rest of your outfit around letting it shine. The extra material from the ruffle already gives bounce and body, so keeping accessories pretty simple is usually your best bet. If undecided on what to wear to a wedding, then a ruffled dress will answer your sartorial dilemma. Think about the placement of the ruffle as it will help to create a different effect, depending on where it sits on the body. 

A ruffle at the shoulder can help to add height to your frame, while an all-over ruffle will add curves to your silhouette. Looking for something a little more subtle? A little frill on the hem gives a nod to the trend, without going overboard. One of the best wedding guest dresses, it will make it seem as though you have put in way more effort than you really have.

3. How to wear a ruffled skirt

How to wear a ruffle skirt, three women wearing a ruffle skirt street style and on the runway

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering how to wear a ruffled skirt? This statement piece is sure to command attention, so as with a ruffled dress, let it shine. Frills or ruffles around the hips will add fullness across hips, thighs, and bottoms, to create a balance and highlight your silhouette, make sure to have a fitted waistband and tuck in your top or blouse, as this will stop your figure from becoming overwhelmed by fabric. 

A ruffled hemline will have the opposite effect as this will draw the eye down, away from the middle of your torso. However, as it is still creating fullness at the bottom of your outfit, keep your top half crisp and simple. 

The waterfall ruffle was seen all over the runway and is best styled with a simple top that cuts at the waist. Heading from top to bottom it's an instant figure lengthening and a fuller ruffle towards the bottom of the skirt adds a dose of drama. 

As a general rule, keep any top you wear with a ruffled skirt relatively simple and always tucked for that waistline. Layered ruffles around the hem give movement that's ideal on the dancefloor.

In cotton or denim, this is an ideal look for every day to add femininity to your summer outfits for work, if you're opting for more luxe fabrications such as silk or satin, ruffled skirts are ideal for wedding guest separates.

4. How to wear a ruffled top

How to wear a ruffle top, three women wearing a ruffle top

(Image credit: Getty Images)

By now you should be seeing a familiar pattern with our advice on how to wear ruffles. Balance is key, and wherever you create fullness, you should juxtapose it with something more fitted to avoid your frame getting lost. The same principles apply for a ruffled shirt as they do for a ruffled top when it comes to horizontal and vertical ruffles. If you're going ruffle heavy on the top, make sure to nip yourself in at the waist - the best high-waisted jeans are great for this. All-over ruffle tops should be paired with simple pants or a skirt, preferably figure hugging so as to not lose shape, and to let the ruffle pop. 

5. How to wear a ruffled jumpsuit

how to wear a ruffle jumpsuit: three women wearing a ruffle jumpsuit on the red carpet and runway

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We love a flattering jumpsuit for its all-in-one outfit ease, but a ruffled jumpsuit adds that extra je ne sais quoi our summer outfits are craving. A great alternative to dresses, a jumpsuit offers the same elegance, but with the added benefit of the comfort of pants and no need for the best anti-chafing shorts on busy summer days. 

To add extra polish for the evening, pair your ruffled jumpsuit with your best blazer and heels. Too warm for a blazer? Elevate your ruffled jumpsuit will well-thought-through accessories. Chunky gold or silver jewelry is great right now, taping into this season's jewelry trends. If you have a high neckline, opt for smaller earrings, or go for a bold cocktail ring and cuff to up the glamour. 

Are ruffles in style for 2023?

Ruffles are very much in fashion for 2023. Head into any bricks and mortar store, or click on your favorite dotcom and you'll find at least one ruffled piece in this season's collections. This is in part because ruffles are always popular for summer outfit ideas as they feel floaty and romantic and as this season is dominated by occasionwear, ruffles are a high commodity. 

But it isn't just their seasonality that has put how to wear ruffles on the fashion agenda. This statement look was championed by designers across the major fashion cities creating frothy and feminine silhouettes at the likes of British design brand Molly Goddard and American fashion brand Christian Siriano. Expect to see ruffles on everything from dresses to your shoes. So whether you want to go head-to-toe ruffle, a ruffle on the shoulder, or a ruffle heel, your wardrobe shouldn't be without one. 

Am I too old to wear ruffles?

In short, no. You can rock a ruffle at 60 as much as you can at 16. But this season the ruffle trend is more about upping the sophistication level to keep it more on the glamorous side. The most important thing to remember whether you're building an over 50s capsule wardrobe, or younger is to think about the fabric balance throughout your ensemble. If you're creating fullness on one part of your silhouette, wear something more fitted with it to stop there being too much fabric.

How do you style ruffled tops?

A ruffled top brings a feminine and flamboyant touch to almost any outfit, and how to style a ruffled top depends on the occasion. A plain block color will always make a statement, but don't be afraid of a pattern. Both look fab with a pair of high-waisted neutral pants. As we saw above, a ruffled top looks best with these high-waisted styles, as it helps to nip you in and stop any ruffles from taking over your shape, not a fan of pants? opt for a midi skirt instead. For the summer months, style with a pair of tailored shorts and add colorful accessories. 

A ruffled top works well with heels, as again, the added height helps to lengthen and create harmony with excess fabric. But if standing in heels all day is the last thing you want to do, then dressy flats with wide-leg pants will work perfectly.

What pants to wear with ruffled tops?

A ruffled top brings all the attention up top and really draws attention to your upper torso. Balance your silhouette with wide or straight-leg pants, this will also create a nipped-in waist. For a directional feel, try a pencil skirt and a ruffled top for the office.

A straight or wide-leg pant is pretty much always a winner with a ruffled top, and if they are slightly higher-waisted, then even better. As the smallest part of you, a nipped-in waist paired with ruffles either above or below the waist line will automatically create a more hourglass shape.

When it comes to how to style jeans with added polish, pair your favorite jeans with a ruffled top for a smarter finish.

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a London-based journalist specializing in fashion, beauty, and shopping. She studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia before pursuing her dream career in journalism and has written for various titles, including Marie Claire and Glamour UK.

During her career, Dionne has covered everything from the best red carpet looks to testing out new wellness hacks. These days you can find her scouring the internet for the latest trends and will not rest until she has seen all the best buys.