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Sweet style: How to wear romantic ruffles

A romantic current is sweeping in this spring and ruffles are making waves. Designers are playing with fabric and the result is a modern update — longer, looser, twisted and turned — with many more relaxed styles than we’re used to seeing. These nonperfect puckers are often elegant and unexpected, but the best part is, they can be worn everywhere from the workplace to weekend.

Bobbie Thomas, TODAY Style editor and author of The Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, explores the most current ways to embrace this textured trend.

Fashion-forward frills
While the concept of a romantic piece might not automatically seem professional, recent abstract takes on the ruffle can be office appropriate. In fact, ruffles can add a feminine twist in a conservative environment where most wardrobe is menswear-inspired. While little ruffles can feel “cutesy,” larger folds that lie flat will add depth and movement to separates or suits without feeling too frilly. And asymmetrical layers can help soften structured items, while carving out curves in just the right places. But don’t be afraid to belt cardigans or blouses to tame volume. Ruffled wrap top, $49, Loehmann's; Tiered ruffle skirt, $89.90, Zara.com

Pretty and preppy
On your downtime, smaller details can make all the difference, so consider giving your casual cotton and easy knits a modern update. An outfit that would otherwise feel flat comes to life thanks to little extras that add visual interest. Tiny elements of texture on a T-shirt, or even a menswear button-down with a tuxedolike ruffle trim, can offer your weekend wear some flair. A plethora of accessories, from bags to belts to shoes, can also be found with puckered or pleated accents. But keep in mind, as with any trend, moderation is key. Cascading Rose T-shirt, $45; Jcrew.com, Slim fit white jeans, $59.90, Mango.com; Deux lux ruffle handbag, $68, Urbanoutfitters.com

Trendy tiers
With so many edgy items en vogue — from biker jackets to knee-length boots and studded bags — ruffles add a touch of sweet to any sharp, tailored look. Even someone who is resistant to the idea of ruffling, or who usually keeps her clothing sleek, can benefit from the softness of a fluid item that flows. Long layers look easy and modern, and help tough fabrics and sharp tailoring become more approachable. Meanwhile, straight lines will help balance out anything billowy. In the end, it’s all about contrast. AK Anne Klein Blouse, $29.99, TJMaxx.com; Faux leather blazer, $24.95, Hm.com

For children:  Look 1 — Kiddo USA ruffle tank, $8, Tjmaxx.com; denim leggings, $18, Macys.com; Sneakers, $30, Zara.com; Look 2 — Scooter Brown T-shirt, $7, Tjmaxx.com; denim jacket, $37.50, sequin scarf, $10, Macys.com; ruffle skirt, $20, Zara.com; leggings, $9, Oldnavy.com; Skechers Twinkle Toes sneakers, $39.99, Jcpenney.com

Dressy and delicate
Fall’s structured, architectural styles are giving way to softer, more whimsical looks for spring. Put aside images of little girls in pink poufy party dresses, and think of more-mature, muted tones such as blush, rose and baby blue. These hues offer sophistication and allow subtle details to stand out. Layered ruffles of lace and chiffon add an airy transparency, and raw edges give vintage-inspired versions modernity. The cascading edges of a trench or a wrap will instantly add drama to a simple little black dress and inspire the perfect look for your next special occasion. Ruffle dress, $129, Zara.com; Silk ruffle trench, $228, Anntaylor.com

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