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In Fashion, what is Plisse?

By Jessica M.
Updated May 21, 2024
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The fashion term plisse comes from the French verb plisser, which means to crease, to fold, or to pleat. It refers to an intentionally wrinkled, pleated, or puckered fabric. The word can either be used to denote the finish of the fabric or the fabric itself. Plisse finish on fabric can be either temporary or permanent.

Two common methods of creating this fabric are through the use of a caustic soda, such as sodium hydroxide solution, or through tension weaving. Both processes tighten the fabric in the areas where the puckering or creasing is desired. Though usually found on finer fabrics such as cotton, nylon, rayon, or silk, other materials, such as wool and leather, can also be given a plisse finish. In these cases, the pleats have to be be created through a means better suited to thicker mediums than the traditional methods. One home method for creating plisse in wool or cotton fabric involves simply folding material and ironing or sewing it to achieve the desired effect.

In clothing items and textiles, plisse is used to create interest and texture. This type of fabric is commonly used for a variety of women's clothing items, including scarves, handbags, sleepwear, and dresses, as well as for men's seersucker suits, baby items, and home decor textiles like bedspreads and window dressings. The term encompasses a variety of effects, from the tiny puckers in seersucker; to straight, vertical pintuck pleats; to the relaxed waviness of crinkle crepe. The term is generally taken to indicate a very narrow and intricate type of pleating, but it is sometimes used to refer to any width of pleat.

Clothing items made of plisse fabric are known to have existed as far back as the Middle Ages, and they continue to enjoy popularity well into the 21st century. Plisse is a popular choice for warm weather clothing and is often used for summer wedding gowns. It tends to confer an air of sophistication on the wearer due to the real or perceived painstaking attention to detail required to create the fabric's delicate appearance.

Like all distinctive fabrics, plisse should be worn sparingly. It should also be paired with smooth textures for contrast. It is a relatively easy fabric to care for, as it does not require ironing; however, pains should be taken to follow laundering instructions, as the finish can be ruined by some cleaning methods, and recommendations vary depending on the type of fabric.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon992498 — On Sep 12, 2015

I am thinking about making a top with handmade plisse pleats. I do not want it to look overly wrinkled, just needing to add texture. Now, I am not sure from reading the comments saying that it could make one look bigger.

By JessiC — On Jun 10, 2011

@tlcJPC - Hey, I like plisse designs as much as anybody, but let’s not get carried away.

This is one look that is best done at a minimum – more for an accent than an overall look. Used wrongly it can make you look much heavier than you actually are. Likewise, used appropriately and in moderation, it can actually take away from that waistline.

So, use plisse; but use it well. Then, you and your fluff can be just gorgeous!

By tlcJPC — On Jun 07, 2011

I have heard that plisse fabric can make you look much thinner, and I have also been told that it makes you look twenty pounds heavier!

Does anyone have any idea which of these is true?

I am a short lady with a petite frame, but I’ve also got some cushion in some tough to conceal areas (hey, who doesn’t?). So I’m always looking for those items and fashion trends that are going to work with my figure the best.

I love the look of plisse fabric, but I hate the thoughts of looking any fluffier than I already do! I don’t need any more help in that department!

By manykitties2 — On Jun 07, 2011

If you are a fan of scarves there is a good chance you might have a plisse one in your collection. The intricate folds look lovely, but they do come undone with time.

These scarves usually come with a special round box that you can use to compress the pleats so that the fabric maintains its look. If you lose the box, a good idea is to carefully wrap the scarf around a water bottle of the right size and compress the pleats down around the shape. This should help return your scarf to its former glory.

If you are nervous about doing there, there are instructional videos online that will show you how to maintain your plisse scarves.

By animegal — On Jun 07, 2011

If you have a favorite shirt or skirt that has some plisse finishes, do not just throw it in the washing machine. I accidentally wrecked my favorite outfit, not thinking how the wash would damage the carefully crafted folds on my clothes.

If you are not sure how to care for your outfit that has plisse your best bet is just to take it to your local dry cleaner. While this may be more expensive than just washing it yourself, it will save you a lot of angst in the long run.

If you do want to tackle cleaning your plisse by yourself you can find lots of helpful resources online which will help you tackle the job of maintaining your look.

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