Smocking is a decorative embroidery technique that involves gathering a wide piece of fabric together into tight pleats. The result is a stretchy, shirred appearance. Elastic is used to gather the fabric, which creates the stretch. Smocking is most comfortable when lightweight and soft fabrics are used. Both woven and knitted fabrics can be smocked.
Garment smocking has been around for centuries, and we see a bit of it every season. Because smocking is having an on-trend fashion moment, we’ll see more of it for a while. The design detail is most common on the bodices of tops and dresses, with welts of tops, the basques of skirts, and the waistbands of bottoms. You’ll also see smocking on the cuffs of sleeves, hems of pants, collars of necklines, yokes of necklines, or in the middle of tops to create a bit of tapering. The collection below shows a variety of smocked items.
Garments can be smocked in a subtle or bold way. The form -itting yet flexible fit that smocking can create is quite unique. It can add structure and suppression to a garment in a comfortable, effective, and interesting way. It also adds texture. Smocking can have a romantic, prairie, alluring, Cottage Core, and bohemian vibe. Some renditions can look a bit architectural.
To some tastes, a smocked vibe is overly frilly, gathered, bulky, and maximal. Some find smocking over the bust or belly uncomfortable, but can tolerate it in small areas of a garment. Smocking can also pouf out in an odd way when seated, so make sure you do the sit-down test before committing to a smocked garment.smocked Summer dress from M&S. It has a square neckline that I generally don’t wear, but the structure of the smocking and the volume of the puffy sleeves made it work well for my long neck and narrow shoulders. It’s very soft and comfy too. After trying it on in my dressing room at home, I didn’t want to take if off. A good sign! Now I’m after a white smocked top too.
Over to you. Do you like and wear smocked garments?