Growing up, clothes were usually an afterthought. Outside of our school uniforms, our outfits leaned to one extreme to the other. We wore leggings or stretchy pants with a t-shirt of a popular cartoon character, or we were dressed like porcelain dolls, in puffy, tulle dresses. We can blame it on the limited choices, or our mother’s questionable style.
One of the benefits of getting older is our ever-evolving style, as well as the thousands of options we now have disposable at our fingertips. Looking at all the pretty clothes, something we often see is a variety of smocked items. Most frequently seen as bandeau tops on dresses and skirts, or the waistband of maxi dresses, we’ve been seeing smocked clothes since we were kids.
Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Long before elastic waistbands, smocking was developed and practiced in England since the Middle Ages. It was commonly used to create roomier necklines, bodices, and cuffs. The name itself, “smock”, means a farmer’s work shirt, proving that long-lasting style can come from humble beginnings.
Smocking was considered practical for garments to be both form fitting and flexible. Truth is, that hasn’t really changed. Whether it’s for comfort or style, having smocked pieces in our closet make our last-minute decision making easy. Pull out that cute little dress or that skirt set on the next sunny day and smock on.