Crystal pleats are a series of sharply pressed pleats, usually on lightweight and often sheer fabrics, such as nylon chiffon, organza, and crepe as well as polyesters, such as organdy. Because the pleating is done by machine and permanent, crystal pleating is also called perma pleating and crimp pleating. Of course, “crystal pleating” sounds much lovelier!
Because the technology for this sort of pleating was developed in 1949, it is most common on fine lingerie pieces made during the period that I call The Golden Age Of Nylon. Placed on such glorious pieces, crystal pleating creates texture and movement — and high contrast when placed against the soft, yet opaque, silky, shiny, and slinky appearance of nylon. (Of course this works well with other lingerie fabrics, but it isn’t done often — at least not often enough!) Often, crystal pleats were placed next to or along with lace, satin ribbons, and other feminine details; but the crystal pleats sure to garner most of the attention!
Crystal pleating does everything from bouncing to flowing — and in some cases, behaves in a rather upright rigid manner. The movement and texture, the behavior, of the pleating depends as much on the width of the pleats themselves as it does the length of pleating used. Here, in this one garment (a vintage Antron III nightgown and peignoir set by Jolie Two), you can see a number of examples of just how crystal pleats can appear.
Notice how the 4 inches of crystal pleating on the peignoir sleeves flows…
While the shorter “ruffles” are more regal and firm — it nearly stands up dramatically!
Crystal pleating isn’t always simply a lovely lingerie trim either. It’s been used as bodice cups — like on this vintage full-slip!
(And look at the crystal pleated hem on this one too!)
And entire full-cut panties have been made of it too!
Perhaps the very best thing about crystal pleating is that it is permanent and requires no special care to keep it fabulous!