Style Watch

updated 12/21/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/21/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Creased Lightning

Sick of being a grown-up? Put a spring in your step with pleats, newly approved for adult use by style's schoolmarms. "You feel young and girlish in them," says Gena Lee Nolin. "They take you back to junior high."

From cheerleader-short to floor-length, once-preppy pleated skirts have been embraced by such designers as Marc Jacobs and Jill Stuart. "They took something that was seen as conservative and prissy and gave it a modern attitude," says L.A. fashion stylist Jeannine Braden. "This season is all about serious clothing," adds designer Cynthia Rowley, "and the one exception is the pleated skirt."

But you've got to know when to fold 'em, know when to hold 'em. Short skirts can seem too cutesy; longer ones are safer. "If you don't have it right," sums up actress Kelly Lynch, "you can end up looking like a deranged Catholic schoolgirl."

with Steven Cojocaru in Los Angeles

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