Ruching. Roooooshing. Ruching! You probably love it or hate it. Or if you’re like 80% of the world, you don’t really know what it is! Well, THIS is what it is:

ruched sleeves

It’s a specific way of gathering fabric, usually into soft, close-set pleats. It’s been in use since the Middle Ages! But I always associate it with the 80s- the worst parts of the 80s. I usually see it in combination with garish, cheap blue polyester, or that awful bridal ivory color that makes me sad to even look at. So when I found this dress at Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph, Oakland, I was stunned that I had found a ruched, stretch-satin dress that was not only bearable, but adorable!

The reason I like this dress, and feel like it works, is that the ruching is isolated to the sleeves. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. And it has an oh-so-comfortable elastic waistband: always a plus.

maroon 80s dress

DIGRESSION: Whenever I hear the word “ruche”, I idiotically chant in my head “Ruch-io! Ruch-io!” For you folks who were lucky enough to not have a childhood filled with far too many viewings of the barely mediocre Spielberg flick “Hook”: yes, this is a reference to the ill-fated Rufio. (Spoiler alert?)

pioneer woman boots

I got these boots a few months back at Crossroads on College Avenue, Oakland- yeah, I guess I’ve been in a Crossroads mood lately! I highly recommend a pair of sturdy lace-up boots for every lady: they manage to make me feel like a tough, practical prairie girl, even when I’m just biking to Berkeley Bowl to get coconut milk ice cream and a frozen Tofurkey pepperoni pizza.

Speaking of my inner prairie girl:

braid crown

Can you tell I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan? Ok, you got me: I AM currently a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. One day my hair will be long enough to wind all the way around my head like Ma, but until then, I fake it til I make it with two braids pinned on top of my head.

Without appointing myself Fashion Queen of All She Surveys, I’d like to think that this is the secret of wearing fun vintage without looking like you’re on your way to an 80s party, or a Little House on the Prairie potluck (wait…can someone make that latter one happen, please?) The secret is moderation (like the secret to so many other boring life things!) Wear the ruched dress, but don’t do a sideways teased ponytail. Wear the boots and braids, but avoid the calico sundress. Eat the coconut milk ice cream, but save the Tofurkey ‘za for another day!