Fringe is back—and it’s better than ever. No longer content to be that 1970s calling card seen on macramé plant holders or pleather jackets, fringe is enjoying a modern-day resurgence, thanks in part to a leap from the fashion runway, reports Jana Phipps, an embellishment expert who’s also known as the “Trim Queen.”
“Fringe is absolutely au courant, having traveled from Milan’s couturiers,” she explains. “And what’s new about it now is the sleek, draped look that’s very often layered, to become the entire textile on chairs, light fixtures, and sofas.” Even the color gurus at Pantone declared fringe to be a hot new trend this year.
How fringe found its way back to our homes
Fringe was born in the ateliers of 16th-century France, where artisans, Phipps explains, elevated into an art form the fabrication of decorative edging materials, or passementerie—which means “to turn by hand,” as in the making of lace.
After several years of apprenticeship, master fringe makers were able to turn out commissioned work for royalty, the military, and the clergy. Fringe continued to pop up on clothing, playing a starring role in 1920s’ flapper dresses; later, hippies of the 1960s and ’70s embraced the free-swinging style.
But today’s look is sleek and elegant—decidedly not your grandmother’s tassel ties. The current home fringe frenzy is an outgrowth of trendy runway looks including Tory Burch’s jeans embellished with beads and shells, and Dolce & Gabbana’s fringed Mary Jane pumps, Phipps says.
Want to embrace this chic yet timeless look in your home? We’ve got you covered—no strings attached.
1. Fall back on fringed accessories
If you’re not sure how to use fringe in your home, you can’t go wrong with accessories. And don’t be afraid to be generous with your use of fringe.
“You can easily attach it to window treatments, pillows, ottomans, a table skirt, a bed canopy, and even outdoor umbrellas,” Phipps says. And don’t forget to consider it for a duvet cover, shower curtains, or on table linens.
Strive to employ various types of fringe. For example, try a thick brush fringe on a pillow and a longer version on the bottom of a sofa. Variety is key—don’t use the same fringe style on multiple items in the same room.
“It’ll jump out at you like a flapper dress,” Phipps warns.
2. Match fringe to your home style
Photo by Adeeni Design Group
Of course, you’ll want to consider your home’s dominant theme before employing too much fringe.
“If you’re going for a shabby-chic or rustic look, you can pile on the fringes,” offers Beverly Solomon of the eponymous design firm. “But in a more minimalistic home, stick to fringe on an area rug, such as a Persian or Navajo textile.”
You can also bring fringe into boho-type decor, with throw blankets, table runners, and floor pillows.
3. Hang up fringe
If you’re not ready to invest in a settee or footstool with fringe, you might dip your toe into this trend with a piece of art. An inexpensive wall hanging with fringe can be moved from room to room, giving you a chance to try out the look without buying pricey furniture.
4. Sizing up fringe
Gauge the item you’re hoping to adorn with fringe and keep proportions in mind. Larger items (love seats, armchairs) can sport a longer fringe, while smaller pieces, such as throw pillows or petite lampshades, should have fringe that’s shorter in length. Phipps recommends a length of 2 inches when choosing a brush fringe on pillows, and up to 9 inches for fringe on a couch bottom.
As for materials, silk is the most luxurious option if you can spring for it. But rayon can be attractive and tends to hold up better.
“Cotton is a bit bohemian, though twisted rayon and chainette (a chain of tiny fringe fibers) are more elegant and tend to drape better,” Phipps says.
5. Nix fringe and pets
It should come as no surprise that dogs and cats are likely to be transfixed by the gentle sway of fringe on a wingback chair or the border on a piece of carpet.
“Do yourself a favor and avoid this trend if you have pets, because they’ll delight in rooting through, chewing up and then spitting out fringe edges,” cautions designer Darla DeMorrow.
6. Caring for fringe
We’re not gonna lie: Fringe can be a pain to maintain.
“Fringe doesn’t stand up well in the wash, as it tends to get tangled and knotted,” DeMorrow says.
And dry cleaners tend to charge extra to clean fringe, in part because it has to be hand-combed to face the same direction. But if you’re game for a bit of spot cleaning, fringe might just be for you.
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