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A dress that gathers at the waistline can be flattering on many fashionistas, flaring out away from the hips and creating a pretty poofy look all on its own. This shape is particularly stylish on pear-type silhouettes, since it mimics an A-line skirt style. However, not all gathered dresses have enough volume to make the amount of poof you'd like. Some dresses hang heavily, making the skirt mold against the body, and others are simply too flimsy to hold up any shape alone.
Take a cue from the chic stylistas of yesteryear and build up a foundation for that poofy look you want. Historical ladies once filled out their full ballgowns with extra layers of underskirts, cage crinolines and petticoats to look cute. You can get a similar shape by slipping on a modern tulle crinoline under your gathered dress. Go for a crinoline that's a little shorter than your dress for a clean look, or make it a little longer for something spunky.
Rock Those Ruffles
Not all extra poof needs to show only on the underside of your dress. Instead, give your skirt a more visible touch of voluminous feminine detail by adding some extra ruffles to the outside. You can start with sewing a single wide ruffle in a matching or contrasting fabric color around the hem, if you only want to make the dress flare out a little, or go full steam ahead with ruffles all the way up to the waist for some seriously stylish poof.
It's a Cinch
Sometimes, a gathered dress hangs straight off a girl's body because it just doesn't fit right. Aside from trading it in for one that does fit a little better up top, your best bet is to focus on accentuating the waist. A gathered waist should fit tightly against your waistline, creating a flared-out skirt all on its own. If your dress doesn't, you can force the style by adding a chic belt to your look. Find a wide, decorative belt that allows you to adjust the height and width of the waistline.
Bustling isn't only for the back of a wedding dress skirt these days. To go totally poofy, you can also pull your gathered dress skirt into bubble bunches by using old-school bustling methods. Just like on those wedding dresses, a girl can add a few flat buttons to the inside of the waistband and a few looped ribbons halfway down the inside of the skirt. This way, the ribbon loops get hooked around the buttons and pull the skirt into an offbeat bubble shape.