Ruche: A soft gather or pleat of fabric or leather, usually in a repeated pattern. Also a verb: to form into soft gathers. Pronounced with a long O (rsh).
In the original French, a ruche is a beehive; the word came from post-classical Latin rusca, meaning bark.
From an online French coloring “book,” Coloriage.tv.
Ruched fabric or leather resembles the woven texture of a beehive.
Dress with side ruching by Michael Michael Kors. (Yes, two Michaels.)
The fabric sense of ruche came into English in the early 19th century. The OED gives this 1809 citation: “Four rows of blond, or ribband, in whole, plaiting at one edge, .. called a ruche, is a favourite addition to lace or satin caps.” (Blond was a type of lace.)
Ruching may not be for everyone. In her 1897 advice manual, What Dress Makes of Us, Dorothy Quigley—a woman of strong sartorial opinions—tut-tutted:
It is plain to be seen that the fluffy ruche at the throat-band, and the ruffle at the shoulder, and the spreading bow at the waist, and the trimmed sleeves, add bulkiness to a form already too generously endowed with flabby rotundity.
Ruche is occasionally (mis)spelled rouche, possibly in imitation of a more familiar French word, rouge (literally, “red”), or from confusion with the eccentric American politician Lyndon LaRouche. Yes, some dictionaries dutifully cite “rouche” as an alternate spelling, because some people persist in spelling it that way and because lexicographers are in the business of recording real, not idealized, language. But the word’s etymology is revealed only when the O-less spelling is used.