The Pros & Cons of Different Curtain & Drapery Styles



Images via H&M & The Shade Store

I recently heard someone compare furniture to makeup, and how the curtains are like the mascara…the finishing touch that makes everything look complete. And it couldn’t be any more true!

But before we can apply the mascara…aka the curtains… there are so many different options to consider. I’m sure that’s why you’re reading this in the first place, right?

Let’s simplify things and narrow the curtains down into five main styles:

  • Tap top

  • Rod/ Pole pocket

  • Pleated (tailored pleat, pinch pleat, inverted pleat, box pleat)

  • Grommet

  • Ripplefold 

They each have their pros and cons, and so let’s break down each style and figure out which one will be best to fit your needs!

no. 01

Images via Wayfair & The Grit & Polish

Tab Top Curtains

These tab top curtains are as simple and basic as it gets! They have a very informal and casual feel, and in my opinion, they should be reserved for those casual rooms… like a kids room or nursery.


Easy to slide across the rod, readily available, lots of options, and inexpensive


Dated-looking, too casual for most rooms.

no. 02

Images via Ikea & West Elm

Pole & Rod Pocket Curtains

Rod pocket curtains has a slot at the top (or backside, depending on the style) for the rod to slide into. These styles are almost impossible to open and close, so avoid them at all costs unless it’s for decorative purposes only.

On the other hand, some high-end curtains have loops sewn on the back, so you can hang them with clips and rings. The metal rings will make sliding the curtains across the rod sooo much easier!


Readily available, inexpensive.


Can have a weird ruffle-looking top, can be hard to open and close.

Shop a few of my favorite pole & rod pocket curtains

no. 03

Images via Restoration Hardware & Prêt À Vivre

Pleated Curtains

Pleated curtains come and go as the trends do, but as of late I’m seeing this look become more and more popular. This style has a very classic and slightly formal feel to it, giving it a timeless essence. But….these pleated curtains can tend come at a hefty price.

If you like this style then it’s worth noting that there are a handful of different types of pleats out there. Some are simple looking, like the pinch pleat pictured above, and others are more intricate, like the goblet pleat, pencil pleat, cartridge pleat, box pleats, and a few others.


Classic style, looks expensive and custom, lots of pleat styles to choose from


Usually on the expensive side, and can be hard to find.

NO. 04

Images via Pottery Barn & AD

Grommet Curtains & Drapes

Grommet curtains have large metal rings punched through the top of the panel, and that’s where the rod fits through. This look was popular starting in the early 2000s, and I sorta think it should stay there! But, before I shame this style…I will say that they are easy to slide across the rod and they do have a beautifully consistent zig zag shape. But other than that, they aren’t my favorite choice.


Easy to use and find, easy to move on the rod


Looks like a shower curtain, dated

Shop a few of my favorite grommet curtains

Images via Spiffy Spools & JWS Interiors

No. 05

Ripplefold Curtains & Drapery

I’m saving the best for last here, because this one happens to be one of my personal favorites! It’s just so simple and clean looking! You can’t see the bulky hardware of the curtain rod, and it just looks effortless…staying in a perfect zig-zag shape. This is the perfect alternative to the grommet curtains because they looks similar but they aren’t as bulky and don’t give me a shower curtain vibe.

These drapes are usually custom, and it mostly has to do with a special track and hardware to perfectly space the ripples.


Simple and modern looking, very easy to slide across the track


Special hardware and tape is necessary, can be expensive

I hope this post helped you figure out some of the different pros and cons of each curtain style! There are so many options out there, but in my opinion, only a couple of them will give you that designer-look and that’s pleated curtains or ripple-fold drapery. I’m working on perfecting that ripple-fold look for less, so stay tuned for a blog post in the next couple of months. Until then, what other questions do you have about curtains and drapes? Let me know in the comments below!



Just a heads up! This post contains affiliate links. What’s that mean? It means that if you click on a link and end up purchasing something, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll never pay a penny more! It’s a win-win so I can continue creating free content like this!

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Hey! I’m Terra


I’m a lover of neutral colors, simple style, and DIY projects that actually look good. You can expect to find interior design and styling inspiration, how-to’s, DIY projects, videos, and more!

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