A sewing pattern with peplum embellishment. McCall’s Department Store, 1950s
By Allison Daniels
The bandage dress. The statement necklace. The leather jacket. These are all game-changing wardrobe pieces. There’s a trend on the horizon this coming spring that may not get quite as much press as these items, but it makes a statement every bit as bold.
A peplum is simply a short overskirt or ruffle attached to an otherwise fitted garment. It can be separate from a jacket or skirt, or sewn onto one. It can be fitted or exaggerated. The first appearance of the peplum in fashion occurred in the 19th century. It fell out of favor for a few decades, being then re-popularized in the 1940s and again in the 1980s.
Fall 2011 by Proenza Schouler, Marc Jacobs, and Cushnie et Ochs (photo from Fashionologie.com)
Now, approaching the 20-teen years, the fashion world has taken a new shine to the peplum, giving it airtime on some of spring’s hottest runways and Hollywood’s most stylish stars. The peplum we’re seeing lately is most often the exaggerated version. The fitted version isn’t quite daring enough for the current sartorial climate.
Spring 2012 by Jason Wu, Vera Wang, and Prabal Gurung
And, of course, our celebrity peplum style-setters:
Above: Blake Lively, Nicole Scherzinger, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Hudson; Below: Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli, Emma Watson in Jason Wu, and Lively again, in Chanel.
As you can see, the peplums in season right now are anything but understated. However, they are still surprisingly versatile. Wear a light printed peplum blouse for day, and a striking pencil peplum dress for a holiday party.
Another important point to note: contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a stick figure to rock embellishments at the hip! The key to making the peplum look flattering is to highlight the waist. The exaggerated peplum makes the waist look even smaller by increasing the visual contrast between the flare at the hip and the cinched waist.
Both the Cushnie et Ochs and the Giambattista Valli peplums are less than flattering. This is because the peplum has extra volume (like there’s tissue paper stuffed inside), and the under-skirt hangs straight, instead of having a fitted, tapered line.
If you don’t have Victoria Beckham’s figure (and, really, who does?) aim for peplums that are streamlined, and pair with an ensemble that is impeccably tailored. Finish it off with sky-high heels (they add sex appeal and confidence to any ensemble).
Here are a few great peplum pieces to wear this winter and spring. Find your favorite, and get peppy!
Betsey Johnson Tabletop Peplum Dress ($98, betseyjohnson.com); ASOS Exclusive Belted Workwear Dress with Peplum Detail ($81.81, asos.com)
White House Black Market Flair Peplum Jacket ($59.98, whitehouseblackmarket.com); Jennifer Lopez Chiffon Dress ($19.20, kohls.com)
Darling Spot Frill Mini Skirt ($99.99, asos.com); Bronze and Brains Skirt ($79.99, modcloth.com)